Guest Post: Getting Started on that Vintage Bicycle
This series is about getting started on refurbishing an old bicycle, oriented primarily to beginners. I won't be talking about "restoring" a bicycle to original new condition, but getting an old bike cleaned up, tuned up, and ready for the road again.
I believe strongly that everyone who rides a bicycle should know how to take it apart and put it back together again, replace worn-out parts, and diagnose basic problems. While I'm not going to try to cover all of that ground, I can at least get you started on that old bike project, and point you towards helpful resources.
Step One: Getting Familiar With Your Bike
By the time an old bike gets to you, it's likely to need some cleaning (see RidingPretty's guest posts on my Old Bike Blog for some green cleaning tips). With cleaning, you begin the process of becoming familiar with your new machine. This bicycle is going to carry you faithfully all over the place, so you should get to know it.
Even if you don't understand what all the little bits do yet, start making mental notes about where everything is and how it's attached. Photograph every part, nut, bolt, cable, doo-dad, everything. This will help you with reassembly, and also give you a sense of accomplishment when you compare the before and after pictures.
To help you learn all the parts, and get a basic idea of how everything on a bicycle works, here are a few links that I find useful. Some of this may seem a bit complex for beginners, while others may find it too basic, but bear with me, these are links you'll come back to again and again:
Great video tutorials to help you do your own bicycle work.
The Internet guru of DIY work and everything bicycle-related. The glossary alone has become a standard reference. Unfortunately, Sheldon passed away about a year ago, so attempts to contact him through his site will not be successful.
A close runner-up to Sheldon Brown, and full of good information, clearly explained.
A good introduction for beginners. Delivers what it promises.
A helpful diagram of all the parts of a bicycle.
Next time, I'll talk about a few of the first things that should probably be replaced on an old bicycle before you ride it very much, and how to go about doing the work yourself.