Vintage style bikes are always on-trend, and it isn’t too difficult to find a used bike that can become as good as new with just a few simple restoration techniques—just check a local thrift store, garage sale, or neighbor’s shed. Bike restoration is a highly complex field of its own, and there are entire books written about bike restoration; but even if you are not a bicycle expert, there are some simple things that you can do to make your old bike look like new. Here is a quick look at five simple bike restoration techniques for you to try on your old bike.
This can be a lot easier said than done. Much of the time, however, removing rust from a bike requires just a simple technique or two to get the job done. On chrome, the simplest approach is to squirt some light oil (such as brake and shift cable lube) on the rust and then scrub it with a chunk of fine steel wool. Finish by wiping the area with a rag. For steel parts, you can apply an acid like lemon juice or white vinegar to the rusty area, let it dissolve the rust, and then wipe clean with a rag. If needed, you can use a sponge, scrubbing pad, or fine steel wool for additional scrubbing. Just be sure to rinse and dry your bike thoroughly when you are done to prevent the acid from damaging the metal on your bike.
Replace the wheels.
You’d be surprised at how drastically getting a new set of wheels and tires can improve the look of an old bike. But think about it: the wheels occupy a great deal of visual space on a bike. People will quickly notice to straight, shiny spokes and new rubber. Even if your bike is fitted with an old set of wheels, it can typically be tweaked to accommodate a newer size and style of wheel. Moreover, many modern wheel sets are made to have a classic look.
Replace the seat.
Another easy fix? Change out the bike seat. A new leather saddle looks especially striking on a vintage bike.
Replace the handlebar grips or grip tape.
The handlebars are another focal point on any bike, so replacing them can make a major aesthetic difference. If your bike has handlebar grips, remove them, clean the underlying metal thoroughly, and then replace them with new grips. If your bike uses grip tape, cut or unwind the old tape, remove the caps at the ends of your handlebars, clean the underlying metal thoroughly, and then carefully apply new grip tape.
Have the frame refinished.
Many people who are restoring a bike for the first time choose to refinish the frame by sanding it and then spray painting it, but it could be well worth the modest cost to instead have it professionally refinished. A powder coating professional can sand blast your bike frame to remove any rust and old paint and then powder coat it to give it a durable and weatherproof finish in the color and finish of your choice. The benefit to going this route is you know your bike will have a professional finish, and the body will be protected from the elements at a molecular level.