How to rebuild a classic bicycle

Many of our customers just love their classic bikes. A lot of them have a vintage road bike, and they want to restore and give it a personal and modern look.

What do you need to know to convert a classic bike into a fixie or singlespeed bike?

The first thing to do if you do not want to have different speeds, is to remove the cassette (in a different post we’ll talk about how to restore classic bikes while keeping the cassette with different speeds).

Let’s say you have a road bike, the wheelset will likely be the 700c size, just like the standard ones we have available.

fixie wheelset

The most common issue you could encounter with the rebuild will be the combination of the bottom brackets and cranksets.

Here you have 2 options:
1.- You do not change the crankset and keep the one you have, while changing all the other components.
2.- You decide to change the crankset. In this case you have to check what type of bottom bracket your bikes has. It is important the axle ends are the same form as in this picture:

So, even if your bottom bracket axle ends have this form, you have to check the measurements of the axle and the threading of the bottom bracket housing in the frame. The threading on the two sides of the bottom bracket housing should run in different directions to each other. If they run in the same direction, it means your frame is not suitable for modern bottomr brackets like we have. In this case (the worst possible scenario), you should try to keep the bottom bracket and crankset that you already have. If this part of the drivetrain is beyond repair, there are bicycle shops that can re-thread the frame so it can fit a modern bottom bracket.

Bottom Bracket

Another possible issue with vintage bikes can be the brake calipers. The old ones had really long arms so these days it can be hard to find the right type of calipers. You should measure the length of the caliper arms; once you know the correct measurements you can check out our brakes page and find the set that will fit your bike.

If you discover the arms are longer than 60mm, don’t throw them out, you may still need them. If you keep them and the brake pads are very worn out, visit the same page and you can find different styles of brake pads in many different colours.

When you have a better idea of all the necessary measurements for the components, you can then think about what colour you want to paint the frame. Here we can also help you out, thanks to our Spray.Bike, sprays specially designed for painting bicycles. You can see the different types as well as how to use them here.

spray bicycle

Once you have painted the frame (or not, if you decide the keep the original colours), you can start building the bicycle. You usually build the bike in this order:
1.- Fork, headset and stem
2.- Bottom bracket and crankset
3.- Handlebar
4.- Wheels with tyres put on beforehand
5.- Chain
6.- Pedals
7.- Brakes
8.- Seat post and saddle
9.- Bar tape, grips, etc…

How to choose your ideal wheels?
In our wheel section we have many styles and colours. If you want to build a classic/retro bike, we recommend:

Santa Fixie Wheelset – Silver. This set is built in our warehouse in Barcelona with rims manufactured in France. Once we have the rims, we build the wheels and we make sure they are built perfectly, and send them to you ready to go; all you need to do is put them on your bike.

Another model that is also good: the LP18 from Weinmann (front wheel and rear wheel) which are also light wheels, without profile, double walled and built and trued by our own hands.

For the tyres, you can use any size between 700x23c and 700x28c. For example in black we have the Kenda 700×25 K152 SRC tyre which is as classic a wheel can be, or we have another model we highly rate which is the Michelin Dynamic Classic tyre. You can also have a look and see what other tyres you like the look of in our urban bike online shop.

Seatpost and Saddles
In terms of the seatpost, you can change the seatpost from the original, the first thing you have to do is check the original seatpost to see what size it is. If you can’t find it you will have to measure it, using a measuring caliper to get the exact diameter for your seatpost; alternatively you can measure the seat tube opening on the frame. Then you can find the right seatpost for your frame. The usual sizes are 25.4mm or 27.2mm, but there are also 25.8mm seatposts, 26.4mm, 27mm etc. Just make sure you get the right sized seatpost before buying any one.

On to the saddle. They all use basically the same rail system so this is easy enough to change. We have many, in a variety of colours, prices and quality.

Brakes
Finally, if you want to ride single speed you have to choose your brakes. The brakes include the calipers, cables and levers. If you want to keep your old calipers, all you need then are cables and levers.

The majority of the levers we sell are the type which need pear head brake cables, and for the brake levers, you need to look at what type of handlebar you are using. If you want to keep the original road handlebar, you will probably need 23.8mm brake levers as these ones from BLB. But just to be sure, we recommend that you measure the diameter of the part of the handlebar you want to place the brake levers But to be sure, we advise you to measure the diametre of the zone you want to put the brake lever on with a measuring caliper to get an exact size.

We think that should be all, but if you have doubts, or have any questions, send us an email at [email protected] and we will be happy to answer these.

Here we have two examples of vintage bikes we have helped give a new lease of life:

1.- Owner: Guille
Orbea Road Frame
LP18 Weinmann Wheels
Michelin Classic Tyres
33mm Rubena Inner Tubes
BLB brake levers
Brooks Handlebar Tape in honey colour
Brake Cable in white with a pear head
Lightskin 25,4 Seat post in silver
Brooks saddle
BLB Pista Vera Crankset
KMC Z510S Chain

rebuild a classic bicycle

rebuild a vintage bicycle

vintage bicycle

2.- Owner: Óscar
We removed the cassette from this bike leaving only one plate and we converted it into a Single speed (free wheel) style.
LP18 Rear Wheel
Nitro 700x23c Tyre
Classic Black Saddle
Black Brakes
24mm Inline Levers
Brake cables in black with a pear head
Cork Handlebar Tape in black

classic bicycle rebuilt

classic bicycle restaured

rebuild a classic bicycle



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