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Overhaul question on older bikes

Old 07-25-14, 06:23 PM
  #1  
MielleCondor72
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Overhaul question on older bikes

Hi Everyone,

I been on the forum for two months now and I have a question in regard to overhauls on older bikes. When I joined I mentioned I had come into possession of a couple of older bikes that haven't been ridden in quite some time. They were headed to the dump.

I've been reading posts in this group as well as C&V What's it worth. In most posts there's been advice about stripping down the bikes and doing a complete overhaul = including replacing all the cables on bikes that have been sitting for some time. Why do you recommend a complete strip down and replacing cables? I understand the grease gets old and hardens which needs to be replaced to make sure parts are lubricated correctly. What I don't understand is the reasoning behind replacing the cables? Why?

If the cables are stretched can't you just cut off the excess cable and tighten it back up? Obviousluy if the cable is rusted or damaged in some way I understand replacing it. I can't see the cables stretching to a point where it needs to be replaced, especially if the bike has been sitting quite sometime. Why does age or lack of use mean the cables need to be replaced. If you can ride the bike, shift gears and brake why replace the cables? I'd like to be informed so I don't sound like or seem like an idiot.

The bikes in question are I believe a 1985 Miele Condor and a late 70's or early 80's Miyata 750SR road bikes. I have taken both bikes for rides during our local Bike to Work Week. The wheels rotate freely, the handle bars also move freely - turning with etheir bike is normal. They shift gears and the brakes work good on both bikes. Those rides went fine with no issues with driveability.

I haven't experienced any grinding or binding issues. As far as I can tell the two bikes have been stored inside for quite sometime. Dusty but not dirty? I haven't found any rust on the Miele Condor its in very good shape. The Miyata has been used a lot more than the Miele. The Miyata isn't dirty either it just dusty and dry with a bit of surface rust on the seat post - just above where is sits in the seat tube.

Tires needed to be pumped up and so far they are holding air. No cracking or dry rot that I can see. Again the tires on the Miele are in better condition than those on the Miyata 750SR. The tires on the Miele Condor still have the small nubs on the sides of the tires. Making me think there is very little wear and tear on the Miele Condor.

Neither have been overhauled so I'm trying to determine what I should have done and what can be skipped. All information and advice greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-25-14, 06:36 PM
  #2  
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The overhaul is like a service for your car, you do it so there will be no grinding, binding creaking, breaking or other problems arising from lack of maintainance. By the time these things happen, it is already a much bigger problem. During an overhaul your also can spot any potential future problems and address them before anything happens.
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Old 07-25-14, 06:54 PM
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What's important for the bearings are smooth surfaces, round balls, nice sticky grease, correct adjustment, and smooth operation. The important point is that smooth operation is not enough. A clean dry bearing will operate smoothly, at least for a while. But it will also soon enter the path to permanent self-destruction. When you overhaul you clean, inspect, evaluate, degrease, regrease, renew balls, and carefully adjust bearing cones and locknuts. When you do it again in two years, it should look like no new wear has taken place. If that's the case, chances are your vintage bearings, which may not be replaceable, should go on for decades.

The issues for cables are rust, dirt, strand breakage, free motion, and kinked areas. Free motion is not enough. For the outer cables it's the same except that for good braking the outer cable ends should be finished flat, have a ferrule, and be the correct length. As far as rust and dirt go, it's essentially impossible to clean inside the housing.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:00 PM
  #4  
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You don't have to replace cables unless they are damaged, I often reuse the rear cables for the front when I am doing an overhaul. When I am overhauling a new to me bike I am usually changing the stem and or bars so I usually need longer cables anyhow.

Doing an overhaul on an older bike you just acquired is very important for the obvious reasons stated. But you also need to get new grease into those tired old bearings, and just because everything sounds and feels fine doesn't mean it is. Plus it is the best way to really clean and detail a bike. I pull everything off and clean the frame real good and wax it with a nice paste car wax. Then I clean all the components and reassemble looking for problems along the way.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:01 PM
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Also, modern cables are mostly stainless steel vs. the galvanized cables that were used in the '70s at least. Newer housings are also lined with teflon tube, so operate more smoothly. If your cables seem good, no need to replace them. Agree with roadfan and all regarding the bearings and importance of cleaning/regreasing and adjusting. If you need new bearing balls, vxb is a good place to get them. G25. 1/4" (rear hubs, bottom brackets) 3/16" (front hubs). Can't recall what most headsets use. Many pedals use 1/8" in them. Campy front hubs usually use 7/32".
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Old 07-25-14, 07:03 PM
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if you ride a bike that's been sitting for years, then do a complete overhaul and add new consumables, then ride it again, you'll realize why you did the overhaul.

the bike will no longer be old and crummy. it will be like new and brilliant.
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Old 07-26-14, 03:20 AM
  #7  
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In my mind and after having street restored, literally, hundreds of vintage bicycles, one thing I know to be true - the better prepared the machine, the better the ride quality!

Are new cables a must? Not necessarily. Is the old grease still offering adequate lubrication properties? Probably not. Will the bicycle preform its best by settling for good enough? Not really. So, when your concern is cable function, consider this...

Cables corrode, just as does any other metal item. If the cables are galvanized, they will not be as smooth as they once were. The coefficient of friction, between cable and casing will have increased and that will negatively impact performance. Yes you can shift small to large cogs with no issues, but will your equally old, and probably fatigued, rear derailleur spring have enough memory left it in to overcome extra or excessive friction? Nope, probably not, especially if the bike was left in storage, with the rear derailleur shifted to the largest cog.

So, if you want your bike to preform well, do the work to ensure that everything is clean, lubricated and in proper condition. Only then will the bike's potential be accessible, in my opinion.

Even thought it still amazes me, this bottom bracket seemed to operate adequately but I opened it up anyway. Hard to believe it did not feel worse than it did when just feeling for state of repair...

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Old 07-26-14, 03:53 AM
  #8  
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As Bianchigirl advised, rear cables can be made to go to the front. Often the reason for exchanging the cables is they will not be able to be reused as the ends are frayed. Removing the cable to grease it as was done before lined housing requires that the end be fair and reinsertable. Not often is this the case. Sometimes on an older mountain bike the cable stops are open to allow taking things apart to lube but not completely. Rare on road bikes.

As Randyjawa noted danger often lurks in one bearings. Not servicing this stuff reduces performance and or shortens the life of the bearing assembly going forward.
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Old 07-26-14, 09:25 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by MielleCondor72 View Post
Hi Everyone,

I been on the forum for two months now and I have a question in regard to overhauls on older bikes. When I joined I mentioned I had come into possession of a couple of older bikes that haven't been ridden in quite some time. They were headed to the dump.

I've been reading posts in this group as well as C&V What's it worth. In most posts there's been advice about stripping down the bikes and doing a complete overhaul = including replacing all the cables on bikes that have been sitting for some time. Why do you recommend a complete strip down and replacing cables? I understand the grease gets old and hardens which needs to be replaced to make sure parts are lubricated correctly. What I don't understand is the reasoning behind replacing the cables? Why?

If the cables are stretched can't you just cut off the excess cable and tighten it back up? Obviousluy if the cable is rusted or damaged in some way I understand replacing it. I can't see the cables stretching to a point where it needs to be replaced, especially if the bike has been sitting quite sometime. Why does age or lack of use mean the cables need to be replaced. If you can ride the bike, shift gears and brake why replace the cables? I'd like to be informed so I don't sound like or seem like an idiot.

The bikes in question are I believe a 1985 Miele Condor and a late 70's or early 80's Miyata 750SR road bikes. I have taken both bikes for rides during our local Bike to Work Week. The wheels rotate freely, the handle bars also move freely - turning with etheir bike is normal. They shift gears and the brakes work good on both bikes. Those rides went fine with no issues with driveability.

I haven't experienced any grinding or binding issues. As far as I can tell the two bikes have been stored inside for quite sometime. Dusty but not dirty? I haven't found any rust on the Miele Condor its in very good shape. The Miyata has been used a lot more than the Miele. The Miyata isn't dirty either it just dusty and dry with a bit of surface rust on the seat post - just above where is sits in the seat tube.

Tires needed to be pumped up and so far they are holding air. No cracking or dry rot that I can see. Again the tires on the Miele are in better condition than those on the Miyata 750SR. The tires on the Miele Condor still have the small nubs on the sides of the tires. Making me think there is very little wear and tear on the Miele Condor.

Neither have been overhauled so I'm trying to determine what I should have done and what can be skipped. All information and advice greatly appreciated.
The overhaul process is one of cleaning and inspection, certain parts don't age well, it's different for cables, because you can buy cables at places like Mountain Equipment Co-op for $2 each, it's not worth the risk of a busted cable for under $10. Brake pads can dry out over time, and end up like a block of wood, which doesn't stop very well. Tires if they are not worn out, dry-rotted, or deformed from sitting flat for years, are okay, but I would replace the tubes... Some of us, like me, will replace cables every few years anyway, for the same reason.
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Old 07-26-14, 09:49 AM
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I'm of the opinion that new, modern cables and housing- even the cheap ones- are better than the "back in the day" stuff.

For indexing- it's LEAGUES better. For friction... if it works, it works. I actually used some NOS cable and housing made for an old indexing system for a friction shifting setup. It's fine. I like it for the "vintage" uniqueness of it- otherwise- I lubed 'em up and let 'em go and it shifts fine.

As far as tires (and brake pads)- it's not the wear- it's the aging of the rubber. I had a really cool set of Specialized Ground Control tires- they were quite the ticket back in the day. They looked fine to me. I was riding them and one day I looked down to see a "thumb" sticking out of the sidewall of my front tire. The rubber had cracked and the strands went apart and the innertube just jutted right out. It still looked fine- not dry rotted or whatever... but it was.

I also had a set of Specialized Expedition and Touring tires- REALLY cool. Really plush. But I was afraid of riding them any more than 5 miles away from home- I sent them on with a bike because of the uniqueness factor- with a warning to replace them if he was going to do any real riding.
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Old 07-26-14, 01:58 PM
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I'll often reuse cables, especially on cheap bikes I fix up for someone. Run the inner back/forth aggressively to loosen up any corrosion inside.Pull the inner, run some steel wool over it, grease it up lightly. Air compressor to blow out any loose stuff from the casing and spray some lube down it till it runs out the bottom. Or I'll "splurge" and buy the Wally world $6-7 kit. Good bikes that someone actually rides more than around the block get new quality cable and housing.
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Old 07-26-14, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
The issues for cables are rust, dirt, strand breakage, free motion, and kinked areas. Free motion is not enough. For the outer cables it's the same except that for good braking the outer cable ends should be finished flat, have a ferrule, and be the correct length. As far as rust and dirt go, it's essentially impossible to clean inside the housing.
Besides, except for the best-quality vintage cables and housings, modern die-drawn cables and lined housings are cheap enough and perform substantially better than the original equipment cables and housings ever did.

For the bikes I resurrect for the volunteer project I'm involved with, I will try to reuse cables and housings if possible because the donated new materials are not abundant, but for my own bikes I use modern cables and housings.
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Old 07-26-14, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by MielleCondor72 View Post
Hi Everyone,

I been on the forum for two months now and I have a question in regard to overhauls on older bikes. When I joined I mentioned I had come into possession of a couple of older bikes that haven't been ridden in quite some time. They were headed to the dump.

I've been reading posts in this group as well as C&V What's it worth. In most posts there's been advice about stripping down the bikes and doing a complete overhaul = including replacing all the cables on bikes that have been sitting for some time. Why do you recommend a complete strip down and replacing cables? I understand the grease gets old and hardens which needs to be replaced to make sure parts are lubricated correctly. What I don't understand is the reasoning behind replacing the cables? Why?

If the cables are stretched can't you just cut off the excess cable and tighten it back up? Obviousluy if the cable is rusted or damaged in some way I understand replacing it. I can't see the cables stretching to a point where it needs to be replaced, especially if the bike has been sitting quite sometime. Why does age or lack of use mean the cables need to be replaced. If you can ride the bike, shift gears and brake why replace the cables? I'd like to be informed so I don't sound like or seem like an idiot.

The bikes in question are I believe a 1985 Miele Condor and a late 70's or early 80's Miyata 750SR road bikes. I have taken both bikes for rides during our local Bike to Work Week. The wheels rotate freely, the handle bars also move freely - turning with etheir bike is normal. They shift gears and the brakes work good on both bikes. Those rides went fine with no issues with driveability.

I haven't experienced any grinding or binding issues. As far as I can tell the two bikes have been stored inside for quite sometime. Dusty but not dirty? I haven't found any rust on the Miele Condor its in very good shape. The Miyata has been used a lot more than the Miele. The Miyata isn't dirty either it just dusty and dry with a bit of surface rust on the seat post - just above where is sits in the seat tube.

Tires needed to be pumped up and so far they are holding air. No cracking or dry rot that I can see. Again the tires on the Miele are in better condition than those on the Miyata 750SR. The tires on the Miele Condor still have the small nubs on the sides of the tires. Making me think there is very little wear and tear on the Miele Condor.

Neither have been overhauled so I'm trying to determine what I should have done and what can be skipped. All information and advice greatly appreciated.
I used to work as a bike mechanic, and the general consensus was to replace the cables, and in particular, the housings. Housings, if they've had a lot of exposure, will go bad. Tell tale signs are cracks in the housing. Internally, if you keep them lubed with light mineral oil - no more than 1-2 drops - they should still continue good service. If the housings look in good shape, lube the cables, and you should be good to go. But if you start seeing a decay in the housing, as in it's not supple, aka it's stiff and hardened, that means at some point, you're going to want to replace them.
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