CC Tech: Bicycle Maintenance and Restoration

With lots of spare time, courtesy Covid-19, I was looking for something to restore. Having done cars, a plane, and an aircraft carrier I had just the thing which hasn’t been used since 1998. My 1983 Univega Viva Sport was just the thing and then things expanded beyond that as usual. This prepped me for a classic.

When I lived in the Richmond District of San Francisco I was able to do lots of riding, being just 4 blocks north of Golden Gate Park and 4 blocks south of the Presidio at 21st and Anza. Once into them one could avoid city traffic and make it down south to Fort Funston or north into Marin across the Golden Gate Bridge. At the time the west side was open to bikes only as the walkway is much narrower than the east side populated by tourists. Moving to the East Bay meant city streets which do not interest me due to safety and at the same time I discovered the USS Hornet and spent every free hour on her.

My bicycle history started off as a 19″ 3 speed when I was seven. I insisted, and so my parents bought it even though I needed a curb to get on my bike. By 1967 I now had a green 22″ Super Sport which was replaced by a blue 24″ Super Sport in 1968 when the green was stolen out of the open garage. Somewhere along the way the blue bike vanished in the late 70s and I can’t recall how. This Univega was the replacement and now it needs a complete overhaul from cables, bearings, rims, tires, brakes, and tape.

First the rims and shredded 22 year old tires came off. After throwing the tires and tubes away and cleaning the rims with 000 steel wool, the hubs were next. The grease was more solid than anything else but liberal use of mineral spirits cleaned everything up. Front hub is easy so I’ll show the rear hub and freewheel.

Freewheel off with tool

Now the central part of the freewheel

Small bearings on both sides that need cleaning and then re-greased. I use my moly fortified wheel bearing grease which I have plenty of

The ancient grease in the wheel hub slightly out of focus somehow

Shot glasses come in handy for things other than shots

All ready to put back together

The packed hub before the grease seal

Re-assembly of the freewheel

Cables, chain, brake pads and hoods, re-greasing pedals, and installing tubes and tires are fairly straightforward

You might note that the bike came with 27″ gumwall tires back in the days. Like cars with 14″ rims the 27″ rim isn’t used today and consequently the 27″ tire is a little harder to come by. The gumwall is not considered a top of the line tire today but it is period correct and I think the bike looks better with it, just like whitewalls on my cars. Fortunately Kenda still makes these tires and so I ordered three complete sets. Once on the bike I checked trueness which was pretty close and only needed slight tweaking.

Wow, now that wasn’t hard, so let’s do the exact same thing to another bike like my 1997 Specialized Hardrock. No tape to worry about but those black rubber ends are gooey now. The rear rim has a broken spoke. The tires have cracks all over, even if they hold air. The gears here are called a cassette instead of a freewheel and needs a slightly different tool to unscrew vs. the freewheel.

Once the finished and fixed rim was back on it was time to get it true with a new spoke added. Spinning the rim allowed me to find the locations that were out and by using a spoke tool I went back and forth to eventually eliminate the slight wobble. That finished the bicycle and I can say they both glide along the road now.

However, I was thinking I do like projects, so maybe I could find one and I did…