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Two wheels, OK? Still transportation and has wheels

I am in the market of a bike, Hybrid type but without the shocks. Intended for longer rides, cross country. I Anyhow, I frequent Craigslist for fun, and I find vintage 60-70’s pipe steel bikes selling for 100-300. What gives, these bikes weighed as much as a VW bug, poorly chromed, cheap bearings, and easily bent. I won’t buy a 70’s car today so why would anyone want to buy-sell a bike of this vintage ?

They must be popular but not very reliable if they are in the $100-$300 range. My '70 Chevelle was bulletproof and could outrun 95% of the vehicles made today.

" I won’t buy a 70’s car today so why would anyone want to buy-sell a bike of this vintage ? "

That’s where you’re going wrong !

There are many folks wanting to buy 70s cars. Proof is that they sell for big bucks.

You’re making the mistake of comparing old classics that people want to drive/ride/collect/show for newer machines intended to be practical for every day use.

Ever watch Antiques Roadshow ?


Folks can ask anything they want for that bicycle cluttering up the garage. They’re remembering what they paid, no way they should get it.

that Schwinn Varsity I had in the late 60’s, Hated it 4x a day. The only good thing about is was the amount of calories that I burned-The bad thing was that I always had to get refueled.

People buy things like this to collect and perhaps occasionally ride it up and down the street to relive their youth. They’re not buying it to ride across town or for exercise purposes.

The reason they are being advertised at ~$300? It’s simple- supply and demand. More people are interested in owning one than there are available.

I can relive my youth on a 15 pound bike rather on a 45 pounder. May be because the difference in total mass is no longer the bike but on my belly. No regrets in consigning the Varsity to the scrap yard.

You’re not alone in that area! A steel framed bike might be advantageous… :wink:

When I was a kid, we had a shed with various old bicycle parts stuffed away in it. When I asked for a bike, my Dad pointed me to the shed and essentially said “go build one”. Seemed harsh at the time but certainly prepared me well for life later on.

OP: Reasons older, lugged-steel bicycles are popular today (not necessarily in order of importance):

  1. Can easily be converted to single-speed, fixed-gear, “hipstermobiles.” Just the thing to be seen on, headed from campus to quaff a PBR at the bar.

  2. Steel is easily customizable by persons with everyday skills. You can braze on mounts for fenders, racks, etc to make a commuter. Carbon fiber and oversize “beer can aluminum” frames are essentially throw-away.

  3. Excessively light frames have limited service live. A more “overbuilt” steel frame is theoretically infinite. (Also, steel has a stress level below which it does not fatigue…theoretically, alu and CF will always fatigue fail, given sufficient cycles.)

  4. Bicycles that predate the popularity of Mountain bikes were more “utility” oriented than post-MTB roadies, which are mostly go-fast machines for smooth pavement. You can’t really make a daily commuter out of a modern roadie…can’t even fit proper commuter tires on it.

  5. A steel bike of thick frame walls can be field-repaired in remote locations by anybody with a MIG and a hammer. Good luck if your CF delaminates in Kazakhstan…

  6. There is a general consensus that steel offers the best quality ride of any material (excepting possibly titanium).

  7. A decent, cro-moly steer frame weighs at most 1-2 lb. more than modern construction. The wheels, crank, etc is where the real weight is…and are generally tossed forthwith when rehabbing a non-collectible older bike.

…and that is WAY more than you ever wanted to know about the desirability of used bicycles.

I have two cro-molly, hybrid and road.
I am talking about the older thick walled steel frame and steel wheels. The type of bike that The Pickers pay stupid prices.

There really isn’t that much difference in bicycles from the 70s. If you want a composite frame, it will cost you thousands. Just make sure it ha a decent set of aluminum wheels and the right gearing and you are in business.

Check local bike stores for used bikes and see how the prices compare. It’s possible that the sellers have no idea that their bikes are worth a fraction of their asking price.

Next bike I am getting is gonna be NEW <).
I’ll ride it for 15 years or until I drop dead, which ever is sooner, or until I need major overall.

Wow. I’m seeing more misconceptions about bikess than I’ve ever seen about anything.
First, allow me to clarify the differences in frame materials.

High Tensil Steel is the steel used in very inexpensive dime-store bikes. It’s adequate for a kid’s bike, an occasional ride up the boardwalk, or an occasional fun ride by somone just wanting to sightsee. It’s heavy, typically built with cheap components and weighing in excess of 40 pounds.

Chromoly steel typically starts at about $300 and goes into the thousands for a double-butted lugged italian frame with a custom geometry…like my son trains with. He’s a cat-4 competitive team cyclist. He trains about 200 miles per week. Chromoly properly designed absorbs vibration well and can be very light (sub-20 pounds) as well as responsive.

Aluminum comes in different “tempers”, different alloys, different construction techniques, different “section” shapes, and is used in kid’s bikes all the way up to pro bikes. I have a custom built bike on a triple-butted ovalized aluminum pro frame. I like aluminum, because while it rides stiffer than chromoly, it transfers alol the energy through the grouppo. I like “singletrack” (technical riding), so I like that extra power.

I’ve ridden titanium as well. “Litespeed” used to sell exclusively Ti frames. They ride like a Lincoln, but the I missed the “feel” that I get with aluminum. For my kind of riding, I prefer my frame.

I’ve only ridden carbon finer once, and that was a “Y” bike many years ago when they first came out. I didn’t care for the full suspension. I later bought a “Proflex” fully suspended, but didn’t like that one either. I put it on the market not long after I bought it. My son does both his road and offroad races on a CF frame. His race bikes are worth probably over $5,000 each.

To the original question: 70’s bikes contain all obsolete technology. You couldn’t even repair one today. I doubt if I could even find a quill stem or a full size bottom bracket anymore. And I know push-push rapidfires disappeared years ago. Bikes of that vintage are bought either by beginners who know nothing about bikes or by collectors. If you find an all original “Orange Crate” from the '60s…call me.

I strongly recommend that you stop by th ebookstore and do some research, spend some time talking to experienced cyclists, and solicit guidance from the shop tech at the bike store. Fit is crucial no matter what geometry you buy, and you may even find that front shocks are a good idea on a cross bike.

Sincere best. Cycling is a truly wonderful sport.

TSM I guess you’d scoff at an electric bike like mine:

But with worn out knees and a heart that easily palpitates it’s a decent way to get to work each day in a reasonable time without using gasoline, and get a comfortable level of exercise.

I’ve modified it with a 500W motor, lithium battery, fenders, rear basket and upgraded components.

So is this an assisted bike?
Your opinion on a motor hub?
Some time in the next few years I’m going to get one . They are a blast to ride. :-})

Yes, electric assist.
Direct drive hub motors are heavy, geared are lighter but noisier.
I don’t like those that don’t have a torque arm and rely on the axle nuts for bracing.

My favorite e-bike forum:

My favorite e-bike dealer:

@ TSM:

70's bikes contain all obsolete technology....Bikes of that vintage are bought either by beginners who know nothing about bikes or by collectors or by hipsters and single-speed fixie freaks.

That pretty much sums up OP’s question: “fashion-forward” types are enamored with single-speed, occasionally brakeless bicycles that use non-freewheeling cranks to slow down. The typical desired frame is steel, lugged, and of cr-mo alloy (if possible…these bikes aren’t really designed for hills or long distances, so overall weight is fairly irrelevant). This is driving much of the demand…they buy the bike, grind off the derailleur hanger–voila! singlespeed.

And FWIW, there IS a fairly robust market for vintage bikes, that peters off at about the exact time that the switch from lugged steel to welded aluminum occurred. I speak with the authority of a lifetime cyclist, voulunteer at a “bicycle recycling” non-profit, and (most importantly) as a scrapper-turned seller of found and rebuilt bicycles. (I once owned a Trek 1100 Aluminum, and from sheer marketability, I’d trade you three of those for one earlier Trek of lugged steel construction.)

The “pros/cons” of frame material that I listed were just to explain the sentiments of the pro-vintage, pro-steel crowd, not necessarily my own. Personally, I like the “agile” feel of a Aluminum roadie, and accept the accompanying harshness as the price of admission. I think the “fatigue failure” issues are overblown, and my personal choice for a “bulletproof” commuter would be a 7000-series MTB frame (from the era when it was still “unproven tech,” and they were overbuilt to compensate).

Throw some 1.5" Kevlar tires, “slimed” tubes, racks front and back, and some locking “dryboxes” as hard-pack panniers…you’ve got transportation! (Lights and reflective trailer tape for safety, mind you…)

Circuitsmith, I tip my hat to anyone riding anything. Truth is that any bike is a pleasure to enjoy as long as the fit isn’t too terrible. Even one with a motor.

Excellent points, meanjoe. I only made the point because old bikes are great for beating around, but they can be impossible to get parts for. No sense having a $4000 bike stolen…like my son did, but it’s good to look for something at least repairable.

I’d argue that the “fatigue failure” issue was very real in the '80s. There was a period when we were all looking for the lightest parts we could get, and many of them were not well designed. I’ve had more than one friend break a seatpost, and a few break stems. Forunately, those days seem to have passed.

I personally like aluminum offroad with some MCU under my seat and in my forks to take the edge off. I don’t think they make MCU shocked seatposts or front shocks anymore, but I always liked them. On road, I like Chromo. It absorbs a bit of the vibration. I suspect I’d like Ti on the road, but have never tried it.

The best headlight I ever had was a free Radio Shack flashlight with 4 C-cells, mounted on the bar with two hose clamps, easily removable for day rides. When I broke it in a crash, I tried all the fancy lights and none was as good.

I’ve been up/down in getting a trek thousand series. Already have cromolly hybrid and thinking about 8000 series from longer rides-but the cost is an issue: Either they are real cheap at a garage sale and probably need a rebuild or they are a couple to three hundred to where a new aluminum trek 7.x is competitive.

People list stuff on craigslist for top dollar and they hope a sucker comes along…They can’t raise their asking price but they can (and will) certainly come down… You do the preliminary negotiation over the phone before you even look at it…

"I see you have a bike for sale I might be interested in…It’s been listed for over a week…How negotiable are you on the price? …