Costs of refurbishing a second hand bike

Last week we covered step by step what to look at when assessing a second hand bike. This week we are giving you a run down of costs associated with fixing up a beautiful vintage road bike.

Repairing the Rapparee

With no weather damage to deal with or dents in the frame – the bike was clearly well cared for.

There were however a few things that needed replacing and it needed a full service.

Here are the typical costs if you’d walk in to most London bike shops:

  • Labour – general service and accessories fitting = £70
  • Brake cable and housing = £9
  • Tyres – Schwalbe Durano = £70
  • Inner Tubes = £10
  • Pedals = £20
  • Bar tape = £16
  • Mudguards = £38

Total cost to make the bike completely commute proof = £258


We took our bike to a bike shop to have everything tuned up and checked over. This meant the bike got a full general service. It also meant that we could be sure there would not be any underlying problems that would crop up on the first few rides.

General services vary in cost amongst bikes shops, but often fall somewhere between £60-£100. This cost will generally include any time spent changing accessories or components, things you will pay separately for. The labour for our bike cost £70 at Lunar Cycles. We only had to replace one brake cable and housing, costing £9 total, but up to 4 cables could have needed replacing.

Cutting down cost

If you feel comfortable doing maintenance tasks yourself, then this will cut out a good chunk of money. You could use our bike maintenance guides to do things such as brake cable and pad replacement, a safety check, cleaning and lubrication. These things are all pretty straight forward.

For all of these maintenance guides and more, don’t forget to take a look at our app Bike Doctor – which will talk you through the repairs step by step and be a handy guide to keep in your pocket.


If a bike has been sitting for a while in a shed or garage, then chances are the tyres, or at least the inner tubes, will be perished. The tread could also be worn out.

The tyres on our bike were beginning to perish and had got a little ‘hairy’ (the fabric lining was showing through the rubber). They also weren’t puncture proof making them unsuitable for London streets.

Durano tyres

We put Schwalbe Durano tyres on our bike, and used some standard matching inner tubes, they cost £70 for the set and £10 for the tubes. As we were having the service done at a bike shop we purchased the tyres from there too. However, if you were doing the work yourself, you might be able to find some deals online. Also, if you are not intending to ride very often, commute in a city or have a preference for a particular type of tread, other tyres may be more suitable and potentially cheaper.


The pedals on our bike were some very old ones which had a strange cage fitting. Therefore, one of our upgrade priorities was to change those to some standard flat ones. Pedals can range in price from £5 up to well over £100. For our bike we picked some fairly basic metal ones with good grip. Plastic ones are cheap, but they scuff up easily and wear out quickly. They are also not as grippy in the wet or when you get oil and grease from the roads on your shoes.

New pedals

This may be a good time to try out clipless pedals if it has been something that you have been thinking about. For commuting, double sided ones are often useful. These have the retention mechanism on one side and a regular flat pedal on the other, meaning you don’t have to always wear the shoes with cleats. They are often a little more expensive but it can be worth it.

Bar tape

Grips can be little havens for bacteria, all that sweat and exposure to the elements. Therefore, it is often worth changing them on any bike you inherit regardless of age. Or maybe I am just a grossed out germ-a-phobe! Adding new bar tape or grips also makes the bike a little different and allows you to personalise it a bit more.

New bar tape

This upgrade really doesn’t have to cost you much, and doesn’t have to be done by a mechanic. Bar tape can be a little tricky but there are some useful videos on YouTube. There are lots of tapes and grips to choose from, so feel them out before purchase and see which ones have the kind of grip and padding you need.


Not so much a rehab item and more of a London commuting necessity, we added mudguards to our bike. There were no eyelets for full length guards, so we added Race Blades. These are a little more expensive than some other clip on mudguards but are very durable and sleek.

RaceBlade mudguards


Our costs were relatively high, but mean that we have a durable, fully serviced commuting machine. If you are rehabbing a bike for leisure then you can spend less on tyres and mudguards. However, if you are going to be using the new bike for commuting, then it is potentially a false economy to scrimp on the things on the bike that really take the brunt of London streets.

The frame on this bike is very nice steel and so we felt it was worth the costs. The bike itself also didn’t cost us any money as it used to belong to a relative. It is true that rehabbing a bike can cost less than we spent. However, these are the kinds of costs, or more, that need to be considered when searching for a second hand bike. Therefore it is necessary to consider whether the bike is really worth spending money on in the first place.

Hopefully the new owner of this bike will get many years of happy riding and adventuring in London out of it!

How much did your bike rehab cost? Have you got any tips for making a bike road worthy? Let us know!

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4 Responses to Costs of refurbishing a second hand bike

  1. Andrew Beale 08/02/2016 at 10:32 am #

    I did a similar project a few years ago with an old Dawes frame. I did all the repairs myself (except for one bit that I needed a special tool for so I took it to Look Mum No Hands) and it came to around £280. I did buy expensive tyres (Gatorskin), new rims and new brakes though, so it was a bit more of an overhaul than you needed here. It was fun though! (I blogged the process

  2. David Hodgson 09/02/2016 at 10:20 pm #

    Definitely worth the effort and 250-300 quid will get you a bike that stands out from the carbon-aluminium spesh-trek crowd. Steel frames are nice to ride and give you real street cred.

    You can also modernise an older frame. This brings your bike bang up to date and it will be even better to ride.

    But first take a look at the details… check out the tubing (Stickers to show Reynolds 531 or higher, or Columbus). Brakes are much better if more modern dual pivot or cantis than the older single-pivot. Also downtube shifters are not everyone’s cup of tea, and the older levers just aren’t as good (especially those nasty extensions). Take a look at the braze-ons on the frame for racks, mudguards, and in particular the bosses for shifters. Bottom brackets are much better if they are the cassette variety, and the headset should be firm. 27″ wheels are almost but not quite the same as 700c and good 27″ tyres are getting hard to come by. You can usually adjust the brakes to cater for 700c rims.

    However the rear fork spacing has grown from about 125mm to 135mm to accommodate modern 9-11 speed cassettes. With a steel frame and some bravery you can widen them out (use a threaded bar and 2 nuts and washers to gingerly and iteratively push the forks apart beyond the 135mm spacing so they permanently set to 135).

    All is doable DIY and with planning, you can progressively modernise at weekends and still ride the bike in the week. YouTube is a great help if you need to see how it’s done. eBay remains a great source of bits but don’t rush and check out online new prices first.

  3. MJ Ray 16/02/2016 at 9:45 am #

    Disappointed to read the old pedal grip myths again. Pedals with good rubber treads give good grip and don’t eat shoe soles like your metal ones.

    Other than that, OK, but many of your parts prices look 50-90% higher than west Norfolk shops. I guess that’s typical for London, eh?

    • Andrew Beale 16/02/2016 at 9:52 am #

      Damn yeah London prices in the shops are high. You can of course get around that by buying online from those Norfolkian or other non-London shops who deliver…, who are based in Somerset, served me well.

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