How to Refurbish Old Bike Parts

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How to Refurbish Old Bike Parts

Bike parts other than tyres can be repaired or refurbished. You can replace the gears, frame, handle bars and wheels. Before deciding which components to repair, replace or refurbish, determine the root cause of any problems with the bike. For example, a misaligned brake could be the result of a misaligned wheel or a bent brake calliper. If the bike's rim is off-centre, this could be the result of a bent axle or a poorly installed wheel. Confirm the root cause of any problems before replacing bike parts. With older bikes pulled out of the shed, the first step in deciding how to refurbish old bike parts is to determine if the part can be repaired or must be replaced. A variety of bikes and bike parts can be purchased on eBay.

How to Measure Pressure in Your Bike Tyres with a Gauge

Measuring bike tyre pressure with a gauge must be done with a tyre gauge made for bikes; an automotive pressure gauge will not work correctly. You can use a pressure gauge built into a bike tyre pump for checking the pressure. To check the bike tyre pressure, take the cover off of the valve. Set the cap down or put it in your pocket so that it isn't lost. Place the pressure gauge squarely against the pressure valve. Then push the lever or knob to check the pressure. Let the gauge continue rising until it stops. This final air pressure reading is the true on. Remove the pressure gauge and put the cap back on. Use the same bike pressure gauge over time so that the pressure readings are calibrated over time.

Whether to Repair or Replace Bike Tyres

Tyres can be repaired, but they are often treated as a consumable good by many bike riders.
Replace bike tyres when the tread is wearing out around the tyre. In this case, your tyres can no longer maintain a safe grip on the road. When the tread has worn out in one particular location, it may be repaired with a patch to that one area. When you have a small pin prick hole in a tyre, putting fix-a-flat or similar foam into the tire can fill the hole. A patch will cover a single small rip or hole. Large holes and gashes are harder to reliably repair, and you would be safer to replace the tire than try to apply multiple patches. If a tyre keeps losing air over time despite patching or additions of fix-a-flat foam, replace it.

Measure Pressure in Your Bike Tyres Without a Gauge

If you do not have a pressure gauge to determine if the tyre are low, you can use the equation of load divided by area to determine an estimate of the tyre pressure. Determine the load on each wheel in pounds using a bathroom scale. Mark the portion of the tyre that is in contact with the scale. Divide the weight on the scale (the load of the tyre) by the area in contact with the scale to get a rough estimate of the tyre pressure. As the tyre pressure decreases, more of the tyre surface will come into contact with the scale. A simple method is to check the pressure of the suspect tyre against a properly inflated one. A tyre with less resistance or give when squeezed probably has too much air. However, tires can be significantly under-inflated before they will begin to bulge.

The recommended air pressure for bike tyres is typically printed on the side of the tyres. The maximum air pressure value given is perhaps half the maximum pressure the tyre can stand before it would rupture, but you should not add more air than the maximum recommended pressure. Off road tyre pressure is generally lower than that for on-road tyre pressure; check the user's manual for the bike to get the recommended air pressure for off-road biking. The recommended tyre pressure will increase along with the rider's weight. Using wider tyres means you can use a lower air pressure, or someone who weighs a lot can safely ride on the bike without over-pressuring the tyres.

Tips for Rims and Chains

Refurbishing Bike Rims
Rims that are bent can be straightened, but they may cause an uneven ride. Brake callipers out of alignment may be straightened and reused, but uneven callipers may not let the brakes grip the tyre evenly. This will wear out the brake pads more quickly or result in the rider requiring more time to stop. If the bike's tyres extend past the bike's rims, you should not ride the bike. If the rim rubs against the tyre, it is possible that a narrower tyre needs to be used or that the bike rim needs to be moved higher.

Refurbishing Bike Chains
Bike chains can sometimes be refurbished. Broken chain links can be removed and replaced with a chain tool and replacement links. Check the length of each chain link. Each chain link should be half of an inch long. Twenty four chain links should equal twelve inches in length. If a stretch of chain is longer than this, it is because the pins in the chains are wearing down and letting the chain stretch. If 24 links are 12 1/8" or longer, you should replace the chain instead of attempting to replace damaged links. The pins in the chain have worn down so much that they are likely to break.

Bike Pedals

Bike pedals are easily replaced. Simply unscrew it from the metal bar and replace. Worn-down pedals will not offer the rider good traction. Worn down toe cups may be removed and the pedal used if the toe cup is not necessary to keeping one's foot squarely on the pedal. Clip-less bike pedals should be replaced when they do not securely grip the bike shoes. If the pedals have straps, the straps can simply be replaced.

Brake Pads

Worn down brake pads should not be refurbished, only replaced. A brake pad that is missing a single piece may be used if the bike can still stop in a relatively short distance. If there is uneven wear on the brake pad, a temporary solution is cutting down the brake pad to an even surface before putting it back into place.

Refurbishing Bike Baskets

Many bikes have baskets to carry items like shopping bags or backpacks. Metal baskets can be scrubbed down to remove rust before being oiled to protect them from further rust. Wicker baskets may be rewoven or have new wicker woven into them. Placing a liner over a basket will hide gaps in the wicker while extending its life.

Refurbishing Metal Frames

Metal parts like frames and kickstands can have the rust ground off before it is re-painted. Always apply metal primer to metal pieces before applying the desired coat of paint. Let the first paint of dry before applying a second coat of paint. However, if the rust has eaten into the frame to the point that its ability to support a load is compromised, it is better to disassemble the bike and replace that metal part. If a single bar in a metal frame has broken, it may be temporarily fixed by aligning it before sliding a metal or fibreglass tube around it. The tube holds the metal bar in place as it is glued together. Depending on the metal frame, a cracked or broken metal frame tube could be welded back together. Good bike mechanics can remove and replace metal frame tubes.

Refurbishing or Repairing Drive Trains

Gears may be refurbished, depending on their wear pattern and degradation. If the gear teeth have been worn down, it is better to simply replace the gear than attempting to attach new teeth. A gear with rust on the outside but structurally sound gear teeth should be cleaned with a wire brush or scrubber to remove the rust. It should then be good to use.

Refurbishing Bike Seats and Handlebars

Seats can have new seat covers put on them, similar to reupholstering leather furniture. Worn and cracked plastic seats can be made comfortable with the addition of a padded cover. Seats are easily removed and replaced with new ones. Handlebars are easily acquired. You can remove and replace handle bars. Or simply add bar grips over existing handlebars.


Enthusiasts who are serious about refurbishing their bike parts should spend time searching for the right components. You will need to consider a wide selection of bike products in order to find the right parts. A variety of bikes and replacement parts can be purchased on eBay.

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