Wild Guesses of value
for Selected Vintage LightweightsOlmo
[This document, by Michael Kone, originally appeared in the Vintage Racing Bicycle Newsletter issues #14 & 15, in 1997. Sheldon Brown did some editing, converted to HTML, and made a number of additions, which appear in brown text.
Note that specific prices will have changed since 1997, but much of the other information remains useful.]
Someone I know once called Olmo the Schwinn
of Italy. That is because Olmo produces a full line of bikes - some of which are quite extraordinary. The fancy Olmo frames always struck me as being rather similar to Colnago Supers in overall appearance. Their quality is also fairly similar. Some are absolutely gorgeous, others are a bit sloppy. They are, just like Colnago, known for their very nice ride. There were many examples in the late 70's and early 80's that came through with wonderful pantographing and the sweet Campy "Mexico" crank. There were actually production bikes! In guideline condition
, one of these should be worth around $1,000. Models with no pantographing with N.R.
parts in guideline condition
should be worth around $800. Note that Olmo is a very old name in bicycles. As a result, you may find wonderful examples from the 50's and 60's too! value
s of those bikes is mainly determined by condition and scarcity of the parts.
These, for some reason, never fired me up. There were a large number of frames made that were of second tier construction. These built with N.R.
parts in guideline condition
should be worth, perhaps, around $600. Note that the more exceptional models would be worth perhaps considerably more.
From Mike Fabian:
Paris Sport was a house brand of the Fraysses' shop in Ridgefield Park, N.J. The Fraysse family has a long and VERY significant involvement with bike racing in the United States. At one time or another I believe Mike, father Vic, and grandfather Emile were all presidents of the USCF
, etc. and they were all very experienced racers of "the old school", i.e. heavily into track and old six-day lore, and of course, their local bike club, the North Jersey Bicycle Club(NJBC). They often managed / coached the Olympic/World Championship trips abroad during the "dark ages" of adult cycling in the US (the 40's to the early 70's).
Some of the confusion over the brands and wildly different quality levels comes from the fact that the Paris Sport shop imported many different frames and bikes which they re-badged and decalled as "Paris Sport". This is a very smart way to differentiate your bike shop from others, and is a common strategy once a shop acheives the size to bankroll such importing and wholesaling. The bikes ranged from the somewhat generic $150 ten-speed bike boom special/UO-8 clones all the way up to Vitus glued aluminum frames. There were also many different levels of steel frames brought in from the myriad of smaller bike companies which still existed in France. One of them was a company named Bernard Dangre', I believe. I can recall going downstairs at Paris Sport, into the frame shop at the very rear of the LOOONG store (it was once a bowling alley) and seeing dozens and dozens of road and track frames hanging up from the ceiling all primed up in flat green, just waiting for a buyer's choice of top-coat. None of them was exactly top-notch, they were all just production grade decent beginner to mid-level frames. I think the Fraysses used to do a fair amount of wholesaling to other bike shops around the bike-boom, so this is also why they would have had so many of these kind of things around. They would sometimes decal these frames as "Vigorelli" or "Star Nord". The Vigorelli's were the better quality frames back in the 80's.
The aforementioned framebuilding shop was located all the way downstairs and at the very back of the store. Here is where the likes of Pepe' Limongi, Ramon Orero, Dave Moulton, and Andres/Francisco Cuevas made and repaired frames. Apologies to the other names I have missed. There were a myriad of builders who worked there because the frame shop was operated as a sort of separate entity - it was rented to the various builders and the Fraysse's would try and steer a lot of business to whoever was building there at the time. Sometimes the frame shop didn't have a full-time builder. Mike and Vic offered to set me up and rent me the shop when I was a youngster trying to learn how to build frames back in the early-mid eighties. I was very inexperienced but that didn't seem to daunt Mike or Vic - who sort of encouraged me and promised that I would "learn as I went" (!) and that they would send lots of business my way. In retrospect, I probably should have tried it, but it all seemed like there were an awful lot of vague verbal assurances and promises, and I was pretty aware of my marginal skills at the time.
So the frame shop would sometimes feature transient builders who came over to the USA for a time and they would build for a while, get homesick or whatever, and then they would move on. Because Paris Sport was located a very short distance from New York City the foreigners were always relatively close to the various vibrant ethnic neighborhoods where they could feel a part of the community.
It was all a very different world in the bicycle business back then. A much, much smaller, more insular world where having good contacts abroad was perhaps not as easy to acheive as nowadays. The number of decent bike shops the size of Paris Sport were very few in the US during the 40's to 70's. Especially ones that had experience with high-end equipment and clothing. One additional aspect of Paris Sport that really impressed me at the time was the training and weight room that they had on premises. Now that was truly unusual at the time but such a brilliant idea for keeping people involved with the bike club and the shop during the winter months when business would slow. It was all part of an intelligent well-run bike club scene where a new rider could rub elbows with experienced riders/racers and "learn the ropes" of the arcane, dangerous, and little-known world of bike racing at the time. A rider could try their hand at club racing and activities BEFORE they entered the fray of "organized" craziness that passes for the domestic sport nowadays.
The lack of clubs like the NJBC, with their year-round activities (time-trials, road races, training rides, roller races, award dinners, social dances, interclub soccer matches, etc. etc.) and ability to transform a newbie into an experienced and knowlegible dedicated bicycle rider/racer - is what so hampers the current bike scene in the US. Lots of people riding very expensive bicycles, but with very little skill or expertise.
I think Mike Fraysse retired and sold the shop in the early to mid-1990's.
Mike Fabian in San Francisco
There were billions and billions of these sent to our shores in the 70's - well, almost. The bad news is that they were never terribly expensive. That's bad because it means that hard core riders didn't take care of them. The good news is that many cycling wanna-bees bought them and never rode them. Nearly mint examples do come up quite a bit. It must be remembered that there were many major races won on Peugeot bicycles. For that reason collectors have interest in them. Others have interest for personal nostalgia reasons.
The top model was the PX- 10. Most have fancy Nervex professional lugs, neat Simplex seatposts, Stronglight cranks, and the horrific plastic-meets-metal Simplex deraillieurs. Earlier models with Peugeot written plainly on the downtube in smaller sizes are probably worth as much as $700 in guideline condition. Later examples or those in larger sizes are probably worth $500 to $600 in guideline condition. Models that do not have the fancy Nervex lugs are worth a few hundred dollars less. Very early PX-10 type bikes which have the Sronglight 63 crank (looks like a 93 but has the logo of a 49D) is very rare and should be worth quite a bit in smaller sizes. There are also Peugeots similar to the one ridden by Bernarnd Thévenet, which has brazed-on brake caliper studs and other trick French parts and is perhaps worth around $ 1,300. Also note that there is some foreign interest in early Peugeot's, so in rare instances much higher values for just the right bike might be possible. Just don't count on it. There are lots of Peugeot bicycles out there, and not many well-heeled buyers looking to spend a whole lot on them.
Picchio? What the heck? We all know that there are some fine Italian builders we never hear of. This is one of them. There are some localized concentrations of these in various parts of the country where greater quantities came in. In guideline condition
parts, they are worth perhaps $700.
[I owned a cool Picchio tandem frame that I got from Mike. I liked it a lot.]
One of the major Italian builders. Given the strong recent success of racers on Pinarello frames, the interest in these is probably greater than ever. Really nice examples with S.R.
parts in guideline condition
are probably worth close to $900.
[Alexi Grewal rode a Pinarello to gold in the '84 Olympics. It was one of the first bikes to feature a fade paint job, and did a lot to popularize that unfortunate fad.]
Sante Pogliaghi is an important framebuilder. Also well known for his track
bikes and racing tandems. Early 70's examples with N.R.
components should have value
s around $ 1,100 - if not more. Pogliaghi also built frames under the label of a famous racer named Messina. By the late 70's Pogliaghi frames were built by others - in fact Rossin
eventually bought the name - or something like that. The later frames are, therefore, not the real thing, although many are fairly nice. Figure value
s of the later bikes with N.R.
components of around $750.
[Legend has it that Pogliaghi built lugged tandem frames when tandem lugs were unavailable, by first building a frame out of oversized tubing, then cutting the joints out and using them as the lugs to build the final frame.]
Raleigh bicycles come in all shapes, styles, and quality ranges. There are people who just collect Raleighs! In the early to mid 70's there were a few top- end level bikes to consider. The Raleigh Competition had Huret Jubilee deraillieurs, a rather soft but comfy frame, and TA three pin cranks. These bikes in guideline condition
are worth around $400. The International model had fun Nervex
professional lugs,lots of Campy N.R.
, but evil Weinmann centerpull brakes. In guideline condition
and in prime sizes these bikes are worth around $700. The Professional model had full Campy but was not nearly as comfy as the International. The exception is early models, which had a more comfortable but more sluggish geometry. Early Pro's in good sizes have value
s around $1,000 , while later models, still with the fastback seatcluster
, are worth around $850. Later models with a more conventional seatcluster are worth a bit less. The Raleigh Team bikes are another story. The famous red, yellow, and black bikes were important machines in the world of racing. An early N.R.
example with 531
tubing is worth around $1000. The 753
model with S.R.
goodies is a major collectible bike. Figure that one with original paint in guideline condition
is worth about $1,300. There were some 531
frames in the late 70's that were gorgeous. One of these in really nice condition with N.R.
parts should be worth about $850 to $900.
[Raleigh was the 900 pound gorilla of the British cycle industry from before the turn of the century. See also my articles on English 3-speeds and the Raleigh Sports]
A nice Italian bike. Quality varies a bit on these - some examples that were imported directly from Italy are not as spiffy as the typical export models we usually saw here. Figure that a nice early 80's S.R.
equipped example should be worth around $900 in guideline condition
Not sure of the spelling on this - a less well known French
custom builder along the lines of Herse
. Used really interesting proprietary parts and triangular frame reinforcements. Some of his work is shown in the DATA BOOK. A nice example would probably be worth in the $1500 - $2000 range, and would be a true bargain!
Paramount collecting is a hobby itself. In the late 30's Frank Schwinn envisioned that Americans would take to riding high-end bicycles for pleasure just as they often did in Europe at the time. Schwinn developed a top-end frame under the guidance of Oscar Wastyn. Also developed was a line of proprietary components of the highest quality. In this country we often wonder why top end lightweight production was never adopted by the major manufacturers - but it was, Schwinn did it! Anyway, Paramount production continued and by the mid 60's the bikes were built with 531
tubing and had lots of Campy parts and perhaps a Stronglight crank. These bikes in guideline condition
are worth around $900 (a bargain!). 70's race bikes (no eyelets) in prime sizes (21-23) are worth close to $1000 in guideline condition
. Chrome bikes a bit more (although they are a bit heavier and more prone to failure), and large bikes a bit less. Touring bikes are also worth a bit less. For example, a 24" tourer, perhaps the most common Paramount one will find, is worth about $700 in guideline condition
I've always wondered why Paramounts have not found a large audience among Japanese buyers. These bikes have neat Campy components, represent the cool aura of built in America, and usually have gorgeous chrome lugs. While many of these wire made, there are many buyers seeking these out of personal - nostalgia. Paramounts will always be among the most collectible of vintage lightweights.
Just about everything that applies to Rene Herse
also is applicable to Alex Singer. The frames were actually constructed by Singer's nephews, Roland and Ernst Csoka. The bikes Roland built seem to be somewhat more desirable. In fact, one can still order a frame from the company at their Paris shop today! Singer bikes have all sorts of fun racks and bags and neat brazed on fittings. Of course, there were many race bikes built that lack these features. They do, however, have a level of elegance that few other bikes can ever hope to attain.
For the most sought after bikes from the 70's with all sorts of neat proprietary touring goodies, values nearing $4000 are possible. Race bikes seem to fetch quite a bit less, perhaps $1500 to $2000. Many Singer bikes came into the U.S through the Cupertino bike shop. Under the guidance of Spence Wolfe, many of these bikes were fitted with parts rather uncharacteristic of French bikedom - lots of Campy and plenty of Phil Wood. Because of this, Singer bikes can be fitted with just about anything parts wise and still pass accuracy muster. For the bike to be valuable to overseas buyers, though, this parts goofieness just won't do. Because many Singer bikes don't catch the fancy of the will-heeled overseas set, they remain relative bargains in the U.S. Large frame examples, those without just the right goodies, and race bikes, are hard to sell for top dollar. These bikes are so handcrafted and so gorgeous that it is only a matter of time before the second tier gems from the 70's take off in price. In some years only 50 bikes wire produced!
A once-notable French marque
A very high quality British builder, actually still produces frames today. Especially nice are examples with wonderful box striping. Many examples also have gorgeous Nervex
professional lugs. I've met people who swear that Taylor frames ride like no others. Not sure about that, but it's nice that these frames do have a strong cult-like following. For nice N.R.
examples of the 70's in guideline condition
, a price approaching $ 1000 seems reasonable. The curved-seat-tube models might be worth a bit more.
These bikes are actually kinda cool. Sure, they might break at any time and at any place, but so many modern bikes do the same that perhaps they wire just trying to be ahead of their time! Smart riders get the titanium fork off the bike before riding it, and once a steel replacement is in place (keep the Ti fork for display purposes) these actually are fun to ride. Sure the ride is springy, but ah - it is so lively! Some Teledyne frames actually never seem to and are used quite regularly. Then again, some people think it is financial beneficial to play the lottery. For a really nice condition example with N.R.
parts, a value
of $900 seems reasonable.
A run-of-the-mill Italian frame, lots of them in Colorado. N.R.
examples worth about $550.
These bicycles are quite popular. Well known for very interesting detailing. Lots of neat cutouts, engraving, and in many cases lots of pantographed components. For a late 70's S.R.
pantographed bike figure a value
of around $ 1100 in guideline condition
Original Columbus or 531
bikes were really quite nice. Historians will probably treasure these bikes in years to come - or maybe not. Right now they are probably worth around $650 in guideline condition
. Reality is that these silver brazed machines could embarrass a lot of Italian iron of the time. Then Trek became confused and ventured into uncharted territory and alienated us purists. As we know, it was widely successful in doing so. What does that say about Trek? More importantly, what does that say about us?
Older Treks generally had very nice frames, well worth keeping/updating. The one area of weakness was that they tended to cheap out on the wheels. Many of them had the horrible Maillard Helicomatic rear hubs, and Trek house-brand "Matrix" rims. If you want a nice rider, an old Trek frame with new wheels can be a very nice classic ride.
For information on older Treks, see Vintage-Trek.com
Most examples are fairly mediocre. value
is pretty much a function of their parts value
. In the early 80's there were some nice ones with pantographed parts. Such S.R.
equipped models are probably worth around $700. -
Univega was never a manufacturer. It was a trademark of Ben Olken's Lawee distributors in Massachusetts, an importer. They were generally pretty decent bikes from various sources, mostly in Japan, later/lower end models were from Taiwan. In the late 1990s, the Univega name was sold to Derby, and Univega became a parallel line to Raleigh, with pretty much identical models under the two different names. The Univega name was retired around the turn of the century.
The bikes were generally good value production bikes, but not rare enough to be "collectible."
There were cheap mass-produced Urago biyclces and then there were absolutely spectacular Urago frames. One example we worked on a few years ago was among the finest bicycles we ever saw. Brazing and mitering were gorgeous, the arrow point on the side of the forkcrown was exquisite, and the ride of the bicycle was superb. For high-end examples such as this with N.R.
or correct era French
parts, a value
of $1,500 seems reasonable. Lesser models would have value
s based largely on their parts.
A somewhat less pricey Italian frame that was an excellent rider. There were some really nice examples in the late 70's and early 80's. An N.R.
equipped example in guideline condition
should be worth around $700.
Vitus was long the major French manufacturer of high-quality tubing, but in the '80s they became leaders in building frames from aluminum and later, carbon fiber tubing.
The North American Vitus frame facility is Harry Hauvnoonian, at Cycle Sport, home of HH Racing, 801 N. Providence Rd, Media, PA 19063, tel 610-565-9535. Last I knew, he could repair glued Vitus aluminum frames.
These were really fun bikes from Mexico. They made generous use of Campy parts, and the top-end frames were Cinelli knock-offs. When you see a Cinelli
frame with holes-in-the-lugs, using a 27.2 seatpost, say "Windsor painted-like-Cinelli". There are more that just a few Windsors floating around out there with Cinelli decals. A Windsor is nice, but it isn't a Cinelli. Windsor frames tended to use fairly heavy tubing that made for a stiff but dead ride. Figure that an N.R.
equipped Windsor in guideline condition
should have a value
of around $ 700. The Winsdor track
bikes are very nice - in guideline condition
they should be worth around $550.
A very old name in British building. Reality is that workmanship on them was never terrible great. There are very few really nice examples of the British bikes in the U.S. Figure a nice N.R.
example should be worth around $800 in guideline condition
There were not many British Witcombs around party because the company set up a U.S branch in the early 70's. Just as California Masi was the training ground for many famous west coast U.S builders, Witcomb USA became the focus of east coast building. Notables included Richard Sachs, Peter Weigle, Chris Chance, and several others. The frames they produced were quite nice, probably far beyond their British counterpart. These frames may one day become quite valuable because of their historical significance to U.S building. value
s of N.R.
bikes in guideline condition
of around $850 seem reasonable.
A friend years ago had a lime green Zeus built with Durifort tubing. It had fun cut-outs, had nice Campy N.R.
clone parts, and was just way cool looking. Such a bike today in guideline condition
should be worth around $750. Zeus bikes equipped with the legendary Zeus 2000 components are much rarer. In guideline condition
one should be worth at least $1200 to $1500 dollars. These bikes are very rare and very cool. [Spain. Zeus was also a maker of inexpensive knock-offs of Campagnolo parts.]
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.
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