If I wanted to make a paying hobby out of restoring and updating old bikes, what are some resources that would help me improve my skills, research the right bikes/components, and find the right places to buy them?
In implementing some of the recommendations made in my last question
, I came to the realization that I love
working on bikes. There's something really satisfying about the process, about working on a machine that is simple enough to be comprehended, complex enough to be interesting, and which rewards a day's work with tangible, pleasing results. I really like everything about it -- doing maintenance and repairs on my bike and my fiance's is one of my favorite "chores".
I've been toying with the idea of turning this into a paying hobby of sorts. The idea would be to buy a couple of old bikes with nice frames but which need some TLC, and restore/update/modify them to make them into awesome all-purpose street bikes for commuting, bar-hopping, and all the other stuff that the fashionable young things of this city like to do with their two-wheeled steeds. Then when I was done I'd turn around and sell the bike to make back my costs plus a bit extra. I'm not looking to make this a full-time thing, just basically a hobby that happens to make a little bit of money in the bargain.
I think this would be a nice way to take my bike-mechanic skills to the next level. I'm not worried about being able to turn out bikes quickly or anything, I'm happy to learn as I go and take my time in order to get things done right. I do know how to do basic maintenance -- I can adjust a transmission and brake system, clean a chain, clean and repack a bottom bracket, true a wheel, etc. I have all my tools and I have a place to work. I know about Sheldon Brown's most excellent website
(RIP), and I know that you can find tutorials on YouTube for just about any procedure you'd care to name. (Although if anybody has links to other good resources about how to build and maintain bikes, I would absolutely love to see that here.)
What I don't know is what I'm looking for. I know I like older road bikes, but I feel like I could be better at sorting the wheat from the chaff in the world of used bike purchasing. I'm mostly interested in road/touring/commuter bikes, rather than mountain bike, BMX, or cruiser styles. I know that a lugged frame is a sign of quality construction, that I like steel better than aluminum, and that serious rust is a deal-breaker. I don't really have a great concept of what brands are good/desirable, or what else to look for in selecting a serviceable frame that will form the foundation of a bike that somebody will eventually want to buy from me. I'd love to hear advice on this topic and/or get links to other forums or resources where I could research the subject. Also if anybody knows of some good frame-painting tutorials then I'm all ears (although I'm leaning toward keeping stock paint jobs and just cleaning up the frame or maybe giving it some protective laquer if it's missing significant paint.)
Also, I expect to be buying some components for these bikes. I'd be replacing worn-out saddles, upgrading old brake systems, modernizing and modifying transmissions, swapping out handlebars and tires, putting on racks, that sort of thing. The problem here is that I haven't the foggiest idea how to go about effectively shopping for that sort of stuff. I mean, I know roughly what style
of components I'd be looking for, but I don't know anything about brands or models or where to go to get a good price. This is probably the area in which I am most deficient and would welcome any and all wisdom that you can provide on the subject.
Finally, any other relevant advice that you feel might be be of value is welcome. Thanks in advance to all of you for your gracious assistance. I will pop by periodically, as I'm sure there's plenty here that I'm not able to think of yet given my ignorance. I look forward to whatever edification you can provide.
Oh, and please understand that I do intend to first try out this advice on my own stable of bikes before I go and sell somebody some haphazardly cobbled-together monstrosity. I wouldn't sell somebody a bike that I wasn't totally confident about and willing to stand behind. Nobody deserves to ride a crappy bike.