It is one thing to understand all of the little, and not so little, things that can be used to help determine a bicycle's exact vintage.  It is another thing to understand that the exact vintage might well be lost in time forever.

Know also, that there is a tremendous blend of vintage technology, feel and appearance.  Top of the line bikes get the cutting edge stuff, which then begins the trickle down process to lesser machines, as the edge of technology leads the Velo charge, once again, focusing only on the top Velo dogs.

However, even though there is a slow move in technology and appearance, it is not that difficult to get an immediate feel for a bicycle's possible vintage.  Consider the following era examples, era being broken into decades.


Only one old road bicycle that has passed through The Old Shed can lay claim to being of 1940 something vintage.  That bike, a 194? French made Automoto, an early road bicycle, in the Porteur style, and perhaps unfair to be considered for comparison to all others offered here.  All others being true road style bicycles.

The second bicycle that might be of forties something vintage would be an environmentally challenged Rochet, once again from the Land of Oh La La.  The Rochet experienced a short stay in The Old Shed and little was learned about the bicycle.  However, like the Automoto, the Rochet shouts old immediately.  There is no way their vintages could be compared to anything from the fifties (well, perhaps fifties)...


Only two road bicycles, from the 1950 decade, have found refuge in The Old Shed.  The first found, and what an interesting found story to retell, was a 1958 Carlton Flyer whose vintage was verified through component observation, the biggest clue being the date code, stamped into the inside face of the rear Campagnolo hub lock nut.

The second fifties something road bicycle acquired still hangs in the shed, waiting for its share of attention is a Canadian made CCM Westonia.  This old bike's vintage was determined through a sticker attached to the frame set.  The sticker, a provincial registration number (licence plate) suggest the year to be 1958.  This, in turn, suggests that the bicycle is, at the very least, of 1958 or newer vintage.  Probably.


This is the decade that starts to become confusing.  Road bicycle production was growing but not at the pace it would, with the onset of the seventies.  Road bicycles, of the sixties, offered many features found in bikes for the next forty years.  Alloy components were becoming more popular.  Multiple derailleur gear options increased.  Technology was changing.  And more bicycles were being purchased.

Comparatively few sixties road bicycles present themselves for vintage harvest, simply because there were not that many made.  That, however, would change dramatically with the onset of the 1970s and the beginning of the blurring of vintage appearance, feel and user friendliness.

Few sixties bicycles have come and gone and none can be proven to be of sixties vintage.  This old Torpado Luxe is one possible example of a road bicycle from the 1960 decade, but it would be a late sixties example, at best.

The serial number on this old Peugeot PX10 suggests the vintage to be 1963, but chances are the bike is not that old.  A better guess would be 1967-1969 and still of sixties vintage.  Bikes, like the PX10, are easily confused with bicycles from the seventies, sharing a host of features common to both decades.


Bicycles took a huge, absolutely huge, leap forward in the 1970s.  A huge increase in interest in the Ten Speed bicycle sparked sales in North America.  A time, that would become known as the Bike Boom years (1971-1972), saw North American bicycles sales more than double, in a single year, reaching volumes in the US alone that exceeded 15,000,000 units per year.

The bicycles pictured below are all of seventies vintage, and are presented in ascending order, from the 1971 Carlton Professional and then forward in time.  Not one in the row is older than 1975 and all are European.

In an effort to meet the huge increase in demand, many more bicycles were manufactured, and not with quality of construction in mind.  Volume was the target and there are still lots of early to mid seventies vintage road bikes to choose from, when compared to pre-Bike Boom and after the mid seventies vintages, all things being equal.

As mentioned, a host of the earliest seventies examples of vintage bicycles are of European origin.  That was about to change...

The second huge change in the seventies was the introduction of Japanese and domestic bicycles into the North American market place.  This, once again, allowed for an increased number of bicycles to be sold, hence increased availability today.  That said, few examples of early seventies Asian road bicycles have found their way into The Old Shed.

In fact, the only two early seventies examples of Asian bicycles includes an Sekine GS and a Fuji The Ace, the Ace being the newer of the two.

The big change the Asian bicycle brought to the table was quality.  Bicycles, manufactured in Japan in the seventies, were subject to a powerful business, nation wide, quality initiative that demanded products meet their customers needs and wants.  Though bottom line profit was the real goal, it was reached through customer satisfaction.  The quality of bicycles improved, thanks to the Japanese quality philosophy.  And those improvements reach all the way to today's wonderful machines we call still call bicycles.

The addition of the Asian road bicycle was accompanied by domestic production in North America.  Large companies, Raleigh and Peugeot coming immediately to mind, set up domestic shops.  Hand built bicycles began to appear, both in the US and Canada.  Though no hand built US machines have presented themselves, to date, a few lovely Canadian made seventies examples have found new homes in my personal collection.


Though there was a serious drop in sales, once the Bike Boom was spent, the sales volumes never did go back to pre-Boom days.  Rather, the sales dropped back by roughly forty percent, allowing for fairly decent bicycle production.  However, there does seem to be fewer bikes available from the second half of the decade.  However and by comparison, bikes from the early eighties on are relatively easy to come by.

Europe, Asia and domestic builders contribute mostly to the eighties vintage bicycles available today.  Japan, probably, captured most of the eighties market, unless the higher end bicycle was the focus of attention.  The best of the best still originated in Europe, but Asia and the domestic builders were making a bid for top dog honours, and, in many instances, winning.

It should be noted that far more Asian road bicycles, from the eighties, present themselves than do machines from Europe.  Companies like Bianchi, Peugeot and Raleigh were still in the game, but were also manufacturing bicycles at the domestic level.  None the less, there were many European machines imported into North America during the eighties.


Indexed shifting was introduced and soon became the technology of choice, even though many people still preferred friction only transmissions.  New paint technology, made fancy paint jobs more available and, often times, indicative of eighties machines.

The end of the eighties saw a new paradigm surface - the Brifter Shifter.  This, along with the new frame set materials such as carbon fibre, heralded in the modern road bicycle which do not, at the time of this writing, qualify as vintage machines.  And so too ends the quest for How Old Is My Bicycle?

Machines manufactures after the eighties will have good records available, directly from the manufacturer.  The vintage bicycle collector/restorer, in days to come, need only contact the manufacturer and ask when such and such a bicycle, serial number so and so, was made.  That information will be but a click away.