Trash To Treasure | How To Fix Up An Old Bike

Trash To Treasure | How To Fix Up An Old Bike

– Now it’s not often that you
can get lucky with something pretty special just hanging
around at the side of the street but I did ’cause a couple of months
back on my way into work I stumbled across this very
bike with this very sign just laying there ripe for my picking, let’s face it. And what’s so special about it then? Well, for a start it’s a touring bike, which you don’t commonly
see that much these days we’ve got Reynolds tubing,
Mavic wheels, a Suntour groupset and best of all, it’s free of charge. Today we’re gonna look
at how to restore a bike from basically what could have
gone straight into the trash. To the workshop! (jazz music) First up, then, we’re gonna
check out the frame and forks to make sure they are in tip-top condition or, well, as close as you can get to that for a bike which is free or
left outside of someone’s house with a note saying on, please take. Now, in all seriousness,
unless it is a bike such as a Colnago Master Olympic
made out of super steel, then if it is bent or twisted
or cracked or crushed, then you’re probably not going
to want to spend the money, the time or the effort
in actually restoring it, unless of course you have
a real, I don’t know, kind of attraction towards
it or something like that. So, what are we actually gonna check for? Well, make sure that the lugs or the wells are actually a-okay, so they’re not cracked
or coming apart at all and make sure that the frame
tubes are nice and round or certainly in the shape
they’re meant to be, so they’re not pitted or
dented, anything like that. Also, if there are any signs of rust make sure they’re not actually
going through the tubeset, a little bit of surface rust that’s okay ’cause we can get rid of that, but essentially you wanna
make sure that the frame is up to the job of holding and supporting your weight as you ride. Now, a very basic type of
measurement that you could do to check how in line the
frame is, is with some string as you can see here with the wheel now removed from the bike. So with that piece of string you want to wrap it around the head tube, bypass the actual seat tube itself here, so it’s going either side and then join it onto your dropouts and you want that string to
be as tight as you can get it, I’m not very good at tying knots but I’ve got it pretty
much spot on for my needs, but what exactly is this gonna tell us? It’s gonna tell us how in
line the rear of the bike is with the front. So if you’ve got yourself a carbon frame or an aluminum frame and it’s out of line, then it’s probably best to
walk away from this right now, because you’re not gonna
be able to get that put back into place very cheaply at all. With a steel frame, however,
there are various methods of actually cold-setting
a frame back into place, but now I’ve got this structure setup, I’m actually really keen to
find out if it is in line or not because I haven’t had a look so far. So, with it there and in place I’ve got myself a handy tape measure, I’m gonna measure how
far away the string is from the actual seat tube on either side. It’s an inch and a half,
just check on this side, an inch and a half as well, I’m in luck. Obviously if the frame
is all well and good, we are gonna need to check out
the rest of the components, because without them you’re not gonna get anywhere very fast are you? So, let’s start off with the wheels, because generally they’re
one of the most expensive components to replace, so give them a spin and actually check to make
sure there’s nothing unusual or vibrations, anything
like that coming from them they shouldn’t have and also they run nice
and true and straight, whilst checking to the
side walls of the rims to make sure they’re nice
and flat and not worn away, which could be dangerous, as well as those spokes, make
sure none of those are bent or twisted at all and then lastly the tires, ’cause that’s obviously a very
important part of the bike. Now handlebar and stem, normally you can see instantly if the handlebar has become bent, because well it’s out
of shape, let’s face it. Now, as for that handlebar tape, I would actually advise
totally removing it, therefore you can inspect for
any corrosion on handlebars, because some people out there they do have a tendency to sweat a lot and it works its way
through the handlebar tape onto the bars and can have quite horrible consequences including handlebars
snapping, believe it or not, so make sure you don’t fall foul to that. Have a good look and then give
it a good old clean up too, to remove any residue. Next up, let’s check two of
the most problematic areas on older style bikes such as this one and by that I mean the bottom
bracket and the headset. First up then, with the cranks just try and rock them from side to side as you can see here there’s play in that which spells trouble, or potential trouble at least
or at least an adjustment job and then with the headset at the front, you want to do the same really, try and rock that forward. Now, the easiest way to try
and check out that headset is with the bike down here on the ground lock up both brakes, this
is my preferred method, and try and move the bike
backwards and forwards. Now, if there is any movements at all in the headset area here, which you would feel, believe me, then that’s gonna need a
little bit of adjustment later on down the line. Next up is checking out the brakes, so give the levers a pull, make sure that the actual calipers or the cantilevers in this case are doing their jobs correctly, which they appear to be
doing all pretty well. Quite retro and old-school
aren’t they these cantilevers, I like them. Also, check out the cables too for any signs of obvious
fraying or splits, such like, it’s not the end of the world
if you have to replace them ’cause they do come pretty cheap, then we’ll move onto the
actual gearing systems. So, in my case, nice and easy here with a pair of downtube shifters. I can see if the mechs are working okay, which, well they appear
to be doing their job and as for the back one, let’s check out if that index
gears are still working. Oh, like a dream. Quality components – they
wear in, they don’t wear out or that’s the old saying anyway. Of course, if your cables
have in fact snapped or stretched or anything like that, there is a way of doing this manually and that’s by grabbing, this is certainly for a
cabled rear derailleur, grabbing it and just pedaling
and pushing it across and then making sure that spring actually returns the derailleur
to the correct place. Finally, check out the chain for any wear, so if you’ve got yourself
a chain checking tool then please do use it, luckily this one is on
0.5 on the wear indicator, so it is good for certainly a few thousand kilometers more I reckon judging by the state of it so far, it looks to have had a good innings. Let’s get onto the real fun
part, though, fixing it up. (upbeat music) But what needs my attention
then on this eighties classic? Well, I’ve given the wheels a spin and do you know what? They’re all okay. There is a very slight little
kink, though, in the rim so I am gonna adjust it
here with a spoke key, just to get it a little bit straighter, but fortunately these cup
and cone bearings are okay and that’s a real relief, because sometimes these
jobs can turn into something longer than a five minute job because a cup and cone bearing, maybe the actual race of
the inner shell of the hub could be pitted away,
likewise with the cone, therefore rendering them, well, useless, but I’m so lucky with this
bike, I can’t believe it, but I am gonna just give it a
quick turn with the spoke key. Now an area which certainly
does need looking at is this front derailleur cable. Just look at it, horrible isn’t it. Frayed, nasty, it’s just
screaming out to you I want to puncture the end of your finger. When that happens to you
it’s like standing on a plug or a piece of Lego, it hurts, a lot and for the cost of a couple of dollars, a couple of euros, a couple of pounds, just simply replace any inner
cables that are like that. It is gonna give you
either better shifting or better braking and
it’s gonna be safer too, so that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. Now, other than that slightly frayed or quite frankly dangerous inner cable there, all the other cables
are in pretty good nick, which I’m quite surprised at really, they’ll certainly last
a few months longer, but now I’m gonna give you
a little bit of a tip here to try and get a little
bit smoother braking as well as gear shifting and it’s the only time I ever advise working on a bike upside down or certainly not in an upright position. The reason is, you’re
gonna apply a few drops of your lubricant, such as chain lubricant
something like that, onto the inner cable and allow it to work downwards
into the outer cable, basically gravity’s gonna
do the work for you here, so allow it to soak in for a few minutes and you should feel
slightly smoother braking, I love smooth braking and
gear shifting for that matter. Now, I think I’m almost
blessed by finding this bike and especially the fact that this headset doesn’t require any attention. These older style headsets are
renowned for becoming pitted, loose, horrible, juddery,
everything like that, or certainly ones that
haven’t been taken care of. It makes me wonder why the
previous owner of this bike was just giving it away when it’s in pretty good
condition, to be honest. Now anyway, if you found
yourself with one of these and it’s not in good condition, first of all take it apart of course using your headset spanners and inspect the inside of the races here, so when I say inspect, make
sure they’re not pitted, they’re not damaged, those
are the most common things. If it is, I wouldn’t bother
putting in some new bearings or some new grease. Instead, I’d buy a complete new
headset and have that fitted because you don’t want to
risk having unpredictable or dodgy steering, after all it’s probably
important isn’t it, your steering of your bike. Now time for the dreaded bottom bracket, I say dreaded because this was the thing which I noticed instantly as
soon as I picked up the bike, I could just feel the
cranks weren’t quite perfect and I like perfection on a bicycle, so I’m gonna take off the crank arm, I’m gonna also check
out that bottom bracket just to see if there’s any way at all I can get it working good again, otherwise I’m gonna have to
put a fresh unit in there. Let’s check it out. Now, it’s time to tackle this
bottom bracket using some old school tools, although, believe me, these
are actually brand new and I think they’re
probably the first time they’ve been used, in fact,
in the GCN tech workshop, because we don’t tend to
have many bikes that come in with this style of bottom bracket on. So let’s first tackle that
lock ring, to remove it, so we can get into the nitty
gritty of the bottom bracket. What I am gonna do is actually just take up the slack of that and feel if the bearings
are rough or smooth, maybe it’s something
which has just happened, ’cause as you can see that
lock ring was mega loose, so it makes me think
that the previous owner was maybe in the middle
of a job and just gave up. Anyway, let’s have a look
and see how smooth it can be, using the peg spanner here, turn that, just trying to take up
a bit of that slack. It’s quite stiff in there, but bottom bracket, there’s no movement and it’s nice and smooth. So we’re in luck, I’m just
gonna refit that lock ring and put the crank on, we’re
pretty much good to go, but don’t worry there’s a couple of things I am gonna do on it. Now you didn’t think that
I was gonna be able to get this bike up and running
for only a couple of quid like I spent on this cable here, did you? No, in fact, I am gonna put
on some new tires on this bike because these are
certainly past their best and, well, I want to have
the best puncture protection, if ever I do go touring
cycling on this bike. So, a little bit of investment
there is more than worth it. Now I’m sure you’ll agree
that by putting some new tires on this bike it is gonna
make sure that my riding is gonna be slightly better
protected against punctures, as well as safer when cornering, not to mention that those
tires I just removed were quite frankly terrifying as when I was popping them off the rim, they were cracking and the smell, well that didn’t leave
much to the imagination. Now, there is one final thing I’m gonna do and that is wrap the handlebars, however I’m not gonna put
you through all of that because I’m pretty particular
when it comes to it, instead there is a video for that. Now, a little bit of advice, if ever you’re walking along
and you see a sign like this, don’t carry on walking. Stop, take that bike,
because it could well be an absolute gem like I’ve
found here with this. I’m amazed with it to be perfectly honest. Now remember as well to let me know what you would check on a bike if you found it at the side of the road, let me know down there
in the comments section and, as ever, give this
video a big old thumbs up and share it with your mates, especially if one of your mates has got a almost dumpster find like this. Don’t forget, too, to
check out the GCN shop at and now for two more great videos, how about down here for how to
service cup and cone bearings and here for how to put on new bar tape. Go on, give it a watch.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. I had an old 91 guardini given to me made out of Colombian tubing made by a guy from Toronto Canada he builds forklifts to 105 groupset so I went through the whole thing repacked replace all the Barons put a new seal bottom bracket in it brand new tires new tubes put modern clip in pedals and change the gearing in the back but it's pretty much original

  2. Dude stop acting like a poor homeless man who found a free bike,,, it's worth not more than 20 euro or at least that's what they sell for here where I live.

  3. With Reynolds 531 tubing and a fairly decent groupset, this was easily a £100+ bike as it was received, IMO.
    Would have tried to have gone for amber wall tyres, to keep the retro looks.

  4. I just got a 2016 Specialized Allez for free it needs quite a few things done to it probably going to cost around $200 but to buy it new it would cost five times that.

  5. Found a 1987 Trek 520 at a dumpster with race numbers still on it a year ago. Got some new tubes, tires, bar tape, greased the bottom bracket. My first Road bike 🙂 I've since put 500 miles on it.

  6. That wasn't to hard was it ? I 'll bring you trash… Buddy. Maybe are you scared of having your hands dirty ?
    Come on ! Show us some real stuff. Not some posh kinky blah blah blah :-))

  7. I'm currently looking to buy an old specialized allez Epic from 1989, so lugged carbon tubes 🤙🏻
    Beside the mechanics as descibed in the video, what would you be "specially" aware of.?

  8. This is nearly the same bike as pictured on the cover of Richard's Bicycle Book by the late Richard Ballantyne

  9. It takes a long time to find a decent second hand bike if you want something which is reasonably rideable. I work away from home during the week and I wanted something not too precious that I could leave at the place where I stay all the time. After 6 weeks I got lucky. After being constantly knocked back every time I enquired about a half-decent machine on Gumtree or eBay I found a Raleigh road bike, about the same age as this Evans, with the all-important Reynolds 531 and a really decent Shimano Exage groupset. I peeled a hundred quid out of my wallet, fearing that any minute the seller might realise they could have got a bit more for their machine. Nine months later I have used it quite a bit and nothing has broken or needed replacing. All I have bought is mudguards and a modern pump to replace the plastic SKS frame fit jobby.
    My only cautionary is finding parts for a thirty year old bike can sometimes be quite difficult. The gearing is rather high – 52 / 42 on the front and 13-24 7 speed rear, which is fine for the Thames Valley where it is kept, but a tad steep for a rider twice the age of his machine who would like to use it in hilly Somerset where I live. I live in hope that one day I will find the parts I need – drop the front to 50 /38 and then replace the rear cluster (widely available) for a 13-26.

  10. I got a free 1980s Trek 7900 Multi Track for free. It needed some work. And tires and tubes.
    Actually, I have gotten several nice old bikes for free.

  11. I also got a 1984 Schwinn Mountain Bike Hybrid Technium with a stiff fork for free on a wealthier street.
    In America people throw out bikes.

  12. My mate was close to chucking out a mid 80's Olmo complete with Columbus tubing, Camp record chainset, Cinelli bars, the works. £400 later and with much elbow grease it has been reprayed, new decals, forks rechromed it is an absolute gem and I have to say the sun tour superbe rear derailleur is easily a match for the Campagnolo super record equivalent. It is a bit of a dark art finding and restoring old bikes but I would recommend it to anyone that is interested in finding themselves a quality bike for fraction of the cost for similar quality brand new. I found wheels at cycle jumble for £10 that have been over the Col de Galibier, Telegraph, Ventoux, Tourmalet, and Iseran.

  13. How lucky you were to find that!
    As Biff Gordon said, (in an ideal world, where everybody has their own well-equipped workshop, and expertise) a de-assembly would be best but, as not everybody is capable of that, certainly a Service, down the LBS, wouldn't go amiss.

  14. I have found many of bikes being thrown away for various reasons. Most common is flat ries or a gear system that isn't working. Have found from classics to updated bikes from all around the World. I check on everything just because I like taking things apart & inspecting everything.

  15. Found a Trek 970 for 25€ in front of my door. Triple butted chromoly, old Shimano xtr group,… As solid as it can get! Catch of the year!

  16. I had a "dumpster find" that was pretty decent. Boss was cleaning out his garage and was gonna throw away an old red bike. I got it home and looked at it, and it was a customized Jamis Diablo Limited Edition from 1996. A few cheap gears for the deraileur later and I had it up and running.

  17. steals a bike on the other side of the city
    puts in on sidewalk as "free bike"
    some dumbass takes it
    see that dumbass make a video of it

  18. That's a free bike, like "nO sErIouSly" ???
    Rear grill, frame pump, new saddle??
    Someone's mum made his boy a very angry one.

  19. I just got a Bianchi Premio for $5. The paint condition looks solid, and all components look rust-free. Haven't taken a deeper look at the drivetrain but I do hope there is nothing significant need to be replaced. BTW, tires definitely need to be replaced though. I don't even know why I stopped by and actually bought it. The only reason might be my obsession with antiques?

  20. Throughout my working career people that I have worked with have asked how they could get a good bike to ride for a reasonable price. I would agree to help out and after finding a good deal at a garage sale or something like that. After new tires and tubes, maybe a new chain. Most of these bikes ended up hanging in a garage for years living their second life the same as their first life. As they say, "You can lead a horse to water".

  21. Well a neighbor gave me a mountain bike for free a couple of days ago. The bike is a NEXT brand bike which cost about a $150 US dollars brand new. The frame is straight, but the bike was obviously neglected badly. But here is what all I checked on it: head set, front forks, breaks, crank & crank case, bearings, front and rear wheels, spokes, both hubs, cables, break leavers, shifters, handle bar, head set adapter, gear cassette, and rear sway bar shock assembly, chain, derailer, peddles. What all needs replacing? Just about everything but the frame. Yet is it worth it to restore the bike to its original condition? Only you can answer that, as it might be worth it or worth the time to disassemble it for scrap metal. In my case, I’m thinking yes it’s worth it to have a second bike to ride.

  22. people in Canada ride away old bicycles every day I am in trouble to find more room in my house.

  23. do you not fix mountain bikes,? can you convert one to a folding tricycle please. no but seriously good videos

  24. "Trash to treasure"? WTF, this was already treasure. I'm happy you found a bike in such great shape, but next time please exemplify with a piece of shit busted up 60s bike that needs actual work deserving of making an episode.

  25. I would replace all the cables, especially the brake cables even if they look and feel OK.
    Because old cables can sometimes pull loose from the small lead nobs at the front end that hold them in the brake levers.
    Cable fatigue is a very real thing, so better safe 🙂 than sorry 🙁

  26. It wasn’t free but I just bought a very lightweight Raleigh aluminum road with Shimano 300EX throughout—$30

  27. Not that lucky find bike but had my road bike stollen got save get cheap second hand one great videos

  28. The majority of my bicycles growing up and grown up weren't free, but pretty darn cheap. A $5 Schwinn Stingray when I was eight. A Concorde with Dura-Ace for $200 when I was 22. Plus a few others that aren't memorable brands. I have an old Norco touring bike kitted up a lot like this one I got for $50 15 years ago. Clean and tune it once a year, and it doesn't wear out.

  29. Just got a miyata eighty se that’s been in storage for decades for only $80. Bike was inherited just wanted to get rid of it. It’s in amazing condition. Not Free, but feel very blessed to have it.

  30. This guy: Check so your frame is straight and those spokes make sure they are not bent or loose.
    Me: Riding around on a bike with a frame that certainly doesn’t look straight that has wheels with spokes that are so loose you can play guitar on them and where spokes occasionally fall of.

  31. i ride my grandpas bike and all things you said are bad and dangerous , i have XD bad wheel rubber,vibrations, everything XD but i love it

  32. I live in Northern 🇮🇪, my house was broke into and my bike was Stoke, any idea's? Gumtree and Facebook and checked buy sell books

  33. I would not call cold setting a method, it's basically just use force to bend it back in to the right shape. A 10 year old can do it.

  34. I picked up a 1980's Murray Baja eagle River 15 speed mountain bike off the side of the road and it's only problem was it needed new tires

  35. This doesnt help me. I found a touring bike from the 80's in the bush. The tires hold air, i've ridden it but it isnt too good. Cool bike tho, it has those old friction shifters on the stem

  36. I would NOT take the bike.
    I already have 2 bike's.
    I've no need for a third bike.
    There are more people who need that bike more than I do.

  37. I still ride an American made Huffy Scout 10 SPD mountain bike that I bought in 1990. It has had an overhaul once, new cables and adjustments, straightened rim, new tires and tubes, new seat but still rides well. Built to last.

  38. Ive been building up old bikes like this for over 40 years. I ride them, beat them or give them away to someone who needs a bike. These sort of old forgotten bikes make perfect single speed commuters and really fun trail bikes. K.I.S.S. Very little to break or go wrong! Just ride and have fun! The quality of old
    (pre ‘90s)middle range bikes like this are way better than anything you could buy for modest money today. Build them right, maintain them and they can last a lifetime !!

  39. my friend next door had about 13 bikes his dad hobby was finding bikes in the garbage salvaging the good parts and making great bikes… If he ever had a problem like a flat he had a garage full of bike to choose from. That was such a great expirence when I was a kid …. My friends dad love of bikes rubbed off on me when I was a kid just wish I was a great bike mechanic

  40. Good video ,I also will invest in set of new break pads the originals maybe dry up and check the freewheel or cluster

  41. I cannot believe the idiots who would cock their noses at that bike! It would ride and handle immensely better than a lot of cheaply produced aluminium bikes of today. It would also quite probably be lighter especially with its 531 tubeset. 531 tubeset!! – left at the side of the road – to be taken for free!!! What idiots, what entitled privileged idiots abound today and haven't got a clue. Just because something doesn't look modern, doesn't make it inferior. Quite the opposite here in fact!
    Lucky you – what a SCOOP!!! What a brilliant BIKE that is, and always WILL BE

  42. I'd check how well the rear wheel rolls or if it's loose/wobbly.
    Taking a rear hub apart on an older wheel can be a nightmare. I just finished my old bike from '83 that I just bought and it works like a dream. But it took 6 hours to disassemble, clean and reassemble.

  43. I acquired an old peugeot aurige (?? Its hard to read the stickers) with shimano exige.
    Given it has a shimano groupset, would a modern shimano groupset fit? Im pondering updating to claris (basic but modern) which would give me 8 gears instead of 7, modern indexing and modern brakes. I dislike the crank too, feels odd (not worn out odd i think its a function of the exige crank).
    It has shimano 700c wheels which are in decent shape altho the rear needs trueing (which is odd, ive had it in storage a while and it didnt need it before…) can the older wheels have a modern cassette installed or is a whole new wheel necessary?

  44. I recently picked up a fairly good condition Peugeot 103 Carbolite and all I really want to do as it is my first serious road bike is restore it.

  45. I'd make sure the seat post not rusted into place, happened once before, and ohh nightmare to get it out and get a new post in, , drilled a hole in the post cut down the side of the post, big pair mole grips, half can oil, and eventually came out without cracking the frame, lol lot worse than this one, good find

  46. I was looking for a cheap touring bike a couple years ago. One early morning in had a urge to drive around the neighborhood. Found an early 90s trek 520 in a free pile in front of the neighbors house. It was beat but it cleaned up nice.

  47. If nothign else bikes like this are a harmless way to work on your own repair skills, because going in as a novice? You're going to make mistakes, goes with learning anything. It just feels bad when that mistake is 'oh shit that's a few paychecks or christmas money I can't get back'

  48. A while back, i found an old Viscount bike in the trash. super light, "aerospace" steel frame. It has the replacement fork, not the "death fork." I'm trying to decide if I should fix it up or scrap it. The biggest challenge is the bottom bracket which has press fit bearings, no threads. The spindle is damaged, so I either need to find a new one (not an easy task) or use some kind of threadless replacement. @GCN Tech et al, what would you do?

  49. ive just done this 45 year old rusty french racing bike stripped it ,put it all in the bath costic soda.all rust gone new tyres sprayed it gold wire wool all the cogs and brakes .tipped it upside down put oil in that little hole .new tape. its cost me 25 quid for new tyres and tubes ans brake blocks and tape. its like brand new gold now looks new .i dont know how to find the make or age .i have the number underneath its 211008. thats all i know about it ..

  50. Title : How to fix up an old bike
    Solution in video: find an old bike that doesn't need to be fixed.
    What have we learned from this video? Absolutely nothing. The person in the video maybe doesn't know how to fix bikes or he is very lasy.

  51. When you see bikes that are 20-30 years old that means the owner has gone to the big racetrack in the sky or has gotten divorced.

  52. This is pretty much what happened to me, there was spring cleaning here where i'm at and this older guy was getting rid of his entire collection, I was 15 at the time and had little money so I would go around this time of year and see if there were bikes being left out. This older man had a old spray painted frame he was giving away, along with a groupset in a box that I didn't know about at the time. So I picked it up and did my research. Turns out it was a '81 SR gran course and the groupset he gave me in the box was an old shimano 600 arabesque groupset. Put the bike together, and freshened it up with some new pads, chain and a good cleaning and painted it. For me being that young it feels good to find a rescue bike and give it life. I'm 27 years old now and I still have the bike. Good memories.

  53. I been wanting my fiance to ride with me. She didn't like any any of my other bikes cuz they are men's bikes. And one day I see a free old bike. It is a Giant boulder woman's bike. The thing rides amazing! Good bearings and all I needed to do is lube the chain and pump up the tires. I was so happy and cuz of that kind person I have my best friend riding with me 😊

  54. SAMMMME!

    I found this free bike the other day on the street, no sign but I had to remove a thing that was holding it tight to the railings. Wasn't easy but finally did it. Nice bike. 👀👍

  55. Check it's complete. Missing components mean spending money and the total could be more than a similar complete bike.

  56. I ve been pretty damn lucky myself finding a free bike in great condition only i had to is fix the derailleur timer for shifting gears 4 7

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