Pimp My Old Bicycle




Introduction: Pimp My Old Bicycle

About: I'm a swiss guy, living in germany. I used to be a teacher, became a theatrical propsmaker, now I'm a teacher again. I love hacking, altering, improving and of course building things! And sorry guys, I can't...

In early summer 2013 I bought a beat down bicycle, built by NSU (germany). According to the frame number it was built around 1952. The idea was to create a bike worthy and capable of towing my red kids-trailer.

I already did some instructables about parts of that bike. This instructable is ment to tie these and maybe following instructables together, to give you an overview of the complete restoration and the links to some of the resources I used.

PS: If you like this instructable, feel free to vote for me in the bike contest! ;-)

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Step 1: Make It Rideable

The bike was in a very bad state: handlebars bent, wheels rusted, fenders badly painted over, bottom bracket unusable, cranks and pedals bent and rusted, saddle glued over with some cheap leather....

So the first few weeks after buying, I was searching ebay and others alike for usable parts, most important: wheels! As the plan was to build a bike for hauling my kids trailer, it was clear that I needed a rear hub with at least 7 gears (yes, I know, it's not very historical, but man, it's very hilly around here), and for safety reasons I wanted a drum brake in front. Thought so and bought so!

The saddle was no beauty but usable, so it could stay for now.

A nice handlebar stem was found in one of my boxes and after a few tries I found a nice straight handlebar.

The old bottom bracket went out and in came a simple thompson press fit.

Cranks I had spare around from my old racing bike (sold to finance this build), the pedals came from my old touring bike (which is now in use as daily for my commute to work)

I added a new tyre for the back wheel and out of my boxes a brake lever for the drum brake. The lever of the stamp break was bent straight and shortened to match the handlebar.

With this setup I headed out for the first test rides.....

Step 2: Repair or Replace What's Broken and Make the Bike Streetsafe

While testriding the bike I quickly realized that the frame must be bent. It was impossible to ride the bike freehanded. I put it back into shape as described in this instructable.

Another thing was the original shifter of my shimano 7-gear hub: it was beyond repair and had to be replaced! Ebay to help....

The conversion of the lights from standard bulb and dynamo to led and 9V battery you can find here.

For now, there was no need for fenders, so the bike was ready to use!

Step 3: Ride It and Get Inspired

For a bit more then half a year I was riding the bike in this state. It worked really well for me, even if the frame is a bit to small for my size. To get the trailer with kid inside up and down our hills the drivetrain was almost perfect.

So I decided to keep the bike and turn it into something beautiful!

A lot of inspiration and know-how came from the forum tretharley.de, it is mainly about customizing cruiser bikes, but there is also a section about standard bikes (aka "Muffen"). But I also got inspired from sources like custom brigade and Rat Rod Bikes.

The basic idea was to repaint the bike in the classic old style but to match the colour scheme to the trailer, ut in the same time adding some little extras, but not to much.

Step 4: Fenders

As said in the step before, I searched through various sites. On Ratdrodbikes I found this thread about street sweeper fenders. As I scrolled trough the images it was cristal clear to me that this was the right thing for my bike!

I started to work on the fenders that came with the bike and stripped down all the old paint. First with some acetone and than with a wire brush drillbit.

Key to this hack was to have a extra fender with the exact same profile as the original one. It took quite a while to find one on ebay. I found one for a reasonable price, but the downside was, it was a back fender built for a ladies bike so it had all this little holes alongside the edges to fix a net to it (this was meant to protect the ladies skirts from getting into the spokes). I dealt with that by closing them from the backside with epoxy, shortly before the paintjob (sorry, no pictures, completely forgot to take some)

I made various mockups, but ended up with a simple version: all fenders end on the same level above the surface, the front fender stays as it is, the back fender will be made out of two parts, connected underneath the seatstay.

So I measured (twice or more), marked and took a deep breath (you don't cut original material from the early 50ties that lighthearted). Then, some drilling and cutting later it was done and looked nice, even without paint.

Later, when everything was already painted, I discovered, that the back fender was very unstable. The single stay was not strong enough. So I created new stays (not yet pictured here) in a "V" shape, which made it stable.

Step 5: Paint Job, Part 1

First I sanded all the parts (frame, fork, fenders, chainguard, ...) with a fine grit sandpaper, then I applied two coats of grey primer.

Second all the areas which had to stay white in the fourth step where coated white (at least 3 to 4 layers).

Third I applied masking tape (take the good brands here, it's worth the extra Euro/Dollar) to get the classical "star-design"

In the fourth step everything got several coats of rubyred out of the rattle can. I used molotow-cans, they are not to expensive, have a high amount of pigment and stick to almost everything (there must be a reason it's one of the graffitti sprayers favourite brand ;-) ). The only downside is, that to make it glossy you have to apply a additional clear coating (next step).

Step 6: Paint Job, Part 2 (pinstriping)

To get as close as possible to the original paintjob, pinstriping was absolutly necessary. The problem was, I never did it before and I am not very good in painting thin straight lines...

But the solution came by accident: the same company that sold the original lettering as water slide decals had also self adhesive pinstripes in width from 1 to 4 mm on stock! Happy me!

So with a sharp exacto knife (for getting the corners right) it was no problem anymore to get the pinstriping done. The lettering on the chainguard I did with a very thin brush, all the other lettering is applied with water transfer decals.

After the lettering and pinstriping was done, I gave all the parts several layers of clear glossy coat to seal it in.

Step 7: Paint Job, Part 3 (emblems)

Of course not only frame and fenders had to become fresh an shiny, also the emblems had to get a makeover.

On the fender emblem I first had to recut the thread for the screw. Then I gave both a makeover with a drill brush. First nylon and then brass brush. It came out really nice.

I bought some high gloss paint with the same RAL numbers as the rattle cans and then repainted the emblems with some veeeeery fine brushes. Actually it was more a kind of dripping the paint in place, or tipping a lot of tiny dots...

It took several hours, but it was totally worth the effort!

Step 8: The Wheels

The original rims of the bike were in a very bad shape, and I had to dump them (in retrospect I probably shouldn't). The wheels which I had bought on ebay worked fine, but they didn't fit the style of the bike (to modern, two different styles, not matching the colour scheme).

On ebay I found a set of oldfashioned rims in NOS condition (New Old Stock) and luckily I placed the highest bid. When they arrived they had been taped together with heavy duty packaging tape. While tearing it of it removed a lot of the middle white line, so I decided to get completly rid of it (with a cloth and some acetone) and just keeping the golden pinstripes on the sides of the rim.

Thanks to this guide I could do the lacing of the wheels all by myself. For calculating the right spoke length there are several apps and sites. I recommend at least using two or three, filling in the same specs and compare the results for getting it right....

One of the unused rims got a new live in our kitchen as a laundry hanger for all the bibs and face cloths from our two little boys. The idea came from this instructable.

Step 9: Putting the Pieces Together, Final Touches

After all the tampering is done and the coating has hardened through (give it at least 4 to 5 days of rest), it's time to put the pieces together.

To mount the fenders, I used leather washers to reduce squeeky noises.

To store lock and chain I took a 1st world war gas mask container, painted it in rubyred and mounted it to the saddle with two cable clamps.

The valve caps got playmo heads.

For the front break cable I bent a guide/fixation to keep it in place, but allow it some movement.

Struts were added to the front fork.

The front light went down to the axle, because with the struts it was to much stuff in the "cockpit"

And for road safety I added two rear view mirrors.

Step 10: Hitch Up That Trailer and Go for a Ride to the Playground....

Me likes!

And if you didn't notice: the trailer got a new paintjob as well and even the helmet fits the colour scheme!

PS: If you like this instructable, feel free to vote for me in the bike contest! ;-)

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    10 Discussions


    4 years ago

    excellent work and lots of goo tips


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Amazing work, really dedicated at all the steps. Looking at this I realised how better my bike would look if I had taken enough time to better plan all my moves....

    Thanks for the inspiration!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    great work indeed. But for safety reasons I wanted a drum brake in front.<a title=" love quotes

    " href=" http://kquotes.com">
    love quotes </a>


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Amazing rebuild ! You get my vote, even though I compete against you ! ;)


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    You got my vote already! ;-) Nice work on the saddle How did you do the riveting? I have to repair a broken brooks saddle for my next rebuild....


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    That wasn't exactly a "state of the heart riveting" I must say !
    For the least accessible ones, where I could hammer them, I used locking pliers to crush them.
    Ideally, I'd have bought split-rivets, but couldn't find any.


    5 years ago

    Looks great. Good job on the pinstripping.