Practicality vs. Sentimentality - Does it Bring You Joy?
A lot of us have attachments to items we own that don't make financial sense. I'm not a sentimental person, by and large. I have a few objects that I hold near and dear to me, but in the case of the house catching fire, my wife and I will grab the cats and the wedding album and that's about it.
I bring up the idea of bonds and sentimentality and how it pertains to bicycles. We get a lot of folks coming to us to help keep their older bikes going. We've got the various bottom brackets and headsets to keep those older Peugeot UO8s and Schwinn Le Tours rolling along, handlebars to replace the going-on-40-year-old original bars, and all the fixings to make them unique to the rider. I'm curious as to whether folks are keeping them going in their original shape, setting them up as a commuter bike with newer components, or something in the middle like changing the bars and consumables for a spiffy and novel weekend rider.
The larger question of whether or not a bike should be restored to its shiny and new glory, simply spruced up and ridden, or hung on the wall? The answer is a resounding...."it depends"....
There are so many factors that goes into a decision like this. Does the bike have sentimental value, significant historical value, or is it just a fun project to work on? These decisions aren't easy especially when it comes to a budget.
There is no question that certain bikes hold more or less value to us as individuals - for example, Adrian and Igor have matching Campeurs that they used for their Denmark wedding tour. You can read about his and her Forever Bikes here.
A Peugeot UO8 is perhaps the best bike to use as an example here, as it is a re-occurring character at VO HQ. Peugeot made thousands and thousands of these bikes during the bike boom of the 60s and 70s. They were mid to low end of the range with Simplex shifting, Mafac brakes, and cottered cranks. They weren't anything special, but they were affordable, had cool graphics and Aztec lugs, and it got people on bikes - and that's what made it an icon of the era.
Would a UO8 be my first choice for a restoration? Probably not. But if a particular UO8 had significance in my life, like it was a beloved family member's, a first bike, or something of that nature, well that is a whole different story. Now that specific bike has significant sentimental value and that doesn't necessarily have the same price tag as a random UO8. I would absolutely argue that it deserves either a full restoration or moderate refurbishment to make it safe to ride - budget allowing. Replacing consumables like chains, brake pads, handlebar tape, and tires goes a long way.
I see outrageous pricing for original Simplex derailleurs and hear stories online of collectors paying huge amounts of money for period-correct parts. Is it to recreate this bike from 1973 and then display it or is someone actually riding this bike? For a lot of people, it's a totally worthwhile exercise to go and take an older frame, fix it up, put a new saddle on it, new brake pads and cables and then go out and use it. But I think one has to admit that, like many things, bikes have improved over the last 50 years and to just blindly restore a bike back to its original condition may not be the best decision.
Do you restore old bikes for sentimental reasons? Do you restore them to stock condition or do you make them more modern? Let us know in the comments!
I had a ‘69 Peugeot PX10 that I rode for 50 years, had replaced most of the parts in the ’80s, and finally sold it in ’21 in favor of a more modern ride that fit me better. I realize now, had I changed the stem and bars I could have made that bike fit me a whole lot better and maybe kept it. The only reason I don’t regret the sale is I sold it to a friend in the Bay Area, and he’s now riding it around my old stomping grounds. Kind of like the bike has gone home to it’s green hills, rather than sit in my Sacramento garage for an occasional Sunday ride.
I have restored an 1983 Bob Jackson, Grand Prix with original Campy Super Record Components. It hangs on the wall of my shop. I restored a vintage Raleigh International frame with VeloORANGE, chain rings, crank arms and headset. I ride that bike everyday. The result is a elegant bicycle with modern component performance.
Restored my 1973 Nishiki Professional a couple of years ago. Period correct but not original parts as it has a lot of miles on it and has been updated a few times in its life. Added campy brakes and a second set of campy based sew-up wheels. Was 45/52 14-18, now 42/52 14-23. Still an absolute blast to ride.
I restore only very high end 60s, 70s, and 80s, bicycles, the ones made of Reynolds 531, or Columbus SL tubing, and loaded with top of the line Campagnolo components. The others are not for me!
I have a Pogliaghi from the early 1980s. It has limited gear range (52/42, 13–23) and currently has 26mm tires. With the help of a V-O freewheel hub, I’ve planning on extending the range in the rear and running 650b wheels. The frame will accommodate 32mm tires and, for me, be better suited for my riding. It wasn’t period correct when I bought it used, so I had no issues with these changes.
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