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  1. #1
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    Bike for overhaul

    I want to learn to start maintaining and repairing my bikes myself. I'm pretty handy but I've never worked on bikes before. As a starting point, I've armed myself with a copy of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance.

    My bikes are in decent repair right now but I happen to be in the market for a new touring/commuting bike. I thought it might be fun to pick up a lugged steel framed bike from the 70's or 80's and overhaul it. How do I make sure I buy a bike that I'll still be able to get parts for? Are there certain brands that tend to be more compatible with today's parts than others? I haven't narrowed things down yet but I've seen bikes from Peugeot, Raleigh, Fuji, and Schwinn that might fit the bill.

    Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
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    Why not learn on what you have. You can work on your current ride while you break in the new one. On the new ride, you can do maintenance jobs as they come up. Start small, with a brake pad replacement. Keep at it until you have it right and the brakes don't squeal. Then maybe disassemble the headset, clean and grease it all and reassemble. I find that job easier if I replace the balls and retainers.($6.00) Try buying some upgrades for your new ride and install them yourself.

    This system has really helped me learn it. Only do one job at a time and stick with it until it's right. Read the appropriate sections of your repair book a few times before you start. Think it through. Have the manual handy when you do the work. After you finish a job, don't do another for a few days. You will gain confidence as you go, and will soon be a fair hand with a bike wrench.

    ALWAYS keep in mind that bikes are really simple machines. Do expect learning derailleur tuning to take several attempts before you get it right. Once you get it, though, it will be easy.

    The money you save will soon pay back the cost of a tool set. And, thing of all things, your bikes will be in top shape all the time. bk
    Last edited by bkaapcke; 06-17-08 at 08:11 PM.

  3. #3
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    The bikes that are more compatible with modern bikes are ones made since 2000. If you have a road and mountain bikes, buy a cross bike, folder or one with a step-through frame. You dont want to waste money on tools like freewheel extracters that wont be any use on your modern bikes. The $40 tool kits are still worth it, even though they may include a few tools which you will never use.

  4. #4
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    I had no problems finding parts for a 1975 rebuild. Ditto a 1987 rebuild. While you may not be able to find new parts, you can find used NOS and lightly used parts on ebay and similar.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UprightJoe View Post
    I thought it might be fun to pick up a lugged steel framed bike from the 70's or 80's and overhaul it. How do I make sure I buy a bike that I'll still be able to get parts for? Are there certain brands that tend to be more compatible with today's parts than others? I haven't narrowed things down yet but I've seen bikes from Peugeot, Raleigh, Fuji, and Schwinn that might fit the bill.
    Modern bikes have 130mm between the rear dropouts. 70's and 80's bikes will be 126mm or even 120mm.
    That limits your ability to retro fit a modern drive train but it's usually fixable on a steel frame bike.

    I personally stay away from French bikes because some of them have goofy threading and I don't know how to tell for sure until after I take it apart. A lugged Schwinn should be safe but be careful with the fillet welded ones because some of them have non-standard component sizes.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    I personally stay away from French bikes because some of them have goofy threading
    Ah those wacky Frenchies. They make good nuclear reactors but funky bikes/cars.

  7. #7
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsmithepa View Post
    Ah those wacky Frenchies. They make good nuclear reactors but funky bikes/cars.
    Hey! their cars are good too, funky as all get out, but good. Citroens were so far ahead of their time, it's hard to believe, but unless you want to spend every spare moment puzzling out some weird suspension piece, don't buy one earlier than a BX.

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    Thanks for the feedback everybody. I'll stay away from Peugeot, Motobécane, and the like for now. I don't want to make it more complex than necessary.

    +1 vote for a lugged Schwinn.

    What about Italian bikes? I'm thinking Bianchi in particular. Did they use funky sizes like the French?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldfeet View Post
    Hey! their cars are good too, funky as all get out, but good. Citroens were so far ahead of their time, it's hard to believe, but unless you want to spend every spare moment puzzling out some weird suspension piece, don't buy one earlier than a BX.
    We used to have a huret alvit rear der hanging from a chain in the bike shop I worked in. This was a poorly engineered part. When ever a mechanic was particularly upset by a repair problem, the huret would receive a thrashing with a hammer.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by UprightJoe View Post
    Thanks for the feedback everybody. I'll stay away from Peugeot, Motobécane, and the like for now. I don't want to make it more complex than necessary.

    +1 vote for a lugged Schwinn.

    What about Italian bikes? I'm thinking Bianchi in particular. Did they use funky sizes like the French?
    Bianchi used french drive train parts on their lower tier models for a time. Raleigh and Miyata had some nice models in that time frame.

  11. #11
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    Cool, that gives me something to go on as I start picking through craigslist and local garage sales. Thanks much.

  12. #12
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    For the old bikes you will need to buy bottom bracket lockring tools and hard to find freewheel removal tools. You will also need to upgrade the steel rims to aluminum. However you get immense satisfaction from smooth shifting with downtube shifters.

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