5 Steps to Restore an Old Bike

iStock_000019953923_LargeWe’ve all wanted to do it, and now it’s finally time. You’ve decided to spend a little time, and hopefully only a little money, to restore an old bike and turn it into something that will make every other cyclist super jelly. Here’s how you do it.

5 Steps to Restore an Old Bike

Step 1 – Find the bike. Maybe you already own a vintage bike, but if not, start looking. Finding the perfect bike may turn out to be a little tedious, but combing over every Craigslist ad and local garage sale could really pay off. Look for something that is begging for a little work, but isn’t too far gone. If the frame is rusted out (i.e. has holes), then it may be more hassle than it is worth.

Step 2 – Planning is one of the most important steps. You’re likely very excited about getting started, but I promise, if you do some serious planning before you begin, it will pay off. Some things to think about include:

  • Concept art – Draw a picture, as best you can, of what you want the finished product to look like. Include notes regarding small details you can’t draw, and use colored pencils for color.
  • Create a chronological “punch list” – Write down the order in which you plan to tackle the various jobs it will take to restore the bike. For example, things can get pretty messy if you wait to paint the bike after you’ve finished everything else. Paint the frame before you start putting on accessories and such.

Step 3 – Get to work. Now is the time to use your passion to get through the dirty work. Start by removing any little stuff, such as stickers, old handlebar tape, and the baseball card taped to the back of the frame for added “motorcycle” sound effects.

Use fine steel wool and a nice metal polisher to remove oxidation and rust to get to the shiny stuff. Once you’ve smoothed it out you can start painting the frame.

Step 4 – The wheels are where it’s at. A lot of people overlook the wheels, but they offer the most visual space to really catch the eye of passersby. There are two ways you can go about this, either restore the wheels you’ve got, or invest in some new ones.

If the wheels you’ve got are old chrome wheels, you can easily bring the shine back with a little chrome polish and some crumpled aluminum or some fine steel wool.

It may take a little work to convert a bike from a classic 27” wheel setup to 700c, but it would likely offer more stability and give a modern flair to your old bike.

Step 5 – Little details make the difference. Start thinking about the accessories. If you’re allowing yourself to spend a little money, buying some eye-popping accessories would be the way to do it.

Some popular accessories that can seriously transform your old bike into a head-turner include a leather saddle, handlebar grips, and pannier bags. Don’t be stingy. Get the good stuff, and your bike will be the one all the other cyclists dream of slow-motion running across the beach to while Queen’s “Bicycle” is playing in the background.

If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, call or fill out an online form for a free consultation. San Diego bicycle accident attorney Frederick M. Dudek is an avid cyclist himself and has years of experience fighting for his fellow riders.



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