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I enjoy buying used gear and building up bikes, but often wonder why some used/older components are only a fraction cheaper on sites such as eBay. For example, Shimano Ultegra 6600 10 speed shifters are currently going for anywhere around $100 - $150 USD when you could buy Tiagra 4700 for around the same price, which will most likely outperform the older series.

Do older bike component really hold value well or are older components expensive because of their, 'vintage' factor?

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    It is interesting to learn if many sellers actually manage to sell their stuff at such high price points, or if they are eventually forced to bring the price back to earth or unlist the items. – Grigory Rechistov Jan 17 at 13:53
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    I think its more a reflection of supply/demand rather than quality or vintage factor. Brifters are always expensive new, don't last forever, and are often hard to source as new replacement parts. Therefore there is a high enough demand for 2nd hand ones that they retain a high% of their original cost. – Andy P Jan 17 at 15:04
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    @ojs There are definitely improvements every generation, but not necessarily in mechanical elements or manufacturing. Improved ergonomics, or reach adjustable levers are fairly new improvements but do nothing for shift quality – Andy P Jan 17 at 15:08
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    @ojs I'd be very surprised if there weren't small improvements to mechanical/manufacturing elements in every generation, but whether they add up to a difference that's noticeable to the user is perhaps somewhat subjective. – Andy P Jan 17 at 15:25
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    @Anonymous true, but 15 year old New-Old-Stock components are very nice. 15 year old used/abused/worn components are not as good. Some people will pay silly money for authenticity (40 year old's buying the 80s BMX or grifter they always wanted as a kid) – Criggie Jan 18 at 0:58
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You've given an answer to yourself already - it's the 'vintage' factor.

To elaborate a bit more on that have a look into supply and demand law.
For the items that are no longer in production the supply is limited and shrinking (not every component of a certain model will end up on the market, some get damaged, some age beyond the possibility of restoration, etc.). It's like with e.g. 10 y.o. whisky. They've put a certain, fixed amount of whisky into the casks 10 years ago and there won't be more.

When the component in question is not yet 'vintage' and not really wanted, the price drops. Once the demand is rising, so does the price.

Then you may encounter some components that were wanted from day one as they were not available on the amateurs' market in the beginning (vide some Campagnolo groupsets that were available only to professional teams).

And of course, the nowadays groupsets are often superior to their equivalents from previous eras (e.g. some say that a new 105 is at the level of 5 y.o. Ultegra, just to give you an idea) but it's up to you whether you want to ride something that everyone can buy off-the-shelve or rather some vintage and unique equipment.

  • For myself, there's a bit of "prestige factor." I'd enjoy having my bike outfitted with generation or two old Ultegra components way more than brand new Tiagra. And really, the performance difference in a situation like that is nil, but the Ultegra outfitted ride wins on classy. IMHO – Jeff Jan 19 at 1:06

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