Selling a 5 star or other Vintage Retro classic bike

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 Selling your Vintage Retro Classic bike - this is for honest sellers needing some guidance, not for the sharks out there.

NB : I NOT AN EXPERT , I've just been around a bit......this is mostly Australian info but if your in Europe or the US just insert the brand name of choice and this should give you a better idea of whats what.

     So you own a five star Malvern star or other old (Vintage retro classic etc) bike and you want to sell it, DO NOT list it with a buy it now it now can catch you out if you don't know the bikes real value, I'd only recommend it to people who know bikes. List it at a reasonable price and see where it goes. Thats if your selling , not fishing for a silly price, if thats what you want go for it , dont blame anyone else but yourself when the buyer tells you he would have happily paid twice what you wanted....  


This is a 5 star frame , there are 5 stars on the head tube , the ones on the forks dont count, if yours doesn't look like this its not a Five star.

     Malvern Stars come in one, two, three, four and five star. You can have a one , two, three, four or five star thats a road or track bike, you can also have the same thats a roadster or touring bike, there is a lot of difference.....if you dont know get onto a group online and search for info. 

      Dont call any old Malvern Star an "Oppy"  ,they were special models (applies to any brands special models) , if it says "Oppy" then it is (probbaly) , if there is no paint left only say it is if you are 100% sure, no point getting into a bit of bother when your "Oppy" turns out to be a roadster and someone wants their money back plus postage.....dont make yourself look like a 5 Star twit :)

             Speedwell , like Malvern Star and all the other makers, had a range of frames and bikes for different uses . Its a bit more difficult to tell what's what with Speedwell's unless all the decals are in good condition and legible. Models include, Popular, Special Sports, Olympic, Royal Speedwell etc. One recently went for a record price but most are $100-200, probably due to the difficulty in identifying a bike from photos.

Other brands? lots and lots and lots,Super Elliott has a stylised "E" on their better frames and it has been only these that make much, any Super Elliot is probabaly going to sell ok though. There are more brand names than people collecting.......If you have a makers decal on the seat tube quote the makers name and address, it might mean something to someone.

If the rear fork ends on your bike/frame looks like the two on the left,  you have at least a reasonable frame, The one on the extreme left is of a style commonly refered to as "Track ends" doesnt mean its a Track bike though... they are also on fixed gear road bikes. If the rear frame end looks like the one on the right, the frame is at the bottom of the tree, cheapest quality (Im being nice here :) ) this is a pressed steel end. advertise it at a low price and see how you go. Neither of the frame ends on the right are "suitable for single speed conversion"  you can do it but its not right, your a 5 star idiot if you list frames like that!

      If they look like this (the one on the right has the seat stays unbolted in the photo) you have a entry level roadster type bike (includes similar Ladies frames). These are NOT "track ends" it is a squashed and slotted tube, there is no "end" fitted, above are examples of frame "ends". This  type of bike is usually a hub geared bike (Sturmey Archer 3 speed being the most common) but could also be a back pedal "Coaster" bike . The fact that the seat stay (the tube from the rear fork end to up under the seat) unbolts is also an indication of a Roadster frame. Generally Racing/touring frames (from late 1920's up) do not use bolt on seat stays.

      These rear facing type frame ends should not ever be confused with "Track" frame ends,"Track" bikes are the pinnacle of bike racing, cost a small fortune when new and have nothing in common with a Roadster. Roadsters change hands cheaply. Nothing wrong with Roadster bikes they can be pretty cool things..... but they are not highly valuable. Roadsters have mudguards and (usually) chain guards, these can be hard to find if they are lost.


The above are examples of head badges/letters note that some bikes pre WW2 had badges etc as a matter of course , it does not mean its a higher quality bike, it could just be an old one!

         If your bike has a brazed on (permanently attached - you could say welded, as above) letter or rivited/screwed on METAL makers plate on the head tube thats a start, if you can work out who made it start serching the net for info, but please dont become an annoyance on bike forums. Some, not many , suck the information out of people with the sole intention of getting more for their EBAY listing. you wont make friends doing this and will soon be cut off from those in the know.

     As a quick bit of help for any makers bikes , if the decals are printed on plastic film (and can be peeled off) and/or it has a plastic star or "S" or other plastic mark on the front its probably of no collector value (yes ok some makers bikes from the plastic decal era might be but I cant cover every maker). If the frame is made in Asia its also out of the area of collectable for the vast majority, not valueless but not worth a lot (some may be of interest but in many years on Ebay I havent seen one yet). Be aware stickers/decals can be bought and applied to any frame, there are some dud Colnagos about at the moment. There are also bikes that have been refinished that now bear the refinishers name instead of the makers. If your not sure say so....

Retro ladies bikes?..... please................ they are mostly junk see my other guide for info. There are some good quality Ladies frames, check the frame ends as above for some insight.

      Bent frame ? from what Im seeing on Ebay something like 50% of older frames are bent , this is not easily fixed and is probably a reason to bin a cheap and nasty frame. If you think your frame has merit, list it , someone may be  interested in repairing it, you wont be able to retire on the profits from selling bent frames. 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... dont stress just be sure to mention 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 for the frame is also not a good thing, its not easy to find correct original forks. Adjust your expectations and price accordingly.

Do measure the length of the seat tube from the centre of the hole for the bottom bracket axle to the top of the tube, also the top tube from the centre of the hole for the seat tube to the centre of the hole for the forks , state if its an approximation because the bike is complete or because your using mums old plastic sewing tape measure....

DO NOT accept an offer to buy outside of Ebay, these offers arn't comming from people who want to help you, they want what you have cheap (I've lost money to this but I think its best to let the auction run, your choice though!).

DO NOT sandblast or strip frames if the paint is still there, leave it as is unless its really bad. A lot of peple like the worn look and collectors prefer good original to someones poor attempt at restoration.

Do list the makers name of any components you can see, and the model of those parts if its shown. For example "all Shimano" doesnt mean a lot "all Shimano 600" does mean a lot. Every maker in the recent past made junk parts for the mass market of cheap bikes, Shimano junk is no better than Chinese junk, or Italian junk, most makers top of the range is good stuff, but if you dont know its top of the range dont say it is just quote whats on it (ie Shimano "600" or "EX" or "105" for example) . A Sturmey Archer hub is different to a BSA one, people need to know whats fitted.

DO offer postage or freight or assistance for a courier, you wont get top dollar expecting pick up and not offering any help.

Do start at 99c for bikes that you cant get any info on or are cheaply made

Dont ask stupid amounts for bikes that were cheap new, its not too hard to work out that your ripping someone off! people on Collector bike sites keep note of dodgy sellers and wont deal with you.

Be a five star seller not a five star Idiot! :)

find out what you have and you will get the most for your time and effort.


If you found this interesting or helpfull please tick the little box below, Im expecting a few neagtives from dodgey dealers here so help me out! :)

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