Introduction: Rebuild Old Bicycle With Spare Parts

About: My name is David and I am currently studying mechanical engineering at Harding University in Searcy Arkansas. I jump at any opportunity to learn new things, enjoy solving problems, the outdoors, and making som…

I found a couple old bicycles that were being thrown away earlier this week. Naturally, I picked them up and there was almost enough parts between them to assemble a working bicycle.

I took almost all of the components off of one of the frames and I will start this Instructable from there.

Also, look through all of the pictures as they have embedded text with tips and explanations in them!

Step 1: Tools and Time

This whole process took me about 8 hours from start to finish, and with these inexpensive bicycles, unless you're like me and just enjoy working on them, it's less expensive-time wise-to buy a new one.

Now that we got that outta the way, necessary tools include...

  • Crescent Wrenches, Imperial or Metric - depending on brand of bicycle
  • A hex-key set
  • WD-40 and an abrasive pad such as Scotch Brite, or other rust removal method
  • Snips
  • Phillips and Flat-Head Screwdrivers
  • Bicycle Chain Break (if replacing, removing, or adjusting length of chain)

Helpful tools include...

  • Ratcheting Socket Wrench
  • Vise or Bicycle Work Stand
  • Wire Brush
  • Pliers
  • Adjustable Wrench

Optional tools include...

  • Spoke Wrench, for aligning bent rims
  • Bicycle Sprocket Wrench
  • Chain Whip

!Make sure that you are comfortable using these tools before starting this project. Because bicycles involve a human rider, be cautious in assembling everything properly and securely. Ask any questions here or your local bicycle shop if you are not sure if something is safe or installed properly.!

Step 2: Cleaning the Frame

It's easiest to clean the frame with everything off. I used WD-40 and a strip of an abrasive pad. Spray some oil on the pad and gently rub it over the frame. Be careful not to press too hard as the pad can leave marks on the paint. Also, keep oil on the pad, otherwise it will leave bad marks.

I placed the frame in a vise to keep everything steady while cleaning. Make sure to pad the frame in the vise with a rag or other soft material to keep it from getting scratched.

Step 3: Assembling the Rear Brake Leavers

Now that the frame is clean, it's time to start adding components. The brake levers off of the parts bike were in much better shape than the ones that came off this frame. Most steal frame bicycles with brake levers on the side have the same size leaver post if it is the same sized bicycle. Therefore, these "new" leavers fit just right.

Before assembling them, Put a thin layer of grease on the lever posts. There is a small spring that its end fits in one of three small holes right below the lever post. Usually I place this in the top hole vertically.

I cleaned the bolt heads by placing them in a power drill and running the head over some abrasive padding with oil on it.

Step 4: Handel Bars and Seat

For the Handel bars, I was able to bend the clamp back just enough to slide the bar in. That way I do not have to replace the grips as they were still in good shape. Be careful when using this method however. It may damage paint and/or brake the clamp. It only works when the clamp is STEEL. You may test it with a magnet if you are not sure. Sticks-ferrous(ie. steel), does not stick-nonferrous. Generally, aluminum or carbon fiber frames have different methods of attaching the handle bars anyways.

As far as the seat goes, I cleaned the post and inside where it fits into the frame. Adjusting may come later.

Step 5: Shifters

These are the shifters that came were on the bicycle. I took them apart and cleaned them. A little oil on the plastic also helps it look better. These had metal bands for attaching to the frame. They were easily bent back and slid right on. Be cautious to bend them as little as possible as each bend introduces another cycle which may fatigue the material to failure.

If taking this type off, resist the urge to bent it back right away and just store it bent until you're ready to install them on another bicycle. This reduces the amount of times the metal is bent guarding against fatigue.

Step 6: Derailleurs

The derailleurs are what move and direct the chain over a selected gear. For the front derailleur, refer to photos, check the placement on the frame member which runs from the crank shaft-where the pedals go in- to the seat. Usually, there will be some wear marks on the frame from the old one. Use these as a starting guide, fine adjustment can come after assembling the front gear pedal assembly.

For the rear derailleur, on this style of mount, make sure you have the special nut which is about the side of a thumbnail and shaped like a gravestone. This is what clamps the derailleur to the frame via the mounting screw. There is a small shelf to the nut which goes inside the slot where the rear wheel mounts. The pictures show this in more detail.

Step 7: Pedals and Front Gear Assembly

Finally, The Pedals! They go on fairly easily with one nut each. The fitting is lofted so make sure to tighten them well or it may come loose over time. Also, be sure the pedals are in opposite directions, it will mount anyway. The pedal assembly with the gears on it goes on the same side as the rear derailleur.

You can fine tune the placement of the front derailleur now, it rests in it's lowest gear position so make sure it still is able to clear the largest gear when swinging out. ie. mount it to the frame and it should sort of swing outward from the frame with some force.

Step 8: Rear Wheel and Chain

Placing the chain on can be confusing. So I hope the pictures here are able to help.

The chain which came on this bicycle was heavily rusted and I tried removing it with my chain break. Refer to step 12. Some bolt cutters did the trick with removing the rusty chain. I had to cut it in multiple spots as it would not flex around the derailleur gears.

Thankfully I had a good used chain in my spare parts pile, Yay! Now, with the rear derailleur in its relaxed position as shown, place the chain in-between the gears and rest the slack over the outer gear. Thread the chain through the front derailleur and over the front gear.

Next, bring both ends of the chain together and use a chain break to mend the links together.

Most likely, unless you purchased a new chain specifically for the speed # of bicycle, you will have to adjust the length of the chain. This may be done after the wheel is installed. Here is a quick overview of the process.

  1. Place the chain in the smallest radius gears on both the front and the rear gear sets.
  2. Tension the chain by folding it over its self careful to keep the bottom part of the chain parallel to the top part of the chain. (This is rather difficult to explain but the chain makes a relatively straight path from each gear set. These paths, there will be one on the top and one on the bottom. Make these parallel)
  3. You will have to tension it so the rear derailleur folds down a bit and the chain just barely clears rubbing the inner gear.
  4. Mark the excess chain length and set it accordingly with a chain break.

Step 9: Brakes!

Step 10: Shifter Cables

Step 11: Final Notes and the Last Step

Step 12: Obituary of Broken Tools

It is with great sadness that the family of my bicycle chain break announces its failure after trying to break an old rusty chain, on Thursday, June 28, 2018, at the age of 4 years. My chain break will be lovingly remembered by me and anyone reading this. A funeral service will be held whenever I finally take my pile of scrap to be recycled. Interment will be taken care of by the recycling company. Memorial donations are accepted.