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How to refurbish a bicycle 101
#1
I thought I would do a thread about how to do a quality refurbish on a bicycle that will be a good user trouble free for quite a while. The scope of this refurb will not contain content about dealing with battle scars it may have endured in its lifetime, primarily because the bicycle is merely an example of a solid platform to build from (vintage lugged frame circa 1990). Purchased for $15us at a church sale. Also to give an understanding that even if someone were to give you a free bike that needs a tad more than Tlc the costs involved can climb rapidly. Is it a profitable undertaking? I would say not exactly depending on the bike being refurbished. If that is the reason for your build keep that in mind when choosing the bike to be done. Following the advice in this post will at the very least will show you how to turn trash into treasure. One other reason for this thread is to show the gross misuse of what others selling bikes in ads everywhere use terms such as "like new", "excellent condition" and so on. rarely truly the case in most bicycles I travel to purchase. The difference is that I am a builder and can look thru the grime and dirt to assess what the final build might become. If you follow this thread to the T and go to sell the bike, you will not need to use such terms that fall short of expectations of the buyer. Your build will be 95%+ perfect in all ways mechanically speaking and the bike will sell its self without having to say a word.
The labor involved can be extensive also which can eat away on profit margins too, this type of work I typically charge $150us for someone wanting my services of this scope + materials/parts.
That is not reflected in the rough draft build sheet. so when I am searching for bike to flip i keep my labor in mind also but not absolute. Step 1 is to gut the bike like a deer on opening day, inspect and assess every nut and bolt, it must be able to become 95%+ perfect when finished or gets replaced, No exceptions! This will automatically make the finished build come out 95%+ perfect.
I will also do this build with minimal tools and products that the newbie can easily obtain and use at home. Lets get started, You will be amazed at how well this dull old goat comes out, all cleaning of parts I do by hand, even the frame will be hand rubbed to a wonderful lustre. I will show you that you do not need 50 different products to achieve a build of high quality. Here are some starting pics of condition. I will start cleaning of the frame using a mild cleaner and cloth rags such as cut up shirts and socks etc...Next to attack the older dried grease deposits enter good old fashioned W-40, safe for paint and it breaks down the grease and emulsifies the grime, I use tooth brush to scrub the nooks and crannies. Once this is done, a quik go over with the mild cleanser to remove the WD-40 film and she is ready to hand rub.


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There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#2
Thanks @Painkiller ; someone had to do it!
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#3
got started on the cleaning and hand rubbing the frame, My go to polishing compound is none other than turtlewax brand, easy to obtain, cheap as a lot goes a long way. You just go over and over til you obtain the desired look. This is my first round, coming out nicely I think. Another tip for tight spaces is I use a baby ear swab, Yes it takes time but like most things short cuts equal compromise. Buy this round you will have become intimate with every square centimeter of the bicycle. and it will reflect that passion in the finished build


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There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#4
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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#5
Thank you GirishH, It would probably save you money being your own wrench, but it probably would not save your time! Lol
There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#6
Now is the time to talk about tools. Some tools can be basic and you may already have them. Some tools are not and you have to have them to perform the task without compromise. Whether you plan to be your own wrench or even more so if you plan to fix or repair for other people you should not compromise, ever. there are a lot of bike specific tools that really are not that expensive. Tools cost money in the short term. but make money soon after, especially when compared to the tool task @ shop labor. Probably the most expensive basic tools one should use would be the bike stand, truing stand, and the derailleur hanger alignment gauge. I have many types, my normal one is a shop grade parktool stand (expensive) , I have a parktool folder, I have another much cheaper folder as pictured that iI like over my Parktool folder. I also have a bench mount and a even a wall mount work stand. If you ever have to work on geared bicycles you have to have a derailleur hanger gauge. (no exceptions). If you want to dial in and fine tune to perfection there is no short cut to this tool, anything else is a compromise. When I started many years ago I would collect tools needed for the job/bike at hand and absorb the cost in labor which would translate to a free tool or a paid down tool for the cause. I cannot go thru all the steps for every skill it takes to perform the set up for the brakes, derailluers and so on in the scope of this post. This site and the parktool site have some good info on this subject, experience will help fine tune those skills too. Here is a pic of some of the tools used so far in the rebuilding of this early 90s Schwinn mtb. Feel free to ask any questions you may have at anytime and I will do my best to answer them. P,s, Yes, the bloody mary is probably the number 1 renewable tool in the group. Pick your poison on that one, Lol


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There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#7
More than saving money I wanted to get comfortable taking the bike apart and putting it all back together without any leftover screws..:-) In the future, it will save me money and trouble if I am stuck with a mechanical issue away from civilization or assistance.:-)

Attached are a few snaps of before and after. I didn't do as good of a job as you but still feel like I know my fat bike better than before..:-) I took out and cleaned both the wheels, chain and frame. Now, the bike looks never. Thanks for your inspiration.



(09-23-2023, 02:32 PM)Painkiller Wrote:  Thank you GirishH, It would probably save you money being your own wrench, but it probably would not save your time! Lol


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#8
Nice Job, You will learn as you go like everybody else does. Its always better to be your own wrench as much as possible. Start with the tools you need to do the bikes you have, worry about the rest as needed
There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#9
I will be honest, Painkiller. I enjoyed doing what little I did yesterday or maybe even going as far as you do. But for some reason, I have this indescribable fear of things breaking down even though my bike is not too technical. I am "mortally" scared of getting a flat even though I know how to fix it and I carry all the necessary tools including extra tubes and tire..:-)

Anyway, your series inspired me to get comfortable with the simplest mechanical machine that has the potential to take us to places near and far..:-) Thanks again and keep this series going.
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#10
Now is the time to think about the build. What needs to be replaced etc... Now that you have everything inspected you are ready to determine what bearings needs attention , which parts are worn and what needs to be replaced. This is a refurb job so when complete it has to be more than just a cleaned, tuned bike with half worn parts. It should be in my opinion 95%+ perfect in all aspects. Especially if the target result is reselling the bicycle. This bike is not super highend but does offer a nice truetemper lugged cromo frame and decent cranks and derailluers. This bicycle has been ridden very little but neglected for many years, the original canti brakes are not one of Shimano's shining moments with lack of spring balance adjustments so upgrading them is a plus.
While deciding how to go about what changes are going to be made to the bike think about this for a moment. The original bike was basically a lot of black i.e. Brakes, levers. grips, paint. think "balance and symmetry " in colors, components, and finishes" when possible and that will make the finished product all come together.
The paint does have a silver drizzle in the paint job, silver hubs and seat post, black stem and bars so an option would be to dance with silver on replacement parts to help with a pop of color more than just black. So i chose silver for the upgraded canti's, silver for the lock on upgraded grips and a silver water bottle cage will help the bike balance out and pop to eyes much better than just black, I also replaced the the black levers for silver for the same reasons.
tubes and tires should also be new as its a big selling point not have to replace anything for many miles to come. Being it is a retro mtb, in most cases will probably be used as a path/city style bike that is tough and durable I choose tires that are the best of both worlds, smooth rolling on pavement, good for turn in with a radius to the crown and enough knobs for rougher terrain too. These subtle changes will help this bike sell itself and run out nice.


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There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#11
Love the finished product, Painkiller. And, thanks for your explanation on changing, choosing parts and reasons for choosing colors, and how to make it stand apart. Very helpful.
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#12
Your welcome and thank you for the kind words. It is not quite finished yet. still have to clean some parts and start to button it up slinging the cables and fine tuning. Parts were pretty caked with dry old oil as shown in the pics. I start with WD-40 and scrub with a tooth brush and wipe clean, then many parts get hit with the polishing compound and some with light rust will get soaked in evapo-rust and then bring out the shine. If it was meant to shine when it was new then it must shine when refurbished, no exceptions!

Bike is coming together as planned. The new owner should be able to enjoy their new ride for many miles without touching a single thing. Excercising normal care. will many more years. Sparingly use of WD-40 works really well for removing dry caked grease and crud.


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There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#13
Looking great!

That's the first pic showing paint loss, but at least black is an easy color match and touch-up.

I have been using cyclocross (more of a cross/mtb hybrid tire in my opinion) tires on my old ('80s) rigid mtb since I had been given another bike with the "KendaCross" tires on it and really like the way they feel (ride/handling/grip) as road tires and then how they still have decent performance for off-road riding. I do far more riding on them as a road commuter/touring bike so they me to still ride at speeds I am more used to on smooth surfaces as opposed to running knobbies which just feel weird (and slow) to me on tarmac; especially when cornering/maneuvering.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#14
Yes, there are a few chips here and there. I rate bikes in only two ways, A grade, meaning that even the paint will be 95%+ perfect as well as all components. And B grade, meaning the paint may be close or not to 95%+ perfect after completion but all components will be 95%+ perfect. Anything else would be a grab and flip as is as a project bike. That is exactly what this bike was. A $15 dollar grab at a church sale my wife attended. She sent me a pic and I said grab it. I was certain I could do quik flip for 30 or 40 bucks just for snapping a few pics and posting it.
I had an old friend that his car was broken and was going to be sometime before getting it fixed had been riding a broken down peewee herman girls bike to work about 15miles each way. I was like wow, here is a guy that has never been a cyclist working 10 to 12 hr days and has the grit to make it to work every day. i know he had to be sore as heck everywhere on his body. So I decided to take over to his house my $1200 worth of vintage Univega I had built up with all NOS DeoreXT goodies built for Expedition, go anywhere do anything and carry it all. The bike was a tad large for him but it was all I had to help him with. But he liked to ride and still wants too. Enter this Schwinn in the post. 16in frame, tough, refurbished to his liking and in his price range. Winner winner! He is just waiting for it to be completed. I am not charging him a penny for labor at all, just helping out a friend. With that said, he did not even care if the bike was polished or paint touched up, just that it was mechanically sound. As for the tires they were chosen for his riding style as he is going to hit the woods with it an tarmac, I chose these for him because of the solid center ridge and the round crown that does enable them to corner on pavement quite excellent and the price was great, I also got 2 more for the 87' Stumpjumper build as the 1.75 knobbies were typical for that era of MTBs
Normally for me Paint work would be more in the scope of a "restoration", which in my opinion. The rules get even tighter and the labor prices rise even higher as I am sure you can understand. I was glad to be able to save this bike from the dumpster and it was a great bike to show others how to be able to see thru all the gunk and crud and spider poop. and know that somewhere in there is a dusty jewel ready to shine once more! This bicycle is a perfect example of a bike refurbished proper will outlast and perform better than any new dept, store bike in the range of what has been spent on this build, hands down!
There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#15
Beautiful work, Painkiller! What a wonderful reason to rescue and restore a machine that would have otherwise polluted this beautiful world. I wish this series had come a few years earlier.

I found an abandoned Trek bike on a trash day in Boston. It just needed new brake levers, cables, and a few other minor repairs. I had never worked on brakes before, so I saw this as a learning opportunity. I purchased those parts and fixed the bike. Then I gifted it to a hardworking friend of mine who worked 3 jobs and needed a reliable bike for commuting between them. He was overjoyed. Unfortunately, I didn't know then how to thoroughly clean/refurb a bike. This is why I wish your "Refurbish a Bicycle 101" had come out sooner... :-)

I gifted him the bike without expecting much in return. A year or so later, I was visiting Colombia and this friend talked to his uncle. His uncle picked me up from the airport in Colombia, made me stay with his family for 2-weeks, and treated me like one of their own. I never imagined that a small act of TLC and fixing a bike would go such a long way.

I will try to save your "Refurbish a Bicycle 101" and do a better job on next bike I rescue..

(10-12-2023, 10:11 PM)Painkiller Wrote:  Yes, there are a few chips here and there. I rate bikes in only two ways, A grade, meaning that even the paint will be 95%+ perfect as well as all components. And B grade, meaning the paint may be close or not to 95%+ perfect after completion but all components will be 95%+ perfect. Anything else would be a grab and flip as is as a project bike. That is exactly what this bike was. A $15 dollar grab at a church sale my wife attended. She sent me a pic and I said grab it. I was certain I could do quik flip for 30 or 40 bucks just for snapping a few pics and posting it.
I had an old friend that his car was broken and was going to be sometime before getting it fixed had been riding a broken down peewee herman girls bike to work about 15miles each way. I was like wow, here is a guy that has never been a cyclist working 10 to 12 hr days and has the grit to make it to work every day. i know he had to be sore as heck everywhere on his body. So I decided to take over to his house my $1200 worth of vintage Univega I had built up with all NOS DeoreXT goodies built for Expedition, go anywhere do anything and carry it all. The bike was a tad large for him but it was all I had to help him with. But he liked to ride and still wants too. Enter this Schwinn in the post. 16in frame, tough, refurbished to his liking and in his price range. Winner winner! He is just waiting for it to be completed. I am not charging him a penny for labor at all, just helping out a friend. With that said, he did not even care if the bike was polished or paint touched up, just that it was mechanically sound. As for the tires they were chosen for his riding style as he is going to hit the woods with it an tarmac, I chose these for him because of the solid center ridge and the round crown that does enable them to corner on pavement quite excellent and the price was great, I also got 2 more for the 87' Stumpjumper build as the 1.75 knobbies were typical for that era of MTBs
Normally for me Paint work would be more in the scope of a "restoration", which in my opinion. The rules get even tighter and the labor prices rise even higher as I am sure you can understand. I was glad to be able to save this bike from the dumpster and it was a great bike to show others how to be able to see thru all the gunk and crud and spider poop. and know that somewhere in there is a dusty jewel ready to shine once more! This bicycle is a perfect example of a bike refurbished proper will outlast and perform better than any new dept, store bike in the range of what has been spent on this build, hands down!
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#16
Cool story, I love to help when I can. Most everybody has a gift that they can share once in a awhile to help make the world a better place. It doesn't always have to be about money. About ten years ago when this site was called Bicycletutor, I responded to question about a broken bicycle that turned out to be from an army base in Afghanistan , The bike was in need of repair and they get handed down to the tour use, They have to do the repairs themselves as you can imagine. So I knew from afar what the bike needed to get up and running again, packed up all the new parts needed and the info on how to do the work and shipped it out to the base at no charge to help the troops. Not expecting anything in return one day I received this in the mail, I thought it was awesome! one of my proudest moments in my life of bicycles that must have made an impact.


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There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
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#17
Done with bottom bracket service and crank cleaning, Attention to detail to detail is critical, all parts should be @ 95%+ perfect in Life expectations and aesthetics, to be an A Grade restoration, refurbishing on the other hand typically does not always involve the paint in having to be 95%+ perfect, only the components. With this said, I f the paint was that good, it would be an A grade and anything less would be a B grade bicycle, not that it is bad, just a few more battle scars.
We could talk a night about lubes. Here is a decent lube for chain, derailluers, etc..Rust remover used, and good product for polishing by hand, Yes the chainrings were even polished. The bicycle if being sold or for keeping should be 100% cleaned and polished if needed when finished. ride on if you are keeping it. Only for test ride purposes only should the bike be ridden if it is slated to be sold. It should be as clean from dirt, grime, and dust as a new one out of the box. It is this that will sell the bike, It will "pop" to the buyers eye, unbelievably clean for a used bike thru any ones eyes. This is how you seduce the buyers eyes without them even knowing it. Without so much as a word from you. Now on to the cleaning of the derailluers.


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#18
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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#19
Love this, Painkiller. Truly a proud and happy day for you. I love the connections bicycles help us make and the beautiful life they help create..

(10-14-2023, 09:00 AM)Painkiller Wrote:  Cool story, I love to help when I can. Most everybody has a gift that they can share once in a awhile to help make the world a better place. It doesn't always have to be about money. About ten years ago when this site was called Bicycletutor, I responded to question about a broken bicycle that turned out to be from an army base in Afghanistan , The bike was in need of repair and they get handed down to the tour use, They have to do the repairs themselves as you can imagine. So I knew from afar what the bike needed to get up and running again, packed up all the new parts needed and the info on how to do the work and shipped it out to the base at no charge to help the troops. Not expecting anything in return one day I received this in the mail, I thought it was awesome! one of my proudest moments in my life of bicycles that must have made an impact.
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#20
Parts cleaning is about finished, then start slinging cables and housing. This bike has canti's, this is one way I do them to help with setup of the pads. I use double stick rubber tape and cut a small piece to stick on the rear of the pad, this helps with even pad pitch, the clamps act as third hands. This method works well for v-brake style also. with v-brakes just release the springs and a rubber band holds the pads to the rim when placed on the arms and only use one clamp on the front of the pads. this process works even easier if the tires are off the rims first.


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