Vintage Bikes and How to Restore One?

Vintage Bikes And How To Restore One?

For a bicycle enthusiast, getting their hands on a vintage bike is nothing short of a dream come true.

Vintage bikes are priceless and are hard to come by, but the appeal is undeniable. Bikes that have aged well and have reserved their grace and charm are in high demand among bikers and non-bikers alike.

As they cross the 25-year mark, they become somewhat of a historical art form, one that collectors and fans prize having in their possession.

However, these old bikes have been through a lot and do not look in top shape at first glance. Sometimes, they require time and effort into restoring them to their full glory.

How much work a vintage bike needs depends on how it’s been kept and maintained over the years; some might just need a little polish while others might need a complete disassembly and replacement of parts.

Like any other art, it takes a keen eye to spot a vintage bike that has potential, and a lot of passion to restore it. It is a true labor of love, and the end result is a reward to any bike lover.


How hard is it to restore a vintage bike?

Restoring a vintage bike might require time and effort, but how easy or hard it is really varies from one person to the next and one bike to the next.

If the bike is in very bad shape, it might need a complete make-over, while a bike that is in reasonable condition might not need too much work.

The parts on vintage bikes might be delicate and need to be handled with care, but if you have the right supplies, and the correct guidance, restoring vintage bikes isn’t too complicated at all.

However, before starting work on one, you must do the research to make sure that you don’t unintentionally ruin the bike altogether.

What tools and gear will you need?

What tools and gear will you need?

Before getting down to restoring a vintage bike, collect the equipment and tools you will need so your little vintage bike restoration project can go as smoothly as possible and not encounter any hiccups in the middle.

You might need to take a trip to your local hardware store and pick up the necessary stuff. Here is a shopping list you can alter according to your needs:

  • Pliers
  • Hammers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Spanners and Wrenches
  • Anti-rust primer
  • Paintbrushes and toothbrushes
  • Spray Paints
  • Oils and Lubricants
  • Chain-link
  • Masking Tape
  • Face mask

Step by Step Guide to Restore a Bike?

If your shopping trip to the hardware store is complete and you are ready to start working on the vintage bike, here is a step-by-step guide to walk you through the entire process.

Dress in old, comfortable clothes; you will get a lot of dust, grease and paint on it while working.

Make sure to wear your face mask before starting, especially when it’s time to prime or paint. Ideally, work in an open space, but if not it’s fine to work in a shed, too. Always keep your bike covered when you’re not working on it.



The first stage of restoring your vintage bike is to completely pull it apart. Disassemble your entire bike and remove all the components from the metal frame.

You will require pliers, screwdrivers and other tools for the job. The work is simple enough; you only have to unscrew the screws and bolts. The job can become lengthy and frustrating if the parts are jammed together due to corrosion.

Rust Treatment

An old bike must have rust on it as well. The rust can threaten the entire frame of the bike, so the next and most important step to perform is the rust treatment. Some rust will be external and can be scraped or wiped off.

For rust that has seeped into small crevices, you can use chemical rust removers, which are easily available in markets. Spraying the same chemical and letting it sit will let you get rid of most of the rust.


Time to prime. Ideally, opt for an anti-rust primer.

Though you can use an ordinary primer too, an anti-rust primer will ensure that the structure remains strong and protects the metal frame from future rusting too. Once the primer is on, the bike is ready to be painted.


You can paint the bike in whatever color you want, but most vintage bike restorers would prefer to paint it in the colors that the bike was originally painted with.

Spray painting is the easiest way to paint the frame of your bike. For better and long-lasting results, it is advisable that you use lacquer to protect the paint job once you are done painting too.


The components that you take out from the bike during disassembly will have a lot of parts that must be greasy and dirty.

You need to take paper clothes and toothbrushes to degrease, clean and then degrease these parts before you fix them back again on the bike.

Replace the Brackets and Chain

Use a spirit and toothbrush to clean the bearings, bearing cups and axle. Regrease them too and fit back into place. Replace the chain and slip it into place.

Replacing Brake Pads and Cabling

The brake pads and cables are essential. Most vintage bikes will have their brake pads and cables ruined from years of disuse.

Since brakes are very important, purchase a set of good brake pads and install them. Purchase some cabling too and adjust the lengths according to your bike.

Finishing Touches and Decoration

With all of the above work done, your bike is almost ready. You can add finishing touches as you please, such as adding some handlebar tape to the handles for better grip or using decals to decorate the bike and make it look more pleasant.

With the final touches added, your vintage bike is now ready. With a job well done, the bike must look as good as new. You have truly given the vintage bike a new life, and the bike itself is a reward good enough.

Your vintage bike is not just aesthetically pleasing now, but rather also fully functional.

You can take it out for a spin around your neighborhood and enjoy the envious gazes of fellow bike riders. You can even sell it for much more than it was previously worth as many bike fanatics covet restored vintage bikes.

How much does it cost to restore a bike?

A fully dilapidated bike might cost you a significant sum of money. Perhaps more than what the bike must have originally cost back in the day.

A good paint job alone will cost you around $500. Add to that, the componentry work and add a couple of dollars more, as you will have to buy the parts and fix them in place of the ruined parts.

If you were to attach a sum of money to the time and effort you would have to expend, that might bring up your cost significantly up.

Many say that it is not worth restoring a bike as you can get a brand-new one at the same price, but vintage bikes aren’t just your average bikes. To enthusiasts and bike lovers, they are worth every penny spent in restoration.

Are there any services that restore vintage bikes?

If you don’t have the time, patience or skill to do a complete restoration on your own, there are several bike companies that offer restoration works for you.

They take vintage bikes and turn them around for you. These vintage bike restorations are being offered at many bike stores across the United States. You can find a local one nearby.  

The costs of restoring a vintage bike professionally vis-à-vis doing one personally costs approximately the same if you count your efforts in monetary terms. A basic profession restoration would cost about $500, and complete restoration from the ground up could cost up to $2000.

If you are a bike lover and are fond of collecting or working on vintage bikes, this blog might have proved useful to you.

If you don’t want to restore bikes yourself, get it done from a professional bike restorer, and show off your vintage bike to your friends and families. You are sure to attract a lot of attention for your shiny, classy, vintage bike.

Last Updated on May 7, 2021 by Matthew Carpenter

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