Need help identifying frames to make sure make model and possibly year

  • 3
    You can't, in any general case. Jun 25, 2019 at 1:46
  • Suppose you convince yourself that this repainted, unbranded frame is actually from Brand X. Are you going to be able to convince your buyer of that? If not, it's made zero difference. Ditto the year: great, it's a 2009 rather than a 2008. Does your buyer care about the difference between a ten-year-old bike and one that's eleven years old? Probably not, and even if they do, what's your time worth? Three hours of research for an extra ten bucks on the price is a lot less than you could earn in three hours stacking shelves at your local supermarket. Jun 25, 2019 at 11:11
  • Ask your suppliers to not repaint them?
    – ojs
    Jun 27, 2019 at 20:38

2 Answers 2


The short answer is that it's a lot of work and there is no one way of identifying every bike. Sometimes a bike impossible to identify.
Documenting all the things to look for that might help ID a bike would take a large book. Here is some high level information to get you started.

As a rule of thumb
The less information you have to start with the less likely it is that you will be able to identify the bike.

Per the original question - there are no identifying marks.

Is it worth identifying? Some bikes are not worth the effort of identifying.
If it's a department store bike it does not matter which brand of department store bike it is.
Here is a link to a previously asked question on how to identify department store bikes.

Let's assume it's not a department store bike - what are next steps.

What kind of bike is it?
For a BMX / Freestyle bike BMXmuseum.com is a great place to do research.
Mountain, Gravel, Hybrid, Road and touring bikes - with a little experience you can roughly identify a year range the bike may have been made and then work with Google images to find a picture of a bike like the one you have. If the frame you has no distinctive features it will be very difficult to identify.

Possible distinctive frame features.

  • lug work
  • frame design - anything besides the standard diamond frame.
  • tubing - oval shaped, tapered etc.
  • fork crown
  • Fork or frame drop outs

Here is a forum thread discussing a wide variety of ways to identify a bike.

Bike parts
If the bike has parts on it the brand / model names of the parts can help you identify a bike. You can search for bike makers that used the brand / model of part that is on the bike. The newer the bike is the less distinctive parts are to particular bike makers. There just aren't as many bike parts makers as there use to be.

Stolen bikes
Finally, there are many stolen bikes out there. It's always good to run a serial number through the Bike Serial Numbers database to see if it's stolen.

This answer is intended to be a start on the answer. I'm sure others will have valuable tips and tricks.


Don't bother - go on overall build quality and to some extent weight, then mitigate that with an allowance for wear and mileage.

A nice road/race bike that was expensive new will be light, and specced with higher group parts. That's Dura Ace and Ultegra and the comparable SRAM. However if its done 20,000 km then there will be a heap of worn parts, which won't work that well together.

On the other side, a bike that has 3x7 gears, a Tourney groupset or unlabelled Shimano parts, and plastic gripshitters will be a low grade BSO no matter how much or little its been ridden.

If it was a good high-quality brand, the previous owner is less likely to have hidden that by stripping or painting. Ask for any documentation, warranty form, sales receipts etc.

If it was a BSO, then anything could have happened, but they tend to be obvious to the trained eye, and not worth a lot.

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