Overhauling your old bike part 1

Rusty bike chainAs I mentioned last week it’s pretty easy for someone to bring a neglected bike back to life. Making it squeak free, trouble free and fast. Best of all you’ll actually be proud to ride your bike again knowing you’ve done the repairs yourself.

In part 1 of the series I’ll be covering the parts that most commonly need replacing. The chain and the brake pads. Next week I’ll talk about replacing jockey wheels.

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Giving your bike a good clean


The first stage in fixing up an old bike is to give it a good scrub. For some good tips checkout my post on bike cleaning. Remember to thoroughly wash away any degreaser you use as it can damage the bike, if left on there for too long.

Overhauling an old bike

The basic premise of a bike overhaul is to take apart the different components, clean them, re-grease them and then re-install them. You also need to identify any components that need replacing.

The first video shows you how to replace your chain.

The second video is about overhauling v brakes.

Essentials for overhauling an old bike


  • New chain (£10) – I have a 9 speed bike (9 rear sprockets on the cassette). Therefore, I need a 9 speed chain (9sp). I tend to opt for SRAM with a quick release link. This is because SRAM is a trusted brand and the quick release means I can easily take the chain on and off. I recently paid £22.99 for an SRAM PC951 then subsequently found it online for half the price. Chain Reaction Cycles is a good place to check for bike components.
  • Chain tool (£11.99) – This is used to shorten the length of a chain. Or, to release a chain, if you don’t have a quick release link.
  • New brake pads – Aim to buy something similar to what you already have. If you are cycling in the winter, then it generally isn’t worth you spending more money on a more expensive set of pads as they are likely to also wear out quickly. In the summer months you can spend a little more if you wish.
  • Allen key – absolutely essential tool!
  • Grease – On any unexposed components grease helps keep the water out and keep things moving.

Also in this series:

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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18 Responses to Overhauling your old bike part 1

  1. Gaz 31/01/2011 at 2:00 pm #

    I would recommend looking for brake blocks that have a different kind of rubber for winter use, as winter is often wetter and colder, a different rubber source is often best for getting better braking.
    Salmon kool stops are often spoken highly about.

  2. Loving the Bike 31/01/2011 at 2:55 pm #

    This is some really good and valuable stuff. I’m saving this one so that I can continue to refer to it in the future. Good stuff, Mate


    • Andreas 31/01/2011 at 3:44 pm #

      Thanks buddy – I’ll be continuing the series at the same time as I restore my bike..

  3. chris 31/01/2011 at 5:11 pm #

    What make is your bike stand ?

    • Andreas 31/01/2011 at 6:01 pm #

      Hey Chris – I got it off eBay but wouldn’t really recommend it.

  4. Christiaan 31/01/2011 at 7:30 pm #

    Loving this, thanks.

  5. Kevin Campbell's Blog 01/02/2011 at 4:49 pm #

    cool, i recently did a guide like this on my blog too, but this one appears to be better, but if after a cheaper way of doing things look at the one on my blog which you can find it you click on the guides tag once on my blog

  6. Notsoblue 02/02/2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Erm, whats the Rum for? Degreasing?

  7. Adam Thompson 04/02/2011 at 10:50 am #


    Well done for doing this, you could also mention that for those who would like a little face to face help that the Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest Cycling campaigns all run free workshops showing people how to repair their bicycles details at

    Additionally on the Hackney website I have added loads of links to sites which show you how to repair your bicycle.


  8. Dirtycash 04/02/2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Yeah I spotted that, is the rum for warming ones cockles?

  9. Andreas 04/02/2011 at 3:23 pm #

    Hah was wondering if anyone would comment on that. Rums there for when bike repairs get frustrating!

  10. Nelia 05/02/2011 at 9:45 am #

    Exactly what I was looking for! Friends had a vintage bike that was rusting away in the garden and it was given to me to restore.

  11. Jack 07/02/2011 at 3:05 pm #

    I hope you are not advocating drink cycling Andreas!

  12. JonF 08/02/2011 at 10:32 am #

    That spannery-type thing shown underneath your pump looks the type of thing that I always found difficult to use. Back in the 70’s many bikes were supplied with a piece of steel plate with hexagonal holes punched in them and they were supposed to be used as spanners. Problem was that they were only about 2mm thick, would never access the nut you wanted to grip, flexed and ruined the faces of the nuts. Maybe your device is better made, but how is it for accessing the little nuts and bolts that we all need to? I’d recommend knowing what size nuts are on your bike and getting some quality spanners to fit – you may only need one or two.

  13. David Cohen 11/02/2011 at 12:34 pm #

    Superb video about brake maintenance – really de-mystifying, and showing what many think is something they dare not touch (for fear of being left without properly working brakes), as something that’s quite easy to accomplish.

  14. Christiaan 27/02/2011 at 12:21 pm #

    What’s the best way to take a chain off it it doesn’t have a quick release link?

    • Christiaan 27/02/2011 at 4:23 pm #

      Scratch that, read through your post properly.

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