A consumer guide for the classic bicycle shopper

By Greg Overton
As each Spring rolls around cyclists scramble to replace, up-date or simply add to their bevy of bicycles, invariably many used bikes become available.

This group includes a lot of cool bikes and parts that appeal to those of us who appreciate classics. And because all the new information tells us that nine gears are better than eight, and eight was better than seven, and seven was . . . (well we all know that your pedals will no longer turn if you only have six gears), us old guys are flooded with choices right now. So this Classic Corner will offer a thumbnail sketch price guide on what's happening in our little part of the world with classics.

The prices given here are taken from bikes and parts that I have either been involved with or approached for information on. Prices in our area are generally lower than other parts of the country, especially the east and west coasts. Colorado's front range seems to command higher prices as well.

As with any used item, value is determined by what someone is willing to pay more so than by what is being asked by the seller. There are exceptions in the case of very rare and collectible bikes, such as very early Cinelli. Masi, and DeRosa (50s and 60s era). These have a value that does not really fluctuate because there is a national market for them. Even further down this path of collectibility are bikes from Rene Hearse, Alex Singer, Hetchins, Brian Bayliss and Mario Confente. The value of these bikes, as with any rare art, continues to climb regardless of trends, and each would warrant a dedicated feature for proper representation. We will focus on more common and available classics for this feature.

Complete original bikes from top builders such as Colnago, DeRosa, Cinelli and Masi from the 70s seem to be in high demand and excellent examples are priced in the $1200-$1500 range (about $300 more nationally). Confente-built Masi Gran Criteriums claim an additional $500 or so.

These same bikes from the 80s seem to be of lesser build quality and are more common, though still ride great, and go for a little more than half the price of the older models. Although a pristine '83 Colnago Super with Super Record did just sell for $1200, so value is set at what the buyer is willing to pay.

Cinelli aficionados seem to view frames built after the Columbus purchase of Cinelli in '79 as frauds and ne'er-do-wells, so pre '79 Cinellis can garner twice the price ($1500) of the later ones ($600-$700), though they were still well done and very pretty bikes until a couple of years ago when they became a little more generic and began showing up in catalogs. Luckily, one of the U.S. distributors for Cinelli bought the remaining stock from Columbus. I've ordered a few of these for customers and they are terrific with SLX tubing, chrome lugwork and Campy dropouts. These are sure to be classics in the future.

The group of what I call "second tier" bikes is where one can usually find a terrific bike at an affordable price. This group includes bikes from Pogliaghi, Gios, Frejus, Mercian, Schwinn Paramount, Raleigh Professional, early Eddy Merckx, Bottechia and Legnano. Olmo and Mondonico are in this second tier, although they have been in production longer than DeRosa and are terrific quality. Bikes in this category seem to be in the $500 -$850 range. Upper end Bianchi bikes are here as well, but Atala, Legnano and Bottechia bikes from the 80s are not as valuable even though they were owned and built by Bianchi at the time.

Other second tier bikes that join Atala and Bottechia at a notch below on the scale are Tommasini, Basso, upper-end Motobecane, Ciocc, Pinarello and Guerciotti. Very good examples from this group fall in the $400-$600 range. Many of these seem to be later era (80s), and could increase in value.

There are other rare and unusual bikes kicking around, but despite being very nice, they have not risen so much in value. I've seen a Ron Cooper, Mercier, Peugeot, Stout, Gianni Motta, Rossin, Zullo, Austro-Daimler, Gitane, Stella, Faggin, and Dawes all in the $250-$400 price range. These are huge bargains and great value.

On the component front, prices have lowered a bit after a couple years of insanely high prices. About a year ago, Super Record rear derailleurs were fetching over $220 for pristine condition. That seems to have come down to $75-$120. Nuovo Record has held a little more steady, and is just a few bucks less now than Super Record. Complete groups seem to be in the $500-$700 range with built wheels, tires (tubular), and excellent condition. It's rare to find an excellent group complete with pedals, toe clips and seat post. An "average" Nuovo or Super Record group is anywhere from $150 to $450. Again, it's what the buyer is willing to pay.

How much for a new-in-the-box early Super Record group? Fagetaboutit.

Campy Record C parts are beginning to be desirable now. The earlier group, the better. A Record C group with first generation Delta brake (the one that was recalled) can garner about $750. This same group with cobalto brake about $550. Later Record C with Delta brake and index shifting $600.

These groups have a good chance of going up simply based on rarity. In the late Eighties, Campy had much more competition than ten years before, and this group only lasted three years, with changes each year.

Also from this era, Campy Croce D'Aune groups are becoming desirable, especially the rear derailleur with the pushrod to aid index shifting, about $450 with Delta brake. I thought they all had this derailleur until seeing a Colnago recently with a black Croce group and "normal" rear derailleur. That was cool. Other component groups of particular interest are anything from Zeus (titanium $600-$700), Simplex JUY (the alloy derailleurs-$300), Mavic SSC ($400 with pedals), Huret Jubilee $250), and anything off the wall such as Ofmega and MoDoLo carbon composite groups ($200-up).

Hopefully this will help some of you determine whether or not to let go of that neat stuff you've been saving. This is a pretty loose guideline and is in no way the final word, as we've all seen much better and much worse prices on some of this stuff. These prices are based on complete bikes and groups in excellent condition with all decals and markings and most paint in tact. It is very subjective to declare "good" or "fair" condition.

Special edition bikes or bikes with special pantographed groups are not considered here, as the inherent value in these circumstances goes up based upon availability and that "beauty in the eye of the beholder thing." Custom bikes have also been excluded except for Stout, which are widely known in the area.

Did I mention that any Cinelli or DeRosa should be discarded? Oh, yeah, I can take care of that for you, get 'em outta your way, and make room for that new reverse pull rapid twelve speed rise click air shifting thing.