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What do you replace on a rescue bike?

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What do you replace on a rescue bike?

Old 07-13-19, 05:14 AM
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hhk25
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What do you replace on a rescue bike?

I have a 30 year old Miyata with unknown history that I'm refurbishing for my daughter. It rides fairly well. No obvious grinding or noisy drivetrain.

I will replace all cables and housings, brake pads, freewheel, crankset, chain, tires and tubes. But, I'm wondering, do I leave the hubs, headset and bottom bracket alone or should I overhaul just to be sure? They are all turning smoothly with no play.

Which leads me to a more general question - are bearing assemblies regular maintenance items? I read somewhere that wheel hubs should be overhauled annually but I don't see the purpose of that if they are running smoothly.
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Old 07-13-19, 06:12 AM
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I love taking care of my daughters bikes, all Shimano cup and cone. One commutes in Portland OR and the others ride very little so I check them all for smooth and play and the commuter might go 18 months max w/o hub service with at least fresh grease. I find that visiting them a minimum of twice a year allows adequate preventative maintenance checks of headsets, BB, pads, etc.
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Old 07-13-19, 06:15 AM
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I would be rebuilding the hubs and BB, and reusing cranks and freewheels unless they needed to be replaced for some reason.

Typically I'll do consumables - cables/housing, any tires tubes if needed (sometimes they're fine, tubes especially), regrease headset, BB, hubs (typically replacing balls bearings, if it's a good cartridge BB I'll leave it, brake pads, bar tape. Chain I'll measure clean & lube, replace if marginal. Frequently you pick up bikes that have been ridden minimally and really only need to be relubed with very little replacing parts other than those that age like pads and tires.

Last edited by dedhed; 07-14-19 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 07-13-19, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
I would be rebuilding the hubs and BB, and reusing cranks and freewheels unless they needed to be replaced for some reason.
If the wheels (hubs) are smooth running now, would question why there is a need to open them up at all.

A visual look at the condition of the bike should tell the OP a basic history of the bike, as in, has it been cared for/maintained, or abused, you can get a 6-month-old bike which has been used every day with no maintenance in a worse condition than a well maintained/unused 30-year-old bike

Tires I get, innertubes, these will have seen no UV-light (which will damage the tires), if they still hold air, no real need to replace chain, cranks, etc (i.e. metal parts) you can visually see if these are good/worn/scrap, cables (inners and outers) & brake pads, why not, as they are cheap.
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Old 07-13-19, 06:50 AM
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A full over haul would include cleaning and repacking loose ball hubs as well as cleaning and greasing headset and BB bearings and greasing the BB shell threads. If they feel smooth, and you’re not getting creaks, its probably not necessary to get your daughter rolling, but I would do it just to be sure the bearings and races were in good shape and I enjoy the process of overhauling an old bike.
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Old 07-13-19, 06:52 AM
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I would certainly overhaul the hubs, bottom bracket and headset even if they do feel smooth. Old grease can dry out and provide no effective lubrication. Better to check. If the bearings have good grease, fine. If not, you have avoided a lot of damage.

Last edited by HillRider; 07-13-19 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 07-14-19, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
I would certainly overhaul the hubs, bottom bracket and headset even if they do feel smooth. Old grease can dry out and provide no effective lubrication. Better to check. If the bearings have good grease, fine. If not, you have avoided a lot of damage.
If it's a cartridge type bottom bracket, would you replace it?
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Old 07-14-19, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
If the wheels (hubs) are smooth running now, would question why there is a need to open them up at all.
Because it's a 30 YO bike and it's cheap, quick, and easy.
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Old 07-14-19, 07:54 AM
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30 year old bike with unknown history, I would go through everything, especially when handing off to a child/younger adult. If there is a chance the bike won't remain local, it will be peace of mind knowing everything is up to par.
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Old 07-14-19, 08:00 AM
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If you want them continue to run smoothly, overhaul them.
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Old 07-14-19, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
If the wheels (hubs) are smooth running now, would question why there is a need to open them up at all.
Here's my completely unscientific statistics, since I've refurbished more than a dozen old bikes. If a bike has 8 bearings, and each one has a 5% chance of needing service, then it's almost a coin toss whether the bike will have at least one bearing in trouble. This rough guess is borne out in my experience with old bikes. And I've not found any way to guess from looking at the bike from the outside. I just received a really decrepit old Schwinn frame, and the bearings were all in perfect shape, ready to ride. On bikes left outdoors, the BB is often trashed, as it's basically a sump for everything that gets into the frame.

Heck, the same rule even applies to new bikes if the dealer hasn't opened up the bearings themselves. People in this forum have reported missing lubrication on new bikes.

Now, since the OP mentioned that the bike is for their daughter, it's time for my regular public service message: Get her involved in the work if she isn't already.

Last edited by Gresp15C; 07-14-19 at 08:17 AM.
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Old 07-14-19, 08:30 AM
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Depends on your skills and time available, or if will you be paying someone.

If paying someone and they show no sign of current problems, then wait till they do show a problem.

If taking the hubs apart and cleaning them is no big deal to you, then sure that makes sense. If it's something you aren't sure of your capabilities, then maybe wait until a problem shows. Since this bike is for another, if you are not competent and confident of your skills at adjusting bearings, then you might be endangering the one you are wanting to keep safe. They won't necessarily realize when a wheel is going wonky as they ride.

As for the BB, if it's a cartride BB, why change it if it's not showing problems? If it's cup and spindle then the same recommendation as for the hubs.
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Old 07-14-19, 11:14 AM
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I usually always plan on replacing the “soft” parts; tires and tubes and grips/tape. Fresh brake pads are cheap and easy to install and make a huge difference.

Definitely pack some fresh grease into the hubs and crank bearings, headset, too.

I wouldn’t plan on a full drivetrain replacement unless things are really worn / rusty. Stiff chains can be loosened up with a soak in ATF.
New cables are always a good idea on a bike that old; Ten-speed era bikes are pretty simple, and even an inexpensive cable kit will make it happy.

A lot of of what I do depends on what the bike is going to be used for. If it’s going to be a campus cruiser that spends its life on a bike rack, it will certainly get a different state of tune (and fewer replacement parts) than a bike if, say my kid wants to ride Cap2Cap or an MS150 with me.
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Old 07-14-19, 05:10 PM
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After fixing up a few old bikes I don't replace things as much as I did. I keep wires, both inner and outer if nothing is visibly wrong and every thing works, I add a bit of teflon oil to the inners. I even keep tires more often than I used to, but I have to admit, I replace rough pattern tires with slick ones for easy rolling.

I have an old Raleigh that takes odd size tires. When it was new to me it took me a couple of weeks to find the right dimensions and I ended up test riding the bike with the old tires on short trips into town. The rear tire lasted about two weeks before I had a flat, but the front tire I had for nearly 4 months before anything happened. It was old Dunloop tires, crackes in the rubber, the inner weave was showing in places, they looked terrible. The tubes were just as old, several decades, they still lasted a long time. I can't recommend anyone going for tires as bad as this, but it became a sort of test for how long they would last. 5 and 10 year old tires can be fine, all depending on storage.

Inner tubes can stand up strangely well to age, patchings last and are dependable. Break rubber can go hard and loose their grip, if the are hardly worn and still grip well, there's no reason to replace them. Sand down the outer layer and they might be fine. Just be observant on how the behave in wet and dry conditions. Old doesn't mean it's bad quality, worn or deteriorated by age. High speeds and racers need optimal breaks, it all depens on the bike and situation. I just check that things are working and feel a bit bad if I replace perfectly good part, they will soon enough need replacement.

Last edited by Mickey2; 07-14-19 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 07-14-19, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by hhk25 View Post
If it's a cartridge type bottom bracket, would you replace it?
I can't speak to whether or not to replace a cartridge bottom bracket, but I'd at least remove it to inspect the bottom bracket shell. Inspect for rust, water intrusion, and sediment. If it's a steel bike. Probably not for aluminum, ti, or carbon fiber.

Anyone want to chime in about applying a rust preventer?
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Old 07-15-19, 05:28 AM
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Thanks for the contributions everyone. My daughter is 3000 kms away and I'm sending this bike to her. She'll maintain it at a co-op and she's quite mechanically minded but she has limited space and no specialized tools. She'll also have to build the bike out of the box.

I have plenty of both (tools, space) and experience but I always replace and service on an as-needed basis. For instance, I've never opened up the headset or the bottom bracket on my 90s mountain bike that I use as my daily commuter but I've overhauled the hubs numerous times. I've frequently wondered if I was neglecting routine maintenance but like most of us, I have a million things on my plate and don't want to spend an hour doing unneeded service on my bike. I'd rather ride (or wash dishes).

However, this is my first rescue bike and I think I got pretty lucky with it. It's old but the important bits are in fine shape. I'm replacing all the cables and soft parts including tires and tubes. She wants to avoid flats so I'll be going with Schwalbe Marathons. I will leave the drivetrain (other than adjustment and cleaning) since it runs quite well right now. I'm having a new appreciation for 90s era Deore.
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Old 07-16-19, 06:44 AM
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The hubs were indeed quite gritty and I am glad I overhauled them.

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Old 07-16-19, 06:56 AM
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going from how gritty that looks, buy some ball bearings from a good shop and replace them.

as for the bb, in my opinion, its not worth the time to regrease the existing bearings, remove them all and install a un 24 or25 or 26 or whatever it is, that you can get at MEC for about $15. I recently did this for my wifes old beater.

this way, the bb is set for ages, will never cause your daughter any issues , and the only issue is if you have the bb tools to remove the adjustable cup side (I have these old tools still) and I used my table vise to clamp onto the other side and physically turned the whole frame to loosen the other side, none of my large adjustable wrenches fit, and the vice trick worked very easily as the leverage of the whole bike worked a treat.

while you are at it, do the headset, but be prepared for falling tiny ball bearings, do it over a cloth or something to keep track of them all. They might be in cages, but maybe not.

if you are new to all of this, be generous with grease, and maybe get a bike shop mechanic to check your adjustements of everything, for a small fee it would be worth it if you are new to this.
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Old 07-16-19, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
going from how gritty that looks, buy some ball bearings from a good shop and replace them.
Is there any other way?

Hubs are done. BB replaced with cartridge. The existing cup and cones were actually in good shape and obviously serviced recently. Ran out of time to do the headset. I will take my tools out west when I visit her this winter and do them.
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Old 07-16-19, 08:16 AM
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just remembered that I got back into cycling & commuting when I found an old MTB on top of a mountain of trash bags outside a dorm at Harvard Uni. the only thing I needed help with was a bent crank arm. LBS installed a new left crank for $20.

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Old 07-16-19, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by hhk25 View Post
I will replace all cables and housings, brake pads, freewheel, crankset, chain, tires and tubes. But, I'm wondering, do I leave the hubs, headset and bottom bracket alone or should I overhaul just to be sure?
If you are planning to replace all of that stuff, I's definitely take an extra hour or so and next to zero cost to overhaul the hubs and headset.
If you're changing cranksets on a 30 year old bike the spindle length to yield a decent chainline with your new crankset is probably going to be different so you might as well plan to plug in a new cartridge BB.

Honestly, that's a lot of money to spend on a rescue bike.
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Old 07-16-19, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by hhk25 View Post
Is there any other way?

Hubs are done. BB replaced with cartridge. The existing cup and cones were actually in good shape and obviously serviced recently. Ran out of time to do the headset. I will take my tools out west when I visit her this winter and do them.
If the cups and cones are great, and sufficient grease, I tend to reuse the ball bearings. I will give them a good look over closely to see if there is any discolouration or obvious pitting, but if all is good, and especially if its a low use bike, and or wasnt used much, I feel ok using the originals.
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Old 07-16-19, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
If the wheels (hubs) are smooth running now, would question why there is a need to open them up at all.

A visual look at the condition of the bike should tell the OP a basic history of the bike, as in, has it been cared for/maintained, or abused, you can get a 6-month-old bike which has been used every day with no maintenance in a worse condition than a well maintained/unused 30-year-old bike

Tires I get, innertubes, these will have seen no UV-light (which will damage the tires), if they still hold air, no real need to replace chain, cranks, etc (i.e. metal parts) you can visually see if these are good/worn/scrap, cables (inners and outers) & brake pads, why not, as they are cheap.
I'm with you on just about everything you said. For me pulling apart wheel bearings for cleaning and relubing on any recent acquisition is a must. If it's been sitting it's probably dried out and if it's heavily used, it's probably contaminated with dirt. In any case you get a good feel for the bike by checking the bearing surfaces. The BB bearings and headset get the same treatment. Chasing ball bearings from a headset should be a televised sport. If they don't need replacement, I don't replace them. It's really hard to toss unused tires that have aged sidewalls but you gotta do it. If the brake pads are good, I just take some sandpaper to the surface to remove any glazing.
My issue is paint. I hate all the work involved in new paint but hate a heavily scratched and chipped frame. I know it does nothing to effect performance and it's just a black hole from which you will get no return but touch up paint always looks like touch up paint.
I'm a cheapskate. I realize that. I've even removed dirty white bar tape, scrubbed it clean and reattached it.
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Old 07-16-19, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Cycle Tourist View Post
I'm with you on just about everything you said. For me pulling apart wheel bearings for cleaning and relubing on any recent acquisition is a must. If it's been sitting it's probably dried out and if it's heavily used, it's probably contaminated with dirt. In any case you get a good feel for the bike by checking the bearing surfaces. The BB bearings and headset get the same treatment. Chasing ball bearings from a headset should be a televised sport. If they don't need replacement, I don't replace them. It's really hard to toss unused tires that have aged sidewalls but you gotta do it. If the brake pads are good, I just take some sandpaper to the surface to remove any glazing.
My issue is paint. I hate all the work involved in new paint but hate a heavily scratched and chipped frame. I know it does nothing to effect performance and it's just a black hole from which you will get no return but touch up paint always looks like touch up paint.
I'm a cheapskate. I realize that. I've even removed dirty white bar tape, scrubbed it clean and reattached it.
I think I paid $10 for a bag of 144 1/4" bearings. That's 7 cents each. Old mechanic once told me, if you drop a new bearing during install, don't even bother picking it up and cleaning it. Just get a new one.
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Old 07-16-19, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Honestly, that's a lot of money to spend on a rescue bike.
A good old bike is gold around here and worth spending money on for refurbishment. The reason being, new bikes are massive theft targets. My daily driver is a 30 year old Trek mountain bike. It looks like crap but I have brand new Deore drivetrain and wheels. I plan to keep replacing parts with brand new as they wear out.
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