What mechanical standard can I expect of a bike refurbished at Proud to Ride Classic?
I want every bike I sell to give as much usage before needing further attention as you'd expect of a new bike of that quality. By 'further attention', i mean routine minor maintenance like tightening, adjusting, lubricating, and replacements of fast-wearing, relatively cheap parts like cables, brake blocks and some ball bearings.
Larger parts do need replacement from time to time, but they are more expensive. This applies particularly to transmission components like the chain, chainrings, rear sprockets and freewheel. I will replace such items only if it's clear they don't have reasonable life left in them; otherwise I'll leave them to complete their service life. Premature replacement is wasteful and adds to the cost of the bike. However this policy does mean some parts will have a shorter life than if they had been brand new. This is partly what justifies the lower price of a used bicycle. I could of course replace everything, spending (and charging you) almost the same as for a brand new bike. Arguably this would defeat our mission to re-use fine older machines and make them accessible.
No-one can banish risk altogether. And that's not just true of used bicycles. However your safety is my top priortiy. My Cytech 2 qualification was only a start: I spend hours reading and in the workshop, deepening my knowledge and skills, especially around safety-critical aspects of bicycle design. You are not buying 'as seen', as you might from an eBay private seller (unless for the occasioinal cheaper bike I make this explicity clear). No Proud to Ride Classic bike is sold without being subjected to my meticulous scrutiny. I go to particular lengths with brakes, stems and handlebars, arguably the most safety critical parts of the machine, to make sure to the best of my ability that all components are sound, compatible, and work together as they should. If I'm in any doubt, I won't offer the bike for sale until any issues, obvious or suspected, have been sorted. Anything less would be unprofessional. We provide detailed documentation of our work so you know exactly what's been done and what new parts you have. So do bear this in mind if you're tempted to buy privately instead of from Proud to Ride Classic. (This is a statement in good faith. However, like any diligent worker I can still, for all my efforts, miss something or make a mistake. Please do read our Conditions of Sale.)
In deciding whether less safety critical parts have 'reasonable life left in them', I'm guided by the overall quality and expected price point of the bike. I try to strike a sensible balance between labour and parts invested and a machine's instrinsic value. We don't sell 'cheap' frames at all, but there's still a hierarchy from mass manufacturer, part-531 framesets at the budget end through to collectible frames by celebrated master builders at the premium end. There's no point making a cheaper bike inaccessible by investing too much time and resource in it. I'd prefer to do a professional but balanced job of getting it safely back on the road for a rider who would otherwise miss the unique experience of riding steel.
At the end of the day, it's a matter of judgement how much to replace on a bike. No two will be the same. However, I assume that every machine can be improved by the simple and relatively economical replacement of all cables, and often brake blocks. We'll take it as read that bearings will need re-greasing, unless we've very good reason to believe otherwise. As we'll usually be dismantling hubs, it makes sense to replace ball bearings and to examine the cones for pitting, replacing them as necessary. Our checklist will tell you exactly what we've done. And if we omit anything we'll say so, giving a reason.
Proud to Ride Classic wants you to get many miles of trouble-free riding from your purchase. However no bike is immune to rain, grit, salt, neglect or general battering. The service life you'll get depends on these as much as on the underlying quality of the parts and materials. So we can't say for sure how long it will be before your bike requires attention again. After all, the care lavished on a classic bicycle by its proud owner is more critical to lifespan than the price point and age of the components.