Before opening a bike shop, we were not familiar with older bikes that were once amazing in their time. You could buy a reliable and durable bike in a store for a reasonable price in the past. The bikes were well-made, with steel and aluminum parts. These bikes have welds that looked like battle scars compared to today’s bikes.
Since opening, we have received several of these old high-quality bikes. Some of these bikes had been in the yard, shed, or garage for many years. They arrived covered in dust, grease, mud, and other unidentifiable substances. One unfortunate bike was used to plug a hole in a fence. Another was home for a little rodent that stored corn and nuts in the frame. Several bicycles simply existed as a makeshift sculpture without volunteering for the gig. I’d say these bikes were sad and lonely, just sitting there unused and forgotten.
When a customer brings in a bike like this, we get excited. As bike mechanics, we are very honest with these customers and tell them if the bike is worth resorting to its original glory. In many cases, the bike has ‘good bones’ and reliable components like Shimano’s old fashion shifters, derailleurs, and cranks that, with a little love and a lot of care, come back to life. We always attempt to save as much of the original parts as possible during the restoration. Still, some have to be replaced for the bike to be safe. WD-40 is our best friend for rust or stubborn bolts.
We’ve purchased a sandblaster because our hands were so tired of using sandpaper. The sandblaster miraculously brings back the luster of old steel parts. The transformation is definitely satisfying. However, what is most satisfying is the look on our customer’s faces when they see the bike for the first time after being restored. Many customers told us that other shops only wanted to sell them a new bike and didn’t want to work on the bike. These customers wanted their bikes resorted for many reasons – sentimental value, a gift for someone in need, or because they were on a budget and didn’t want to spend more for a bike of similar quality. When our customers say, “Wow, it looks like a new bike!” it is the best compliment we can receive as mechanics and bike shop owners. When a customer is embarrassed about the condition of their old bike, we explain, “There is no such thing as an old bike; only a bike that hasn’t been given the TLC it needs.” Our motto is, “We can fix anything but a broken heart.”
Written By Jorge Negrete