After ten good years of being able to snatch up bargain beauties from Ebay, yard sales and even NOS in bike shops, I think the party is over. Sure you can still locate an occasional yard sale collectable for $100 here or there, but I think the bulk of steel steals is over. In 1998 and in the following five years, there was no end of disdain for the bikes we normally might consider collecting as long as it wasn't the most pristine, the most well known model of a respected marque. Now that bike shops literally sell nothing in lugged steel, suddenly that's what everyone wants. The general public has caught on. They know that the aluminum and carbon fiber has been over hyped and over priced for what it is. Just a few years ago, almost no one I rode with thought that steel could be light or that it was race worthy and comfortable. Almost everyone thought that downtube shifting was a joke and that aluminum was the minimum standard to be looked for in a good ride, and that carbon fiber and titanium were the ultimate experiences to be had. Now that the secret is out, prices have tripled. Six hundred is an absolute record low for anything nice and one grand is what one must budget for.
Recently people where I live have come to me and said, "Ok, I can see that steel lugs are great. Where can I get one and how much?". Now that the answer is Ebay and one grand and up is the price and they willingly pay it, the market dynamics have changed. One bike shop in my area regularly takes in fine old bikes, strips them down, repaints with new decals, sew ups, chain, bar tape and polished parts. He then returns these same bikes to the same owner for an average $1,000 shop service fee, and nobody blinks. He does this over and over so that there are scores of these bikes making the rounds and further driving up demand and prices.
Bicycling magazine is talking about steel this, and steel is real. The single speed crowd has snatched up everything in sight. Yep .... the only hope now is to pay your one grand for something you like now because the future doesn't look any better. The ecentric old coots on Classic Rendezvous have become the smart money crowd. I preferred it before when I was thought of as missing a few marbles and could have anything I wanted cheap anytime on a whim. Get ready for $3,000 PX-10's and double that for anything Italian. Get ready for $300 NR rear derailleurs in poor condition and the same for a NR seatpost. Get ready to sell your second car so you can purchase the bike you always wanted, and get ready for thinking that that's perfectly OK.
Garth Libre in Miami Fl. USA