Details are Important
I loved this bike pictured above. It’s actually one of the favourite bikes I’ve ever ridden, a Miyata 912 that was in really superb condition. It wasn’t dressed up in Campagnolo, didn’t have a flashy paint job or fancy pants lugs, it was just a dynamic, high quality racing machine. The 912 was quite high up in the Miyata catalogue of the the mid 1980’s, having excellent tubing ( double butted cromoly ), a Shimano 600 crank and other good quality Japanese parts. It rode better than any Italian bike I’d ever owned, including my old Colnago. Yet, just look at that stem. It ruins the look of the bike.
Many old bikes are sold without their brake lever hoods. Understandably, after decades of wear and tear, they just wither away and can’t be salvaged. Some hoods are just a pitiable sight, hanging on in place but barely surviving. Simply put, a vintage road bike without its brake hoods is just less attractive than one with hoods in place. If you’re looking to sell your bike, or restore it, buying new hoods or at least finding a set of levers with their hoods intact is essential. The only thing is, even replacing old Weinmann hoods won’t be cheap. Ebayers often charge a good sum for these small but important aesthetic items.
Saving yourself some money can often lead to the spoiling of your vintage bike’s good looks. Here is a clear case: the Bianchi in the photo above has lost its original matching celeste and black front tyre, to be replaced with a clashing red one instead. I’m not sure I could live with that. Every time I’d look at it, I would feel a pang of guilt and shame. So yes, if you have a bike of this quality, having matching tyres is very important to the looks of your ride. For an extra £10 or so, you could be riding around on a matching wheelset that shows off your lovely frame. You wouldn’t drive round with one red tyre on your car, would you?
No Ugly Fork Replacement
Forks can be victims of bending and warping after a front end crash, or even from hitting a kerb. It is not uncommon to find vintage bikes with a replaced fork, but the problem for anyone with an old bike is finding a fork that matches the frame. It can be an impossible task for those trying to find a perfect match for a frame that has been out of production for decades. What many people do is replace their damaged fork with a chrome one, which can be the best compromise. However, some vintage bikes will have a lovely frame, only to be spoiled by possessing a glaringly mismatched fork. It really cuts the value of a vintage racer, and most often ruins the appeal of the whole bike.
The saddle is a crucial part of the bike and your riding experience, but is often overlooked when it comes to the buying and selling of vintage rides. Yet, it has to be said, most saddles on vintage bikes are well past their best and should be replaced. They may not be comfortable, will often have lost their shape and support, and can often be rock hard if made of leather. On top of this, an ugly saddle is like a man wearing a silly hat: it just undermines everything. This is especially true of the rounded, fat saddles, made purely for a comfort. And don’t get me started on the crap looking saddle cover. If you want to increase the value of your bike, don’t humiliate it with a fat-bottomed saddle.
Handlebar Tape – Matching!
I knew a friend who used to have a lovely blue Mondia bike, with matching blue toe straps and blue suede saddle. Yet, for some unknown reason, he got it into his head that yellow handlebar tape was the colour of choice for his lovely old Swiss bike. Though I had great regard for him and his super light racer, I could never get past that grip tape. It was atrocious. So here’s the thing: if you’re going to replace your original bar tape, choose something that matches the colour of the frame, or compliments it and sets it off. It’s really worth it, and will help you enormously if you are selling your bike.