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One year ago I moved to Boston and my father-in-law gave me his old Specialized mountain bike. He is a road bike guy so this bike was left aside for the longest time. It was in a decent shape. The only money I spent on it was for some lights, one tire and two tubes. I commuted to work (3 miles total) every single day: with sun, rain or snow. But (unfortunately) I didn't take care of it at all. And now the bike is in a really bad shape. Chains, front/rear derailleurs and cassette are all SUPER rusty. And both breaks are also gone. For my birthday I bought a new bike (Specialized Sirrus Comp) but I don't want to ride it in the snow.

So I decided to restore the old one. The idea was to slowly restore this bike with decent parts, ride it during the winter and take care of it, and after that, I'd have a spare bike that my wife could use.

First step: brakes. They were REALLY bad, so I bought new v-brakes from Amazon (Shimano Acera Mountain Bicycle V-Brake / $23) and I tried to install them. It didn't go well because I also need new cables. Because of that, I got really frustrated and I completely disassembled the bike and there's no turning back.

Here is my question: should I do that or not? This is the list of parts I will probably have to buy in order to put the bike back in the streets:

  • Shimano Brake Cable and Housing Set - $14
  • Shimano Stainless Steel Shift Cable - $9
  • Shimano Tourney 6/7-Speed Mountain Bicycle Rear Derailleur - $13
  • Shimano FD-TX50 Tourney Front Derailleur - $11
  • Shimano Tourney Shift Lever SL-RS45 - $16
  • New chain - $10

Am I missing something?? I should probably buy new wheels but I can certainly wait.

So the total cost would be: $96. The (ideal) final result would be an old but decent Specialized frame (it's the only part that's not rusted) with brand new entry-level Shimano parts. This sounds better than a department store bike.

Is it stupid to do that considering I have no idea how to put everything back together (Youtube will help me)?

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    Please keep it and use it. Its a great asset to keep old bikes. Even if you throw it or sell(nobody might buy), what will you get? So, love your bike and enjoy her love for you :) – user14242 Oct 31 '14 at 0:19
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    It is a brake not a break. Starting the the new bike - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As for the old bike you should have lubed before you gave up on it and took it apart. Why would you even need a front derailleur for winter riding? – paparazzo Oct 31 '14 at 0:50
  • If you get a new chain, add another 10$ to 15$ for a cog set/cassette. And as you speak of rust, probably a crankset/chainrings. That gives you a completely new drive train. Thats how I started with my old bike … lets say the frame is still mostly there, not much more ;). YouTube did the job for me, take your time. – linac Oct 31 '14 at 9:43
  • For the winter bike you probably do not need to buy all branded parts. Also used parts can sometimes be used if they are in good condition. – Davorin Ruševljan Oct 31 '14 at 14:03
  • @Blam - Front derailleur can be handy all year round, especially if you live in coastal areas with steep hills! – Rider_X Oct 31 '14 at 15:40
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Two questions here - restore an old bike and what bike for your wife.

Lets deal with the easy one - an old Specialised will be a better bike than a department store one. If you need much more gear to be replaced, consider looking for a donor. Add another $100 to you list for things that might need doing - like new cluster and chain rings, brake pads etc. Strip and repack wheel bearings and headset and you are probably good to go. From the sound of it though, a second hand bike might be a better option, as the deterioration that requires those parts replaced almost certainly means other parts are on their last legs. Cannot tell for sure without seeing it.

Next one - What bike should your wife ride - that depends on your relationship. I see this all the time- Fit, active strong guy out on the trials riding a multi-thousand dollar ultra efficient lightweight bike miles ahead of his partner who clearly does not live breath and dream cycling like he does and is nowhere near as fit. She is struggling on an old beater her partner would not be seen dead riding, miles behind, exhausted and close to tears.......

If you don't like your wife, and/or want to be sent our riding on your own with her blessing, give her the beater.

If you like your wife, and/or would like her to like you, enjoy riding and spend quality cycling time with you, give her the nicest bike and ride the beater. If she gets to like riding, you can buy her a nice bike that fits her properly. Play you cards right, you can buy her a better bike than yours, and when you go out solo - ride that......

(Presumption I have made is that the bikes fit both riders. My wife and me fit the same frame size. I have two seat posts and seats for "her" bike - one set up for for her, one for me.....)

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Keep the bike and fix it up.

In your situation I would consider a single speed conversion. The beauty of a single speed is that maintenance is lower, no need to worry about shifters, deraileurs, etc. Just find a gear that works for you and the area you ride, and all you need to do is give the chain the occasional lube.

I had an old 26 inch MTB that I converted to a single speed, pretty much the same needs as yours. Where I live we don't get snow, but instead torrential rain. My reasons for going single speed were mostly around expense. I couldn't afford a new bike, and wanted to keep the spend to a minimum. I knew I would be riding in the rain, where I would end up having splashed up road grit and grime cause damage to my drivetrain. I also wanted ease of maintenance. After the initial build and setup, I don't need to worry about gear cables stretching and dodgy shifting. I just need to lube the chain every now and then, and I know I have a good reliable bike to commute on in any weather condition.

As @batman says you need to consider things like whether or not you have a freehub or freewheel and the impact that may have on chain line, and the type of conversion kit. You also need to look at your dropouts and work out whether or not you need a chain tensioner, or go fancier and get an eccentric bottom bracket (they are costly). But I would still suggest it is worth considering a single speed for commuting in bad weather conditions. In 18 months of commuting I haven't had to spend any money on the bike other than using some of my lube that I already had.

  • It depends on how old old is -- if you have vertical dropouts, you still need a chain tensioner for running single speed (along with some chain line adjustments), so you might choose to run a derailleur as your chain tensioner. With horizontal dropouts, it is a new wheel/redishing the old wheel. – Batman Oct 31 '14 at 9:25
  • You don't strictly have to redish the old wheel. Single speed kits come with spacers that allow you to get the correct chain line with a freewheel. If the bike is running a 6/7 speed rear, there is every chance it is a freehub which starts to make things tricky for a SS conversion. – Dan Oct 31 '14 at 10:38
  • I think,. as it stands, this answer is too subjective to be particularly useful. It would help if you could explain why you say what you say. I must admit I agree with @Batman, in that it depends on factors that the op hasn't even discussed, yet your answer reads as if it is a no-brainer – PeteH Nov 1 '14 at 8:58

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