The Economy of Vintage Bikes

Like many bike aficionados, I trade bikes and components. I’m not looking to make any money, just funding my hobby. It’s easy enough to buy a bike, strip it and sell bits I don’t need for more than I paid.  In the past I’ve built up bikes from spare frames and components and sold them. Anyone who’s into vintage bikes will tell you that it’s not something you do for the money. Even if I make a ‘profit’ on something, it quickly evaporates if I calculate the hours I’ve put in (let alone the cost of tools).

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I sold my Geminiani in 2014, I would have lost money at the same price today!

I know there are many people out there who make something of a living from buying vintage bikes in France and selling them in the UK. However, recent economic changes mean this is becoming a less interesting prospect. The pound is very low against the Euro at the moment, and both French postal costs and Ebay/Paypal fees are higher than they were a few years ago. With Vintage bikes a la mode right now, I get the impression that the supply down here is starting to wane. Many of the old ten speed every family had in the garage have made their way to a flea market or pawn shop and on to a new owner.

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If it says Campagnolo on it, it will usually sell at a decent price!

Unless something is higher end (Reynolds, Columbus or Vitus frames, top end French components, anything that says Campagnolo on it) and in good condition, it will likely not fetch a high enough price to make selling it worthwhile. It takes time to list items, package them, take them to the Post Office. Even then, a mistake in a postage calculation can leave you out of pocket. I did this recently, underestimating the postage, I sent a brakeset to the Far East essentially for free! The cost of shipping a complete bike runs into the hundreds; this needs to be considered before trying to sell.

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This 531 Randonneur is too small for me, but there are plenty of parts I can use, and the frame will sell on its own.

The long and the short of all this is that I’ll be trying to sell fewer items in future. I’ve got plenty of my own projects to focus on, I’ll be much happier devoting my full attention to those!

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