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Which brand/type of bicycle is best to restore?

Old 01-02-20, 02:37 PM
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Cambike
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Which brand/type of bicycle is best to restore?

I have never restored a bicycle before so I am weary of buying something and it being a pile of crap. In your opinion what should I look for in the bicycles I buy? Are there any brands worth seeking out? Thank you!
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Old 01-02-20, 02:54 PM
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Flying Pigeon, the world's greatest bicycle.
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Old 01-02-20, 03:05 PM
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restore to sell or rebuild to use?

Either way, check out the C&V (classic and vintage) forum. From the long-time posters there you can learn a lot in only a few hours. Or get hooked and spend weeks!
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Old 01-02-20, 03:06 PM
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Best brand would be Trek
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Old 01-02-20, 03:12 PM
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Go here and ask. IMO whatever you're interested in doing is enough. If you're expecting to generate profit you'll be sorely disappointed, but otherwise, do whatever tickles your fancy. I'm kinda partial to the lines of old bike geometry with the skinny steel frames with horizontal top tubes.

-Kedosto
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Old 01-02-20, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Cambike View Post
I have never restored a bicycle before so I am weary of buying something and it being a pile of crap. In your opinion what should I look for in the bicycles I buy? Are there any brands worth seeking out? Thank you!
It's best if you look on a bicycle as a frame on which you hang parts. What parts the bike has don't matter. What frame you use doesn't (hardly) matter. Whether the frame is brand new or decades old doesn't matter. Start with a good frame and add good parts to it.

People are very different in their likes, dislikes and ambivalentancies. What I like...American made aluminum and titanium mountain bikes and road bikes...won't necessarily appeal to you. What I don't like or at least am ambivalent towards...anything steel or steel racing bikes...may float your boat. My bikes drip with boutique American parts which some people pooh pooh. My bike frames are (usually) boutique frames to begin with.

Find something that makes your heart go pitty pat and go forward.
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Old 01-02-20, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Cambike View Post
I have never restored a bicycle before so I am weary of buying something and it being a pile of crap. In your opinion what should I look for in the bicycles I buy? Are there any brands worth seeking out? Thank you!
There isnt a best brand. There are literally dozens(multiple 12s) of quality models from many many brands. Until you are confident in being able to identify what models are quality and what makes them quality, it is best to read and learn before buying.

Since you want to restore, I assume you are asking about older bikes. Look for quality tubing(reynolds 531, tange champion 1, various ishiwata, various columbus) that is butted. Look for lugwork that you like the look of. Look for forged dropouts. There is much much more, but getting a solid understanding of these things first will help with future learning.
...but if you arent interested in road bikes, then my advice is worthless. Its a large community and Im sure someone here can tell you which Balloon tire cruiser is 'best'.
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Old 01-02-20, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Cambike View Post
I have never restored a bicycle before so I am weary of buying something and it being a pile of crap. In your opinion what should I look for in the bicycles I buy? Are there any brands worth seeking out? Thank you!
Don't buy too many to start. It's hard work and can quickly make you tired. Seriously, check the C&V forum and get an idea of what folks are doing there.
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Old 01-02-20, 04:15 PM
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@randyjawa can pitch in and point you to his website. So can most of the rest of the C&V crowd. I fell in love with skinny steel tube bikes with level top tubes. It's been different things at different times. Ideally, unless you're planning on selling it on, the bike you're restoring should be a good fit for you. The best part of a restoration is when it's over, and you're enjoying the fruit of your labor.
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Old 01-02-20, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Rajflyboy View Post
Best brand would be Trek
Agreed, there can never be too many Treks.
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Old 01-02-20, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Cambike View Post
I have never restored a bicycle before so I am weary of buying something and it being a pile of crap. In your opinion what should I look for in the bicycles I buy? Are there any brands worth seeking out? Thank you!
Why are you buying bicycles which are piles of crap? it is seriously hard to buy a new bike today which is really a "pile of crap' unless you shop at big-box stores. If you are buying crappy used bikes ... why?

If you meant that you buy a bunch of other stuff which is crap and don't want to repeat that with a bicycle ... okay. But as others have said, there is no "best" brand or style or model. if you don't want what you buy to be crap ... shop carefully. if you don't know what makes a good bike ... that is a whole 'nother issue. But if you know a little about bikes ... decide on your initial and overall budget, and go shopping,.
@cyccomute doesn’t like steel … but a lot of people will advise you to get a steel road bike … preferably a lighter one. There are a ton of old steel road bikes out there, and while the parts may be junk, the frames could be the basis for really nice bikes. Steel is rather durable.

There are a lot of bikes in general out there. The best part is that unless you are bent on a rigorous, historically accurate restoration, all you need to look at is the frame. (if you plan to recreate an old bike as it was originally sold … go to C&V. I have no better advice to offer.)

Again … decide what kind of bike you want to end up with, and how much you want to spend.

Also … decide how long you want to wait for parts to show up at good prices. Otherwise, go to a bunch of website and look at prices for group sets and parts. You can also shop EBay for the odd deal … or buy donor bikes with damaged or cheap frames but useable parts.

Until you decide what you want to do and what you want to spend in time and money, you cannot even begin.
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Old 01-02-20, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Why are you buying bicycles which are piles of crap?
He's not buying piles of crap, he is afraid to make that mistake. Hence the question.
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Old 01-02-20, 04:49 PM
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Whichever one you like the looks of that’s in good condition and accepts the parts you want to use. I’d be looking at bottom bracket type and dropout width, for example. And of course, geometry.
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Old 01-02-20, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Jicafold View Post
He's not buying piles of crap, he is afraid to make that mistake. Hence the question.
Sure about that?
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Old 01-02-20, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Jicafold View Post
He's not buying piles of crap, he is afraid to make that mistake. Hence the question.
Well ... he Says he is ....
Originally Posted by Cambike View Post
I have never restored a bicycle before so I am weary of buying something and it being a pile of crap. In your opinion what should I look for in the bicycles I buy? Are there any brands worth seeking out? Thank you! (Emphasis added)
if he meant "wary" then he should have said "wary." He said "weary," as in "tired of doing it."

If he meant "wary," then fine. No problem either way.
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Old 01-02-20, 05:22 PM
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Anything but a Trek.
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Old 01-02-20, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Well ... he Says he is ...
That's an assumption.

Originally Posted by Cambike View Post
I have never restored a bicycle before!
Because he said he's never done it before. Geez. His grammar isn't the best.

But anyhow...Just look for a quality tubing label, front and rear wheels that both have quick release, and dropouts that are not stamped steel. You can't go too far wrong.

Last edited by Jicafold; 01-02-20 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 01-02-20, 05:43 PM
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Before you ask what to get, you should let people know what you want to do with the bike.
  • Are you restoring it to be a beautiful vintage bike to look at, i.e. a collectable?
  • Are you hoping to get an inexpensive ride by buying something old and fixing it up?
  • Do you love the vintage bike looks and want to put modern components on it to ride?
What you want to use this bike for will likely influence the responses.
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Old 01-02-20, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Jicafold View Post
That's an assumption.
it's not an assumption becuase He Says it.

Originally Posted by Jicafold View Post
Because he said he's never done it before. Geez. His grammar isn't the best.
He says he has never restored a bike, but has bought other crap. That Is What He Says.

Pardon me for responding to what a person actually says. Or don't. This thread is beyond silly now. I gave the guy a bunch of fairly useful ideas if he cares to make use of any of them in any way.
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Old 01-02-20, 06:52 PM
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From context of the post, I’m taking the OP as meaning he is “wary” of buying an old/used frame and it turning out to be worthless.

There are plenty of resources online about buying and restoring old bike frames. On YouTube, check out RJ the Bike Guy, Spindatt, and, to a lesser extent, GCN, who have all done restoration and/or modernization projects of old bikes.

As someone who has multiple aged bike frames taking up too much space in a too small garage right now, my personal number one advice would be to make sure, above all, that the bike you want to restore is a bike that SOMEBODY wants to ride when you’re all done with it.
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Old 01-02-20, 06:56 PM
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Your questions are too subjective and you do not give enough info on what you have owned and ridden, or what style and materials you like, what kind of riding you want to do with the bike, or what the purpose is for the rebuild. There is no "best" other than one that fits you best, that you feel comfortable on, and is compatible with what you want to do with it. Two other huge factors: how much money do you want to put into it, how much time and effort do you want to expend on the project. As already suggested above, spend some time looking at the Classic & Vintage sub-forum here. Google up other bike forums/blogs.

Try to have some vision at what you want to accomplish and include that info with your questions. I did my first rebuild last year, a bike I have owned since it was new, 1992. I have now torn down and rebuilt 3 bikes. Some observations from those: the project will likely cost more than anticipated, you will need to acquire tools that were not thought of, you will make some mistakes and have some frustration at times, you will also have "ah ha"moments and feelings of accomplishment. If want to do this to challenge yourself, that is a good start.

A warning: this can be addictive!
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Old 01-02-20, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
it's not an assumption becuase He Says it.

He says he has never restored a bike, but has bought other crap. That Is What He Says.

Pardon me for responding to what a person actually says. Or don't. This thread is beyond silly now. I gave the guy a bunch of fairly useful ideas if he cares to make use of any of them in any way.
He's never said he actually bought any bike ever. He's considering it. Don't read into this and insult him and let's keep this on track. Not that he's reading this anyway....no response yet.
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Old 01-02-20, 07:11 PM
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Old 01-02-20, 07:15 PM
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Not to promote a particular brand, but to outline my approach... There was a range of years, around the 80s, give or take, when lots of decent-enough lugged steel frames were made. Those bikes tended to follow a narrow range of component standards, and you can still get spares for them today. They were simple to work on, and looked good. Yet if they were not maintained, they turned to crap due to the deterioration of the components. And some of the cheaper bikes had crap components, worst of all steel rims. The end result is a potential supply of used bikes that can be brought up to working condition by merely lubricating and adjusting the existing parts, and possibly building modern alloy wheels. I tend to get a bike working with its original parts, and ride it for a while, to assess whether it's worth throwing more money at it, or how I want the project to progress.

I've had good luck with Schwinn frames from this time period, but also Trek and one Fuji.

Seatpost diameters tend to vary a lot, so I pay attention to frames that come with a seapost that fits and is not stuck. Yes, check. Figuring out the correct seatpost diameter by measuring the frame is tricky. Parts do cost money, so every "nice" or salvageable part on an old bike will reduce your overall project cost. Conversions to 1x or single speed is an option if the existing drive train is wrecked.

I've yet to meet a salvage bikes whose wheels I liked. Building your own wheels changes how you think about these projects.
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Old 01-02-20, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
It's best if you look on a bicycle as a frame on which you hang parts. What parts the bike has don't matter. What frame you use doesn't (hardly) matter. Whether the frame is brand new or decades old doesn't matter. Start with a good frame and add good parts to it.

People are very different in their likes, dislikes and ambivalentancies. What I like...American made aluminum and titanium mountain bikes and road bikes...won't necessarily appeal to you. What I don't like or at least am ambivalent towards...anything steel or steel racing bikes...may float your boat. My bikes drip with boutique American parts which some people pooh pooh. My bike frames are (usually) boutique frames to begin with.

Find something that makes your heart go pitty pat and go forward.
he nailed it
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