Bicycle ! Retro? Vintage? Track bike? Fixie? old bike?

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     Having had quite enough of the rubbish that some people sell on Ebay its time to speak out! I run the Ozpushies site on Yahoo groups, its dedicated to Australian made quality Vintage bikes, I don't know everything but who does! (I dont have a business selling bikes this is to help other people avoid junk!!!)

            on the  left is a "Super Elliott", Right a "Hartley"                  

      This should apply for any older bicycle wherever you are, just insert your favorite brand instead of the Australian one :)

     Firstly, you really need to consider why your buying and what you want or need. If your after a particular brand or type of bike thats a start, but you need to do your homework. The condition is extremly important, only the most perfect original un marked un changed bike is worth something. Its then only worth something if it is special or rare otherwise its not worth much at all, there are a lot of bikes in the world....Age and dirt do not make a pile of rust valuable!

      If its damaged it would need to be extremly special to bother with it at all. A bare frame should be cheaper than a complete bike, finding the correct missing components takes time and money. If its been repainted its not worth as much as a good original, if the chrome is shot remember chrome is expensive and there is no cure for bubbling or damaged chrome except having it re done if you have to, re doing it can REDUCE the value.

     Decals and pinstriping are very expensive to have re-done and , again, could REDUCE the value if not done correctly with photographic documentation (like a before photo). If your going to pay top $ $$ for a restored frame you should get one thats been done properly. Looking at a frame with no makers name or identifying features ? its not worth much, sorry, buy it if you have a use for it.

          If the listing says "Retro" shop elsewhere, thats the latest buzz word for someone's junk. Even "vintage" is being used to describe stuff that was rubbish when it was new. Don't let me stop you blowing your money on junk, its your choice but most of the bikes listed as Retro are not worth it, a lot of the "Track" bikes arn't and most of the "collecatble" isn't.

      If you see  "Track bike", remember these are specalist bikes and different to road bikes, don't buy one purely based on the sellers statements! some make honest mistakes, others... well....Ill say no more . A lot of people on here will throw "Track" into the description , I dont know why as a real track frame is no fun on the road, they are very twitchy and really only suited to the track!!! Its possable they are trying to cash in on the "track fixie" thing or because a real Track frame can be worth more than a Road frame to someone who wants to race one .

      Straight rear frame ends does not make it a "Track" frame, early road frames also used these ends. Roadster frames have squashed and slotted tubes instead of frame "ends" Proper "ends" are forged or cast fittings (sometimes also cut from steel plate) brazed into the tubing, These vary in quality but pressed "ends" or squashed tubing is the bottom end of the market. Im always seeing basic roadsters called track frames or dumbayers stating that they are fitted with track ends... even a ladies roadster so described recently (shaking head). 

       Track bikes dont have pump pegs or mudguard brackets, or holes for mudguard stays in the fork ends, or holes for brakes (sometimes brakes are retro fitted though). They dont have gears, they are a fixed gear machine. Track frames have straighter front forks than usual and shorter wheelbase than bikes of a similar year. Yes you could ride a roadbike with mudguards etc on a Track and race it , that doesnt make it a Track bike, its a roadbike thats been raced on a track....There are very few real track frames in comparison to road frames If you really want a genuine Track frame learn how to check if it is, a road frame is not a track frame, a Roadster is neither and should not be used or sold as anything but a Roadster! 

 "FIXIE" is a  buz word for a road frame with fixed rear hub, nothing new here been around as long as bikes have, not for the beginner though. A back pedal rear brake is not a fixed gear hub, nor is it a "Dutch style" hub! its a back pedal "coaster" hub.

          Frames with deraileur type ends (98% of the bikes out there) are NOT suited to single speed/fixie conversion, chain length becomes an issue as does adjustment, get one that has straight ends.(be my guest buy a botched conversion, see what happens if the wheel nuts are even slightly loose and you pedal hard, who you going to sue? not me)

Bent frame ? from what Im seeing on Ebay something like 50% of older frames are bent, There are a lot of people out there who just cant see this . The one above only has a small bend but any is no good, you can just make out the curvature of the top tube. Its usually obvious if you know where to look, this is not easily fixed and is probably a reason to bin a cheap and nasty frame.  Dont go junking a frame before you know what it is though! and that goes for you guys making wheelchairs as well, I recently saw the remains of a Five star Malvern Star thats now a wheel chair. So what you say? well you could have bought a lot of supplies or maybe even a new wheel chair for what that frame would have sold for.... :(  .

      You should be able to put something straight along the top tube and check for bend... ask the seller to guarantee he did this if your worried. Your better off thinking it is bent till guaranteed otherwise, another check is a to ask if there is any slight outward bulging of the frame tubes or tube near where they go into the head lugs, ask the seller to see if there are any bumps here. If there is forget it. For forks , you should be able to see if they are bent back even a little by imagining a straight line through the steering stem down the first bit of the forks..... no forks provided for the frame?  not a good thing, its not easy to find correct original forks. Adjust the price your willing to pay accordingly.

Chromed frames  ..  steel that is high quality doesnt like being chromed , eventually it will crack (look up nitrogen embrittlement) , also unless treated correctly post chroming the frame will rust out from the inside, not many are properly treated. Nickel plate is better but still needs treatment to the inside, once damaged chrome or nickel will need to be redone completly. Damaged tubing will require the frame to go back to the plater to be stripped before re brazing, in other words leave chrome to people with lots of spare cash. DONT BUY A CHROMED FRAME WITH RUST HOLES!!! seems pretty obvious but I have seen people pay 100 times what a damaged frame was worth, IT WONT BE ONE TUBE NEEDING REPLACEMENT,  IT WILL BE THE WHOLE LOT!!!!!!! (shaking head)

    Rare Bikes... who are these guys kidding? if its rare it wont be on Ebay it will be in a museum, or advertised on a collector forum somewhere, the vast majority of bikes offered for sale are common as..... Whats rare? original unmodified low production or otherwise special bikes, mass produced bikes are not rare. The occasional rare bike does appear, do your homework on these before buying. 


This is a nice Holland roadster c early 60's(?)                   This is a Hartley Road bike  c1948

   Vintage is the 1920's people! antique is pre 1900! classic is 50's to 60's, remember, Retro means "Junk".

 This IS a Track Frame, a nice Hillman from Melbourne.


     In Australia there were many many frame makers and many companies making complete bikes . Names like "Speedwell", "Lewis","Malvern Star", "Super Eliott", "Healing" etc etc are well known, all these made top quality bikes. They also made cheap bikes, do not think any "Malvern Star" is as valuable as their top of the range 5 star models, the bargain basement bikes are as cheap as any other makers cheap bikes. Some unusual models like the 70's Dragsters and GTS/Skidstar from Speedwell and Malvern Star have sold at premium prices but they were mint bikes!

Generally, little known makers bikes are actually made for them by one of the large compaines, some of the little shops made all the bits in house and made a beautifulll job of it. These do not seem to attract the same amount of interest of the more well known makers.

Age and Identity

   There are telling signs that can help identify the age and maker, if you don't know find someone who does BEFORE you bid. Research the fitted components dont just take the sellers statement they are top of the line as gospel, I have seen bottom of the line junk describes as "high end" ! Keep an eye out for Chinese bikes that look old, they almost definately arnt (also some Indian and European made old roadster styled bikes). Be aware that when bikes were refurbished by a local shop some had their shop name replace the original makers name. Companies like ALCON in Sydney repainted  the makers name but used their own down tube mark. Decal sets were sold for some makes and used by the home repairer to tart up their old bikes, the fact that it wasnt the original makers decals didnt really bother anyone!

    If you buy wiesely you can afford to get the bike serviced at your local bike shop. Your local bike shop is the best place for repairs and servicing if you cant do it yourself, thats the place you will be buying tyres and tubes and other little bits from....

 Consider buying a new cheap one at K Mart or similar if you must, or better GO TO A BIKE SHOP, a real one, not a pretend or backyard shop and get a NICE bike for the same as some of these rubbish bikes go for, or less!..... geez people!!! go out and collect your own junk on council clean up night, dont pay stupid prices to people who are doing just that!  If you do like a particular bike , go for it, just think about paying more than the cost of a good new bike for something that had little value when it was new.

"Dutch"Style bikes

Well the originals cant be bad can they, there were millions of them, these however seem to be from China or India and at a quick look are not so flash. If your not technically minded or have limited bicycle knowledge let these go and visit the Local bike Shop. The quality just doesnt seem to be there, shiny paint is not a guide, poor looking welds dont do much for my confidence. I note there is no signs of any warranty with these new "Dutch"style bikes..'


- PLEASE! dont buy "Professionally Serviced","fully restored" or "fully rebuilt" old junk bikes without a bit of thought, you could be dissapointed! restoration is not a coat of spray paint from Bunnings...."serviced" or "restored" does not give you an upgrade from Taiwanese rubbish to well made and long lasting components or a stronger frame!!! worst bit is how do you pick who really knows what they are doing? feedback is a start, ask some questions, did they work in a bike shop? for how long? have they done any courses or real technical training (at a TAFE for example)? someone who has tinkered in the shed is not entitled to call themselves anything and its doubtfull they will be able to help if something goes wrong. Ask for a warranty!

There are some on here who know what they are doing..... there are a lot who tinker.

there are a lot of bikes on Ebay , there are occasionally bargains to be had, buyer beware. NOT everything old is good!! and "wow" doesnt help describe anything! :)

     Make sure you look for a known quality name and well known quality components , this is very important! does the makers name ring a bell? can you find it in Google or in the phone book bike adds? if not and its made in Asia it is most probbaly a junk bike and you should look somewhere else. Would you buy anything without knowing who the maker was ??? be aware that some of the best names in bike building in Australia were bought out by large companies set on profit making. They sold off the machinery and started importing cheap bikes and put their name on them, these can also be junk! the period 1970 to say roughly 1990 is a sad time for some of these once great names...


Dodgy Dealings:

I heard today (may 09) that there are possibly some fake Malvern Star 5 Stars about, no doubt due to the high prices some are bringing. Beware bikes that have no original paint in the area of the head tube or no original paint at all. The colour of the brass in the lugs and under the stars should be the same, if its not assume a fake. Find out as much as you can before bidding!

Also some fake (or replica) English Hetchins frames, the ones with the curly chain/seat stays . See the Historic hetchins website for details, dont buy anything without knowing what your buying!

(april 2010)  A lot of fake Cinellis are starting to appear, find out how to tell but an indicator is no expensive campagnolo components or full cheap japanese part sets,  NEVER believe the old "I sold off all the expensive parts".  There was a sticker set going around with Cinelli decals so dont buy without proof.

 If anyone knows of other bikes being faked let me know please.

Dont buy bikes that have...

...a none too bright guy has "machined " a set of deraileur dropouts so the axle can slide to the rear on his "Fixie" to allow a mm or 2 of chain adjustment, BEYOND STUPID! this WILL FAIL when ridden , when? when its going to hurt most, under a truck maybe, I doubt he has insurance to cover your injuries....

.....another made handlebars from wood for his custom fixie he built, dont buy this sort of rubbish, it hurts when you hit the road..... 

that is just 2 examples of sillyness, manufacturers spend a lot of money to be sure you wont face plant due to a mistake of theirs, dont but an ameteurs attempt at engineering!


 Buy only form people/Ebayers you trust (qualified tradespeople for a start) or those with the required warranty (most likely your Local Bike Shop ) avoid modified/altered bikes unless they have insurance to cover your time off work when their mod fails....... THERE ARE SOME REALLY DULL PEOPLE "REPAIRING"BIKES,GIVE THEM A MISS!!!

Bikes were made to be ridden, get one you like and go for a ride!! 

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