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  1. #1
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    Tune-up for bike in long-term storage

    Hi all-

    My inlaws have a ten-speed road bike that I hope to use for weekend rides when I visit. The bike is probably 30 years old, and probably hasn't been ridden for 20 years--it's probably spent that period in the garage, or in the basement.

    My question: what do I have to do to get it ready for use?

    First, should I presume that no tube or tire could last 20 years without degrading--should I definitely replace them?
    Would the axles and cranks and other bearing locations necessarily need overhauls?
    What else should I look at?

    Many thanks,
    Robb

  2. #2
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    If the bike have not see service for 20 years , yes a overhauls is need . replace the tubes and tires if dry rotted ,cables and housings and the brakepads .
    bikeman715

  3. #3
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    Before you ride it 10 feet, disassemble, clean and relube the hubs, bottom bracket and headset bearings. After all of this time the factory grease has almost certainly dried out and provides no lubrication and you will ruin the bearings if you ride it this way. I once got a 20 year old bike that hadn't been ridden in 15 years and the original bearing grease was a totally dry solid.

    After that, new tires and tubes and brake pads and, probably cables and housing.

  4. #4
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    Interesting question.
    Two considerations:
    1) How much will you ride it?
    2) Will you do the overhaul yourself?

    My guess is an overhaul with new tubes, tires, cables and housings will cost around $150.

    1) If you only visit them once or twice per year, or your weekend rides consist of maybe a short ride around town, to the park, or the grocery store, and the bike is basically functional right now, you may be alright just riding it as is. It may not be what is "best" for the bike, but it is most practical.

    2) If you can do the overhaul yourself and have all the tools and motivation, you can be on the road for $50 in parts. If you are really into bikes, and want to do the overhaul, then this is a good project during one of your visits. Otherwise the overhaul will cost you $150 and may be more than the bike is worth.

    The overhaul may be what is needed from a mechanical point of view, but the "best" action may be to ride the bike occasionally as is, until the idea fades from memory.
    The one who has the most bikes wins.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by skilsaw View Post
    1) If you only visit them once or twice per year, or your weekend rides consist of maybe a short ride around town, to the park, or the grocery store, and the bike is basically functional right now, you may be alright just riding it as is. It may not be what is "best" for the bike, but it is most practical.
    I disagree unless the OP is willing to ruin all of the bearings in very short order. A relube isn't just "best" for the bike after all the storage time and neglect, I believe it's mandatory.

  6. #6
    Can'tre Member 3alarmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    Before you ride it 10 feet, disassemble, clean and relube the hubs, bottom bracket and headset bearings. After all of this time the factory grease has almost certainly dried out and provides no lubrication and you will ruin the bearings if you ride it this way. I once got a 20 year old bike that hadn't been ridden in 15 years and the original bearing grease was a totally dry solid.

    After that, new tires and tubes and brake pads and, probably cables and housing.
    One of the great things about BF is the wide range of opinions here.

    One of the worst things about BF " """" """" """"""""" """"""" """""" """"""".

    I've been doing this a long time and Hillrider's advice is what
    I'd follow. You, of course, are the one who lives with whatever
    breakdowns and consequences come up in usage.

    One thing you might consider.....would you rather find out how
    this stuff works in a controlled environment in your garage or
    workshop, or trailside with a universal pocket tool and frame
    pump. Twenty year old grease and rubber is a poor bet.


    You might get by with the cables.
    Quote Originally Posted by Terrierman View Post
    No wonder everybody hates you.

  7. #7
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    It's not your bike, right?

    Pump up the tires, give all moving parts a thorough WD40 treatment and make sure the brakes work. If the tires are badly cracked replace them. If you care about not ruining the bearings, regrease them.


    If you want to give it a REAL overhaul, that will also include new cables, housing, and brake pads IMO. Don't bother replacing the tubes if they hold air. I've never seen an old tube "go bad."
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
    One of the great things about BF is the wide range of opinions here.

    One of the worst things about BF " """" """" """"""""" """"""" """""" """"""".


    Made possible, in this particular case, by the fact that no one has actually seen the bike and we are all guessing about its condition. My advice to the OP: Check out all of the things that have been mentioned above -- tires and tubes, hubs, headset, cables, brake pads, BB, etc. Overhaul what needs to be overhauled. If it hasn't been ridden for 20 years, the odds are pretty good that it will need some work. But you won't know for sure until you have a look.
    Last edited by strock; 05-29-11 at 07:06 AM.
    Steve

  9. #9
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    3 answers:

    1. Ride it the way that it is. If you hurt the bike it won't really matter because nobody is using it anyway. The biggest downside is that it won't be very much fun to ride.

    2. Overhaul the bike before riding it. If you really think you'll be using it periodically, that's a good answer. Drawback is you can spend a bunch of time and money to convert a crummy old bike that probably doesn't fit into a slightly less crummy old bike that probably doesn't fit. Either way it still won't be very much fun to ride.

    3. If you want to have fun at your in-laws, take your own bike to ride. It'll fit better, function better, be more fun to ride, and it'll get you away from the in-laws for a couple of hours.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    3 answers:

    1. Ride it the way that it is. If you hurt the bike it won't really matter because nobody is using it anyway. The biggest downside is that it won't be very much fun to ride.

    2. Overhaul the bike before riding it. If you really think you'll be using it periodically, that's a good answer. Drawback is you can spend a bunch of time and money to convert a crummy old bike that probably doesn't fit into a slightly less crummy old bike that probably doesn't fit. Either way it still won't be very much fun to ride.

    3. If you want to have fun at your in-laws, take your own bike to ride. It'll fit better, function better, be more fun to ride, and it'll get you away from the in-laws for a couple of hours.
    I love option #3. Nothing against my in-laws, you understand.

    If you choose #1, be sure to attend to any issues -- e.g., tires, brake pads -- that are important for your personal safety. It's one thing to damage the bike. It's quite another to damage yourself.

    As for #2, for me, in addition to the question of how often you would ride it, a lot would depend on the nature of the bike. If it's the wrong size and in lousy shape, there's probably no point in putting much into it. OTOH, if it fits and is in reasonable condition, an overhaul might well be in order. I'm guessing that a 30-year-old road bike that hasn't been ridden in 20 years doesn't have a lot of wear and tear on it. Especially if the frame and build are of good quality, it could well be worth bringing it back to life.
    Steve

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