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My best 5 vintage bike restoration tips

In this article I’m going to provide a number of vintage bike restoration tips. Tips that might provide insight in your own restoration project and set the right expectations.

Maybe you’re wondering if it’s worth it to pick up a certain project you have been putting it off for some reason.

These 5 top vintage bike restoration tips might help you out.


Tip 1. Don’t expect to make money restoring bikes

cannondale super v 1000

I’ve calculated how much money I spent on average restoring a bike and it ran in the hundreds of euros.

I estimate that I put in twice the amount of money in a project that I could get out of it. So for a bike that took 500 euros to restore I would be happy to get more than 200 out of it if I would ever sell it.

This is not because I’m stupid but because I like premium stuff on my bikes, because I’m actually going to use them myself.

People who fix bikes only to sell them in general don’t use premium components, because it eats away their profit margin. And I don’t blame them. Just look at an arbitrary road bike from a reseller. I bet it runs Michelin Dynamic Classics.

You shouldn’t do anything just because it pays, and as far as vintage bike restoration tips goes it applies here as well.

Tip 2. Buy the tools you need

Even if you’re willing to spend the money restoring a bike, it doesn’t really make sense only doing it once.

That’s because you’re going to need specific tools for the job, and you don’t want to buy stuff you’ll only end up using a couple of times or worse, once.

I spent hundreds of euros on bike repair tools and I don’t own a bike stand or truing stand. This relatively costly investment repays itself each time I use it.

Tip 3. The older the bike, the harder the restoration

bottle cage mount

It’s all relative of course, but in general the older the bike the more difficult the restoration process is going to be.

stuck plastic bottom bracket cup

Bikes and parts are more damaged, more seized, more difficult to repair and harder to source.

On the other hand, you might like a challenge. And the bigger the challenge the greater the satisfaction of overcoming it.

Tip 4. Become friends with your local bike shop mechanic

My local bike shop has helped me out on numerous occasions. They have the expertise, experience and tools to do things I simply cannot do.

So unless you’re a bike mechanic yourself, become friends with one. A couple of beers for a job well done goes a long way I can tell from personal experience.

Tip 5. Persevere

removing stuck freewheel

Bike restorations can test your patience and perseverance. Each project brings with it their own set of challenges to overcome that will test you.

And that’s my 5 vintage bike restoration tips! If you like this article give it a thumbs up. If you have any questions or suggestions for new articles, let me know in the comments below. Cheers.


Q: I’m curious what do you do with the bikes once they’re restored?

A: I restore to ride bikes, to have content for this channel, and to enjoy the process of restoration itself. I don’t restore bikes to make profit by selling them. My way of restoring bikes is far too expensive and time intensive to do so. That means this hobby costs money, not makes money.

I’ve written an article about my bike restoration costs of 2020. In that article you can see I’ve bought 6 bicycles, restored 3 and sold 4 that year.

Considering the amount of space I have, which is very limited, I decided to move more into upgrading one of my favorite bicycles (Cannondale Killer V). I’ll also drastically lower the amount of restoration projects, because I just don’t have the time. I’m currently working on one project and maybe finish a second one if I find the right bike. And I’ll be selling 2 to 4 bikes this year.

I know of people who’ve got dozens of bicycles. I’m very much a collector myself but have learned to let go of stuff. You can’t realistically enjoy 30+ bikes because you’ll end up always picking the same bike for your ride.

So I went from accumulating every bike I could put my hands on to cherry picking really special ones, enjoying the process of restoring and upgrading them, and actually using them for their intended purpose.

Let other people enjoy the bikes I had to sell, so they get used instead of collecting dust and being unhappy in someone’s shed.

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