Before you do anything else, check the brake pads.
"Because stopping is really good," says Richard Giorgi. "It's something everybody should do."
Giorgi is the founder of the Chapel Hill biking nonprofit The ReCYCLEry, an organization that has helped thousands of locals build and repair old bikes otherwise bound for the scrap heap.
From the brake pads, Giorgi says, you move to the derailleurs and the shifters, both key pieces in shifting gears. The limiting screws must be set correctly, and the shifting cables may need to be replaced. The hubs and head seat bearings should be greased. Then comes the general safety check. The headset, bottom bracket and seat post should be tightened. At last, the road test.
It may sound complicated, but you're going to do all of it yourself. Giorgi can teach you how: During the last 15 years, The ReCYCLEry has helped to repair more than 5,000 bicycles, offering free fix-it workshops on the first and third full weekends of each month.
"You don't always get it right the first time," he says. "But that's OK. There's no sense in leaving until you get it right."
The ReCYCLEry is located at 108 Graham St. in Chapel Hill. Visit recyclery.org.