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  1. #1
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    Updating an older bike

    I am currently unemployed and on a tight budget. I have recently had a nice older bike fall in my lap, it was given to me by my brother since he hasn't ridden in years and only casually rode when he had it. It's a Giant RS900 and from the info I can find on the web it seems to be either a late 80's or early 90's bike.

    Up on a rack it goes through all the gears and the brakes work but hasn't been ridden for years. What would you all suggest for a tune up and assuming you had a $150 dollar budget and could use ebay and craigslist effectively, what might you suggest for tuneup/upgrades?

    I know many will say it's not worth the effort, cheaper to buy a new bike, etc, but just assume it's ride this or don't ride at all. So given that....any suggestions? All help is appreciated....thanks guys.

  2. #2
    I am Noobert.
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    New chain, if needed. Buy the park tool repair manuel/guide. It can all be seen online. But I like the book.

  3. #3
    Senior Member CMC SanDiego's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=clyderider727;9483071]I am currently unemployed and on a tight budget. I have recently had a nice older bike fall in my lap, it was given to me by my brother since he hasn't ridden in years and only casually rode when he had it. It's a Giant RS900 and from the info I can find on the web it seems to be either a late 80's or early 90's bike.QUOTE]

    Photos of the RS900s I've found make it look like a nice middle of the road bike (not a racer, but not bottom end either) does it have the lugged steel frame with stem shifters (which seemed to be the standard build)? I would also recommend a new chain, tires and tubes.

    If you don't mind getting your hands dirty you should take it apart, clean and grease all of the components/bearings and put it back together again. Doing that on my bikes has helped me appreciate what fine machines they are and also feel completely comfortable with doing my own maintenance when needed.

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    [QUOTE=CMC SanDiego;9483301]
    Quote Originally Posted by clyderider727 View Post
    If you don't mind getting your hands dirty you should take it apart, clean and grease all of the components/bearings and put it back together again. Doing that on my bikes has helped me appreciate what fine machines they are and also feel completely comfortable with doing my own maintenance when needed.
    I completely agree. Taking it apart and cleaning all the parts on my bike gave me a good idea of which ones were in poor condition or weighed too much. It made choosing an upgrade strategy easier.

    An old bike might not be safe to ride. Check that your rims, tires, and tubes are in good condition. Make sure that components like handlebars, pedals, and seatposts are functional and adequately tightened. If you have problems with any of those components, it could mean very serious injury for you if they fail at the wrong moment, e.g., going down a hill in traffic. Do a careful inspection and if you suspect damage or excessive wear to any of those components, use your $150 budget to replace them. If the tires are original they're probably unusable.

    If all the parts are in good working order, but you still want to spend some $, try getting a seat that fits your a@$ perfectly, some lighter faster tires, or a good wheel truing at a bike shop.

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    Zen and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance this combined with Parks online resources will help you a lot. www.Sheldonbrown.com best source online especially for working with older bikes.

    1 New bearings and grease for the headset, bottom bracket and Wheels. Bearings are cheap anywhere from 3 to 5 dollars a wheel bought at local bike shop. You need to adjust the the bearings properly. Read up. To loose or tight and they will self digest quickly. The grease in there will be significantly degraded and probably highly contaminated. Not dealing with it will cost you fairly quickly. If you can't do it have a shop do it for you.
    2 New brake pads, Shimano work fine if not great. WWW.Nashbar.com
    3 Tubes and Tires if needed
    4 Cables and cable housing. There is an expensive tool for cutting but a dremel works just as well if not better.
    5 New tape for handlebars
    6 New chain if needed, buy a chain gage or use a ruler to tell.

    What is going to use your 150 dollars in a flash is tools. Once bought they pay for themselves quickly.

    One thing to consider upgrading in the future is to Aero brake levers if you don't already have them. Non Aero brake levers have the cable and cable housing exiting the top of the lever and not running under the handlebar tape. Aero brake levers provide significantly better braking. Otherwise upgrading an older bike to current standards does not make much sense money wise. Feel free to replace any part as it fails with the latest and greatest though.

  6. #6
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Um...I'd retract "An old bike might not be safe to ride." Many of us ride vintage machines from the 1960's - and earlier. The bike is distinguished by the frame, and neither a steel-frame or an aluminum-frame has any known expiration-date. Just treat them right and overhaul them regularly (or at least a tune-up), and they can work forever that we know.

    But such animals as brake and gear-cables should be replaced regularly. As well as the cable-housing at the same time. This is recommended to be done once-a-year. More often if you just braked all the way to California from Montana.

    NEXT-UP: The brake-pads, when they get old, likely should be replaced with new ones. Most of us bike-mechanics will suggest Kool Stop brake-pads. They WILL stop you. Figure out which look like the old one's here:

    http://www.koolstop.com/brakes/index.php

    You can buy through most bike-shops. Or off the 'net.

    As for a new chain - it's likely that to prevent the chain from skipping, to also replace the cassette/freewheel. As they work together, chains grind the freewheel grind the chain to conform to each other. Replace one - replace both.

    Clean the bike. Polish this and that. Check all the bolts to make sure they are not loose. And this is your basic tune-up. The bicycle probably need a complete overhaul - but doing this first will get you on the road in swift order.
    Last edited by Panthers007; 08-14-09 at 01:46 AM.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    It's possible that nothing is wrong with the bike, including cables, brake pads, and tires. But it's definitely true that all of it can benefit from an overhaul. Greased bearings that sit a long time can suffer from hardened grease, that has had much of the oil separate and drain out.

    There's no reason not to just do a tune first, and take it out on the road. Then overhaul what most needs it, first.

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    It is a steel frame with stem shifters. Assuming I do all the tune up stuff to get it on the road first is there any reason to think that later on I can't update the rest of the parts? Have things about the frames likely changed in any significant way that would not allow me to swap in a different crankset or fork or anything like that?

    I am very comfortable doing my own work as I have always done all my work on cars and motorcycles and have a very complete tool set....of course I will have to get some cycle specific tools I am sure. I will also have to learn the finer details of bike repair as I am sure they differ from rebuilding a motorcycle or jeep.

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    SO I need some help. I have gotten new tires and tubes for it, and the seat tube was too short so I got a basic longer seat tube but the seat tube is a different size than the newer bikes, it seems a lot is different than the newer bikes.

    Another question I have is the components are all Suntour Accushift alpha-2000. It appears to be switchable friction/index. The rear is indexing but it seems to be that the shifter is an 8 speed and there is a 6 speed cassette on it. Now considering that the suntours didn't have even spacing between gears I am wondering 2 things....
    1) If I keep the 6 speed cassette how should that line up with the 8 speed shifter?
    2) Can I get an 8 speed suntour cassette and would it be able to swap in?

    I really appreciate any feedback you guys can give me, I am having some real trouble getting the indexing lined up nicely for shifting and think I may have to ride it friction mode rather than indexed til I can get it figured out.

    Thank You!

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    First figure out if you have a cassette or a freewheel. If it's a cassette, you need to know if it's a uniglide or hyperglide or suntour.

    If your seatpost size is not available online, you can find a shim for a size which is. You just have to measure.

    I concur with regreasing if the bike has sat for a while. The grease, which is oil + thickener, can separate and the oil can creep out. A telltale sign is dusty stains around the hubs. Find out the right way to readjust ball bearings because you'll ruin them if you don't. Try parktool.com or sheldonbrown.com.

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    OK, I will try and figure out the difference, I think it must be a freewheel from what I have read so fary, I guess I was using cassette interchangably with sprocket pack, that's my mistake. I am just a beginner so I am trying to learn all the proper terminology it's a little slow going but I am picking it up bit by bit, my apologies if I am confusing people by using the wrong terminology. From what I can see it looks like it's probably a Suntour Freewheel.

    I am certain the derailluer is a Suntour Accushift alpha-2000 and I am sure the shifter is a Suntour because I can read that info directly off them. I am pretty certain everything on the bike is standard issue for the bike when it was offered new, don't think any changes of equipment have happened.

    Here are some pics to help.






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    * Consider a new stem. If your saddle is that high, I guess you're pretty tall and that the bike is small for you. You'd probably be more comfortable with a longer, taller stem.

    * Brake levers are terrible and weak. The suggested upgrade is a pair of aero brake levers plus a pair of crosstop interruptor levers if you like to brake from the flat section of your handlebars.

    * Tools - get the tools you need to work on your bike, like appropriate cone wrenches so you can overhaul the wheel bearings.

  13. #13
    Senior Member turtlewoman's Avatar
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    Clyderider727,
    That looks like a really nice bike. My bike is a 1975 vintage so yours doesn't seem that old to me. It looks like it is in pretty good shape but it does need some degreasing, cleaning and regreasing and undoubtedly needs new tires and tubes.
    I think it's great that you are wanting to do the work yourself---I am just learning to work on my bike and it is a blast. That being said, if I were you I would take it to the LBS and have them check it over and make recommendations about what needs to be done. Most things you will be able to do yourself but, you're right, there are some things you need specialized tools for. I'm just wondering if your limited budget wouldn't be better spent on something other than getting tools you may not use again. For one thing you don't know if you like biking. Like I said, I'd take it to the LBS. If they come up with what doesn't sound reasonable to you or is exhorbitant, then take it to another one and compare.
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    The bike does not look like a good fit. When you straddle the bike how much space is between your crotch and the top tube? A generic rule of thumb says you should have around 2-4 inches.

    A really bad way of setting up a bike is to simply move the saddle forward or back to adjust for the reach to the handle bars. I see that your saddle is pushed all the way back. The important part of fitting a bike is to first adjust the seat for height. On the down stroke you leg should be almost fully extended with just a little bit of inflection at its lowest point. You then move the seat backward and foreword to center yourself over the peddle readjusting height as you do this (A totally mismatched bike won’t allow you to do this) Then buy the appropriate stem to get the reach you need. This is really oversimplified but it should give you the gist. If you want to really know how to fit a bike to yourself read up and realize that there is no one right way of doing it. You will have to experiment until you find one that works for you. A badly fit bike can do some real damage to your knees over time.

    Considering that this is a smaller bike than you need I would suggest getting a standard Nitto quill stem once you figure out what reach you need. They are the only ones I know about that will allow for the height you need. Casual riders have their handlebars at the height of their seat or even above. The further you go down the more aggressive your stance (more aerodynamic but less comfortable) and at some point it becomes ridiculous. Your way to aggressive in my opinion.

    The bottom of the ram curl on the handle bars should only be slightly be point up. I realize your trying to gain height, but is doesn't allow for proper positioning of the brake levers.

    On a side note realize as the handle bars go up the reach shortens. Also cables and cable housing will need to shorter or longer depending on the height of handlebars.
    Last edited by Adohrn; 08-17-09 at 05:40 AM.

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    As per fit, I am all legs and no torso, there isn't a bike out there made even remotely close to fitting me, after talking to 4-5 different LBS's and getting measured. Based on my legs I should be riding a 63 and based on my torso I should be riding a 56. So basically every shop agreed that I have to first and foremost get a top tube to fit, the make up the leg height with the seat post.

    I did a fitting on this bike with the help of some online tutorials and basically used the method you suggested, the saddle position is how it is to get my kneecap above the centerline of the pedal, having a short torso and long upper leg means my knee will be sitting very forward so I have to get as far back as I can with the seat. I did use a plumb bob in setting up my knee location, it's been challenging to find a bike to fit, unfortunately even with the saddle all the way back my knee is just slightly forward of where it should be, but it's passible.

    I agree 100% I do need to look into a longer stem and most likely one with a more upright angle on the stem, working towards that but haven't gotten there yet. I did see what adjustment could be made with what was there and it was minimal, it's all a 1 piece quill with just a wedge on the bottom and a clamp on the top, to get it off I have to pull a brake level and unwrap the handlebar then slide it around and off, there is not any other way to get it off so I just have not gotten into to that yet. I have to look at my options for putting something else in there.

    So yeah, you are right the bike isn't a great fit, but short of a custom frame nothing will be. I did check the top tube length before even considering riding this bike and it's the right length for me so I went with it. Sadly every bike I have looked at new or used I run into the same problems and it's become a very frustrating problem to me, but I am doing my best to sort it out and trying to keep a smile on while I do it. :-)

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    It's a freewheel.

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    You are a lot more on the ball than I figured by the picture. Hate to hear about your body dimensions as this will make a lot of extra work and expense for you.

    Nitto is what you will need. http://harriscyclery.net/itemdetails.cfm?ID=418 You should have a standard one inch with most likely a 25.4 inch handle bar clamp. 25.4 are on most Japanese bikes with 26 being found on high end or European bikes. Should be written somewhere on the bars.

    Different seats have different rail lengths. So if that seat is not working for you long term you can buy one with more adjustment. The knee over pedal is more of a rough starting point so you might be fine.

    The truth is that bikes have gotten better or worse over the last 20 years depending on what you are looking for. That one should work just fine for you as long as you are not into racing. The problem will be finding parts as biking is very trendy. Online you will have no problem, but local bike shops LBS can not afford to carry the inventory of parts you might need. Example 6 speed freewheels instead of 9 or 10 speed cassettes. Try to find a LBS that deals with a lot of commuters as they will be a lot more welcoming and be more likely to have to parts you need.

    Do read up on www.sheldonbrown.com as it will help you immensely on determining just what parts you will need. Sheldon Brown had an encyclopedic knowledge of bikes.

  18. #18
    GO BIG RED norwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clyderider727 View Post
    SO I need some help. I have gotten new tires and tubes for it, and the seat tube was too short so I got a basic longer seat tube but the seat tube is a different size than the newer bikes, it seems a lot is different than the newer bikes.Another question I have is the components are all Suntour Accushift alpha-2000. It appears to be switchable friction/index. The rear is indexing but it seems to be that the shifter is an 8 speed and there is a 6 speed cassette on it. Now considering that the suntours didn't have even spacing between gears I am wondering 2 things....
    1) If I keep the 6 speed cassette how should that line up with the 8 speed shifter?
    2) Can I get an 8 speed suntour cassette and would it be able to swap in?

    I really appreciate any feedback you guys can give me, I am having some real trouble getting the indexing lined up nicely for shifting and think I may have to ride it friction mode rather than indexed til I can get it figured out.Thank You!
    Judging by the vintage of the bike and the components, I'd say the shifters are not 8 spd.
    1996 Bianchi Veloce
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    I will have to check the size of mine to make sure it's 1". That link says they have discontinued those stems so they have almost none in stock. :-/

    Any opinions on quill extensions? Are these safe/usable solutions?

    Still trying to get some kind of info on the sprocket pack and what options I have for swapping that out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by norwood View Post
    Judging by the vintage of the bike and the components, I'd say the shifters are not 8 spd.
    First off I want to let you know I am not trying to doubt you just trying to understand and learn. So that said.... they are indexed shifters and as I click through the shifter it has 8 spots it indexes into and it seems that with each click the rear derailluer does move. I am totally willing to accept it's not meant to shift an 8 gear sprocket set but then what set of 6 different indexed shift positions should I use out of the 8? Should I use the middle 6? Should I make sure the smallest gear is at the end the shift pattern and leave 2 shifts on the other end? Should I instead make sure the largest gear is at the end?

    I guess I am just wondering why an indexed shifter would have have 8 positions if it wasn't meant to shift 8 gears?

  21. #21
    Reeks of aged cotton duck Hydrated's Avatar
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    Hey Clyderider...

    You really need to take this to the C&V forum... we can help you over there with parts guidance as well as procurement information for those difficult to find parts.

    We specialize in old! Hell... my newest bike is a 1995 model!
    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.-Aristotle

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hydrated View Post
    Hey Clyderider...

    You really need to take this to the C&V forum... we can help you over there with parts guidance as well as procurement information for those difficult to find parts.

    We specialize in old! Hell... my newest bike is a 1995 model!
    I agree, I posted one up there a day and a half ago, 23 views and not a single response as of right now. I am not sure why but people are replying over here but won't over there. I would LOVE some help from the classic guys I appreciate the offer so much. I have gotten a lot of good info on here too and appreciate all the help here.

    So yeah, check out that thread over there it's titled Giant RS920, plus the link in this thread. Thanks much!

    PS....if I mod would like to merge these threads over into the C&V forum that would be great! Thanks!

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    Is the current stems reach right for you? Remember as you go up the reach shortens. The Nitto stems are very common and are good quality. Search around and you can probably find what you need for 25 to 40 dollars. Try ebay.

    Taking your bars out of a quill stem is not hard. Bars are also easy to rewrap and new tape can be had for as little as 8 dollars or less.

    Otherwise an adapter would work, but if you have to buy a new stem to put into it you won't be saving any money.

  24. #24
    GO BIG RED norwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clyderider727 View Post
    First off I want to let you know I am not trying to doubt you just trying to understand and learn. So that said.... they are indexed shifters and as I click through the shifter it has 8 spots it indexes into and it seems that with each click the rear derailluer does move. I am totally willing to accept it's not meant to shift an 8 gear sprocket set but then what set of 6 different indexed shift positions should I use out of the 8? Should I use the middle 6? Should I make sure the smallest gear is at the end the shift pattern and leave 2 shifts on the other end? Should I instead make sure the largest gear is at the end?

    I guess I am just wondering why an indexed shifter would have have 8 positions if it wasn't meant to shift 8 gears?
    Here's my reasoning.
    I don't remember exactly when 8spd drivetrains came about, but I know it was about early to mid '90's. It was also ushering in the era of "brifters" (brake levers & shift levers combined). Most 8spd road bikes of the era will have either 8spd brifters or 8spd downtube shifters. In that time, 8spd was the "hot deal".
    Now I'm not saying it's impossible, but I've never seen or heard of 8spd stem shifters. Stem shifters, love 'em or hate 'em, tend to be spec'ed on the lower entry level scale of models. 6 or 7 spd. As such, I think it's extremely unlikely that you have 8spd stemshifters.
    Now your set of shifters may very well have an extra click or two. The 7spd Shimano Deore thumbshifters on my Bridgestone have an extra click. The lever may move beyond the last click a good ways on each end. It may even make a sound like a click. I'm just saying don't be convinced that they will shift a 8spd cogset unless you know for sure.
    1996 Bianchi Veloce
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    Ok cool, that's actually informative. So it's probably a six shifter and I should aim for the center six and assume the last click either side is just slop. It seems so clearly indexed it's just confusing. Either way for now I will aim for the middle six. Thanks for the info! :-)

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