Glad you are following our little blog here! If you tuned in last time, you know that today’s issue is about how to get that old ratty cruiser out of your garage and up and running again!
The thought of repairing an old bike in your garage may not seem like an appealing way to spend your weekend, but rest easy, this project can be done over time, and end result, will leave you with a stunning bicycle you can brag to your friends about restoring yourself!
Lets break it down into four main components:
Frame, Drive train, Brakes, Wheels
If you tackle each one of these individually, you can build your way up to restoring your bike around your busy schedule.
Frame Restoration- First thing is you want to make sure the frame you are looking to bring up to snuff does not have any rust (steel only), cracks or major blemishes on any of the tubes. If your frame comes with a fork, make sure this is unharmed as well, otherwise, make sure when replacing a fork to be positive it is compatible with your frame set Now then! The fun part! Strip every last moving part, clip, and accessories from your frame. Keep good track of all of your screws! Use product to remove all oil, and other imperfections from frame. Take your bike to a local repair shop and see what they will quote you to sandblast your frame, and paint it. Reasonable prices range from $150 to $300. You will need your own paint, which can be procured at Home Depot.If you are a super savy individual, this step can be done at home by constructing a “paint booth” and using a pnumatic paint gun (or high grade spray paint for the MacGyver).
Once your frame has been repainted, look up and contact the original manufacturer to track down original or reproduction decals from your make and model bike. Plan the schematic for your bike, then apply decals as you see fit! Reattach components such as handlebars, brake lines and other hardware.
Drive train- All of the old parts you have are probably still usable and should be de-greased, oiled and checked for proper working order. Cruisers are notoriously simple designs and it should not be difficult to check things like the bottom bracket, rear cog, and chain for rust, excessive oxidation or damage. Soak all components in de-greaser and use an old toothbrush to “de-gunk” components. Different types of metal polish can be used to achieve the desired luster of your parts. If any parts are deemed unusable, contact your local bicycle recycler/vendor and ask them if they can find a replacement part for you. Odds are that old rusty chain will need to be replaced! Reattach all parts to your frame and apply oil to all moving parts.
Brakes- Chances are your cruiser has old school cantilever brakes. Pads are easily replaced and are available online or from your local bike shop. Check the cantilever mechanism to assure it is not frozen open or closed. Give them an old once over with WD-40 to assure they are moving smoothly. Run new cables through fresh housing from brake handles to brakes. I put on new clips to attach housing to top tube. Check tension and adjust to the wheels when they are mounted on your new bike! If your bike is a fixie, just mount the cog, attach your chain and forget about the beginning part of this section!
Wheels- Determine if your old wheels need a true, spoke adjustment or need to be replaced due to excessive pitting or damage. Most wheels can be polished and cleaned to match the look of the rest of the bike. If you are going for a totally restored look, visit your local bicycle recycler and ask them to help pair your wheels to your bike. Stick to the size of the original wheels from the manufacturer. Next, choose a new set of tires to match your wheels. Lots of different colors and brands available. Bring your old tubes to Green Guru to recycle into your future messenger bag ;)
You can’t leave out the details! Reflectors, bells and whistles can easily be found at any bicycle or sports recycler as well as the ever elusive “pre-worn” Brooks Saddle to top off your classy vintage ride! All and all, if you can be savvy about repainting your frame, or can avoid it entirely restoring your cruiser shouldn’t cost you more than a couple hundred dollars and will turn heads around town. Newer production cruiser bikes are cool, don’t get us wrong. But there is something to be said for an original oldies!
Color Scheme Suggestions:
Cream White, Tan Leather Saddle, Blacked out hardware and handlebars
Forest Green, Black Saddle, Yellow Graphics
Good luck on your projects!