Hi, there. My name is Derek, and I have been into building BMX and any other kind of bike for quite some time. I do not have access to high-dollar parts, machines, or tools. I am not a pro bike builder, and I have almost zero desire to actually “restore” a bike to factory condition. I like custom work. After all, what’s the use of diving into a project if you aren’t going to leave a little personality behind?
Largely, what I do is find bikes at yard sales or the local swap meet/flea market for a bargain, and then I break them down, fix them up, and either sell them cheaply or give them away, mostly depending on the bike itself.
I use parts left over from other builds, and sometimes I’ll fly to the local store and pick up cheap new stuff. I’m heavy on “improvement” and not perfection. I leave perfection for the guys with big dollars who have the means to purchase NOS stuff for classic bikes, who send frames, forks, and bars in to get powdercoated, and who worry about every era-correct nut and bolt. That is not for me. I think bikes are for riding, and riding hard. Carpet queens aren’t welcome here.
So, here’s a typical scenario: I find an old Diamond Back at a yard sale for $5. I take it home and break it totally apart. If the bearings are good, I’ll clean and re-grease them. I will remove the paint with spray-on stripper and then prime and paint it, usually a different color. I remove any rust from chrome as best I can, and I’ll add new tires/grips and the like if necessary. So, all in all I may end up having $30 or so into the bike, and that’s what I’ll sell it for. This isn’t a get-rich thing for me, it’s a hobby I enjoy. Besides, you should see the looks on some of the kids’ faces who come with their dad to get their first bike. Without folks like me, who are willing to rub a little elbow grease into a forgotten but otherwise very nice bike, they might not be able to get one. Even the department store bikes (Nexts, new Mongoose, etcetera.) are more than $30 bucks. It’s very rewarding.
I am currently in the process of building an ’02 Haro Backtrail. I don’t like chrome bikes, but the chrome on this Haro is in pretty good shape, so I kept it. I’m using good ole steel wool, vinegar, spray paint and bearing grease on it, same as I would any other bike. It’s coming along nicely and, since it will be my personal rider, I’ve even purchased some new stuff for it as money allowed. Everything but the rear rim, the tires and tubes, and the front brake will be original or donor stuff, though. I got the frame and fork for free from a friend, and once the build is done I’ll have in the ballpark of $100 into it, but considering that they sell for over $300 new, and mine will be custom, I feel it’s well worth it.
So anyhow, the intention of this blog is to share tricks and tips with you all, and maybe showcase my own builds to give you ideas. For those of you who have wanted to build bikes as a hobby but think it’s too expensive, it isn’t. Not by a long shot. I’ll show you why in the coming posts.
Here’s the first build of my Haro:
Because of my living situation at the time, I had to store the bike outdoors, and it slipped back into Crapville. This time around, I’m doing it right.