How to Restore a Bicycle

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How to Restore a Bicycle

Whether for commuting to and from work or just for leisurely fun, riding a bicycle can be a great way to get exercise and travel from place to place. However, investing in a new bicycle can be quite costly, particularly when bicycles are prone to damage and theft. One solution is to find an affordable bicycle that is perhaps not in great condition, and restore it. Consumers can find tools and supplies to restore a bicycle at DIY shops and on eBay. With just a few supplies and a little bit of dedication, it is possible to restore even an antique bicycle to safe, working condition.

Find a Bicycle

When a bicycle reaches the end of its useful life for a particular individual, he or she may simply put it out with the rubbish. Sometimes it is easy to find aging bicycles in need of restoration next to a wheelie bin or at a local landfill. Also, be sure to check with any friends or neighbours who may have an old bike in need of some attention. They may be happy to give it away.

Assess Bicycle Condition

While it is possible to restore a bicycle even if it is in very bad condition, it is important to first assess how much restoration is necessary. A bicycle that is not very old and has been in storage may need cleaning but no serious repair, while an older bicycle with extensive rust and damaged parts represents a much bigger commitment in terms of time as well as money.

Determine Bicycle Material

A few different types of metals are most common in bicycle frames. The specific metal that a bike contains can determine the best process for cleaning and restoring it.

Type of Metal


Commonly Found

Aluminium alloy



Cost effective

Newer bicycles

Steel alloy



Cost effective

Older bicycles, particularly the alloy chromoly

Carbon fibre

Very light

Very strong


High-end racing bicycles

The majority of antique bicycles use either steel or aluminium, both of which are fairly easy to restore. It is not necessary to know exactly which type of metal a bike uses before embarking on a restoration, but it can help in determining the best supplies for the project.

Collect Necessary Tools and Supplies

Restoring a bicycle does require some special tools. A bicycle repair kit is a good investment for anyone who rides a bike regularly and can be useful in the restoration process. These kits generally contain the spanners necessary to take the bike apart and put it back together safely. A bicycle repair stand can also be quite helpful. These stands clamp onto the bicycle frame and keep it steady during repairs.

Disassemble Bicycle

Taking the bicycle apart is the best way to be sure that every piece is clean and fully functioning. Keep a tally of the different parts so as to ensure none get lost. When disassembling the bike, a digital camera can be useful. Taking pictures of the process means an easy record to review when it is time to put the bike back together. If any of the pieces are too difficult to remove, spray a lubricant, such as WD-40, on the bicycle and slowly work the pieces apart.

Remove Rust

Old bicycles often rust when proper storage is lacking. There are a few solvents that can help to remove rust from bicycle parts. Oxalic acid is useful for chrome-plated bicycle parts. Soak the parts in a diluted solution, according to package directions, and watch the rust fall away. Cleaning agents, like mineral spirits or Simple Green, are not as harsh but can be useful for small rust spots. Use standard soap for pieces that have dirt and grime but no rust.

Replace Damaged Parts

If any pieces of the bike are broken or cracked, obtain new parts. Some bicycle aficionados take the time to track down the authentic parts from the same time period as the bicycle, but generally it is easy to find parts that fit even if they are new. It is especially important to ensure the bike's braking system is in good working order before attempting to ride the bike.

Paint Restored Bicycle

When the bike frame and its parts are clean and free of rust, give the bicycle a fresh coat of paint. The most professional and long-lasting option is to sandblast and powdercoat the bicycle frame. However, this can mean a much bigger financial commitment. Many restorers choose to simplyprime and paint the bicycle with spray paint. This gives the bike a bright and colourful finish for a fraction of the cost. When the paint is dry, reassemble the bicycle carefully and take it out for a ride.

How to Buy a Bicycle on eBay

If you are looking for a new bicycle or a used bicycle to restore, eBay is a great place to start. With sellers from around the world, there is always a deal on bicycles available. Put the eBay search box to use by entering terms like " antique bicycle" and letting the results populate. Remember that some bicycles can be quite heavy, so always include the shipping cost in your budget.

Restoring a bicycle can be a rewarding project. Restoring a bicycle can save money and even help you to learn the workings of the bicycle and become a better, safer cyclist. With just a bit of time and the right tools, even an old and rusted bike can ride like new again.

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