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How to refurbish a bicycle 101
#21
Every once in awhile during a build or refurb i may need to replace a part and I like to try out other products at times to see how they are built for the price. It was the case with this refurb on the replacement of the cantilever brakes. I bought a brand called Ultracycle. Never have heard of them before. They look pretty good for the coin and came with the name ultracycle on one of the arms in a pair. Much like a noname name on a waterbottle cage. I would prefer no name at all sometimes. So if the part is not painted, anodized is okay as raw alloy is also ok for this technique to remove and "debrand" the part. I use aircraft paint stripper, it works in seconds. squirt a very small amount on a clean rag, then dab on the print you want to remove and wipe off instantly and it will be gone that fast!


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#22
Hello Painkiller,

What resource do you recommend for understanding more about truing. I have tried to wrap my head around this concept but always had trouble.

Also, how to save/store this series of posts. (May be I can figure that out)..

Thanks again for this wonderful series including how to adjust cantilever brakes properly.

(10-15-2023, 01:20 PM)Painkiller Wrote:  Now a little talk about what tuning a bicycle means. I prefer the term "fine tuning", and this is not merely the setting of the gears. It starts from the very first bearing inspection, service and preload of each of the bearings on the bike. The tension and truing/dishing of the wheels and then the precise alignment of the derailluer hanger. The finishing of a cut end of the cable housing and precise settings of the shifters. I cannot express enough about the use of the hanger alignment tool. Industry standard is on 4 points of the wheel they should read within 4mm or less. I choose to fine tune to +or- 2mm on 4 axis points, ie.. top, bottom, fore, and aft. This bicycle was way out of tolerance, more than 13mm. The more precise the hangar is the smoother and quieter the drivetrain will be, plus the more even the parts will wear and last longer. 95% of new out of the box bikes I have assembled over the years have been out of tolerance hangers, untrue wheels, other problems that fine tuning will have uncovered. Including lack of lubrication here or there.
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#23
thanks again GirishH , Park tool has a series of wheel truing videos that may help you understand what goes on with a wheel better. If you want quik access to this thread you can simply bookmark it in your browser. Wheel building is an art in itself to do properly, some really love it some not so much. I avoid it like the plague, lol but sometimes I just have to do it. I find it too time consuming to be a money maker for me to do all the time. Wheel truing on the other hand is pretty easy, the key on your own bicycles is to keep an eye on them and tweak when needed. A properly built wheel should not need to much to often anyways. I work on a lot of used bikes that have been neglected and are older, these bikes can often need re tension and truing, broken spokes etc.. On the note of a broken spoke, I will replace a broken spoke 1 time, if they bring the same wheel back with another broken spoke or the wheel had more than one broken spoke at the time. they all must be replaced. I call this the shoe string effect. when one breaks the other one is not far behind. they have reached a certain fatigue limit. The average cyclist that wants to be their own wrench can certainly maintain wheels but certain tools like a truing stand spoke wrenches are a must, as are cone wrenches for axles as they must be set/checked before the truing of the wheel. Also with the advent of thru-axles your stand needs to be able to accept this type with or without adapters.
There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#24
When its time to cut housing you will need to finish the cut. Most cable housing cutters deform a tad as they cut, especially brake housing. A smooth cut can be done with a dremel cut off wheel very nice also. I finish my housing with a sand disk on the outside of my bench top buffing wheel. After it has been ground flush I then use a very small allen wrench to stick in the inner liner and spin it around to open and flare the liner. Once setup of the brakes or derailluers is complete then its time to cut the cable. This should be done as even as possible, especially with the brake cables. Cable crimps should be done as even and nice as possible also. it is the little details that count the most in overall appearance of a quality, professional looking job. Pictured are a couple cable crimps that where done with anything handy to smash them on, and one that was done a tad nicer than what most others do by using a tool just for that task. Pictured is the tool I use that can be found most anywhere that sells tools, I have blunted the beak of the tool some so it does not cut thru the crimp.

When setting up brakes, the barrel adjuster on the lever should not be screwed all the way in as seen many times in peoples pictures of their bikes. You want to have a few threads showing between the lock nut and barrel for a couple reasons. One to be able to do a fine adjustment if need be (tighter or opening of the pads) and gives adjustment to open the pads up more if something happened to make the wheel wobble while out riding so you may still be able to have braking power of sorts.


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#25
Well cables are Done, brakes and derailluers set and tuned, Now waiting on pedals and a proper seat swap. now is the time to go over and make sure that every bolt is tightened and all pivots on the mechs are lubed. People often over look the quality and importance of pedals. Do not skimp here, They are the first thing that connects the rider to the drivetrain. The smoother the pedal the smoother the feel of the bike. When cutting the cable housing, cut it just long enough to do the job properly, extra long housing does nothing, just adds grams to weight of the bike. I get asked all the time which is better? Take the weight off the bike or off of me. The short answer is from and energy burning stand point both are good, however, no matter what size you are, if you have to carry a 40lb can to the curb you will expel more energy than lugging a 38lb can to the curb. So taking it from the bike trumps yourself always in this case.


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#26
Hard to resist an early evening photo op, even if it isn't even finished yet! But close to the finish line.


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#27
Finally finished with the refurb of the venerable Schwinn High Plains. Purchased for $15, total with parts $234
New parts include the following
Rim strips, tubes, tires, Stainless cables, Lined housing, Lock-on grips, chain, brake levers, f/r cantilever brakes/pads/hardware
platform pedals, f/r shifters. This bike is about as fresh a used bike can be for a refurb. it has what I consider even some upgrades
such as the pedals, shifters, lock-on grips, brake set, and seat post. No doubt in my mind that this bike rolls out even after 30 yrs ,better than when it rolled out of the shop new.
Now to the nitty gritty, as mentioned earlier, I only charge $150 for this type of service plus parts. So if were to sell this bike for me to get paid my $150 i would have to get $384. That would be the only way on this bike to get paid as if it was brought to me by someone whom wanted this service. Since I own this bike It can make for a challenging sale, or i will have have to cut my losses and take less than the $150 labor I was hoping for. This scenario is common for most any vintage or older bicycle
I pick up to refurbish for sale. This why I have set certain standards that I will never deviate from when it comes to refurbishing a bicycle. It has to be clean, functional,
and above all Safe. I want the buyer to be able to ride as trouble free as if they had purchased a new bicycle. To help me make my $150 profit goal I will even offer a post sale tune up/check up to make sure things are still working smooth. Many times I end up with a new life long customer when selling a bicycle.
What are some of the pro's about buying a bicycle like this? 1. it has many upgrades/updates that just do not come on new bikes in this price range or even when the bike was new. 2. If you want a steelie, its the only way to get one nowadays in this price range and especially if you are not a wrench then buying a used bike from someone who actually does a quality refurbish is the way to go. 3. A high quality refurb such as this you will be trouble free for many years, even after its next set of brakes or tires etc.. when you have owned this bike for 5 or more years the break down of the cost of ownership is pennies a day.
This is the big secret that bike shops would rather you did not know. They would rather you buy a new bike from them even at much higher costs more than likely, and try to convince you that is best in the long run. Well I hope this shed some light on where and how to start refurbishing bicycles. You have to be your own worst critic, there are no short cuts, it does take time to do good work. Remember when the bicycle has been done right and balanced and pleases the eye. It will stand apart and sell its self.


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#28
Thats certainly the basics jhona, glad I was able to help you in some way
There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#29
It is still a little difficult, I think I can find a professional to deal with it
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#30
(12-09-2023, 09:05 AM)xiao ann Wrote:  It is still a little difficult, I think I can find a professional to deal with it
Just look at it as a thorough cleaning with some nice extra touches, But good look finding a professional other than me to do this level of work for $150 labor
There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#31
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(09-23-2023, 07:44 AM)GirishH Wrote:  Wow, Painkiller. Keep these series of posts coming. I just got back from a week of bikepacking trip. I was thinking of bringing my bike to a local shop for an inexpensive tune-up ( I am in a small Indian city). Following your guidance won't save me much money BUT will give me a great wealth of knowledge about my bike as I plan to ride this bike across India and beyond. So, please keep this series coming..
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#32
Hello Painkiller, thanks again for this refurb series.

Just had a question/doubt.

In your message, you mentioned, 'To help me reach my $150 profit goal.' So, I'm curious about the number of hours you dedicated to this project and whether that $150 is for your time while the joy of accomplishing the project is the "profit".

I would prefer to work on my bike, learn, and derive satisfaction from accomplishing something rather than just paying someone to do it.

But, I'm asking the above question so that I know how to charge when I refurbish/repair a bike for someone else.

Thanks again for your detailed post, Painkiller.

(10-24-2023, 07:53 PM)Painkiller Wrote:  Finally finished with the refurb of the venerable Schwinn High Plains. Purchased for $15, total with parts $234
New parts include the following
Rim strips, tubes, tires, Stainless cables, Lined housing, Lock-on grips, chain, brake levers, f/r cantilever brakes/pads/hardware
platform pedals, f/r shifters. This bike is about as fresh a used bike can be for a refurb. it has what I consider even some upgrades
such as the pedals, shifters, lock-on grips, brake set, and seat post. No doubt in my mind that this bike rolls out even after 30 yrs ,better than when it rolled out of the shop new.
Now to the nitty gritty, as mentioned earlier, I only charge $150 for this type of service plus parts. So if were to sell this bike for me to get paid my $150 i would have to get $384. That would be the only way on this bike to get paid as if it was brought to me by someone whom wanted this service. Since I own this bike It can make for a challenging sale, or i will have have to cut my losses and take less than the $150 labor I was hoping for. This scenario is common for most any vintage or older bicycle
I pick up to refurbish for sale. This why I have set certain standards that I will never deviate from when it comes to refurbishing a bicycle. It has to be clean, functional,
and above all Safe. I want the buyer to be able to ride as trouble free as if they had purchased a new bicycle. To help me make my $150 profit goal I will even offer a post sale tune up/check up to make sure things are still working smooth. Many times I end up with a new life long customer when selling a bicycle.
What are some of the pro's about buying a bicycle like this? 1. it has many upgrades/updates that just do not come on new bikes in this price range or even when the bike was new. 2. If you want a steelie, its the only way to get one nowadays in this price range and especially if you are not a wrench then buying a used bike from someone who actually does a quality refurbish is the way to go. 3. A high quality refurb such as this you will be trouble free for many years, even after its next set of brakes or tires etc.. when you have owned this bike for 5 or more years the break down of the cost of ownership is pennies a day.
This is the big secret that bike shops would rather you did not know. They would rather you buy a new bike from them even at much higher costs more than likely, and try to convince you that is best in the long run. Well I hope this shed some light on where and how to start refurbishing bicycles. You have to be your own worst critic, there are no short cuts, it does take time to do good work. Remember when the bicycle has been done right and balanced and pleases the eye. It will stand apart and sell its self.
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#33
That is a good question GirishH, Let me start with profit {or lack of}. First off this is no longer or ever has been a full time job for me. I started off being the wrench for a guy that carried/sold Proflex, Mongoose back in the late 80's thru mid 90's before the names went south. Now I primarily do refurbs and restorations, I stay as busy I want and very rarely ever run an ad for bicycle repair. Mostly word of mouth. My main goal is typically frame off refurbishing with about a 2 week timeline average. Working on multiple bikes at a time quite often as I have multiple workstands, Floor, wall mount, folders and bench mount. I buy only bulk stainless cables and black lined housing in bulk. Typically 100ct boxes of cables and 30meter boxes of housing. this is the only way to do it if you want to make money on this part of the game. Buy things like tubes in bulk also and or on sale as much as possible. When I order parts I always round up to the next dollar for a tad extra here and there. Selling parts at a good price for the market.
The $150 mark is the normal price I charge for a complete frame off refurb plus parts of course. It also includes a good cleaning of the frame and a quik hand rubbing of the frame. the labor costs do go up to around $250 for more detailed paint reconditioning and alloy polishing. This beater Schwinn would have fallen in the $150 category. It did however have roughly 10hrs alone in hand rubbing the lustre back to the paint. So when considering that along with every bearing being serviced, a complete breakdown, and reassembly, tuning, wheel truing etc..probably over 30hrs in this one bike, this would also include the time spent planning the build, and part sourcing. So as you can tell "profit" in a case/job like this is not much. An awesome deal for the one having the work done. I know of no one in my area that even does this kind of work for hire, not even a bike shop. Just because they are geared more for minimum hourly rate or pre priced services + parts. So yes I do it more because I love to do it, I work at my own pace, no overhead, no boss and my own set of standards.
The money is made gearing more towards bicycle servicing shop style, making money by an hourly rate, and parts mark up. Which after I retire from my normal 9 to5 I may gear more towards that style too. But for now i do not wish to book up with general bicycle services. Thing like shock servicing would be out sourced on higher end shocks and lower end shocks would just be replaced. I build only about 10% of wheels, the rest are out sourced to a wheel builder. I find for the sake of time it helps me focus on the rest of the bike and things get done sooner. I also would rather not deal with disc brakes on a regular basis either. I would have to charge close to the same as any other bicycle dealer to perform these tasks required on todays bikes. that is why I remain in this particular niche. It suits me better, and honestly the new stuff does not interest me in the least. I love turning the ugly duckling into the beautiful swan and making the old, the new, new.
There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#34
Happy holidays and happy winter, Painkiller. Thanks for your detailed reply. Seeing the work, and effort you put in, I can see that you approach this more as a passion than as a means to earn, as I doubt the time and money spent can be honestly recouped. However, the sense of accomplishment derived from creating a unique piece, and rescuing it from ending up in another dump, is truly priceless.

Whether it's the bikes I've owned in the past or the fat bike, I am making it a point to work on them myself—not solely for economic reasons, but primarily because I enjoy the learning process. I appreciate understanding how things work, or don't, and exploring ways to repurpose. It has been a wonderful experience getting to know the "simple machine" that has taken me to faraway places and helped me make new friends in distant lands.

My takeaway, based on your explanation as well, is that making a profit from this endeavor isn't the point. However, I also realize that viewing this issue purely in terms of profit is the wrong perspective. The purpose behind your refurbishment work is precisely the opposite of "profiting."

Thanks again for this clear clarification..:-)
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