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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.
(Don't all cyclists have boxes and boxes of old components in their garage?
For Treks, the SR date markings are especially important.
Virtually all of the Treks not equipped with Campagnolo or Shimano Dura-Ace components, started life with some grade of SR seatpost and may also have SR stems, bars or cranks.
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.
At least it would be the earliest date that the bike could have been made.
For example, the back of cranks are usually marked with crank arm length in mm, typically in the range of 165 to 185.
If you know of other components that are marked or coded that can be added to this list, please let me know.: The information on this page is copyrighted.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.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.Especially useful, and challenging to sort out and verify, was the Shimano code.Also gathered on this page are date codes decoded and generously provided by others.The two sets of Dia-Compe brake lever bodies I checked had the four-number date code stamped inside the lever body (I couldn't find any markings on the levers themselves).However, a Gran Compe set of calipers had no markings. For example, 1182 means the 11th week of the year 1982.Dia-Compe cantilever brakes don't appear to have a date code, but supposedly the 981, 983, 986 brakes were first introduced in 1981, 1983, 1986, etc.Following Ben's lead - I checked three sets of Dia-Compe G calipers and all have the four-digit date code on the back of one of the arms.)Most early Treks (1976 through about 1980) were sold as framesets.The components were added by the local bike shop or by the buyer. Components also could be swapped from an existing ride to the new frameset.