Introduction: Rebuilding and Painting Vintage Road Bike

About: Meteorology student, builder, and photographer

I've had this old Schwinn World for a few months now and it's badly in need of an update. In this Instructable I'm going to repaint this vintage bike and turn it into one that looks way cooler and better suited for riding gravel!

Here are a few things you'll need for this build, the bold ones are bike-specific and can be bought at a local shop:

  • Old bike (obviously)
  • Socket wrench set
  • Screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Cable cutters
  • Allen wrenches
  • WD-40
  • Grease
  • Masking tape
  • Spray paint (3 color, 1 clear)
  • Tire levers
  • Chain tool
  • Crank Puller
  • New parts as needed (I replaced the tires, bar tape, saddle, and some cables)

Step 1: Remove Wheels

We'll start off easy for the first step, removing the wheels. First you'll need to disengage the front and rear brakes (usually a bolt that tightens down on the brake cable). After that loosen the wheel bolts and pull them off.

Step 2: Remove Chain

This step requires a chain tool, which you can get for about $15 at a bike shop. To remove the chain, line up the tool with one of the pins on the chain and rotate the handle, pushing the pin out. Make sure not to loose this piece!

Step 3: Remove Cranks + Bottom Bracket

This step will also require a bike-specific tool, a crank puller.

Most bikes have a dust cover on the cranks, and with mine I used a quarter to remove it. Under the dust cover is a nut, remove this with a socket wrench.

Now we'll need to use the crank puller. The crank on the bike is friction fit and is pretty much impossible to remove without this tool. Screw in the crank puller as shown in the photos, and then with a socket wrench tighten the crank puller. This will pull the crank off the bike.

Once the cranks are off, you'll want to remove the bottom bracket. This isn't entirely necessary, but its nice to give it a good cleaning, and it would be pretty hard to mask it so no paint gets on it. Some bottom brackets require special tools to remove but I just needed a regular socket wrench.

Step 4: Remove Derailleurs and Brakes

Next up we'll remove the derailleurs and brakes. First, loosen the cables that connect to the parts, and then remove them from the frame.

Step 5: Remove Handlebar and Fork

The handlebar on my particular bike is secured with a friction-fit system, so loosening the single allen bolt is all it takes to remove it.

After that, we'll need a large hex wrench to loosen the nut that secures the fork. Its helpful here to have someone hold the fork to keep it from rotating. After that nut is loosened, remove the shifting levers and bearings. Make sure to note the order that these part came off the bike!

Step 6: Sand Frame and Fork

Now that all the parts are off we can get to work!

If you're going to paint your bike, you need to strip off the old paint first. It's ideal to get down to bare metal, but that's not really practical unless you use paint stripper (which I didn't). Instead, make sure you at least scratch up the paint in those hard to reach areas.

I sanded the whole bike with 60 grit down to bare metal, then 120 grit. I wouldn't go with any finer grit than that because its really more work than is necessary; the paint adheres better with deeper scratches and it also fills them in perfectly with a couple coats. Make sure to wear a mask when sanding!

Step 7: Add Water Bottle Mounts

For some reason my bike didn't come with any water bottle mounts, so I added a couple at this step.

I started off by measuring where they should be, I kept the bottles as low as possible to lower the center of gravity and to give more room for frame bags above them. once you've measured where the holes should be, mark it with a center punch, drill, and tap the holes.

At this step I also removed the kickstand mount, which was brazed on to the frame. Any other metal work such as internal cable routing could be done here too.

Step 8: Clean Parts

Before painting, its super important that there are no contaminants on the parts to be painted. I used soapy water to thoroughly clean the frame and fork.

I also cleaned all the other parts we took off earlier with WD-40 and set them aside. You could also clean these in between coats of spray paint to save time.

Step 9: Paint Frame and Fork

Now for the fun part!

I just had to mask off a few areas. The bottom bracket, Schwinn logo, upper part of the fork, and some chrome areas on the head tube. The best way that I found to paint the bike was to stick a rod through the head tube and just let it rest on there. That allows you to paint the entire bike in one go without touching it.

When your painting, always use long strokes and keep the can about 8" to a foot away from the bike. Its better to do a bunch of light coats than a couple heavy ones so you don't get drips.

I would make sure to get a nice even coat, then I waited until the paint had just barely hardened to re-coat (about 30 min between coats). This not only saves time, but the paint actually bonds better when the previous coat isn't fully dry. The reason is because the new coat melds to the previous one, and they basically merge into one coat with no boundary.

I used two cans of color, which resulted in 4 coats total, although I would recommend getting one more can as I was cutting it close. After the color I put on two coats of matte clear coat. I used rustoleum for both the color and clear, and although I can't comment on the durability yet, the paint went on really smoothly with no splatter at all.

After painting, I would recommend waiting 48 hours before touching it at all. I installed the parts the next day (12 hours) and the paint was very soft - I had to be pretty careful when moving it around.

Step 10: Install New Tires, Bar Tape, Saddle

This is also a good step to do while the paint dries!

On my bike I chose to replace the tires, bar tape, and saddle.

Lets start with the tires. First, remove any air in the tubes by pressing on the valve as shown. Then, take the tires levers and get them underneath the bead of the tires and work your way around, getting one side of the tire off the rim. After popping off the old tire, partially inflate the new tube and install it inside the new tire. Line up the valve with the hole in the rim, and install the new tire with the tire levers, one side at a time. Finally, fill to the recommended PSI.

I also replaced the bar tape here; I'll include a link to a video that explains how to do that much better than I can here!

Tire Removal/Install:

Bar Tape Tutorial:

Step 11: Install Fork + Handlebar

Time to put the bike back together! Let's start with the fork.

First, I lined up all the parts in the order they need to go on to make sure I don't miss anything. The first thing you'll need to do is repack the bearings with grease (make sure to get it between all the ball bearings), and install them where they were previously. Then, we can install the fork onto the head tube. After that, install the nut that held the fork to the frame (photo #7), and tighten it to the correct tightness so that the fork rotates freely, but is not too loose. If you over tighten this, the fork will not turn easily.

Next, install the shifting lever, washer, the nut that secures the whole thing in place. Grease up the lower part of the handle bar (slanted part), and slide it into the fork. line up the handlebar so its straight, and tighten the main allen bolt on top.

Step 12: Install Bottom Bracket

Next, I installed the bottom bracket. I made sure to take a photo of how all the parts go on so I could put it all back in the correct order.

First, make sure to grease the bearings really well, then put the parts on as shown in the photos. Install the bottom bracket into the frame with a socket wrench. Finally install the ring on the exposed threads off the bottom bracket.

Step 13: Install Brakes and Derailleurs

Bolt the brakes on the same way they came off earlier then, you will need to run the cables and cable guides. If you bought new cable guides (like I did), you'll have to cut them to length. The cable guide for both the front and rear brakes goes all the way from the brake lever to the brake caliper.

After that, fit the brake cables into the slots on the underside of the brake levers, and run them through the cable guides. Finally, run the cables through the securing bolt on the brake calipers, and tighten them down (it doesn't need to be perfect at this stage). Roughly cut the cable to length if you installed new cables.

For the derailleurs, install them on the frame in the same way they were before, and then run the cables from the shifters to the derailleurs as shown in the photos.

Step 14: Install Wheels

Next, I installed the wheels. Now its starting to look like a bike again!

Step 15: Install Cranks

Next, install the cranks. Slide the crank onto the bottom bracket spindle and tighten it down with the nut, and finally install the dust cap. Do this for both sides.

Step 16: Install Chain

Now you can install the chain using the same tool that you took it off with. What you'll want to do is thread the chain through the front and rear derailleurs and then line up the two ends. Take the pin that you removed earlier, and carefully place it onto the link that's missing a pin. Using the chain tool, push the pin back into the chain.

Step 17: Tune Brakes and Derailleurs

Almost done now! All we have left to do is tune up the brakes and derailleurs and the bike is ready to ride! I'll include some links to some videos for this; the guys at park tool explain these steps way better than I could here.

Front derailleur:

Rear derailleur:

Dual Pivot Brakes:

Step 18: Get Out and Ride!

Wooo! Now you've got a brand new bike! I'm pretty happy with bike that I worked on, it's noticeable smoother on the road after the tune up and the knobbier tires helped a ton for gravel riding. The new bar tape, saddle, and bottle cages also made it so much more comfortable for riding longer distances.

I hope this Instructable helped you guys out, and leave a comment below with what your working on!

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