Health And Fitness

What I Discovered From Tearing Aside and Rebuilding My Bike

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It’s 9 p.m. on a Thursday, and as a substitute of watching Netflix with a chilly beer in hand like regular, I’m hunched over my bike wheel, which is wedged sideways into my sofa. Tonight’s process: Attempt to take away the cassette, the sequence of cogs connected to the rear wheel, with out the assistance of a sequence whip, a instrument used to maintain the cogs in place as you loosen their lockring.

At this level, I’m practically completed rebuilding my bike. It has taken many hours and much more journeys to the bike store for elements and instruments to get right here. I figured I might improvise my approach round shopping for another piece of . Moreover, the chain whip appears ridiculous. It’s only a brief size of chain with a deal with connected to it, extra like a medieval torture machine than one thing you’d discover in a toolbox. Who wants that? However after half an hour of fruitless wrenching in my lounge, I understand I’m completely flawed.

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I would like that chain whip.

And in addition that beer.


This was considered one of many realizations I had over the 4 months it took me to disassemble, repaint, and rebuild my beloved bike, a 1980s Puch Pacifica. I had toyed with the concept of rebuilding it mainly since I first purchased it off Craigslist 4 years in the past. In December, my girlfriend and I moved from New York Metropolis to Los Angeles, and naturally our bikes got here with us, strapped to the again of our automobile. However a five-day cross-country drive over salty roads took its toll. My bike’s drivetrain seemed prefer it had been resting on the underside of the ocean for 30 years, and on the body, rust spots had bloomed round each little nick within the paint. Then, a number of weeks later, its wheels have been stolen. I took it as an indication from the universe: You may’t experience it, so that you may as nicely tear it aside and repair it up.

bikeMy bike earlier than the rebuild Michael Charboneau


Sounds easy sufficient, however I’m not a motorcycle mechanic. After I began, my wrenching expertise have been restricted to issues I’ve picked up whereas conserving my creaky outdated experience in form—stuff like altering a tire and adjusting the brakes. However I really like using, and I’ve all the time loved engaged on my bike, so I made a decision to make the leap and do the rebuild. That meant eradicating decades-old elements from the body, having it sandblasted, portray it, and placing the entire thing again collectively once more. I additionally needed to clear up all of the outdated elements I used to be reusing, just like the shifter meeting and brakes, which meant a number of time scrubbing tiny bits of steel with rubbing alcohol and a wire brush. I purchased a number of new elements as nicely, like a sequence, shifter cable, rear derailleur, seat, tires, and tubes.

All advised, it value me about $487 to get my bike in form, together with elements, paint, instruments, and sandblasting. I might have executed it for much less, however I splurged on gadgets like handlebars and a few good gravel tires. That’s nonetheless no small expense, and particularly contemplating the effort and time this venture took, it’s truthful to ask whether or not the rebuilt was price it. Why not simply purchase a brand new bike?

Other than the truth that a brand new experience can value 1000’s of , I simply actually love my outdated, beat-up set of wheels. It has seen me via numerous commutes and lengthy rides out of city, and survived a number of crashes. I wished to be taught extra about the way it works and methods to maintain it, and that’s precisely what this venture gave me the possibility to do.

Fascinated about making an attempt a rebuild your self? Listed here are among the different issues I realized alongside the best way.

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Get the appropriate instruments

As my blunder above illustrates, you will want greater than only a crescent wrench and a can-do perspective for a venture like this (though each of these are important). There are all types of particular instruments for eradicating and attaching issues like cassettes, pedals, and backside brackets. Park Instrument has a very helpful part on its web site that can enable you to decide what’s in your bike and what implement you want. Don’t need to buy a bunch of instruments? See if there’s a instrument library close to you that has them, or a motorcycle store with open benches the place you may work in your bike for a small payment. I found the Bicycle Kitchen close to my condominium, and it has been a godsend as a supply of substitute elements, instruments, and data. As for paint, Spray.Bike has a superb lineup of merchandise, together with primer and loads of colours and finishes.

bikeThe teardown (and my snoozing canine) Michael Charboneau


Take footage of the elements as you disassemble them

I solely did this whereas eradicating some elements, however I want I had executed it extra steadily. Whereas placing all the pieces again collectively, I needed to zoom in on outdated, grainy photographs of my bike and guesstimate how issues match. I figured it out, nevertheless it wasn’t simple. Don’t anticipate you’ll keep in mind how all of the elements are assembled. You received’t.

Be affected person

Whether or not it’s hoping for good climate to color the body (I discovered I might solely paint early within the morning, earlier than the wind picked up), or ready round for a component to reach within the mail, rebuilding a motorcycle takes time. This was the toughest half for me. It appeared like I might solely make progress in brief spurts earlier than I noticed a component didn’t match or I wanted a brand new instrument. However I slowly realized that’s a part of the method, particularly since this was my first rebuild. Nonetheless lengthy you suppose your venture will take, add a month, no less than.

bikeMaking use of a coat of primer to the naked body Michael Charboneau


Ask for assist

When you’re interested by rebuilding or doing a little main upkeep in your bike, now’s the time to discover a good native bike store, the place you will get assist selecting out the appropriate elements and instruments. There are additionally loads of nice sources on-line. I discovered Park Instrument’s sequence of how-to movies on YouTube completely invaluable, and so they cowl practically each little bit of upkeep you may carry out on a motorcycle.

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Working in your bike is an effective way to get to realize it

Now that my bike is painted and rideable, it’s surreal seeing an concept I had thought of for years change into a actuality. I’m additionally amazed at how a lot I’ve realized in only a few months of wrenching. Bits of my bike that was once a complete thriller to me (What springy magic makes a derailleur work? How does a backside bracket keep in place?) at the moment are issues I learn about—issues I’ve taken aside, cleaned, adjusted, and screwed again on with my very own two palms. It makes using an much more satisfying expertise, and I wouldn’t commerce it for something. However I’d shell out for an additional outdated bike to work on.

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