Most vintage steel collectors I have ever known started off in the same way …with a dream. They dreamed of owning a particular bicycle … possibly a bicycle they had ridden when they raced or, often, a bicycle they would love to have owned back then, but could not afford at the time.
Even those who have been in the game some time and have more than a few bikes in their collection are still searching for that elusive “dream” bicycle.
Increasingly I now find that many new vintage steel collectors “were not there at the time”…
Google and the internet are a modern marvel. There are people half my age who seem to know more than I do of the history of steel bicycle building. Access to information gives them also access as to sellers of some of the bicycles they desire.
Knowledge is a powerful thing. So is experience. And you only come by the latter by having “been there”.
The fastest, most affordable way to get started riding on steel is to look for a COMPLETE, second hand, South African built machine.
When looking for a vintage steel bicycle, most folk first think of a bike in terms of the name on the FRAME AND FORK.
Most folks are looking for a Colnago or Bianchi. They were (and still are) plentiful. And costly. The daydream of “Finding a Ferrari at a Volkswagen price” is a fantasy. There is no doubting their quality but connoisseurs know the name Cinelli as being THE brand long before Ernesto Colnago or Eduardo Bianchi took up the frame building torch.
Phoenix Recyclery is a collection of prestige frames of well known brands and also those now repainted and rebadged as Phoenix.
Most folk will not know by name Phoenix or the story behind the name.
Neither for that matter will they necessarily know the names of other brands here that were built in small quantities by master craftsmen.
The reasons to own a Phoenix are many. The exclusivity and uniqueness of the machine, the recognition of the obvious craftsmanship or the practicality aspects of affordability and the opportunity to select the appropriate period correct parts to complete… tailor made to fit pocket or purpose.
My experience teaches me to think in terms of the frame being the “coat hanger” onto which one hangs the equipment. Finding the frame is not the major problem.
Equipping the frame is the major concern, particularly if one wants particular parts that are superbly handcrafed and period correct.
I have long advised that if one finds an affordable bicycle with even just some of the desirable parts it is well worth considering buying it. Finding parts is becoming expensive and time consuming.
We have all the essential PARTS to build those frames up into complete bicyles.