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Some bike parts have a date code cast or stamped into the piece.
This clearly is when the component was made and not when the bike was made, but unless the component or bike manufacturer had lots of stock lying around in inventory, the date should be a fairly good indication of the year of the bike.
Many components are marked with size descriptors in addition to component manufacturer's date codes.
For example, the back of cranks are usually marked with crank arm length in mm, typically in the range of 165 to 185.
As the wear on a vintage bike increases, the greater the likelihood components are not original, either through replacement of worn parts or through component swaps.I have just over 1,000 legal miles on my 73 TCS since finishing her up.I added a MSD Ignition unit to help control detonation under boost.Swaps can take place early in the life of a bike as the proud new owner upgrades to new or used components of higher quality.Swaps also can be made as the bike falls out of favor, or is being sold, where the higher quality components are traded for lower quality ones that the owner had onhand.
In this website, we credit the people involved in the understanding of these codes. (Naturally, for information provided by others, such as for the Campagnolo and Williams codes, the original source should be cited.)Ben writes: "Brakes and brake levers often have date codes on them.