guide to vintage bikes, part 1

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.

vintage bike images found via here and here.


  1. I own a 1963 Raleigh Sports (black, femme-style, with the original Brooks saddle) & I love it so. I bought mine on craigslist for 150, and I really want a mint condition Superbe one day. Such a great (and less expensive!) alternative to the new Dutch bikes that are similar in quality & style.

  2. i have a rawleigh bike and i just love it. i did buy it new though. last summer i bought a used ccm bike from the 70s and the wheel fell off while i was riding it! oh well!

  3. I love this, anything to promote the use of bikes, especially ones that can be saved from grandma's garage.

    I have a 1968 raleigh sport that my dad got for $15! he is a bike nerd though, and he fixed it up with the necessary parts. I had a broke's saddle too but it was honestly the most painful thing to break in and I couldn't deal with it. Also I was afraid of it getting stolen or warped in the rain.

    I really want a road bike however, for the days when I am not wearing a skirt.


  4. Awesome! I'm thinking of getting my boyfriend a vintage bike for his birthday. Really useful post! Corinne xx

  5. Thank you for doing this series! It's such perfect timing, as I am in the midst of researching and looking for a vintage bike. I've looked at a couple of gorgeous vintage Raleigh bikes, but they were out of my budget. Hopefully I'll come across the right one before too long!

  6. I really like this post series especially since I'll be living off campus next year and so I've been on the hunt for a good vintage bicycle to commute to school in.

  7. interesting, when Raleigh stopped producing their timeless classics and opted for the modern market, a Danish company acquired the licence to keep producing bicycles based on the 1920's blueprints.

    As a result, Denmark is the only country where you can get old school Raleigh bicycles, brand new. They're the choice of young students. See the selection on Raleigh's Danish website.

  8. yes yes, they're all well and good. But when your a cycle nut and a vintage nut like myself you still need a good road bike.

    And the prettiest of those is the curly hetchins, a good road bike and i tell you, one of the best looking bikes you will ever see! (:

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