Old Is the New New: Hot Vintage Bikes

A buyer's—and seller's—guide to which old steel bikes are pure gold


The sparkly seat of a Schwinn Stingray Orange Krate.

When it comes to buying and selling used bikes, it pays—literally—to know how much a bike is worth. It's always worthwhile to do a little research beforehand. Go on eBay or Craigslist and search for the bike you're selling or interested in buying to find out what those bikes are selling for to give you an idea of price range. In the meantime, the below is meant as a quick-and-dirty guide to which vintage bikes are hot right now, and which are most definitely not.

If you're into buying old bikes, here are some models that will get you a good return on your dollar.
Raleigh—Any Raleigh from before around 1975 seem to be very popular. The 10-speeds convert into nice single speeds, and the three-speeds are good (if heavy) cruisers. The folding bikes fetch a fine return.
Peugeot, Motobecane, Dawes—Baby boomers are getting nostalgic, which means that any pre-1975 European 10-speed in good condition is hot as a collectible or single speed/fixie.
Cannondale/Trek—Steel-framed Treks (especially touring bikes) from the 1980s are prized as well-made bikes. Early aluminum Cannondales and Treks are just coming on the market and still have a lot of life left in them.
Any bike with Reynolds 531 or Columbus tubing—These are prized by the big anti-aluminum/carbon-fiber cycling crowd ("steel is real" is their motto). Hand-built Carleton frames are worth a bunch.
Schwinn Stingrays—I found a 1968 Stingray in good condition at an estate sale for $60, then turned around and sold it on eBay for $419. Need I say more? The Boomers are very nostalgic.
Campagnolo components—If you're rummaging through a box of old parts at a garage sale—something I frequently do—and you come up with anything Campagnolo, buy it. Take it home, clean it and put it on eBay. It will definitely sell fast.

I can't state this enough: Not all bikes are vintage or classic. It's important to remember that your 20-year-old Free Spirit is not better just because it's old. There's no such thing as a vintage Huffy, Murray, Roadmaster or Free Spirit. They are neither collectible nor rare. Junk doesn’t magically accumulate value with age; it's still junk. If you have a Grant 10-speed, put it out for the trash. There should be a mandatory $1,000 fine and/or jail time for anyone calling a junk bike vintage. This is a crime that shouldn’t go unpunished.

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