DIY: How To Restore Your Vintage Bike For A Classy Ride

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I’m going to start this one of with a little story. Once upon a time I went to college. I lived a 15 minute bike ride away, so I took my bike to and from school everyday. But I seemed to encounter problems with my bike very often especially in the winter (I believe many of you can relate to this). I grew so tired of it, that I took my bike and locked it away.
Then I switched to a very old steel bike, that we had bought from an auction at the police station. From the looks of it, it was nothing special. Actually it look anything but special. The frame was sprayed with an ugly purple and black paint to cover the rust spots and the chain was so rusty it looked like it could corrode into oblivion at any given moment. It was called the Iron Horse in my school, which I thought was very funny. Here is a nice picture of it:

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But I rode it a few times and I actually kinda liked it. I noticed that I didn’t have any problems at all with this one. Not a single puncture! Then it came to me: Why not make a DIY pimp my bike to make it cool again?
Okay, there were several reason why not:
Numero uno: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I could potentially make some changes that would make the bike more susceptible to failures.
Numero dos: I don’t have any experience with bike restoration. The best I have done is to fix some flat tyres.
Yet I decided to do it exactly because of reason number two! If you never try you never make it. As I found out, it isn’t really that difficult to do it with the right tools. You just have to be really patient, depending on how detailed you want to do it.
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Here is how I ended up doing it:

Step 1:

Make a plan. How do you want the bike to look when it is finished? Does the frame need to be repainted? Do you want to upgrade the parts? What color scheme do you want the seat, tyres and handlebars to be? Do you want gears or a sleeker single speed bike?
This took me two weeks to prepare, because I wanted this to be the coolest bike in my whole college (Spoiler: it definitely was the coolest bike!). As it was called the Iron Horse, I had my uncle produce a sticker logo of the Ferrari horse to put on the front of the bike. This was really my favorite addition. It gave the bike a custom and personal feel. Nobody will have anything like this, was my thought.
If you want the frame repainted, I suggest contacting a spray paint company nearby (local car or furniture painters will do the trick) and ask for a price. It isn’t easy to do yourself except if you have a lot of experience. Then you can decide if the price is worth it. I paid $150 dollars for the spray painting, which was a lot for me, but I really wanted my custom designed bike, so I went for it.

Step 2:

Begin stripping down the bike.
Start with the easy parts like the saddle, saddle post, stem, and handlebars. Remove the brakes, gears and at last the crank. Sadly I didn’t take any photos of the strip down proces, but here are some detailed videos showing you how to strip a city bike:
(How to remove handlebar and stem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmFJjNeyUJE)
(How to remove crank arms and bottom bracket: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMSZ8Z8i-KY)
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Step 3:

In case you want the bike repainted you send in the bike frame to the painter. It will be the right time to try and clean the old bike parts that you want to reuse, so they look brand new when they are replaced on the bike.
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Step 4:

When you receive your bike frame you can finally begin the build. Put the parts on in the reverse order of how you removed them, so you start with the bottom bracket, the cranks and crank arms, the brakes and so forth.
I didn’t have my parts ready when I received my bike, so I decided to mount the saddle and handlebar, because they were the only things I had ready. But that wasn’t a good idea, since they ended up getting marks from my dirty fingers during the rebuild.

Step 5:

When you have mounted everything, you can give the bike a clear coating during the last cleaning. This will make it look extremely sharp. Lube the chain and go for a test ride. If something isn’t right, you adjust and try again. Otherwise you are done! My final result looked like this:
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I am super proud of the end product here! I still get remarks from strangers for my beautiful bike and everybody from my class knows The Iron Horse! But remember that you have to tighten all screws and bolts on the bike a few weeks after first use. They will loosen in the beginning. Normally you only have to do this once.
Hope this inspired you. I will try to upload more of my DIY projects. And next time I will take some photos during the process as well!

4 thoughts on “DIY: How To Restore Your Vintage Bike For A Classy Ride”

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