after spending a considerable amount of time doing research for a vintage bike shopping guide, i finally decided that there are just too many great vintage bike options out there to put into one mega post, so instead, i’m breaking this up into several parts. these are obviously not the only bike options out there, but i’m focusing on bikes that are made with quality parts and materials that i expect will last you for years to come with the proper maintenance. you can obviously buy a vintage sears roebucks bike and have plenty of fun with it, but you don’t need me to tell you that! i’m also going to be focusing on upright and dutch style bikes because they are centered more around comfort and much easier to ride while wearing a mini skirt and heels than a more traditional road bike. it’s just my personal preference, though i will say that i ride both and that each has their own purpose.
for today, i’m starting with my absolute favorite vintage bikes: the raleigh superbe and the raleigh sports.
to give you a little background, the raleigh bicycle company was established in 1887 in nottingham, uk. they are one of the oldest bicycle companies in the world and they have a tradition of manufacturing beautiful and reliable bikes. they’re still in business today, but i much prefer their vintage bikes. if you’re lucky, you can find one at a local thrift shop or yard sale for as cheap as $20, but you can also expect to pay upwards of around $200 for one if you live in a more urban area where bikes are more common (i.e. san francisco or new york) or if it is in absolute mint condition.
one of the biggest factors for choosing a vintage bike is the quality of the materials and parts used on the bike. while raleigh certainly had many similar bikes (in appearance), the superbe and sports models were made with some of the best parts and materials. most commonly, you’ll find models made in the 1970’s, and i highly recommend them. they originally came with features such as reynolds tubing (this is steel, so it is heavy, but less so that your typical steel), sturmey archer hubs (the highest quality on the market even today), and brooks leather saddles. often times the saddle will be switched out with something more modern, but if the bike still has the saddle, then it’s a definite win since brooks leather saddles run upwards of $200 brand new!
now i know you’re probably thinking that these bikes must be rare or hard-to-find, but i was able to find a mint condition raleigh superbe with the original brooks saddle for $200 after searching for about a month on craigslist. it might be a bit more work than hopping into your local walmart, but trust me when i say that it’s definitely worth the search. these bikes are beautiful, reliable, and easy to get serviced! i recommend checking your local newspaper listings, craigslist, or ebay.