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I'm a newbie to classic and retro bikes but I would love to find a nice steel bike that I can clean up and restore. I've been drooling over a couple of the chrome Schwinns. I think the hunt is as much fun as the restoration process so I'm mostly looking at Goodwill, Salvation Army and Craigslist. I use to work on a lot of older brass musical instruments so I'm pretty good with the processes and procedures of cleaning/restoring metal.

What should I look for?
What should I stay away from? ( parts, damage, etc.)

This is all new to me so any and all information is appreciated.

TIA,
Kevin
 

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Here's my list -

1. Make sure it fits you properly.

2. Check for frame and fork damage (bent forks, dents in tubes, bent dropouts, cracks around tubing joints, etc.).

3. Make sure the frame quality is commensurate with the asking price. For example, if the seller is asking a premium price, the bike should have quality chrome-molybdenum or manganese-molybdenum butted tubing (Reynolds, Columbus, Ishiwata, Tange, True Temper, Dedacciai, etc.), forged rather than stamped dropouts, standard sized seat post and stem diameters. If it's lugged, check for clean brazes without any visible voids.

4. The component group should be mid-range or better.

5. Avoid older bikes with steel rims. They're heavy, and braking is lousy when it's raining and the rims are wet.

6. Remove the seat post and handlebar stem to make sure they're not stuck, and look down the seat tube and head tube for rust and corrosion while you have the seat post and handlebar stem removed.

7. When I buy a used bike, I'm not too particular about cables and cable housings since I usually replace them. Likewise, if the bike hasn't been ridden in a while, lubrication can dry up and cause derailleurs to stick, headsets and BBs to not move smoothly, and chains to suck. All of these problems are easily fixed by cleaning and lubricating.

I'm sure you'll get other helpful suggestions.
 

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keviningeorgia said:
I'm a newbie to classic and retro bikes but I would love to find a nice steel bike that I can clean up and restore. I've been drooling over a couple of the chrome Schwinns. I think the hunt is as much fun as the restoration process so I'm mostly looking at Goodwill, Salvation Army and Craigslist. I use to work on a lot of older brass musical instruments so I'm pretty good with the processes and procedures of cleaning/restoring metal.

What should I look for?
What should I stay away from? ( parts, damage, etc.)

This is all new to me so any and all information is appreciated.

TIA,
Kevin

1. Choose a bike you really like. Don't settle for one that's just OK.
2. Consider any expenditures as money spent and gone, not money invested. Any money you get back by selling later is pure upside.
3.. My success rate for trueing 25 year old wheels is zero. learn to rebuild wheels.
 

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keviningeorgia said:
I'm a newbie to classic and retro bikes but I would love to find a nice steel bike that I can clean up and restore. I've been drooling over a couple of the chrome Schwinns.
Specific to schwinns- yer dream schwinn may use a proprietary stem size. It is nigh-impossible to find a decent stem to fit certain schwinns.

My advice, if you were thinking of buying one, would be to bring an allen wrench and a 1" quill stem. Take the old stem off. If yer 1" stem fits, you've got a keeper. If it doesn't, you may still have a keeper as long as the existing stem has enough rise and reach to make you comfortable.

Good luck!
 
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