MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

BICYCLE VINTAGE - INTRO

FRAME SET CLUES

COMPONENT CLUES

COMPONENT NUMBERS

BIKE DECADE - EXAMPLES

VINTAGE ID CONCLUSIONS

 

VINTAGE DETERMINING CONCLUSIONS

As often as not, a vintage bicycle's actual year of manufacture, will be lost in time.  With this in mind, finding ways to estimate vintage becomes a valuable skill to have.  However, the skill, which can be partially taught, does take time,  effort and practice to learn.

There are several frame and component characteristics that can offer clues pertaining to actual vintage or year of manufacture.  These characteristics include, but are not limited to, frame set characteristics (lugs, drops, tubing, braze-ons, paint and art), component characteristics and component numbers.  Time spend observing and comparing frame and fork features, just might point the way to actual vintage.

Information, unless absolutely specific, can be horribly misleading, causing the investigator to miss the vintage mark by a decade, or more.  This is a result of trickle down technology.

Innovation and cutting edge technology is often reserved for top of the line bicycles.  However, once introduced on high end bikes, the new technology would later be used on lesser models and, probably, for many years after introducing the technology into the field.  With this in mind, a bicycle from the early seventies might be originally fitted with the same derailleur as a bicycle from the early eighties.  It does happen and quite frequently.

Frame set serial numbers are, perhaps, the best way to determine a bicycle's vintage.  Serial numbers are usually stamped into the metal of a frame set.  The numbers can be located just about anywhere on the frame, be it under the bottom bracket, on the non-drive side rear drop, or on any tube selected by the builder.

Serial number data bases are available on the Net.  Some data bases will be comfortably complete, others less than complete.  Some nonexistent.  Serial number data bases, focusing on vintage bicycles, will continue surface and grow in the open  on-line community.  Perhaps, one day there will be a true wealth of such information available at the click or a mouse.

Not so obvious clues, distances being a good example, can also be used to ballpark vintage, and ballpark is the operative word.  Generally, as rear drop space distances increase, the age of the bike decreases.  In other words, a bicycle with a rear drop space of 120mm is most likely older than one with that of 125mm, or 130-135mm.  Again, the rule is general and spans decades with 120mm and 125mm rear drop spaces being available at the same time for the better part of three decades.

Though components offer both vintage estimating clues and accurate date codes, it is not, necessarily, possible to determine exact vintage of a bicycle, through the components fitted.

Components, manufactured in one year, might be left over and installed on bicycles manufactured the year following, or even the year after that.  Additionally, components can be switched with relative ease.  With this in mind, all of the components (the complete group) fitted to a bicycle, must be considered, before using the date code numbers to assign probable vintage to that bicycle.

As often as not, if a number or set of numbers looks like a date code of some sort, it probably is.  The trick is knowing how to use the code and that information is readily available on the Vintage Trek website.  More information is available on the Velobase site.  Google either and bookmark the pages for future reference.

And, be prepared for the possibility that a bicycle's age might well prove impossible to determine, or come even close to determining.  But in the end, although it is nice to know exactly what one has, it really makes little difference.  If the bike fits and feels good, just enjoy what it has to offer.

And keep searching, if it is truly important.  I do!

 

 

 

 

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