Vintage bikes, restore renovate or preserve?

The question is ,to the vintage bike enthusiast a difficult one to find the correct response to . From where I sit the answer is simple enough , if its condition is such that it cannot be ridden on a daily basis without issue it must be restored to at least some extent ,, a beautiful old bicycle that was once the pride of its previous owner should not be left in disrepair as a misguided attempt to pay homage to its later in life neglect . The exception to that rule is when the bike is of genuine historical interest ,, ie if the bike is wearing the dirt from winning a grand tour or spring classic . I know of no person who would look on from an afterlife and say ” oh I am so touched that my beloved old bike has been kept in the broken down state it ended up in” .

Broken joints ,bad paint , corrosion and worn out parts do absolutely nothing for the beauty and once held pride and joy the machine once had .

Renovation is another ball game all together , I personally only renovate if the bike is of unknown lineage ,, such as the vindec decaled bike I have just renovated , its origins are unknown , with my renovations it has a new lease of life and a new chapter has been added to t’s history , a history I have stashed in the seat tube in a plastic bag for its next custodian for when I pop off this mortal coil. My work on the vindec is all sympathetic to the bikes age and style and are all improvements which add to its beauty and character.

If I had left the old vindec as was it would by now be nothing more than a bit of old scrap metal heading for the recycling chain. Instead I have a wonderful old machine that functions near perfectly and is used almost daily. The greenest product are those that never need to be recycled , just a bit of love every couple of decades and she will keep rolling along doing what she was intended to do , bring joy through use .

Those who acquire these wonderful old machines then give up because of a few points of damage are copping out when they say they want to preserve in its broken state ,, the original owner would be utterly dismayed at such actions  I’m sure.


One thought on “Vintage bikes, restore renovate or preserve?

  1. Restore, renovate, or preserve? That really is the question, isn’t it – and especially so as one’s choice of actions can raise ire and hackles, or admiration all depending upon by whom one’s bike is being studied. I certainly understand and appreciate the dictate that “it’s only original once.” I get it – I really do. However, I tend to agree with your sentiment that “a beautiful old bicycle that was once the pride of its previous owner should not be left in disrepair as a misguided attempt to pay homage to its later in life neglect.” I’ve seldom stripped a frame simply for the experience of a respray (with the exception of an 80’s era Peugeot, whose unfortunate graphics and paint were, frankly, an abomination.) And I’ve bike frames with hard earned chips and scratches, and whose pin striping and graphics would be difficult, if not impossible, to replicate. But it makes no sense to me to replenish all of the components, to polish up all the chrome, and leave a frame with completely beat up paint. I like to think that the gentle restorations I engage in are tastefully done, and that the previous owner would approve. The distaste for respraying seems to be an especially American thing; my British cousins and uncles never hesitated to spruce up a frame that “needed a bit of tidying up.”


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