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Old 05-27-11, 06:08 PM   #1
rookgirl
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What's the best way to learn to fix them up?

So I have my nice Superbe and a CCM on the way (which will have been totally overhauled and taken apart/put back together by a bike nut), but now that I've been badly bitten by the bug, I really want to learn to do stuff to my bike.

The thing is that I am too scared to do anything to my 'nice' bike. I tried adjusting the hub and failed and took it to the LBS because it was unsafe (kept threatening to slip into neutral). I have some brake pads and new tires on the way so I will attempt to put them on myself. Actually I think the tires will be kind of a drag because of all the fenders, lights, etc etc that I have to deal with!

But what's the best way to really, really learn? Buy/procure some rust bucket and take it apart and put it back together (I'd be too scared to ruin something that is 'good')? Dive in at the deep end and get a frame and put all the stuff (haha, technical terms, huh?) on it?

Thanks, and I'd like to say that this is really one of the most newbie-friendly online forums I've been on (and I've been on quite a few, including some natural living ones, which should be friendly but aren't).
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Old 05-27-11, 06:18 PM   #2
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I started on a 10 dollar schwinn continental..but I learn more with every bike. Maybe ask the bike nut friend to help, or find a co op in your area?
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Old 05-27-11, 06:23 PM   #3
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But what's the best way to really, really learn? Buy/procure some rust bucket and take it apart and put it back together (I'd be too scared to ruin something that is 'good')?
find some low end bikes and learn on those.. then resell them for a profit

"rust buckets" have unique problems like stuck posts and bolts though so they can be problematic even for experienced mechanics
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Old 05-27-11, 06:24 PM   #4
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I started on a 10 dollar schwinn continental..but I learn more with every bike. Maybe ask the bike nut friend to help, or find a co op in your area?
+1 for the $10 Schwinn and the co-op idea.
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Old 05-27-11, 06:25 PM   #5
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But what's the best way to really, really learn? Buy/procure some rust bucket and take it apart and put it back together (I'd be too scared to ruin something that is 'good')? Dive in at the deep end and get a frame and put all the stuff (haha, technical terms, huh?) on it?
^^ This. Several times over. Find a bike co-op around you, and you can learn from other folks how to do things right, with the proper tools.
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Old 05-27-11, 06:27 PM   #6
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I agree just buy a '80 fuji, raleigh, bianchi, univega that needs some TLC and just dive in. as JReade suggest if you have a friend and if you live near a C&Ver I am sure they will lend a hand too.

PPSSSTT; alot of them can be bribed with cheap ale LOL
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Old 05-27-11, 06:29 PM   #7
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Me,I brouse/ask on bike forum C&V

Took a couple classes offered thru a bike shop

Volunteeered at a co-op/community center
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Old 05-27-11, 06:31 PM   #8
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PPSSSTT; alot of them can be bribed with cheap ale LOL
I prefer pizza.
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Old 05-27-11, 06:51 PM   #9
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I prefer pizza.
Really, pizza comes in six-packs?

The BEST way:
1-Get the clunker that most closely resembles what you will want to be working on.
2-Wash it, thoroughly. This gets you a good look at it.
3-Take a part off, clean it, put it back on. Do all the easily removable parts first.
4-Then take the bike down to parts that need special tools, and have someone show you, 2 or 3 times.
4-Clean each and every part. This is the Mr. Miyagi phase.
5-Look at the frame. Remind yourself of each part of the frame.
6-Put it back together.
7-Fix what is still not working
8-Ride it.
9-Fix what is still not working.

You'll know the bike, and gain a ton of knowledge. Use us for questions.
By the time you've done 2 or 3 bikes, even if you skip steps, you're on the way.

On your chosen bikes, the best way to "know" them is to see them stripped down to frame and parts.
When they grow back into a bike under your hands, you truly get to know the bike.
After a while, nothing that happens on the bike will be a mystery, because you'll know it that well.
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Old 05-27-11, 06:56 PM   #10
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find some low end bikes and learn on those.. then resell them for a profit

"rust buckets" have unique problems like stuck posts and bolts though so they can be problematic even for experienced mechanics
I recently picked up a $25 Diamondback Sorrento. It's a 20? year old low-end-but-still-decent-quality bike. It needed another $26 in parts. Tires, tubes, cables and brake pads are items that almost always need to be replaced. It will sell for about $125.00. Great way to learn how to work on bikes. My fix & flipping has needed my household a new set of couches, flat screen TV, clothes for the wife, and bike stuff for me. You will learn that there are no unsolvable problems, only uneconomical solutions.
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Old 05-27-11, 06:59 PM   #11
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I learned by reading Sheldon Brown, ParkTools, and the Mechanics forum here. I don't think you'll break anything on your bike that isn't easily replaceable. It's not like you'll snap your frame. The best advice I can give is what my father told me: 'never force anything.' Of course, he never experienced stuck seatposts or stems. But really, the worst thing you can do is cross-thread bolts or break them by over-tightening. On the other hand, you do want to make sure things such as brake pads, brake cable pinch bolts, and the brakes themselves are snugly fastened so as not to fall off mid-ride.

I wouldn't bother with another project bike, unless you really want one. Just work with what you have.
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Old 05-27-11, 07:15 PM   #12
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[QUOTE=RobbieTunes;12704822]Really, pizza comes in six-packs?

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Old 05-27-11, 07:17 PM   #13
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Pick a problem, figure out how to fix it, move on to the next one. Pick the most pressing issue first. If you need to get someone to help you, that's fine, but watch what they do. Ask every question you can think of. If you don't get an answer you can understand, rephrase. Do not repeat. Once you've solved that problem, pick the next one, and start the process all over again.
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Old 05-27-11, 07:21 PM   #14
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Ditto on Sheldon's site. And Park's Blue Book can come in handy. Of course, it is filled with hints to buy their tools.

Searching craigslist free section for any yard sale leftovers can yield a few cadavers to dissect, without any fear of flushing money. Plus, you'll end up with a few good pieces for your spare parts bin, and even if the frame is rusted and cheap, the local recycling shop will still take it.
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Old 05-27-11, 07:35 PM   #15
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+1 +1 +1 on buying an old bike, tearing it apart, putting it back together.

Working on old bikes can be an exercise in patience. Be willing to tighten down a locknut eight or ten or a dozen times to find the 'sweet spot' on a hub adjustment. Be willing to wait a few days for penetrating oil to penetrate. Make friends with a propane torch, IMO a vastly underrated tool.

Ask questions. This is where the co-op comes in, and the better co-ops have 'Women Only' nights, so you can learn how you're doing it wrong without feeling like some man is telling you you're doing it wrong .

Be patient. Really, it's the most useful tool in your kit.
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Old 05-27-11, 08:02 PM   #16
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Wow! Thanks for all the amazing replies! I will read them very carefully once we've finished watching the hockey (!).

And Captain Blight - thank you for your PM - I'm not able to answer as I don't have enough posts to reply
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Old 05-27-11, 08:22 PM   #17
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+100 Find a decent $10 thrift store/garage sale bike. Do your best fixing and cleaning it up, sell it, and repeat. One of my first projects was a Giant MTB: Got it on a Saturday for $10 at a garage sale, cleaned it up, trued a wheel, sold it on Tuesday for $100. Then I bought a Schwinn Criss Cross at a garage sale for $10. Cleaned it up, replaced a couple of cables, sold it a week later for $125. One key to those early bikes is the only tools I needed were a spoke wrench, a cable cutter, and a bicycle multitool. Later I went kind of tool crazy, and now I tear bikes completely down to the frame, pretty much every time (takes a lot more tools and parts, time, space, and practice). These first couple of bikes funded some decent tools, plus the next few projects. By the six or seventh project, I was doing a lot more work on them, and doing a lot better job....

Avoid the rust buckets, they can have a lot of problems. I commonly deal with rusty bikes now, but not early on.

No co-ops in this area, so I made some early mistakes, and relied heavily on the Parks Tool site (still my favorite repair information source).

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Old 05-27-11, 08:24 PM   #18
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Wow! Thanks for all the amazing replies! I will read them very carefully once we've finished watching the hockey (!).

And Captain Blight - thank you for your PM - I'm not able to answer as I don't have enough posts to reply
A woman who works on bikes and watches hockey. Nothing further need be said....
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Old 05-27-11, 08:49 PM   #19
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... except that she seems to be happily married.


Dangitall.
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Old 05-27-11, 09:02 PM   #20
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A woman who works on bikes and watches hockey. Nothing further need be said....
I think "works" here is used extremely loosely
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Old 05-27-11, 09:34 PM   #21
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Patience for sure. Sometimes you just have to walk away from something if it's stuck or non cooperative lest you break it.
Sometimes it's helpful to yell up to, I mean ask, your SO, "hey, can you come down to the garage and hold this doohickie while I tighten it?" I don't own any third hand tools.
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Old 05-27-11, 10:44 PM   #22
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I don't own any third hand tools.
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...nd-tool./page2

i got this 3rd hand tool for $3.. great for brakes

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Old 05-28-11, 06:55 AM   #23
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Ok. So I hit the yard sales this morning and bought a $10 bike. It's really a pretty awful thing, a Silver Arrow (a dept store brand?) and it looks to be early 80s or late 70s. Stamped dropouts, Shimano Tourney and Suntour Allegro components (these are the lowest end, right?). But it was $10. I sold a similar Raleigh yesterday for $40 and it was priced a bit low, I think, so I should be able to sell it around $50 once it's cleaned up.

I'll try and take some pics, but there is a small amount of suface rust on the seat post, needs new tyres. The worst thing is that there is some worse rust on the rims. I suppose I will try and clean it off and then see. Otherwise I might see if a bike guy I know has any spare wheelsets.

BTW, I do have one of those clamps, frantik, but why would you want to clamp the brakes like that?
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Old 05-28-11, 06:57 AM   #24
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+100 Find a decent $10 thrift store/garage sale bike. Do your best fixing and cleaning it up, sell it, and repeat. One of my first projects was a Giant MTB: Got it on a Saturday for $10 at a garage sale, cleaned it up, trued a wheel, sold it on Tuesday for $100. Then I bought a Schwinn Criss Cross at a garage sale for $10. Cleaned it up, replaced a couple of cables, sold it a week later for $125. One key to those early bikes is the only tools I needed were a spoke wrench, a cable cutter, and a bicycle multitool. Later I went kind of tool crazy, and now I tear bikes completely down to the frame, pretty much every time (takes a lot more tools and parts, time, space, and practice). These first couple of bikes funded some decent tools, plus the next few projects. By the six or seventh project, I was doing a lot more work on them, and doing a lot better job....

Avoid the rust buckets, they can have a lot of problems. I commonly deal with rusty bikes now, but not early on.

No co-ops in this area, so I made some early mistakes, and relied heavily on the Parks Tool site (still my favorite repair information source).
Ooops, I missed the "decent" part. I bought a crap $10 bike. Oh well
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Old 05-28-11, 06:57 AM   #25
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it makes it easy when you adjust the brakes.. you can clamp the brake very close to the rim and then tighten the cable, then remove the clamp and the pads are super close to the rim

you can learn a lot from a crap bike.. and you don't have to worry if you mess it up.
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