How old is my bicycle? Is a question I get asked a lot, nearly as much as: I have a bicycle that looks like one of yours if I send you pictures please can you identify it for me? The answer, in short, is that I do not have time to tell you either. I m not being callous about this. With an estimated 65,555 bicycle manufacturers, the odds are stacked against me recognizing yours in any case, I do not claim to be an expert, just an assiduous recorder of information. To sift through information to try and find similar pictures to your unidentified bicycle would take me months, and I m already doing similar research on my own bikes. Not only do I have a full-time job (I run my own business restoring and selling vintage vehicles) and am a hands-on parent of a young child, but I spend a minimum 85 hours every week building, updating and maintaining these free websites to help you do your own research.
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My hobby usually takes a backseat. Insomnia is my saving grace, otherwise there would be no time for any of this. My purpose for creating these databases is simple. In the old days (a time which seems to have ended in the past twenty five years or so), a youngster became an apprentice in a chosen field and learned its history from the older employees. Thus, for example, an apprentice mechanic was handed down an invaluable unwritten guide to repairing vehicles that could not be learned at college nor from books, because, as well as specific information about various models, it helped a youngster understand the way they were designed and built.
If you can help in any way by contributing to this research, please get in touch. By recording and sharing this knowledge while it s still as fresh as possible, our fabulous vintage hobbies will continue for centuries to come. Although we are in the so-called Information Age and the internet provides a surplus of it some of it accurate, much of it misleading there is nowhere near enough information on vintage bicycles. This surprises many people. Sometimes, folks with no experience of the vintage hobby who may have recently unearthed an old bicycle contact me and demand that I immediately tell them what it is, how old it is and what it s worth.
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I try to explain as politely as possible that such a service does not exist, and they are often abusive as a result. Usually they want me to identify it so they can sell it on ebay. Luckily, I remembered an old Sufi saying, Only explain things to people in a language they understand. So now I answer that such a service, which will obviously increase the value of their unidentified machine, will cost them £55 + VAT. It s still not a service I actually offer but at least they are less abusive.
The question remains: How old is my bicycle? Also, I have a bicycle that looks like one of yours if I send you pictures please can you identify it for me? The answer is simple. The Veteran Cycle Club (V-CC) has a system of marque enthusiasts volunteers who compile what information they can about particular manufacturers.
By joining the V-CC you can access whatever information is available. If that doesn t help, if it is interesting enough, you might be able to send pictures of it to the the V-CC magazine, or take it to vintage shows and ask exhibitors, or keep an eye on ebay to see if something similar ever comes up. Identifying an unknown bicycle is hard work. You may be lucky, but more than likely it will remain a mystery. As I have stated before, the V-CC archives and Ray Miller’s Encyclopaedia are invaluable resources:
these ongoing projects are becoming the world’s primary source of information on vintage bicycles. The V-CC’s system of marque specialists is unrivalled throughout the world.