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  1. #1
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    Total newbie, found a bike in a dump - want to fix it up.

    Hey all, I'm completely new to the bike forums, as well as any sort of mechanical work, know-how etc.

    I'm in Paris for the spring term, and instead of spending a fortune on metro tickets, I decided I would bike everywhere. I found out that bikes are incredible expensive here (cheapest one, used from the late 80s was 80 euros!)

    As luck would have it, I found a bike in the dump, which seems to be broken. I'm not sure whether I should fix it up myself or take it to a mechanic.

    From what I can tell, it needs a new back tire (or maybe tube?) and the front break cable is totally undone. The frame is in good shape, and the back break pad looks a little bent - but probably salvagable?

    Both tires look worn but in "ok" shape - and the front tube holds air... I think

    The chain is rusted but seems to work alright.

    I think the bike is swiss - altha, or something like that.

    Anyways - since I have literally no experience with bikes I was thinking maybe I should just take it to a mechanic and face the 60 euros it will cost in total (parts and labor). But I am somewhat adept with my hands and maybe I could do this? I know some people in Paris who have proper tools and they could lend me a hand.

    Any advice is much appreciated!

  2. #2
    8speed DinoSORAs Ed Holland's Avatar
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    I'll dive in.

    It sounds like you have found the basis of a good project. Looking on Sheldon Brown's page suggests no exact match for the name, but under "A" there is a make by the name of Atala http://www.sheldonbrown.com/vrbn-a-f.html#atala - could this be close to what you have?

    With regard to putting the bike on the road there are some key points:

    1) is the frame suitably sized for you?
    2) is there any noticable frame or fork damage?
    3) are the wheels true, and rim braking surfaces undented.undamaged?

    If these are all OK then the rest of the problems you describe are minor. Invest in two new tires and tubes (plus spare tubes) and get the brake & gear cables replaced. Test ride and see how she goes! If you are feeling happy with the bike and more ambitious you could overhaul the hubs and bottom bracket.

    There are good instructions at www.parktool.com for all maintainance & serviceing jobs.

    With a bit of luck, if you get the bike in reasonable shape you could sell it on when you're done and recoup some of the costs.

    Good luck,

    Ed
    Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live.

  3. #3
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    When I am restoring dumster finds on minimal budget I do as little as possible to make the bike safe and roadworthy.
    Is the transmission OK? A little oil will usually get a rusted chain going enough to ride. Check the wheels for wobble at the bearings. In extreme circumstances, I just drizzel some oil into the wheel bearings. It is better than nothing.
    Fixing a brake cable is a trivial job needing minimal tools, just a small wrench or allen key. Make sure the brake blocks have some life left in them.
    See
    http://www.parktool.com/repair/bikemap.asp

    Keep your eyes peeled for other dumster bikes, you can often salvage a spare tyre, brake pads or cables from a bent frame.

  4. #4
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    DAMN! not only was that fast, it was extremely helpful!

    thanks guys, I'll report back later this week and maybe take some pictures!

  5. #5
    Senior Member spunkyruss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    When I am restoring dumster finds on minimal budget I do as little as possible to make the bike safe and roadworthy.
    Is the transmission OK? A little oil will usually get a rusted chain going enough to ride. Check the wheels for wobble at the bearings. In extreme circumstances, I just drizzel some oil into the wheel bearings. It is better than nothing.
    Fixing a brake cable is a trivial job needing minimal tools, just a small wrench or allen key. Make sure the brake blocks have some life left in them.
    See
    http://www.parktool.com/repair/bikemap.asp

    Keep your eyes peeled for other dumster bikes, you can often salvage a spare tyre, brake pads or cables from a bent frame.
    This is excellent advice, and it appears to fit Sleepkyng's situation very well.

    It is very satisfying to bring a bike up to tip-top shape, but it requires money for parts. It is also very satisfying to bring a bike into a safe and serviceable condition on a tight budget. Bearings may need to be as smooth as glass to help you win a race, but slightly rough bearings are generally good enough for commuting or running errands.

    The tip about seeking out other dumpster bikes to serve as parts-donors sometimes makes it possible to assemble a safe and serviceable bike for next to nothing.

  6. #6
    Senior Member spunkyruss's Avatar
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    I alomost forgot: I don't know how prevalent bike theft is in your area, but you need a good lock. This bike will obviously be very valuable to you, but it sounds like all bikes are valuable enough in your area to be targeted for theft. If possible, try to notice the types of locks that most bikes are secured with in your area, and then buy a lock that is at least better than average. the simple answer is to buy the best lock that you can possibly afford.

    Oh yes, and wear a helmet, too. You will be putting all of this new bike knowledge into your head. It would be a terrible thing if you whacked your head and lost it all.

  7. #7
    jur
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    Here is a very simple tip: Grab a bucket, put in a bit of dishwashing soap and clean the bike thoroughly. You'll be amazed at how well it can turn out. (This is after getting everything roadworthy, of course.)

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    we'll i've lookd all over for more bikes in the dump, but so far I haven't found anything!

    maybe I should just buy new parts?

  9. #9
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    There ought to be a hundred places to get new or used bike parts around Paris? Maybe just pop for the essentials like the tube and brake cable, and give the rest of the bike some TLC once you borrow the necessary tools.
    Any of your friends in Paris work on their bikes? It might help if they can guide you somewhat. The first few jobs are a hump in the learning curve. Once they are past, bike work becomes much more intuitive.

    Your predicament reminds me a bit of the movie Eurotrip, where the kids are discussing transportation:
    "England is the size of the Eastwood Mall. We can walk to Berlin from there".

  10. #10
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    When I was in Grenoble (France) I made a dumpster salvage. I worked on it in a community run do-it-yourself bike garace. That means that I payed 10 euros for a years access to tools and there were tons of old parts there too, even frames that some other people had donated. This was very nice since I could get assistance from more experienced mechanics when needed. The bike ended up ridable for the winter and I left it in the shop when I came back home.

    Something like this could be perfect for you Sleepkyng, ask around.
    My advice is free of charge and of respective quality.
    1982 Miyata 912
    1998 Wheeler 5900 with front and rear air cushion suspension
    2006 Giant Reign

  11. #11
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    thanks for the tips, i'm going to start searching tomorrow (my day off!)

    cheers

  12. #12
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    Mind you, I'm not being snooty here, but keep in mind--the folks here (and any cycling enthusiast) consider a $1000 bike to be mid-range. $200 for a bike was considered cheap 20 years ago.

    In theis case, you absolutely get what you pay for in terms of reliability and quality. Cheap bikes cause headaches--period.

    Since you're in Paris, (shameless plug) you should check out a Decathlon and see what they have for your needs (generally their stuff is priced lower than comparable brand name stuff). Even if you spend $250-300, it'll be a) not much more than what you'll spend to get a junker going and b) a million times better than said junker.

  13. #13
    street basher
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    bikes are usually in a dumpster for a reason...

  14. #14
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    More sources for bikes and bikes to 'part out':

    Try thrift shops, what we call here 'yard sales' ... usually a sidewalk type affair by one or more families, the local equivalent of the Goodwill store. And, you might keep you eyes open for people cleaning out garages/basements and you can help out and maybe haul away the bike (and gear) for free. When kids grow up and discover autos/girl & boyfriends often the bike gets 'dumped.' Oh!, maybe a note on a church bulletin board, chat with the Pastor about an elderly family with a bunch of bikes from grown up kids &c who you could trade some labor for the bike/bikes.

    Finally, a good tip I read elswhere ... the Dumpsters behind the better bike shops. They get a lot of stuff that they wouldn't sell as trades, repairs &c and it gets the heave ho!

    Tim

  15. #15
    ride, paint, ride simplify's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by razzin' idiot
    bikes are usually in a dumpster for a reason...
    Not always. Sometimes they are condemned by a person who doesn't have the knowledge to do a few simple repairs, and doesn't want to pay for a mechanic to do what it would take to get the bike saleable. Here is a shot of my Italian-made, (mostly) Campy-equipped Bianchi, which had been set out at the curb on trash day, by a guy up the street. It had a ruined crank and a broken rear axle, and was caked with dirt. I replaced the broken parts with spares that I had laying around, tensioned the wheels, overhauled all the bearings, cleaned up and inspected the frame, put on new cables, brake hoods, bar tape and tires, and voila. This is one sweet ride. If the previous owner had had to pay a shop to do what I did on it, it would have run about $400. But it only cost me pocket change. So they don't always deserve to be thrown out, in fact many that are discarded could be saved with a little effort.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by simplify; 03-02-06 at 01:53 PM.

  16. #16
    street basher
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    wow not bad. but in general i find that bikes in dumpsters are pritty useless as the are cheap peices of shyte that were no good in the first place.

    im a mechanic and any stuff that gets theown in the dumpster out back is eithe 1)waste i.e. boxes or 2) usless wheels or other bicycle parts. anyone who has any common sense would make sure that for example, a wheel that is usefull to no one is obviously broken, such as jumping on it so the rim is mashed etc.. so people cannot just take things that are useless or good for about 10mins befor it breakes.

  17. #17
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    lawkd--

    I gotta say--that Bianchi is a one in a billion find. It seems like all of the dumpster/sidewalk/trachday bikes that come into my workshop are generic 10-speeds that are basically unsalvageable.

    You are a lucky man.

  18. #18
    ride, paint, ride simplify's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gamby
    lawkd--

    I gotta say--that Bianchi is a one in a billion find. It seems like all of the dumpster/sidewalk/trachday bikes that come into my workshop are generic 10-speeds that are basically unsalvageable.

    You are a lucky man.
    I agree, I'm totally lucky--but I'm a woman. But other than that, I completely agree with what you said.

  19. #19
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    Wow--how politically incorrect of me. You lucky woman.

  20. #20
    Senior Member colnagorider's Avatar
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    I found in a beautifully lugged Italian road bike in a dumpster about 25 years ago which I still own and ride. It is now equiped with Campy Record and a beautiful Sante drivetrain and brakeset. I don't go dumpster diving anymore. Not since I got a job 20 years ago, but you can find some nice rides in the dumpster. Almost forgot about the Pugeot from a dumpster about 23 years ago. Still have it and it's great. My best find ever was a $30.00 Colnago Mexico (1982 model) that was virtually brand new, about five years ago. It's my pride and joy. Wouldn't part with it for 2 gran. So a little patience, a keen eye and a little experience and you could have yourself a nice ride. Maybe you can post some pictures and we can let you know whether or not it's worth puttng some money into?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by lawkd
    Not always. Sometimes they are condemned by a person who doesn't have the knowledge to do a few simple repairs, and doesn't want to pay for a mechanic to do what it would take to get the bike saleable. Here is a shot of my Italian-made, (mostly) Campy-equipped Bianchi, which had been set out at the curb on trash day, by a guy up the street. It had a ruined crank and a broken rear axle, and was caked with dirt. I replaced the broken parts with spares that I had laying around, tensioned the wheels, overhauled all the bearings, cleaned up and inspected the frame, put on new cables, brake hoods, bar tape and tires, and voila. This is one sweet ride. If the previous owner had had to pay a shop to do what I did on it, it would have run about $400. But it only cost me pocket change. So they don't always deserve to be thrown out, in fact many that are discarded could be saved with a little effort.
    Good job!

  22. #22
    dbg
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    I find pretty decent 80's Japanese bikes set out for trash all the time (panasonic, schwinn-le-tour, nishiki, centurion, to name a few). I also picked up a nice mercian racing frame once. I built it up and rode it for a year till a better target was found. I ended up selling that frame on ebay for $120. There are lots of treasures to be found set out for trash. In my area the best times are late summer and early spring (probably garage cleaning days).

    Another possibility I haven't tried yet is checking dumpsters behind LBS's. I've been in stores when a disrepaired but potentially restorable bike came in for fixing. When customer is quoted $200+ to get it running, they just leave it. The LBS walks it out back and tosses it in the dumpster (seen it happen twice).
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  23. #23
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    here are some pics of the bike - i didn't really know the best way to photograph it so if there's something I should be showing in particular, lemme know - and thanks!
    http://img222.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img13952dd.jpg
    http://img222.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img13907wf.jpg
    http://img315.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img13930jb.jpg

    Keep in mind, I'm not a super bike person - I just want something safe to commute on so I don't have to take the damn stinky metro all the time. Cheers

  24. #24
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    Another idea is to turn the bike into a fixed gear. All you'll need is to replace the rear wheel/hub with a fixed gear hub. Then you can simply removemany of the parts, including gear shifers and rear brake. www.sheldonbrown.com probably has a bunch of info on conversion projects.

  25. #25
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    that sounds like an interesting idea, but would I be able to do that with limited to no skills at a bike mechanic?

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