Your Guide to Vintage Bicycle Parts

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Your Guide to Vintage Bicycle Parts

More and more people are buying vintage bicycle parts for use with their bicycle. People buy vintage bicycle parts such as handlebars for a number of reasons; some do it for the aesthetic value while others claim the vintage parts are actually better built and can result in a more comfortable cycle. Buyers are able to buy a vintage part to replace almost anything found on a modern cycle, but it’s important to be aware of exactly what does what.

There are plenty of specialist stores and distributors that sell vintage bicycle parts, but buyers are advised to search eBay for these items. Not only does the site have an unbeatable selection, but also many of the parts are for sale at much lower prices than those found elsewhere. The following guide shall examine the most important vintage bicycle parts, and how to find these parts on eBay.

Vintage Bicycles

Vintage bicycles are popular with cyclists all across the world, but unfortunately many of these are not very comfortable when compared to modern standards. However, vintage bikes have an aesthetic worth and can be considerably more stylish than those sold today. Because of this, many people modify their existing bicycles with vintage parts. Some people also buy specific vintage parts as they feel that they offer a better quality of cycle, or can improve speed or stamina. Whatever the reason, buyers will find a large variety of these parts on eBay. Below is a breakdown of the various parts that can be bought on the site.

Wheels

Buyers have the option to purchase vintage wheels complete with tyres and tubing or else in separate parts. It is important for buyers to make sure that the wheel or wheel parts will fit with their current model. Measure the dimensions of the part that will be replaced and look for a vintage part with the same measurements.

Tyre Rim

The tyre rim is the circular wheel frame that the rubber tyre sits on. The rim supports the wheel and keeps the rubber tyre in place. Styles and sizes vary from bike to bike, so it’s important that buyers are confident that a vintage rim will be able to support their bicycle. It is advised that buyers search for rims that have more or less the same dimensions as the rims they are currently using. Vintage tyre rims are popular with cyclists who use road bikes, and there are plenty of vintage rims from companies like Raleigh available to buy on eBay.

Bicycle Fork

The bicycle fork is the component that connects the bicycle to the front wheel via the front wheel axel. The main difference between modern and vintage bicycle forks is the material they are manufactured from. Modern bicycle forks can be made from aluminium, carbon fibre, titanium or an alloy of all three, whereas vintage bicycle forks tend to be made from steel. Keep this in mind if browsing for vintage forks, as although steel forks are still suitable for use today they are considerably heavier than modern alternatives and can add extra weight to the bicycle. This may be a problem for those using their bicycles for time-trials or racing.

Tyre & Inner Tubing

Buyers need to check that the rubber tyre they wish to purchase will fit onto the wheel it’s being added too. Information about dimensions can usually be found in the Description box on a listing’s item page. If the page is without this information then request it using the Ask A Question feature. The inner tubing is the tube inside the tyre that is filled with air. Try to find tubing that has the same dimensions as the tyre rim, but if it is a few millimetres bigger it will still suffice.

Handlebars

The handlebars are one of three points of contact between the rider and the bicycle, and are used to give the rider directional control as well as the ability to brake.

Handlebars

There are so many variations of vintage handlebarss available to buy that the decision is usually made upon personal preference. Handlebars can be used to change the sitting position of the cyclist, and in turn change the style of cycling. Popular vintage handlebar styles include drop handlebars,, pursuit handlebars and flat handlebars. Buyers looking to use a drop handlebar should aim to purchase one that is the same width as their shoulders so their arms are parallel.

Brakes

Rim brakes are the most common form of braking system found on bicycles that have been manufactured in the past one hundred years. There are many types of rim brakes available to buy so buyers should spend some time researching into which would suit them best. Depending on the type of bicycle, buyers may need one or two rim brakes. A fixed gear bicycle uses only one rim brake on the front wheel, whereas all other bicycles that have freewheeled mechanisms use two. It is recommended that buyers opt for brand new brake pads, as this will ensure that the brakes will work properly.

Saddle and Seatpost

The saddle is the second point of contact between the rider and the bicycle. The seatpost is the component that connects the saddle to the bicycle. It is important to make sure that the vintage seatpost has the same measurements as the current part or else it will not fit properly and this can damage both the bicycle and the seatpost.

Saddle

Buyers interested in purchasing a vintage saddle should look for those that are made from leather and have some sort of supportive suspension built into the back. This will guarantee that the saddle will be comfortable and will be supportive of the lower back. Other materials commonly found in vintage bicycle saddles are rubber and plastic, but buyers are advised to avoid saddles made from these materials as they are often very hard and can be uncomfortable to cycle with.

Seatpost

As mentioned above buyers need to buy a seatpost that will fit correctly into their bicycle frame. Using a seatpost that is too thin can damage the frame or cause the component to snap. If the desired vintage seatpost is a few millimetres too thin, purchase some shims to give it the extra diameter it needs to fit properly. The standard sizing for modern seatposts is between 27.0 mm and 27.4 mm. However, vintage seatposts can be anywhere from 22.2 mm to 31.0 mm in diameter. The best way to check if the seatpost will be compatible is to measure the inner seatpost tube using engineering callipers. Avoid using a ruler, as this will not give an exact reading.

Frames

Many people buy vintage frames for aesthetic value, and these frames are often a lot more artistically designed than modern frames. Vintage bicycle frames tend to reflect the era they were built in, e.g. frames from the late 1960’s and early 70’s are known for their slim and minimalistic design. Vintage bicycle frames also tend to be a bit bigger than those made today. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to measure a bicycle frame and ensure it is a useable size.

  • Remove the seatpost and use the top of the seat tube as the top point of the bicycle.
  • Use the centre of the bottom bracket where the axel holds the cranks together as the lowest point of the bicycle.
  • Measure the distance between the two points to find the size of the bicycle.
  • Next, measure the inside leg from the crotch to the base of the foot.
  • The bicycle size should be between ten and fifteen inches shorter than the leg length.

Gears Shifters

Vintage gear shifters are traditionally attached to the centre of the handlebar stem. The number of cogs found on the chain set determines the amount of gears a bicycle has. 

Shifters

Gears are changed on vintage bicycles by moving the two shifter levers. The right shifter controls the rear derailleur, which moves the chain from cog to cog on the rear freewheel, while the left shifter controls the front derailleur and moves the chain from cog to cog on the front crank.

Freewheel

This is the part that is connected to the back wheel and gives the bicycle motion when pedalled. The freewheel is comprised of a number of cogs that represent the level of effort required to move the bicycle. The smaller cogs are the most difficult to push while the larger cogs are the easiest.

Crank

Very similar to the freewheel component, although cranks usually only comprise of two cogs. The larger of the cogs on the crank represents the more difficult setting, while the smaller is the easier setting.

Pedals

Choosing a style of pedal is a matter of personal preference. Buyers should read up about the various vintage pedals available as they may find one style suits their cycling needs better than the others. Types of vintage pedals include clip pedals, road pedals and off road pedals.

Searching for Vintage Bicycle Parts on eBay

  • The first thing to do is head to the eBay homepage, and click on the Cycling link found in the Sporting Goods category tab.
  • Scroll down and click on the Vintage Bicycle Parts link found in the Vintage Bicycles tab.
  • If searching for a specific part remember to enter as much details about the part into the search as possible.
  • Always read the Description box on the item page as sellers often leave important information here such as the dimensions of a tyre rim.
  • Review the seller’s history, and avoid listings from sellers who have high percentages of negative feedback.
  • Contact Customer Support for help navigating the site, and the Resolution Centre if any problems are encountered when dealing with a seller.

Conclusion

People buy vintage bicycle parts to improve the quality or visual aspect of their bicycle. There is a large market for vintage parts, and buyers should have no trouble finding what is needed. The most important aspect of selecting a part is to make sure that it will fit with the frame it is being attached to, and the easiest way to do this is to measure the part currently being used and replace it with a vintage component that has the exact same dimension.

eBay is an excellent place to search for vintage bicycle parts, and the site’s far-reaching database of users means vintage parts are constantly being listed. The parts sold on the site are often at much lower prices than those sold in stores and on cyclist sites.

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