Buying Vintage Bicycles

What is a vintage bicycle?

Vintage bikes are typically defined as bikes that were produced between the 1920s and the 1990s, although the earlier date is open to debate. Mostly they are bicycles that have been made by hand and constructed with steel. In the past, steel was widely regarded as the best material for bicycle manufacture as it was considered the most responsive, hard-wearing and versatile material that was readily available. 

What is the difference between an antique bike and a vintage bike?

There are, of course, bikes that out-date vintage bicycles; often referred to as antique bikes, these will be even older and come from before the 1920s. Some of these antiques can still be ridden, but because of their age, they will serve you far better as being a collectible item that you leave out on display. The difference between a vintage bike and an antique bike is that a vintage bike can still be used frequently, provided they are in good condition on purchase and are cared for once you own them.

So is a retro bike a vintage bike?

Many of the companies that operated between the 1920s and 1990s are still producing bikes today. Lots of modern companies, founded outside of this era, are looking back to the golden age of racing bikes for inspiration for models. These modern reproductions are referred to as retro bikes, they may look like a vintage bike, but they will be kitted out with modern componentry and won’t provide the same level of joy as sharing someone else’s piece of history. 

A beautiful example of a retro bike: the Bottecchia Leggendaria. It has the classy style of a vintage bike but has been constructed with modern parts. 

Why should I buy a vintage bicycle?

There is nothing quite like the connection between you and the road as you get from riding a steel vintage bike. Steel is such a forgiving material and is not only capable of surviving the test of time, it also provides one of the most comfortable rides you can get. 

What makes a steel frame so good?

Bumps or abrasions on road surfaces are met with ease on steel vintage frames, making a steel vintage bike a great choice as a commuter bike or a leisure bike for weekend rides. Vintage bikes with steel frames can weigh less than 8kg! Although steel is considered a heavy alloy, in bicycle manufacturing it provides a great balance between strength, durability and weight - and if your bike is your prized possession and you want to display it in your house, it won’t pull a wall down!

There are however other things that make vintage bikes brilliant investments:

  • Use in everyday life: Due to the high build quality, vintage bikes can be great companions for everyday riding. 
  • Aesthetics: The attention to detail and original designs that comprise vintage bikes can turn them into real gems. Quite often collectors hang their bikes on the wall to display them as though it is a genuine piece of art.
  • Driving quality: The sophisticated construction combined with high-quality processed steel frames result in low rigidity and a pleasant driving experience.
  • Memories: Almost all vintage racing bikes represent a certain era of cycling. An original bike from this time is a tangible reminder of the glory of the past.
  • Quality: All vintage racing bikes are handmade, made of steel and constructed with high-quality workmanship. There was no facility to make things with automated machines, so every inch of each bike was carefully looked over by an expert when constructed. Qualities that are valued highly these days.
  • Collectibles: By definition, vintage racing bikes are limited editions as they are no longer in production. Many models were only produced infinite numbers, some were even released as rare editions. This combination is particularly appealing to collectors.
  • Environment: By purchasing a vintage bike, no new resources are used in construction and of course, less waste is created. A win-win. 
  • History: Many bicycles are inseparable from famous cycling teams or cyclists. Vintage bikes can therefore offer you the chance to share the same saddle as one of the greats. 
  • Value: Since the 1990s, prices of handmade steel bikes have consistently increased, with no end to the growth in sight. A lot of the bikes, therefore, can be used as a wise investment.
  • Historic bike events: For participating in historic bike races like L’Eroica, a vintage bike meeting certain criteria is mandatory.

The most famous vintage bike brands

Here is a spectacular example of a Colnago. On show here is the Colnago Mexico TT from 1981, which was similar to the one used by the USSR Olympic team in the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow. 

#1 Vintage Bianchi Bicycles

Founded in: 1985

From: Milan, Italy

About Bianchi: One of the oldest bicycle manufacturers. The first brand to introduce equal-sized pneumatic wheels.

Reasons to love Bianchi: High-quality Italian pioneers - many famous riders succeeded on Bianchi bikes in the 19th Century.

Recognisable by: Signature ‘Celeste’ colourway featuring somewhere on the bike, said to represent the colour of the Milan sky.

Available Bianchi Bicycles
57 Bianchi X3 Bicycle with 50th Anniversary Groupset
58 Bianchi Titan Top Road Bicycle
53 Bianchi TSX Reparto Corse Road Bicycle 1990s
53 Team Bianchi Specialissima Pietro Guerra Bike 1974

#2 Vintage Colnago Bicycles

Founded in: 1952

From: Cambiago, Italy

About Colnago: Founder Ernesto Colnago was a medical equipment engineer who pursued bicycle manufacture after an injury ended his own racing career.

Reasons to love Colnago: Ernesto was a mechanic as well as a manufacturer and assisted many champions, such as Merckx and Masi.

Recognisable by: Their logo is something similar to the ‘clubs’ symbol from a deck of cards.

Available Colnago Bicycles
53 Colnago Master Più Retinato Road Bicycle 1980s
55 Colnago Super Oro 24k Gold Plated Bicycle 1970s
54 Colnago Master Olympic Competition Art Decor 1990s
55 Colnago Super Light Blue Road Bike 1980s

#3 Vintage Eddy Merckx Bicycles

Founded in:1980

From: Belgium

About Eddy Merckx: Founded by one of the greatest cyclists of all time: Eddy Merckx after his retirement.

Reasons to love Eddy Merckx: The bikes have been deemed worthy of use by a true champion of the sport.

Recognisable by: Merckx’s initials blend together to produce a cyclist for their logo.

Available Eddy Merckx Bicycles
57 Eddy Merckx Corsa Team Telekom Road Bicycle 1993
52 Eddy Merckx Strada Team Stuttgart Road Bicycle 1980s
54 Eddy Merckx MX Leader Classic Road Racer 1990s
51 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra Ladies Rioad Bicycle 1990s

#4 Vintage De Rosa Bicycles

Founded in: 1953

From: Milan, Italy

About De Rosa: Before entering into frame manufacture, Ugo de Rosa, the founder, was an amateur racer but wasn’t satisfied by merely racing so created his own business.

Reasons to love De Rosa: De Rosa teamed up with many champions throughout the years, proving just how well-built and reliable his bikes are. 

Recognisable by: The De Rosa logo is a heart, either featuring in the ‘o’ of Rosa, or around the ‘D’. 

Available De Rosa Bicycles
57 De Rosa Record Strada Classic Road Bicycle 1970s
51 De Rosa Strada Record Classic Road Bike 1975
53 De Rosa Professional Strada Road Bicycle 1979
56 De Rosa Professional SLX Classic Road Bike 1980s

#5 Vintage Peugeot Bicycles

Founded in: 1882

From: Mandeure, France

About Peugeot: Founded before the car side of the business, Peugeot was a trusted and sturdy European brand manufacturing high-quality bicycles.

Reasons to love Peugeot: Peugeot supported mainly French manufacturers of componentry even though the market was broadly dominated by Campagnolo.

Recognisable by: Featuring a pouncing lion on most items they produce, they also enjoy a black and white checkerboard design.

Available Peugeot Bicycles
51 Peugeot Lavandou Classic Ladies Bike 1989
50.5 Talbot Mixte Classic Ladies Bike 1980s

#6 Vintage Gios Bicycles

Founded in: 1948

From: Turin, Italy

About Gios: A father-son business that gained notoriety in the 1970s after many successful years of professional racing.

Reasons to love Gios: One of the most distinctive brands that will sell you a bike in any colour you want, as long as it is blue!

Recognisable by: The Gios bright blue comes from a partnership with Brooklyn chewing gum in 1972, and since then the colour has remained. 

Available Gios Bicycles
54 Gios Compact Pro Evolution Road Bicycle 1990s
50 Gios Torino Super Record Small Road Bicycle 1980s
58 Gios Compact KK Neo-Retro Bike

Some of the most famous vintage bike brands

Nevertheless, there are many more classic vintage brands out there that are excellent too!

How much is a vintage bike worth?

Vintage bikes can vary greatly in price, but that depends on how many of the bullet points above are met. For example, a bike that meets all the criteria could cost in excess of €30,000.  Normally though vintage bikes will cost between €2,000 and €10,000 - but you may also be able to find less costly bikes for around €1,000.

However, if you’re extremely lucky, you might be able to source a gem for around €400-€500, these bikes would have been made for comfort and city travelling as opposed to speed. Often, they will be referred to as Mixte or Sport Bikes and provide an interesting and reliable alternative to a more expensive vintage road bike. 


What are the different types of Vintage Bikes?

Ladies Vintage Bikes

Available Ladies Bicycles
48 Pinarello Veneto Ladies Bicycle 1980s
51 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra Ladies Rioad Bicycle 1990s
48 Colnago Sport Classic Ladies Road Bike 1970s
50 MBK Sprint Classic ladies Bicycle 1990s

Randonneur Bikes

Available Randonneur Bicycles
58 Manufrance Classic Randonneur Bike 650B

Road Bikes

Available Road Bicycles
57 Bianchi X3 Bicycle with 50th Anniversary Groupset
57 Motobecane Profil 3 Classic Aero Bike 1980s
56 Gitane Fine Bicolour Road Bicycle 1990
54 Bottecchia Leggendaria Rosso Size 53

Track Bikes

Available Track Bicycles
66 Grazzini Pista Classic Track Bicycle 1980s

Urban Bikes

Available Urban Bicycles
62 Bauer Super Sport Gentlemen City Cruiser

Time Trial Bikes