There’s a time-honored tradition of hunting down old, but good quality bicycles and re-purposing them for commuting and utility use. Japanese-made, lugged-steel touring and mountain bikes from the late 1980s and early ‘90s seem to be particularly popular candidates for resurrection, probably because of their high quality frames and relatively low prices. This activity seems to be growing in popularity, most likely driven by the SS/fixie craze as well as our poor economy. As you’d expect, these old bikes are starting to fetch higher prices as the demand has increased and the finite supply has inevitably dwindled.
Of course, refurbs aren’t limited to bikes from a particular era or of a particular quality. A friend who works at a bike kitchen does a ton of rebuilds based upon no-name frames from various countries and eras. He also happens to have an interest in old Schwinns and he’s restored a number of nice ones to near original condition. Then there’s the cult of the Raleigh 3-speed, which is a whole world unto itself.
Probably because I cut my biking teeth during that era, the lugged steel bikes mentioned above hold a particular fascination for me. I’ve yet to do a refurb, but if I did, I’d probably be looking at a lugged-steel Trek touring bike, a Specialized Stumpjumper, or perhaps even a Bridgestone XO-1, though it’s my understanding that the Bridgestone and the Treks (particularly the 720) have been fetching high prices for some time now.
I’d be curious to hear from those who are riding refurbed bikes that are at least 20 years old. What are you riding and what type of modifications were required? What was your motivation for refurbing an old bike: cost savings, the vintage vibe, the green aspect, or something else?