Dave Moulton

Dave's Bike Blog

Award Winning Site

More pictures of my past work can be viewed in the Photo Gallery on the Owner's Registry. A link is in the navigation bar at the top

Bicycle Accident Lawyer






Powered by Squarespace
Search Dave's Bike Blog


 Watch Dave's hilarious Ass Song Video.

Or click here to go direct to YouTube.


A small donation or a purchase from the online store, (See above.) will help towards the upkeep of my blog and registry. No donation is too small.

Thank you.

Join the Registry

If you own a frame or bike built by Dave Moulton, email details to list it on the registry website at www.davemoultonregistry.com

Email (Contact Dave.)

 If you ask me a question in the comments section of old outdated article, you may not get an answer. Unless the article is current I may not even see it. Email me instead. Thanks Dave

« Warne’s World | Main | One step forward, one step back »

Should this frame be repainted or left original?

A Fuso frame with the original paint in nice condition just sold on eBay. The new owner has emailed me asking me about replacement decals as he is thinking of having the frame repainted.

My advice would be to build this frame into a bike as is, and ride it. From the pictures on eBay the paint appears to be in good condition; it has a few minor paint chips which is to be expected for a frame built in 1986.

The new owner can ride this bike knowing that if he put another chip in the paint it would be no big deal. Many of us know the feeling of owning a brand new car. We park it in the far corner of the supermarket parking lot, away from all other cars.

Eventually the inevitable happens and some careless idiot puts a little ding in the paint.

We feel annoyed, but at the same time relief that we no longer have to be so paranoid about protecting the car’s perfect finish, because it is no longer perfect.

The new owner paid $400 for this frame; a fair price. If he decides to keep it as is for now, he will now get many years riding out of this bike.

If he eventually sells it again, he will at least get his $400 back and most likely make a profit, at least enough to cover the interest on his $400 investment.

If he decides down the road to repaint the frame, a professional paint job would probably set him back anywhere from $500 to $1,000. Would he now get $1,000 to $1,500 if he sold the frame? It would be less likely than if he sold it “As is,” and got his $400 back.

Even if someone picked up a completely trashed frame for $100 or so, and repainted it, the money you have invested has not really increased the overall value over and above what you have put into it.

Apart from the economics of re-painting, another thing to consider is this. There will be no more Fuso frames built; or any of the other frames I built. There are plenty right now to meet the demand of people who would like to own one.

The number available will not increase, in fact it will decrease as frames are neglected and rust out, are damaged in an accident, or more often than not, just get lost because people don’t know what they have, and throw them in the dumpster.

Those that remain will still be around long after I am gone. I hope during my lifetime, people will keep riding them. It is what they were built for.

Most vintage bikes being ridden today are from the 1980s. This is an important era; it marked the end of the hand-crafted bicycle frame.

Somehow I can’t see today’s carbon fiber creations being collected in large quantities in the future.

Bikes built before the 1970s, with a few exceptions, are not being ridden on a regular basis.

They end up in museums and in the hands of serious collectors. Like this typical collection of racing bikes dating from the late 1800s to the 1980s.

You will find in such collections, frames are all with original paint.

There are two ways of looking at ownership of a classic bike, or any other antique for that matter.

  1. You paid for it with your hard earned cash and you are free to do with it as you wish.
  2. You are a caretaker of this item, preserving it for future generations. The money you paid for it entitles you to enjoy it while you have it, maybe make money on your original investment. However, at some point you pass it on for someone else to enjoy.

At the moment 1980s classic steel bikes and frames are plentiful; some more plentiful than the Fuso, some less. The ride is comparable, some argue better than a modern bike. So your riding enjoyment costs less, and as I have mentioned, comes with the possibility of a return on your investment.

If a frame is completely trashed, but never-the-less rare, it may be worth restoring; otherwise, keep it, ride it, and look out for another in better condition. Because of the economy it is a buyers market at this time. 

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn't matter either way to me. If someone is spending cash to restore one of my frames; that is pride of ownership, and makes me feel nothing but good. Incidentally, I have just started producing replacement decals for all models of frame I built.

However, my advice would be, don’t repaint unless the original paint is completely trashed; the reason is, down the road collectors will want bikes with original paint. Every frame repainted means one less with original paint, making those with original paint even more valuable.

This is a topic that brings forth many opinions; the above is mine, I would be interested to hear yours



Reader Comments (20)

I saw this - too small for me and shipping to UK made it too expensive anyway I'm afraid I'd paint it, Dave - sorry. If I'm ever lucky enough to own one of your frames I don't care about advertising the fact and I'm not interested in resale price because it would be a keeper. It would be good enough for me to know every time I rode it that under the ,decal-less, plain finish I was riding a piece of history. I'd keep the head-tube badge.

January 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHG

I had my Fuso repainted and regret doing it. It was pretty beat up from a transcontinental crossing. But looking back I wish I would not have done it.

January 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTodd

Largely depends on the quality of the current paint but I lean toward #2. That Fuso looks quite nice.

My classics remain original and are earmarked for my four sons. I have upgraded some components and accessories to improve handling though. It is also hard for me to imagine that CF frames will have the same level of appeal and confidence in performance as old steel frames.

January 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Some of you might enjoy these pictures of a 1959 Cadillac Hearse, that a local Funeral Director restored. Way to go out in style:
Click on the small pics to enlarge.

January 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Another angle on this is if you do indeed decide to repaint, do you replicated the bright '80's colors? Would a more understated paint scheme 'devalue' the frame? Is it still a true Fuso without the period colors?

January 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

That Fuso looks in great shape. I wouldn't repaint that frame. But I've faced this dilemma myself. And I've done both.

The Recherche frame that came my way had a few nicks and scratches expected for a frame over 20 years old, but otherwise had no obvious rust problems, rode straight, and so I've enjoyed it as is.

I've also acquired other classic steel frames that had shown signs of neglect: rusting brake cable guides, bubbling & cracked paint, etc and I had to have it repainted. I really didn't care about return on investment, but definitely enjoy riding the the bicycle as much I can.

Sorry for the collectors out there, but part of my enjoyment of owning these classics include hanging modern part on them with the new paint. With new parts, I've found I've extended their life and found these frames a place my local group's weekend hammerfest as well as cafe rides and weeklong tours.

January 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStelvio

I would agree with you that it should remain as is Dave, for the reasons you state. There's no accounting for taste though and maybe this guy just doesn't like the colours.

January 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterstephen_mc

"This is a topic that brings forth many opinions; the above is mine, I would be interested to hear yours"

Well, to be perfectly honest and not meaning any disrespect to the maker, but . . . it's ugly.

January 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkfg

I bought a 1987 Fuso a few years back. It had some bubbling of the paint and rust spots all over. I decided to have it repainted and sent it to Bilenky. They discovered the downtube was in bad shape and replaced it, making the decision to repaint moot. I chose Dave's favorite paint scheme for my bike.

You may see the before and after photos here: http://gallery.mac.com/bbattle#100121

Dave, any chance you have any of your 30th anniversary signature decals available?

January 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbbattle

To those who think this color scheme ugly, I wrote a disclaimer almost 5 years ago:


Here's a quote from the piece:

"The people who ordered these frames cannot be blamed, they knew no better and it looked cool at the time. Now they look as outdated as a pair of yellow polyester pants, and like the polyester pants they will last forever so they are going to be around for a long time."


January 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

The decision to repaint my 1990 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra came down to dealing with top tube rust issues. Yes I have a fancy custom Crumpton carbon (with Corsa Extra geometry BTW) but still want to experience the joy and thrill of riding a steel frame shod with tubulars on unpaved roads.

Very much enjoy reading your blog.


Ps. I'd purchased replacement EM decals off of eBay but those will go unused are the Airedale Paint proprietor, Jon Etheredge, will be painting them on instead.

January 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Yikes....I got pipped on this one on ebay. I like the colors and would go with it as is. My 87 is pink, blue and white and has aged beautifully. Good luck and happy cycling to the new owner.


January 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrankie B.

Hi Dave,
This frame looks great to me. I would not repaint it. But, like others have stated maybe the new owner simply doesn't like the colors. Like old or classic cars, original paint is always worth more. I can also understand the comment of making the frame "undercover" so to speak. I know friends who have taken titanium frames and painted them ugly rust or funky paint just to hide them. It keeps the thieves away and makes people wonder who would ride an old POS like that !

January 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Frame looks great to me. I'd leave it original - always a cooler set up...

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan O

Dave: I don't understand. Have yellow polyester pants gone out of style?

Personally, I think anyone who would paint that frame does not deserve to own it.


January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim Joe Comstock

My classics remain original and are earmarked for my four sons. I have upgraded some components and accessories to improve handling though. It is also hard for me to imagine that CF frames will have the same level of appeal and confidence in performance as old steel frames.

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErica

It's his bike and he should be able to do whatever he wants with it. Having said that, they're your decals and you should be able to do whatever you want with them.
Clearly, the cretin is a fool. The paint is remarkable. $400 is a steal for this bike precisely because the paint is so nice. And I don't mean to knock Joe Bell, Cyclart, etc. but does anyone else remember when a respray could not knock on the door of 4 figures?
I have owned a Levis/Raleigh team frame since new. These are genuinely rare, I think Marinoni made maybe a couple dozen of them. It needs to be refinished which means that, economically speaking, it is totaled (i.e. it will cost more to paint than it is worth).
Meanwhile, somewhere today some middle-aged fitness buff will happily spend over six thousand American dollars on a bicycle frame that popped out of a mold in Taiwan. Do I understand why such frames exist? When I see the contracts neo-pros are signing, yes I do. When I see the club cyclists who purchase them I must admit to being a bit perplexed.
BTW, I sold Frank his pink and blue Fuso in 87 and it's a killer. It's a favorite tactic of mine: selling people the exact bikes I'd love to own myself.

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertonyd

I have close contact with Russ Denny and have had 2 Fuso's repainted to perfection as if they were orginally purchased, including orginal decals and even my John Howard which I am compiling some parts for to complete. I think if you choose to repaint then it should be done properly...

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick Delia

I bought a 1983 Colnago Superissimo a couple of years ago that was in bad shape in terms of paint and decals. But what Colnago isn't in bad shape for that period? The paint falls of nearly all of them. I do not currently expect to repaint for several reasons. $$'s is the primary one. the other is that the parts are of the same vintage and I believe original to the bike. NOS Campagnolo parts are cost prohibitive and to pain the frame (wet not PC) without NOS parts would look really .... goofy. So I just enjoy riding it and recognizing that a number of people enjoyed it too with all its battle scars including bike racks.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSJX426

I have what seems to be frame #745 (57 cm). Picked up for FIVE BUCKS at a yard sale in Upland, CA. Paint was so far gone there were no decals or really any paint on the frame other than bits of yellow and the red fade remained. I had the luxury of painting her however I wanted to since really nothing was there. Hell, it took a few years to track down what she "could" be. I'll send photos for verification before applying for registration to the registry. Currently #745 is in raw steel, religiously oiled.

My thoughts on a bike's paint are simple. Keep the livery the same as when new if the bike is even in passable condition. Bike materials and paint schemes are of a time. They are indicative of an era. Not many people would paint over a Colnago Super's Molteni Orange or any other color that those bikes originally sported. Yeah, they were passé for a time, but wait a few years, and the schemas will be appreciated for what they are. My bike had little paint left, so I stripped her. I'd like to find out more re the decals as I may polish the naked steel with some thousand then fifteen hundred paper before clear coating her (preferably with decals if she turns out to be an actual FUSO). My bike cannot ever be orig, so there are some latitudes. As far as importance of these frames, truth is in the ride. I've owned a 73 Colnago Super Pantografata (which I sold like an idiot), and this FUSO is quite its equal, if not nicer. Hold onto these frames and their colors, and in five or ten years you'd be amazed at what comes back into style.

Take Care,

Tim Bowser

February 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim B.
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.