As silly as this suggestion might sound, looking is very effective.  However, the looking skill, even though you have spent your entire life looking, needs to be developed.  It does take a bit of time to become really good at it.  WARNING! - Once you develop the looking skill, you will not be able to turn it off.  In fact, once you start to actively look, you will be amazed at the number of old "Ten Speeds" that cross your path each day.  However, most of them will not be available but MY "TEN SPEEDS" will help to make them so.

While Yard Sailing one day, I could not help but notice a nice old French Peugeot, tucked away between two out buildings.  After finishing at the Yard Sale, I went next door and inquired about the bicycle.  The bicycle turned out to be a rather nice, early seventies Peugeot U0-18 and the owner said that he would be happy to get it out of his way.  He added that I was welcome to it, if I wanted it.  The bicycle came home with me.

Today, that same bicycle, is one of apparently very few Peugeot bicycles in Australia.  A fellow "Down Under" liked the bicycle so much, that he went to the trouble, and huge expense, of having me send it to him.  And, the Peugeot ended up in Australia, rather than the Dump, simply because I was looking!

I have hunted for vintage road bicycles in several major cities, towns and villages, in Canada, the United States and Jamaica.  I hunt when traveling city streets and highways, alike.  I hunt for vintage bicycles in my pick-up truck or while riding one of my beautiful road bicycles.  I hunt all the time and I have learned a thing or two about looking.

Don’t waste too much time looking for old bicycles, on display in front lawns.  Rare is it that people will take the time to store that “in the way again” old bicycle in plain view.  Rather, look beside garages, sheds and fences – out of the way places, in back yards, where a bicycle has something to lean against.  There is where the bicycles will likely be, sometimes partially covered by man and/or even nature made stuff.  This looking method can be greatly optimized if you take the time to walk (or ride) up and down back lanes or alleys.

This early eighties Bianchi Rekord 848, was all but abandoned in the back of a rusted, and dilapidated, pick-up truck, whose bed was filled with other debris.  The Rekord, though the front wheel had been removed, was absolutely complete and in very good condition. However, the bicycle's condition was not immediately apparent, since it was so dirty. The next question, of course, was is the bicycle available?  It certainly looked available.  After all, the bicycle was thrown away - wasn't it?  Anyway, I did inquire.

There was no answer at the door, when I knocked.  When out and about, I always keep a note book and a pen with me.  I attached a note, with my phone number on it, to the front door, indicating my interest in the bicycle.  My impatience got the better of me and, later that day, I went back and managed to hook up with the owner.

Suddenly that "in the way, might as well pitch it out" old bicycle was worth something to the owner - $20.00!  Not a problem, as far as I was concerned, and the Bianchi hopped into (with my help, of course) the back of my Ford Ranger.  That beautiful old Bianchi now lives in sunny California and the present owner is thrilled to have it.

In the early Spring and late Autumn, when most of the tree and bush foliage is gone, I like to take my mountain bicycle out for spins though neighbourhood lane ways.  I spend an hour or two, getting a bit of exercise, while looking at out of the way vintage road bicycle storage places.  Or, if my youngest grandson is interested, and he always is, he and I will walk lanes together.  I look for vintage bicycles, while he searches for neat sticks, which the little guy then proceeds to swing at imaginary enemies.

I do not like to go, into a person’s back yard, to inquire about a bicycle.  Rather, I make the mental note of the house’s appearance and, once I have finished walking/riding the lane, I go to the front of the house and knock on the door.  If someone is home and answers, I inquire about the availability of the bicycle.  If there is no one at home, I leave a note in the mail box, with my name, phone number and interest documented.  I also jot down the address of the bicycle's location, and keep that information for future reference.  I just might want to go back and inquire again some day.  And, I always do.  What is not available today, might prove to be so tomorrow.

Remember, any vintage road bicycle sitting outside, is all but thrown away, by the time it reaches its "out of doors" storage place.  To the owner, the bike is practically worthless, but that will change immediately, if you offer to buy the bicycle…

When I first speak with a bicycle’s owner, I generally do not mention purchase, at the onset of the conversation.  Nor do I mention the fact that I collect and resell vintage road bicycles, for a living.  Rather, my spiel, or presentation of interest, goes something like this…

“I noticed an old bicycle, sitting behind your shed and was wondering if you have any plans for the bike?”

As often that not, the person will indicate that they have no plans for the bicycle, and offer it to you for free.  On one occasion, I was out for a city cruise on my Canadian made Sekine SHT 270.  While riding, I noticed a somewhat dilapidated old Asian Sekine Verona in a driveway, leaning against a fence.  The front wheel had been removed and was laying on the ground, beside the bicycle.  I pulled into the driveway, unclipped, and carefully leaned the SHT against the fence.  I knocked on the front door and the resident soon appeared.

When I inquired about the Verona, it was offered for free, the owner thanking me, for getting it out of his way.  Before I could even respond, the owner told me to help myself to the other old bike.  Apparently, it was in the shed, in the back yard, and I was welcome to help myself.  Why not, and off to the old tin shed I headed.  That produced a second and gorgeous Sekine Verona, gained simply for the price looking and asking one question.

If the bicycle is not offered for free, explain briefly that you are looking for an old bicycle to fix up.  DO NOT mention vintage, antique, or collectible – words, such as these, assign monetary value, the moment they are spoken.  As often as not, the bicycle will be offered for free.  If not...

Ask the person if they would consider selling the bicycle to you.  If they will, inspect the bicycle carefully and, if the price is right, go for it.  If the price is high, try to bring the it down with a counter offer.  I usually say something like...

“I do like this old bicycle, but I am not sure if I want to spend quite that much.  Would you consider...?"

I usually offer half, or less, of what is asked.  If this works, buy the bicycle and bail – your task is complete.  If the bicycle is not available, thank the person for his or her time, apologize for interrupting their day and leave.  But do not forget!  Make a note of where you saw the bicycle, what kind it was, and any additional information that may be useful later on.  Save the record for future reference.  What is not available today, might well be available tomorrow or, more appropriately, a year from tomorrow.

I know what you might be thinking.  The bicycles are not out there - but they are and they surface all the time.  Once you have this fundamental idea of looking, in you head, and practice it a bit, you will not be able to not notice old bicycles sitting here, there, and everywhere.  At least, that is the way it works for me.