The first question to ask relative to what you do with an ‘old bicycle’ is whether it has historical value or interest that should be preserved for the education and enjoyment of future generations. If it does, then I recommend a ‘light touch’ to preserve as much of the original as possible – the frame, its finish and all the components.
Preserving an original finish, with its original decals/transfers, generally enhances the value of a bicycle, provided it has some historical value or interest, and serves as a valuable pattern for the renovation of bicycles where the original finish is already totally lost.
Renovation in its strictest sense means making something like new again. But with modern materials, it will never be exactly like it was fresh from the factory. In some respects it will be ‘better than new’.
Renovation of a bicycle is likely to involve new paint and decals, new or replacement parts, or polishing and re-plating existing parts. It will look just like a new bicycle.
What you do with your property is your choice. We would suggest that you do what is best for you, in terms of enjoyment and value, and what is best for posterity.
Preservation is often best for posterity if a bicycle is relatively rare or has other historic interest such as having been raced by a certain rider, and is often best for monetary value – refinishing a bicycle unsympathetically can destroy its value.
But what if you are one of those who want to ride a gleaming, sparkling vintage bicycle? A good starting point would be a frame, or bicycle, that has already lost its original finish. It will not only be cheaper, but you know that you will only make it better.
Similarly, if the bike is of sentimental value, rather than historic value, and you want it like new, go ahead and renovate.
New Decals / Transfers
One of the most important aspects of any restoration or renovation is fitting decals which are authentically copied from the originals. We are please to offer one of the best ranges available and our catalogue is ever-growing to encompass new models and new manufacturers.
When dealing with vintage or classic bikes, documentation can help preserve their value, especially after the frame has been refinished.
If the frame has lost all forms of identification, document the rationale for saying what make and model it is. The documentation could take the form of statements from previous owners and original photographs, photographs of details showing them to be the same as on frames of known make and model, even opinions of recognized experts.
If you want to refinish a frame that has remnants of the original finish and decals, take photographs of everything first. This not only forms a valuable part of the history of the bike, but provides evidence that it is not a fake.
Good photographs to take are:
- Overall side view – left and right side
- Lugs and bottom bracket. Make sure to include the tops of the seat stays at the seat lug.
- Dropouts and the configuration of the ends of the fork blades and stays
- Rear brake bridge
- Fork crown
- Serial number
- All decals, transfers, box lining and other markings
- Brazed on fittings and anything else you see that looks interesting