If you've recently acquired an old bicycle and you'd like to repair it and make it like new again, there are some things you can do. Aside from the aesthetics of repainting it and cleaning it up, you'll want to tackle some of the basic mechanical repairs. Here are some of the things you should consider as you work to get it road worthy again.
Check The Condition Of The Wheels
The first place to start is to inspect and repair the wheels. You'll want to look at the rim, the hub, and the spokes. If any of these are out of alignment or damaged, the bike is unsafe to ride and will need repairs.
Turn the bike upside down and spin each wheel slowly. Watch as the wheel rotates, making sure that it is straight. If it wobbles at all, that means the rim itself is bent and you'll need to replace it. While you might be able to restore it by heating the rim and rounding it out, you can't guarantee that it will hold the shape. In addition, heating it may weaken the metal, so it's better to just replace it altogether.
Inspect the spokes to be sure that they are all secure. If any of them feel loose, you can use a spoke wrench to tighten them. Any spokes that are rusted, weakened, or otherwise damaged should be replaced with new ones.
Finally, check the condition of the hubs. Grease them with some fresh, clean grease so that they will move correctly without binding. Then, make sure that they are tight, but not so tight that they bind up or don't move freely. Then, put the locknuts on hand-tight so the hubs stay secure.
Replace The Brake Pads
While you're dealing with the wheels, this is the perfect time to replace the brake pads with fresh ones. That way, you can be sure that the brakes are safe. When you install new pads, adjust the calipers to make sure that the pads contact the wheel properly.
Grease The Crank Bearings
Remove the cranks and clean them. Make sure you get rid of any old grease or dirt caked into them. Look for any signs of wear and replace them if they're damaged. Otherwise, reassemble the crank with fresh grease and make sure that each one spins freely when you put it back in place.
If you're not comfortable doing these things by yourself, talk with a local bicycle repair shop, like Sarasota Cyclery Inc, for assistance.