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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 02-17-08, 10:59 AM   #1
flooshee
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Is this overhaul crazy for a novice?

The LBS just gave me a $320 estimate for fixing up my old Schwinn Super Sport. I posted about this in the Road forum, asking whether I should just buy a new bike.

Several people suggested doing the maintenance myself. So I'd love some advice from you guys.

I'm moderately handy with tools, but I've only done very basic bike maintenance (changing tubes, and minor adjustments). I'm worried that this overhaul will be way over my head. Here's what they said needed to be done:

New rear wheel
New derailleur cables
Adjust both hand brakes
True front wheel
Adjust derailleurs
Overhaul front hub
Overhaul head & bottom bracket
New chain
New freewheel

Parts - $125
Labor - $180

I only have a small bike multi-tool and standard wrenches, pliers, etc. I'd need to buy (borrow?) some tools. I worry that getting the proper repair equipment will eat up the labor savings.

I'm all ears for advice. Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-17-08, 11:07 AM   #2
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First of all is it even worth the $125 in parts to fix it up? Assuming you can do the labour all yourself and you already have all the tools.

There's too many if/and or buts with old parts to tell you whether adjusting brakes/derailleurs is going to be easy or hard. Every item on that list comes with a laundry list of caveats, especially if you're looking at an older bike. You'll probably eat a nice chunk into the labour on tool costs alone.

Just quickly, you'll need: cable cutters, bearings, chaintool, freewheel removal tool, spoke wrench, headset wrenches (2), bottom bracket tool, lockring tool, possibly pin tool or park HCW-11, cone wrenches...

You won't *really* be able to true the front wheel without a stand. You can get it good enough that it doesn't rub the brake. If you want to get an idea of how each of these repairs is going to go down, I suggest looking at this page

http://www.parktool.com/repair/

And just reading about it to start.
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Old 02-17-08, 11:21 AM   #3
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It's totally doable, but you will need to invest in tools and research to do it. I agree that it's not worth paying for the overhaul - it's more than the bike is worth. However, if you think you might like doing this thing (careful, it's addictive), then go ahead and do it. The best part about working on old bikes is that there are lots of low-demand spare parts out there.
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Old 02-17-08, 11:21 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by flooshee View Post
I only have a small bike multi-tool and standard wrenches, pliers, etc. I'd need to buy (borrow?) some tools. I worry that getting the proper repair equipment will eat up the labor savings.

I'm all ears for advice. Thanks in advance!
If you are really into biking . . . buy the tools and do the work yourself. You'll have the tools for life so it is not really fair to just compare the tool's cost vs: the bike shop repair bill.

Personally I'm a tool nut and receive satisfaction from doing my own work. YMMV!
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Old 02-17-08, 11:23 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by flooshee View Post
The LBS just gave me a $320 estimate for fixing up my old Schwinn Super Sport. I posted about this in the Road forum, asking whether I should just buy a new bike.

Several people suggested doing the maintenance myself. So I'd love some advice from you guys.

I'm moderately handy with tools, but I've only done very basic bike maintenance (changing tubes, and minor adjustments). I'm worried that this overhaul will be way over my head. Here's what they said needed to be done:

New rear wheel
New derailleur cables
Adjust both hand brakes
True front wheel
Adjust derailleurs
Overhaul front hub
Overhaul head & bottom bracket
New chain
New freewheel

Parts - $125
Labor - $180

I only have a small bike multi-tool and standard wrenches, pliers, etc. I'd need to buy (borrow?) some tools. I worry that getting the proper repair equipment will eat up the labor savings.

I'm all ears for advice. Thanks in advance!
you could do MOST of the labor, saving the tough stuff for the LBS like
1) true front wheel
2) overhaul bottom bracket
3) overhaul headset

you shouldn't need any additional tools, but if you snap a bolt, or cross thread something now it's going to cost way more, so your going to spend money any way you go,...if it was me, unless that old bike had serious sentimental value, I'd probably look for a new bike and sell the old one to even out the wallet shrinkage.
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Old 02-17-08, 11:24 AM   #6
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Most tools can be purchased for cheaper than labor- except a headset press or wheel truing stand.
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Old 02-17-08, 11:41 AM   #7
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you could do MOST of the labor, saving the tough stuff for the LBS like
1) true front wheel

3) overhaul headset
+1, the parts needed to do these two things are well into the hundred $ price range - especially a half-decent truing stand. Do the basic stuff like derailleur fixing, new brakes, etc and leave the tough stuff to the pros.
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Old 02-17-08, 11:47 AM   #8
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If you are really into biking . . . buy the tools and do the work yourself. You'll have the tools for life so it is not really fair to just compare the tool's cost vs: the bike shop repair bill.

Personally I'm a tool nut and receive satisfaction from doing my own work. YMMV!
+1 ^

I'm a big proponent of do-it-yourself. Start with the easy items (read the Park Tool site for help, and get a basic bicycle repair manual.) Do a little at a time. If it's something that requires a tool or fixture that you don't have (yet), take it to a shop. I think we all pretty much started out doing the easy stuff, then little by little, started buying tools.

One thing I wish I bought 20 years ago was a repair stand.
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Old 02-17-08, 11:48 AM   #9
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What are your objectives?

If all that you want to do is ride, it's crazy.

If you think that you want to get into bicycling and understand how the machine works, it's crazy not to.

A bicycle is a simple machine. Every one of those jobs is fairly simple in itself and is do-able for anybody who has average or better mechanical ability. Trueing the front wheel without a trueing stand is a good example of making a mountain out of a mole hill. Try it yourself, if you screw it up you can always pay the bike shop to correct your mistake.
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Old 02-17-08, 12:56 PM   #10
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read, read, read, read,read, read,read, read,read, read............there is plenty of accurate and well written information for completing all of those tasks. You can get a complete (but cheap) bicycle tool kit from Harbor Freight for less than $40. This may your first bike of dozens to rehab; you might fall in love with the sport/lifestyle......... Spend a little money and invest some quality time; if it's not for you move on to something else.........
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Old 02-17-08, 01:11 PM   #11
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You can always start, then if you get stuck take it to a shop.

Just a thing to keep in mind, mechanics hate it when you try to fix things and you make it worse (or the problem isn't apparent unless you take it apart). The thing that usually happens is, the mechanic will start from #1 and do it right (mainly overhauling bearings)

I would advise to do everything but overhauling the bearings. Maybe you can true the wheel (using the brake pads as a guide), but if you get frustrated, stop.
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Old 02-17-08, 01:22 PM   #12
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Just a thing to keep in mind, mechanics hate it when you try to fix things and you make it worse .
I disagree, at least to a point.

I personally don't mind in the least if somebody brings me a bike and says: "I did this or that and realized that I was in over my head" or "I tried to adjust the front derailleur but I couldn't get it to work right." When they do that I know what to watch out for.

What I don't like are the mistakes that people leave for me to figure out on my own, like maybe shortening a chain or a cable housing too much or fiddling with derailleur limit screws. Stuff like that. When that happens you have to pretty much rebuild the entire bike starting at square #1.
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Old 02-17-08, 01:34 PM   #13
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the thing about having to purchase the tools is, you can CONTINUE to save money when you use them on future repairs.

when I started wrenching on my own bike I went and picked up a bike mechanic book (i forget the name but it was published by bike magazine IIRC)

if you are "handy" with tools you are already halfway there, just buy the tools as you need them, and like I said once you get a respectable bike tool collection setup the savings in labor over time is ridiculous.

happy wrenching!
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Old 02-17-08, 01:39 PM   #14
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I disagree, at least to a point.

I personally don't mind in the least if somebody brings me a bike and says: "I did this or that and realized that I was in over my head" or "I tried to adjust the front derailleur but I couldn't get it to work right." When they do that I know what to watch out for.

What I don't like are the mistakes that people leave for me to figure out on my own, like maybe shortening a chain or a cable housing too much or fiddling with derailleur limit screws. Stuff like that. When that happens you have to pretty much rebuild the entire bike starting at square #1.
I did this for a little while back when i started wrenching on my bike...

I may of had an overly awesome LBS but the mechanic would let me sit and watch and explain things (if he wasn't backed up with other bikes of course) as he went along.

And for that I have to throw a shoutout to Bicycle Trip in Santa Cruz California, thanks guys, and "free the trail"!

Most reputable bike shops give classes on basic bike maintenence for free or a small fee.
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Old 02-17-08, 01:40 PM   #15
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I disagree, at least to a point.
I agree. While mechanics might not like people messing up a bike, the owners love it There was an old shop owner here in Denver that gave away a tool set with each bike. It was a pretty good one on-bike one that cost him a bunch of money per unit to give away. Someone asked him how he could afford to give away such an expensive tool set and his response was that for every tool set he gave away, he made all the costs back and much more when he had to fix the 'repairs'
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Old 02-17-08, 01:59 PM   #16
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My advice: RIDE!

That means buy a new bike to ride and make the Schwinn a project. Whatever the cost and complexity of the refurb, it will take much longer than you think. Meanwhile you're not riding.
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Old 02-17-08, 03:08 PM   #17
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My advice: RIDE!

That means buy a new bike to ride and make the Schwinn a project. Whatever the cost and complexity of the refurb, it will take much longer than you think. Meanwhile you're not riding.
+1
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Old 02-17-08, 03:14 PM   #18
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What I don't like are the mistakes that people leave for me to figure out on my own, like maybe shortening a chain or a cable housing too much or fiddling with derailleur limit screws. Stuff like that. When that happens you have to pretty much rebuild the entire bike starting at square #1.
Eh? Those are the things that would be easiest to fix. Funny you should use those two as your examples.
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Old 02-17-08, 03:30 PM   #19
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So what is really wrong with the bike? Just because someone says you need all that doesn't make it true. Can you ride it? Do the brakes work? Does it shift? How out of true are the wheels? Why do you need a new freewheel? How much has this bike actually been riden?

What is your goal in all this? Do you want something to commute on, ride occasionally, tour on?
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Old 02-17-08, 04:58 PM   #20
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If you're talking about a fillet brazed pre-1979 Super Sport, it's well worth fixing up. The frame was hand made in Chicago using 4130 cromo tubes. It may look like a Continental, but they're not the same at all.
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Old 02-17-08, 06:50 PM   #21
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I disagree, at least to a point.

I personally don't mind in the least if somebody brings me a bike and says: "I did this or that and realized that I was in over my head" or "I tried to adjust the front derailleur but I couldn't get it to work right." When they do that I know what to watch out for.

What I don't like are the mistakes that people leave for me to figure out on my own, like maybe shortening a chain or a cable housing too much or fiddling with derailleur limit screws. Stuff like that. When that happens you have to pretty much rebuild the entire bike starting at square #1.
Ok well let me rephrase, fixing shifting is no biggie, you have to usually start at square 1 anyway. I can deal with that. But things like using brake housing for shift housing, way too short chain, bearings in backwards in headset/bb/hubs, breaking things and saying "it wasn't like that when it left the shop last time"

I guess be honest on what you did, and what you think you did wrong. I hate the lame JRA excuses when you should just man up and say i didn't know how to fix it
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Old 02-17-08, 06:59 PM   #22
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The LBS just gave me a $320 estimate for fixing up my old Schwinn Super Sport. I posted about this in the Road forum, asking whether I should just buy a new bike.

Several people suggested doing the maintenance myself. So I'd love some advice from you guys.

I'm moderately handy with tools, but I've only done very basic bike maintenance (changing tubes, and minor adjustments). I'm worried that this overhaul will be way over my head. Here's what they said needed to be done:

New rear wheel
New derailleur cables
Adjust both hand brakes
True front wheel
Adjust derailleurs
Overhaul front hub
Overhaul head & bottom bracket
New chain
New freewheel

Parts - $125
Labor - $180

I only have a small bike multi-tool and standard wrenches, pliers, etc. I'd need to buy (borrow?) some tools. I worry that getting the proper repair equipment will eat up the labor savings.

I'm all ears for advice. Thanks in advance!

How important is the bike to you and how tight is the money? Can you afford to lose $125 on parts and spend two weeks tweaking to find out you can't get it?

Getting yourself in too deep is often a great way to learn; it's how I usually do it.
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Old 02-17-08, 07:05 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I agree. While mechanics might not like people messing up a bike, the owners love it There was an old shop owner here in Denver that gave away a tool set with each bike. It was a pretty good one on-bike one that cost him a bunch of money per unit to give away. Someone asked him how he could afford to give away such an expensive tool set and his response was that for every tool set he gave away, he made all the costs back and much more when he had to fix the 'repairs'
That's deplorable. That's the kind of thing that'd send me to another bike shop.
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Old 02-17-08, 07:49 PM   #24
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Thanks for all your great advice? To answer a couple questions:

1. The bike has no sentimental value. It was just a cheap starter bike.

2. My rides are typically 15 to 30 miles, just for fun and exercise. But this year I plan to get more serious. I want to start doing group rides, and I plan to attempt my first century in August.

3. Money is moderately tight, and so is time.

4. The LBS told me that some of the repairs aren't critical. The rear wheel IS critical, but some of the other stuff is simply to make the bike ride better. (It shakes and makes noises.)

After all your thoughts, I think I'll pursue a new bike. I might save this as a project for a rainy day.
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Old 02-17-08, 08:50 PM   #25
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Try this conversation over in the C&V forum, they will give you the courage (and insanity) to give it a go.

As for me, I vote for bringing the old girl back to life.

Also, keep in mind that you may find that some of the repairs the LBS suggested might be put off for a while. The LBS might not want to mess around with rehabing an old hub. But it might be worth it to you. If so, perhaps you do not need a new rear wheel just yet.

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