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If there is one notable feature to the vintage lightweight racing bicycle market it is the variability of prices. Often, that is the result of a lack of market information. If somebody were to call a few people who deal in vintage lightweights, or perhaps ask a VRBN subscriber, then they would have a reasonable amount of market knowledge. Instead, many buyers and sellers enter the market only once - i.e., to sell an older bike they have had for years and are now getting around to selling. In such a circumstance, the price it is advertised at may be far below current market levels. Sometimes, though, they make the opposite mistake. If an older bike is well abused but the seller thinks it is a much better bike than it really is, then the price may be way too high. Such a mistake is common with production bikes that were originally expensive but in reality were rather mediocre
Prices also vary considerably even when buyers and sellers are well versed in the field. That is because the market is so thin. With relatively few buyers and sellers, a market transaction depends upon the perfect alignment of a perhaps reluctant seller and a cautious buyer. This is more pronounced when the item is more scarce.
In the vintage lightweight market, there are many individuals willing and able to pay perhaps $350 - $750 for a bike. When the dollars increase beyond that, the field of buyers decreases. Interestingly, though, at a certain point - perhaps in the $1,500 and above market price becomes less of an issue. That is because in the mega-buck price zone the market is driven by individuals with relatively large incomes. Among those who are quite wealthy, bicycle collecting is relatively inexpensive compared to collecting automobiles or expensive artwork.
To the wealthy buyer, it is not a question of is it $2,000 or $3,000, but often is it the right color and size! As a consequence, it may be possible to sell a brown bike to a collector seeking that specific color for $3,000 while a comparable blue example will be of no interest. It may be that the blue bike will only sell to a person who can pay $1,500 for it out of financial necessity. In the lower price ranges, since so many more can afford to consider the item, price variability will be much less. As a rule, the more interested buyers and sellers, the more stable prices will be if everyone has equal information.
Another important point to remember is that there are two ways to look at a bike. The first is to look at it in its entirety and consider its overall appeal. The second way is to look at it as the sum of its parts. Imagine a 1969 Bottechia with Universal brakes and a smattering of Campy. In good condition it may be worth $300 - $400 dollars. Now suppose that on that bike is an early 60's Brooks B17 Swallow saddle in virtually N.O.S. condition. Such a saddle alone is worth at least $300. That almost doubles the value of the bike! Similarly, a mid 60's production bike with little following might be hard to sell as a bike for more than $400. If it has a Campy group in near new condition, original tires, original old label Mavic rims and its original silk tires, the parts group alone might be worth $1,000!
The above examples illustrate the need to look at the value of a bicycle as the greater of either it's "whole" value, or as a sum of its parts. Those who really care about preservation, though, might argue that is not right to take a complete but nice bike and part it out - and I agree. At Bicycle Classics we have sold many bikes below their part-out value because we like to preserve the gems. That is our choice. That is why we often screen buyers to insure that they will not capitalize on our sentimentality by parting out a complete bike we sell. Conversely, we do part out some bikes that others would spend years trying to restore to perfection. This diversity in the market is what makes this hobby so much fun!
Because people can always lower their price, it is apparent that many people often advertise a bike at a high level to "hunt" for a motivated buyer. This tends to distort price levels because others see such high prices and think that they accurately reflect the market. Also, if one well-heeled buyer purchases the bike of their dreams for a high price that reflects the perfect match between buyer and seller, then others may think that they can sell theirs for a similar price. This may not be the case at all! Both price hunting and past records of "high price sales" may yield false information in the marketplace as to what items are really selling for.
With all the chaos, we have made a few biased judgments of what we think some selected bicycles are worth. Don't place too much weight in these "guesses" and please don't plan to send your kids to college based on mortgaging your bicycle collection when the time comes. Your banker will probably laugh to death should you even try to collateralize your bikes. Just remember, however, this tidbit. As your banker laughs, think how much the value of that old Cinelli and your stashed N.R. group has increased in the last 3 years. Then look at the interest rate on savings accounts that the bank pays. Yep - that's right - you can laugh. But not as hard as the person who had all their money in a Standard and Poor's indexed Mutual Fund. Hindsight is always 20/20 as they say. We hope you enjoy this price guide. Happy hunting and happy collecting!
Atala had some nice track bikes - all chrome with nice painted panels which had an attractive translucent quality. Because these bikes were both mid-level and very common, their value is based mostly on their parts. N.R. bikes except Universal brakes valued about $550. With N.R. brakes about $600.
Atala track bikes, as described above, are attractive. That doesn't make them particularly valuable. Nice examples about $550.
As a small word of caution, don't be terribly excited buy seemingly ornate lugs with cut outs on some Atala models. Such frames are very common and not terribly unique or desirable. In Italy, they are everywhere - even on the typical commuter bike.
[Atala had the only bicycle in the $150 price range in the early 1970s, with Fiamme rims and Campagnolo Nuovo Tipo hubs. No, it wasn't anything fancy, but it would stop in the wet! -- John Allen]
In the early 70's they had a few different models - some pretty crude, some rather pleasant. The fancy models had an interesting smoke paint finish that was a Swiss version of a really nice fade - decades before they became the rage.
While some models are nice, there is not a lot of demand for them so value is again parts based. For very clean smoke examples value may be a bit higher. For regular N.R. examples figure $600. If an attractive smoke finish bike perhaps $750.
The name "ALAN" is actually an acronym for the Italian equivalent of "ALuminum ANodized."
The top end bike was the Ultima. A dark purple or lavender color. Early models had full Campy Titanium Super Record including Ti pedals and bottom bracket. Use of Fiamme Ergal rims and Unicanitor saddles made these bikes stand- outs in the world of production bike mayhem. Such early examples with the goodies in place are worth about $1,100. Since the early S.R. is what makes these so special, later models are worth much less, perhaps $ 800.
The next model down was the Superleicht - These were typically a cream color. Red examples were framesets sold separately . These N.R. bikes which were slightly less finished than the Ultima are worth about $650. There were many other Austro-Daimler models - many featured Reynolds tubing and assorted European components. These non-Campy models are much less valuable, perhaps only a few hundred dollars to the right buyer. They often make great riders and are wonderful for the economy enthusiast.
Back in the late 1970's, I sold my interest in my moped shop and went to work for Steyr-Daimler-Puch of America. At that time, they were only importing mopeds from their factory in Graz, Austria.
As the moped market tapered off, they brought in their Puch bicycles. They were low to medium models, many with European components and some with Asian components. Sales were very slow, due to heavy competition in these low to medium markets.
Puch also made top of the line bikes, but were unsure if they would sell, due to the poor showing of their other bikes. They decided to dust off one of their old names - Austro-Daimler - and introduce their best bikes in America under that name.
The top frameset was known as the "Team" frameset. It was imported in red paint, gold decaling, and with Campy's very best headset. The "Team" frame was Reynolds 531, investment cast lugs and silver soldered. The same frame was painted a dark purple, equipped with full Campy SR, and sold as the Ultima. And the same frame was painted cream color (known as champagne), equipped with Campy's NR, and sold as the Superleicht. My memory may be gone, but I believe the frameset (with the Campy bearings) was 4.1 pounds
To get the word out, Steyr-Daimler-Puch of America created two bicycle teams. The men's team rode the A-D Ultima, while the women's team had their Ultimas repainted in Puch green, with Puch decaling (in Europe, all factory riders rode the Team bike in Puch green, with Puch decaling. The name Austro-Daimler was only used in the American market). The teams won a number of races, with the highlight being Connie Carpenter winning the women's road race gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
The company also introduced the Vent Noir. A step below the Team frameset, it had a very unique feature. The frame went through a "secret process" which made it impervious to scratches. It was not painted. From what we could tell, it was hard-chromed (the type of chrome you use on engine crankshaft journals, not the kind for hubcaps), and then some sort of anodizing on top. You could take a knife or a file, and you couldn't scratch it. The factory never did tell us what they did. But it worked!
I left Steyr-Daimler-Puch of America in 1980, as the moped market was on the decline. I left the industry at that time.
Although unconfirmed, it is my understanding that the bicycle and moped division of Steyr-Daimler-Puch went out of business in 1987. The bicycle inventory, and the name Puch bicycles, was purchased by Bianchi of Italy. Steyr-Daimler retained the Austro-Daimler name, although it is not active at this time (and probably never will be again).
I believe the Steyr-Daimler organization still makes Steyr (Mannlicher) rifles, bearings, and automotive parts, particularly parts for 4-wheel drive components for Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Volkswagen and BMW.
Thanks for letting me run on. It was fun to think about some of the nice times in my past.
... Pat O'Reilly
Ron Cooper is the builder of a current remake of the Bates. The new ones have very ornate hand cut lugs. The old ones, though, are very special. Since the original company ceased production in the mid 60's, there shouldn't - I believe, be any true N.R. examples out there. values will depend on what goodies a particular example has. Figure for a nice example a price around $1,000 should be very reasonable.
With Bianchi bikes, I sense that originality is more important than with other bikes - that might only be a guess. Size is also important. Early Bianchi bikes are so well known that foreign buyers should have interest in them. That means that smaller sizes could tend to be worth more. This is more true when dealing with very early examples. Late 70's Specialissima models no longer featured the integral headset. Such bikes seem less distinctive - Super Record models by then perhaps worth $1,200. Early 80's models seemed to become more generic. Figure $850 for Super Record and $700 for N.R.. There was a Competizione model in the mid 60' `s that featured 27" wheels and was a tourer. Such models, which also have the integral headset, are worth about $600. Note that there were many lesser models of Bianchi bikes that look the part but are really pretenders. The notable feature is they have seamed tubing which implies a less then noble purpose. Such bikes are fun to play with but are only worth a few hundred at most. Bianchi produced a Centenario bike in the early 80's using early C-Record components. They even had (at least some did) large flange C-Record hubs. These bikes should become collectors pieces soon if not already. To pay $1,500 -$2000 for one would probably be reasonable.
It was the top of the line Bianchi for 1987-88. It is also sometimes called a Specialissima X-4 and was equipped with early Campy C-record and Campy Cobalto brakes. Columbus SLX tubing. Lots of custom engraving included the head tube emblem, fork crown, seat stays, lugs had a "B" cutout; the rear brake-bridge was engraved with an "X-4". Black chromed (or painted) head tube, fork, rear stays - Celeste everywhere else. They were not found in any US Bianchi Catalogues, and they retailed at about $2075. Since few people know of these frames, bargains can be had!
[In the late '80s, Benotto handlebar tape was the thing to have on a racing bike. It was a thin translucent plastic tape, and came with the world's worst handlebar plugs.]
European team bikes. These are pretty neat. Figure such an S.R. equipped model at about $800. There are many relatively early Bottechia bikes in the U.S. One model in particular has Universal brakes, Nervar crank, and Record derailers Such a bike is worth perhaps $375.
The company was probably most prolific before the Campy N.R. period. For top-end interesting bike from the 40's through the 60's, probably worth about $750. value will depend most on the parts. Note that the Claud Butler name seems to have re-emerged in the late 80's. They are not in the same spirit as the old.
Felice Gimondi won the 1965 Tour de France on a Chiorda.
In the mid 70's the Chiorda name was put on some spectacularly junky bikes, with Valentino derailers, Balilla brakes, steel rims and cottered cranks.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I actually sold some of these horrible bikes in the mid '70s.
The bad ones can be identified by the use of a "Pletscher Plate" as a seatstay bridge, instead of a proper tubular bridge.
Less obvious is the faux-lugged head tube construction. The head tube and both head "lugs" are actually a single stamping. These bikes only came in one frame size, 22". They were an attempt by Chiorda, previously a highly regarded name, to cash in on the U.S. Bike Boom of the mid '70s, when you could sell anything as long as it was a "ten-speed."
Late 40's to mid 50's models with Cinelli crest decal on fork blades are very rare! Road models under 58cm are perhaps worth about $4000. Track bikes, lower end tourers, or large bikes are worth perhaps $2,500. Mid 50's to late 60's top road models under 58cm should be worth $2,500.
Models with rare parts, such as early Record cranks with the raised lip around the pedal threads should be worth perhaps $3,500. Size will matter.
N.R. equipped bikes from 1968-1997 are prone to wide value fluctuations. For a brief period, such bikes in smaller sizes were very valuable in Japan. Prices have since fallen quite a bit due to Dollar/Yen changes and general economic conditions. Domestic prices now similar to those currently being paid by Japanese buyers. Figure bikes in guideline condition sized from 53cm to 59cm are worth about $2,400. Larger bikes seem to be worth somewhat less, while very large bikes (above 62cm) are probably worth only about $1,200. Smaller sizes in silver may be worth a bit more to buyers in Japan. It seems that Japanese buyers love Cinelli bikes in Silver!
Model B Cinelli bikes are very nice but generally not worth more than $1,200. 4
Around 1978 Cinelli was sold to the Columbo family. There are bikes with either the new or old logo's from this period. Until about 1980, while the graphics could go either way, the brake bridges and bottom bracket shells had new Cinelli logs making these bikes recognizable. Headbadge examples are worth more, perhaps $1,600, although modern logo bikes from the same period are just as good. From around 1980 until perhaps 1981 or 1982, Cinelli bikes with the new logo using a 26.2 seatpost and the lugs with 3 holes in each were very nice. Many do not consider these to be "real" Cinelli bikes, but they are at least as good as many of the earlier ones. Apparently either some very good builders from the previous period continued on, or work was contracted to outside builders of considerable talent. These bikes from this period deserve to be classics in their own right. Their geometry is upright, yet the ride is comfortable. These are bikes designed for the fast short distance riding so common in the United States. They, nonetheless, will handle mountain descents with ease as well! These bikes are worth perhaps $1,500 and are worth every penny and then some.
Sometime around 1983 it all ended. The 26.2 sleeved seat lug was replaced wit a different cast model that used a 27.2 post. The familiar 3 hole lugs were gone as well. Quality during the following years took a pretty heavy hit as well. Many examples didn't even have chrome lugs. These examples in S.R. are worth about $800. By the late 80's quality improved and chrome lugs returned. It just, however, isn't the same.
A bike with lots of quality variations. Not sure of all the details, but apparently Ciöcc is a name conjured up by a respected builder - his bikes were quite nice but the name got placed on a bunch of other bikes that were not of the same caliber. The San Cristobal was the most famous model and features funky chromed narrow lugs and fun cut-outs. There were real ones, then real copies, and today's modern day copy. Figure that for something late 70's in the San Cristobal a value of perhaps $1,200. For less exciting examples figure maybe $ 900 or $950. These are all generally great riders of classic Italian design.
Not sure when Colnago started, but in 1970 or 1971 Colnago had a different decal set. The headtube, seat ube, and downtube panels had a giant white square with the famous clover.[club?] Early models also have a fork crown with two holes on both outer sides of the crown. The lugs each had the clover cut-out that is either hand done or produced by the worlds most uncoordinated machine. These bikes are pre-bike boom models and are very uncommon. Prices in the low $ 2,000 should be considered reasonable. Size does matter here, so models under 52 cm and over 59cm will be potentially worth a good bit less.
By 1972 or 1973 the decals became more modern. Gone was the Comic-book graphics, although the style was quite similar. A Clover with "Colnago" written below on both the head tube and seat tube became the norm. The downtube, I believe, just said "Colnago". There was a special Eddy Merckx version during this period with fun pantographing and an awesome drilled chainring. For details see the current book on the Tour which contains a photo of Merckx next to a bike which is clearly a Colnago. The regular version of the bike should be worth close to $1,800, while the Merckx model maybe $2,200.
By the early 70's the bike boom was under way and Colnago pumped out bikes as though the future of humankind was at stake. These mid 70's bikes should be worth about $1,000. Note that interest in these bikes is deep. It is well known that Colnago frames were built like - well, let's not go there. More importantly, Colnago frames almost always ride like a dream. That is more important. For that reason it is easy to sell an older Colnago.
By the late 70's Colnago had even more frame varieties. We never could figure out the difference between a Mexico and a Super. In fact, everyone who tried to explain it to us has been contradicted by other "experts". Mexico models, I believe, should have different chainstays. Then again, the gold plated Mexico I once saw seemed absolutely identical to a Super. I hope someone can help out with this! Regardless, late 70's Colnagos should be worth about $900 or so, same for early 80's examples. There were some nice looking examples in the early 80's with crimped top and downtubes. They ride wonderfully, although some had paint that peels if you look at it.
There were some late 70's and early 80's examples that are built with the soul of an Italian Huffy. These sad examples are probably worth $ 675. The notable characteristic of these is a hideous seatstay attachment.
In the early 80's the Master model was evolving. The 1983 World Championship bike ridden by Saronni was gorgeous. With Candy Red (Wine Color), white panels and black lettering, these bikes are future collector gems. They often have crimping on the top and downtube, An example of this in guideline condition should be worth perhaps $ 1,500. A very sought after example is the Arabesque. Very ornate lugs, sometimes chrome, these are for many the most sought after Colnago. Produced until quite recently, a guideline condition bike with S.R./N.R. part mix should be worth about $2,000. To pay a bit more is not unreasonable.
For early examples (cut-out lug examples) in prime sizes (less than 59 cm) figure a value around $2,500. These bikes also hold considerable in the Japanese market too! Japanese buyers favor Cinelli and DeRosa bikes when it comes to Italian race iron. Mid 70's through mid 80's bikes without all the neat cut-outs are worth perhaps $1,200. In general, the earlier the better.
There is an Anniversary DeRosa model from around 1987 that features pantographed C-Record components - very nice! Figure such a piece should be worth around $1,700. Because bikes of this era are not yet hot collectibles as N.R./S.R. bikes are, these represent excellent investments. Early C-Record is gorgeous and should take off in price!
Fiorelli built the Coppi frames, although who knows who really built Coppi's actual bike. Aside from the funky factor, these frames are not terribly sought after. Figure price to be based mostly on parts value. In the early to mid 80's Fiorelli bikes in the U.S had nifty cut-outs, fun bright paint, and descent workmanship. For these bikes in full N.R. figure perhaps $600.
[Fiorelli was an important builder of tandems in the '60s.]
Most Frejus bikes feature rather mediocre workmanship, but there are moments of precision. It doesn't matter. These were the bikes that scores or U.S racers rode during the dark days of U.S bicycle racing when a small but highly dedicated group of enthusiasts upheld the cycling faith. Besides, a clean or restored Frejus IS a beautiful bike. These bikes are collectible for all these reasons and more.
The value of an older Frejus will depend on its specific parts. An early 60's model with "raised pedal lip cranks", an original leather saddle, and other goodies, could be worth close to $2000. Earlier bikes with more interesting but not as rare parts perhaps $1000 - $1200. Bikes from the 60's with Record equipment are probably worth around $1400. Late 60's models with oilers in both the headtube and bottom bracket are worth about $1300. Early 70's models with perhaps one oiler and full N.R. are worth perhaps $ 1,200.
In the early 70's, Frejus became more intertwined with Legnano (one bought the other) and certain changes were made. A head decal replaced the headbadge, and eventually the classic seat cluster. was discontinued. As the bikes become more generic, their value falls. The most bland models should be worth about $ 750.
[The early '70s S-10-S was the first Japanese bike successfully designed for the U.S. market. In the late '70s, the S-10-S was the first mass-produced bike with a 6-speed freewheel See also my Article on Japanese Bicycles.]
Michael Kone is the former owner of of Bicycle Classics, Inc. He was also the editor of the late, lamented Vintage Racing Bicycle Newsletter, where this article originally appeared.
|Articles by Sheldon Brown and others|
Last Updated: by Harriet Fell