Step 1: Find the Bike
First, find an old, battered looking bike. The rustier the better. Check to see if it rides and see if any of the components are in a rescuable condition. It may look like a heap of junk, but some of the parts may be in good working order after a good clean. We paid VND300,000 to a lady on the street near Troi Market (Thinh Yen, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi).
Step 2: Strip the Frame
Divest the frame of all its parts. This will require specialist tools, so get a trusted mechanic to help. We used The Hanoi Bicycle Collective (44/31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho) for this process. They also offer as much advice as you need on buying a bike in Vietnam as well as on repairing your own beloved two-wheeled vehicle.
Step 3: Get it Painted
The frame will look like new with a good paint. Make sure your painter includes the sanding and frame preparation in the price. We used Mr. Tho (442 Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho) who came recommended. The price was a reasonable VND600,000 — worth it for the best frame painter in Hanoi, if not Vietnam — but there are cheaper, if you can find them. Bargain hard.
Step 4: Rebuild
Clean the parts that are usable with degreaser (if necessary) and bike cleaner. Replace the unusable ones with new components. You can spend an infinite amount on this, but if thrift’s your middle name, you can get away with as little as VND675,000 if all of the original parts are useless. We just cleaned and painted all our components to make them look like new. Again, we visited THBC for help with this step.
Step 5: Pimp your Ride
A ‘sweet ride’ needs accessories like bells, baskets, ribbons and a kick-stand. These all help in the resale, if that’s your goal, or if not, just to turn heads on the street. After this, take photos and take out a classified ad. Work out what you paid and ask for at least twice as much. Remember a good second hand bike can sell for as much as VND5 million although expect to achieve an absolute maximum of around VND1.5 million if you did everything on the cheap.
The Final Result
Things to Learn if Reselling
1) Get a frame that will appeal to people who have more disposable income to spend on a bicycle.
2) Don’t bother spending lots of money on painting a poor quality frame. It may look the part but if the frame isn’t desirable or can be sourced easily, it won’t sell.
3) Try to find a frame with as many reusable parts as possible to save the money on buying brand new components.
4) Pimping your ride should only be done if you’re going to ride it. Subjective and personal retouches don’t appeal to everyone when reselling.