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I have a bike with an incredibly bent frame. The bike itself I have tried to replace with other inexpensive bixes, but this one just had a certain geometry that I keep wanting to resurrect it. It is one of those give-away Schwinn Firenze GL 5000 road bikes from the 80's.

I continue trying to find a replacement as I am sure it will be cheaper (and the bike holds no sentimental value aside from the quality of ride); but for the sake of reference, how much would it cost to get a bike frame bent back into shape? I think this frame was likely an lightweight steel one, but referencing aluminum & carbon prices would be appreciated, too. (I don't know if it's even a viable solution, but wanted to at least crush the hope if it wasn't.)

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If it's carbon (it's almost certainly not), then the frame is toast - you can't re-shape them, if they 'bend', they really 'crack' and must be thrown away. If it's aluminum, you probably don't want to bend it because it's likely to have weakened it significantly. I'd only even try if it's steel. –  Michael Kohne Nov 4 '10 at 17:59
    
@Michael I guess I should ask; is it likely that such a sevice as this exists? –  mfg Nov 4 '10 at 18:11
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That carbon frames can't be fixed is pure myth. It's an issue of liability and safety. Boeing and Lockheed have been fixing dented carbon fiber wings for twenty years. I cracked the top tube on my carbon frame (with my butt) and saved $2500 by fixing the bike myself. My bike has worked perfectly for 2000 miles since the repair and I suspect it's probably stronger than before it was damaged. –  Ben Nov 9 '10 at 1:35
    
@Ben, I am curious how you fixed it that would make it "stronger than before it was damaged". –  sixtyfootersdude Jan 14 '11 at 23:18
    
@sixtyfooterdude, The crack was small when compared to the patch area, adding the patch approximately doubled the number of plies along the top tube. More material => stronger bike, although this comes at the cost of a slight increase in weight. –  Ben Jan 18 '11 at 18:29

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

If its "incredibly bent" then the answer is no.

Replacing a tube on a typical lugged steel frame will run you a couple hundred dollars from a good frame builder. It goes up from there.

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It's worth pointing out that you can't really "bend" it back. You'd be replacing tubes. If it's incredibly bent, you're basically just building a new frame. –  lantius Nov 4 '10 at 20:49

I agree with the other posters: Bending back will probably not work, because every bending act weakens the metal (less for steel than for light alloy, but still).

If you really just liked the bike because of a "certain geometry that I keep wanting to resurrect", have you considered getting a frame custom-built?

This is still expensive, but probably in the same ballpark like getting the frame repaired, and you could ask the builder to make you a bike with the same geometry as the old bike (or maybe even improve it :-)).

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I ended up finding another Schwinn from around the same period (3 years older) that has a pretty matching frame. Custom framing would have been waaay out of budget; the purpose in getting a ballpark idea of re-shaping the frame was for the sake of a cost benefit analysis. My wife found the replacement for $60 –  mfg Feb 17 '11 at 16:14

Even if the frame is repairable, you should consider the forces that it experienced which led to its bending in the first place. Steel--and these Firenze frames were steel, Chromo-oly, I think--will accept a fair bit of abuse and isn't as prone to catastrophic failure as aluminum. I have had steel frames break, though--and it always happens at some point where the metal was stressed.

If this bike has been through the wringer enough to bend it "incredibly", then even if you fixed it, the problems would not end there. One day, you'll ride along an notice a new sway in the frame if your lucky... then you'll notice that the downtube is cracking at the shifter braze-ons. Or maybe you'll hear a squeek and notice that one of the seatstays has detached itself from the seattube... there are just too many variables for it to be WORTH what it would cost to even replace a tube as whatsisname reasonably suggested.

These bikes were giveaways. If it fits you well, you know what you are looking for. Measure the bike so you know what size it is, and start hunting on ebay and on www.bicyclebunker.com for your new ride!

At bicyclebunker, you can find pretty much whatever you want. You just have to negotiate with a seller on shipping.

Get rid of that thing or make it into an art-piece!

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I think that capacity for abuse is why I liked it so much. Thanks for the advice on following up. –  mfg Nov 4 '10 at 20:49
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Yeah. They're great bikes. I have an old steel road-frame myself--I ride it more than anything else! It's comfy, reasonably fast, and I never have to worry about it! Go get another one! –  DC_CARR Nov 4 '10 at 22:18
    
Definitely, I've dinged a cro-mo bike and a year or so later the tube just snapped. Until then I did actually appreciate it's shorter geometry though ;) –  Colin Newell Feb 21 '11 at 16:20

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