Buying bikes for profit - when it all goes pear shaped.

This buying and selling old bikes game is fun, but full of problems. Take the vintage bike I bought this week. Please!

I didn't really want it; too far away, and a bike outside of my comfort zone. Vintage machine with Sturmy Archer gears. Wife liked the colour, and asked if I was going to buy it?

Well I am now Dear.

Having made a few mistakes in the past I was determined not to this time. Got there, poor family living above a kebab shop. Heart string time..... Still determined not to be done I followed her down to the bike shed. Ah, clearly a dealer in bikes as it was chock full of the things. Mine was "the blue one" in the corner.

Right, I'll check it over. All felt nice and solid, and it was only £30 so I handed the cash over and loaded the bike up.

Ten miles down the motorway it only worked itself off the bike carrier and went crashing down the road at 60mph. Sure I fitted it correctly? Absolutely sure!

Luckily nobody else was involved, but it's pant wettingly scary being at the side of a motorway, collecting a broken bike off the carriageway.

Off the road, looked at how I'd secured it. Turns out my Thule hatchback bike carrier is a little worn and one of the plastic clips holding the bike on can now work itself lose. Took some finding that. Once the clip isn't tight, the bike moves around, worrying at all the other clips and brackets until it inevitably falls off. I'd checked it all over initially as I normally do, but component wear was against me. Lesson learnt, Thule carrier in the skip now. Ho hum.

The bike didn't come off very well. Frame bent, handlebars worn down at one end. Into the skip then before raiding for parts.

But was the bike actually any good? Turned out I'd missed the brake lever bodge. On the vintage bikes the handlebar diameter was less than it is now. The seller had fitted newer brakes, which didn't actually fit at all. He'd wedged them against the grips as an interference fit, so an initial inspection would suggest all was well. They didn't work, and would never work. New levers on a £30 bike would have been an uneconomical repair for sale.

There was also a little more rust than I'd be happy with, but it was only cosmetic and with this age of bike some people actually pay more for a rusty machine than a clean one. I've learnt that some rust is acceptable, but it has to be purely cosmetic.

The bike is scrap, and 90% of it is in a skip now for recycling. I've taken some bits off, but I'm a sob story and £30 down. From now on the sob story doesn't bear fruit, I'm hardened to that one, can walk away. The Thule? That's a tougher call. I'd assumed they were indestructible and last forever. But the rails that hold the bike frame to the carrier itself are only held on in two places, not welds either, by little rivets. These wear oval over time, allowing the rails to move about slightly, in turn elongating the plastic clips. Once the clips start to slip, the carrier doesn't function very well.

I've never been happy with hanging bikes off the back anyway, and have been a little paranoid in how I attach and secure my bikes. Even taking all the precautions I could, simple unnoticed mechanical wear was against me. From now on bikes either go inside the car, or I struggle to get them up on to the roof.

As for vintage bikes? They look nice but are a world away from mountain bikes. Big learning curve there. I can happily fix a mountain bike 90% of the time, but these older bikes with internal gears are a little different. There's also the issue that quite often they look OK, but can have everything seized permanently in place. It's much easier, and often cheaper, buying a modern bike that's been fudged by the owner, than buying an older bike that's had nothing done to it for decades.