Riding Back From the Dead

Riding Back From the Dead


If you’re reading this, then chances are that at some point in your life, you’ve considered restoring an old bicycle yourself. You’d be hard pressed to find a bike enthusiast that hasn’t.


The reasons for wanting to restore an old bike are plentiful. Perhaps it has special meaning to you because it was your first bike, or it belonged to a relative. Or maybe you’ve come across a rare old model that would be valuable to a collector if it wasn’t in such poor condition. You might even just be interested in restoring bikes as a hobby.


No matter what motivates you, it is important to be realistic about the amount of effort that goes into the process. It is all too easy to become enamored with the idea of a fully restored bike and lose sight of what’s involved.


What’s involved in Restoring a Bicycle?


The best answer is “a lot.”


In order to fully restore an old, neglected bicycle, you will need to:


  • Completely disassemble all parts of the bike, removing everything from the frame.​
  • The frame will need to be thoroughly cleaned, stripped of all paint and rust, and then repainted.
  • All parts will need to be individually cleaned or replaced.
  • Parts that will most likely need to be replaced include:


  • All bearings, including bottom bracket
  • Old wheels, or at least the tires
  • Brake pads
  • Derailleurs
  • Chain
  • Saddle
  • Any hardware that can’t be restored, such as pedals and cranks
  • After disassembly, cleaning, and repainting, the bicycle will need to be fully rebuilt.
  • Wheels must be realigned.
  • Brakes and gears must be adjusted to the proper settings.


This is not meant to dissuade you from restoring your bicycle, but rather to inform you of what is involved so that you don’t get overwhelmed when you are part-way through the restoration process.


Here is an instructables.com article that goes into step-by-step detail.


Good News, Bad News.


The good news is that bicycle restoration is not so difficult that it needs to be left to professionals. It is an involved process, but it does not require any special skills or knowledge.


It’s also good to know that many bike parts are standardized, so you are not likely to have trouble locating specific parts unless the bike you are restoring is very old. Of course, if you are looking to do a true restoration that includes original parts, you may have your hands full trying to find new parts, or even used parts in acceptable condition.


It is strongly recommended that you take the time to source parts for your bicycle BEFORE you begin restoring it to ensure their availability and to become aware of what your restoration project will cost.


The bad news is that it will not be cheap. If you look at the list of parts that are likely to need replacing above, you will realize that they constitute the majority of the bike. Replacing them one by one will very likely cost more than the bike itself did when it was new.


Sadly, this fact is often the dealbreaker for would-be-restorers. Because of the big advances in bike technology in recent years, the market for older bicycles is quite small. Unless the bike is antique enough to be collectable, there is usually very little financial value to be found in restoration.


Why You Should Consider Restoring Anyway 


Even though it may be an expensive and involved process, restoring a bicycle yourself is extremely rewarding, and gives you something that you can’t get from purchasing a bike: Knowledge and pride.


Restoring a bike is a great way to become intimately familiar with every aspect of it, allowing you to learn how it works and why. Many restorers find this connects them with their ride like nothing else.


Of course, doing anything yourself can evoke a sense of pride, but restoration will also translate into confidence, allowing you to feel more comfortable making repairs and adjustments to fine-tune your ride.


And lastly, restoration will give you the bike you truly want. You can keep the original aspects of the bike that you appreciate the most, and replace everything else with top-of-the-line parts to create the ultimate bicycle for you. You can literally customize everything on your restoration bike, from the color of the frame to the style of tires and pedals. It’s your bike. Make it the way you want it to be.


One Small Request


Of course, you’ll want to use Boca Bearings in customizing your zombie bike (zombike?) in order to ensure the ride of your life. And that’s a good idea in more ways than one. Not only are our ceramic and hybrid bearings the most affordable high quality bearings you’ll find, but we might be able to make them even more affordable.


We suggest that you document your restoration process through videos and photos. Not only does this make it easier to remember what goes where and how to reassemble it, but it can also help others with their own restoration.


Boca Bearings will often compensate restorers who provide useful tutorials or “how-to” guides, which can help offset the cost of your restoration project. 


Contact us at info@bocabearings.com for more information. Happy restoring!