Restoring a 1997 GT Performer BMX Bicycle

Unlike most teenagers, when I turned 16 I didn’t want a car. I wanted a new BMX bike. I was big into biking back then and up to that point had been riding around one bikes I put together with scrap pieces. Sometimes the fork would break off going over jumps.. fun!

My parents were cool about it and got me a brand new GT Performer in the green splatter paint with mag wheels and gyro. It was awesome.

I rode the bike all the time, and even took it with me to college. It was my main form of transportation for a few years before I brought my car down to campus.

After graduating college, the bike didn’t see all that much use anymore. Living in FL, and storing it in outside storage did not bode well for the poor bike. All the chrome was rusty, the tires were flat, and the brakes didn’t work anymore. It was also filthy.

I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I considered selling it. I cleaned the bike up the best I could and put it on craigslist. It cleaned up pretty good, but the rust was still pretty bad.

I also posted over at the BMX museum about how much people think it would be worth. Apparently that is against the rules there, but most people suggested hanging on to it.

So I took it off craigslist, and decided I was going to fully restore it to all its original glory.

Let the disassembly begin!

I started documenting how parts were assembled so that when I took them apart, I could actually reassemble them.

The front brake assembly

The rear brake assembly

And the gyro assembly. I really needed to document this I thought… it seemed complicated.

Everything taken apart.

I used some simple green industrial strength degreaser and cleaned everything as best as I could. I soaked all the brake components in it, as well as the stem, pedal and wheel bearings. I wanted to repack all the bearings for a nice smooth ride.

On to cleaning up the chrome. I read online that tinfoil and coke or vinegar works wonders for cleaning surface corrosion off of chrome. I was hoping all I had to deal with was surface corrosion. I got some white vinegar and started polishing the fork with tinfoil. To my surprise it really worked well. The right side here is polished, while the left side is not.

It was even gentle enough to go over the decals without tearing them off. Color me impressed.

This is no quick process however, so I spent many hours in the garage with a bowl of vinegar and some tinfoil and polished all the chrome I could reach. I think it turned out damn good.

I skipped taking pictures for most of the reassembly, but I purchased new brake lines and a new odyssey gyro. I wanted it to look as new as possible. I also used synthetic grease to pack the bearings for the wheels, pedals and stem. Put it back together like I took it apart… The gyro was simple enough to get on. Everything runs perfectly smooth now. I doubt I’ll ride this bike much, but at least now it’s restored. Maybe I’ll hang it on a wall someday…

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List of purchases for this project:

Amazon

Qty Product Price Notes
1 Simple Green 19024 Crystal Industrial Cleaner/Degreaser $13.01
1 Odyssey Gyro G3 Threadless Bike Detangler $20.89
1 Shimano Brake Cable and Housing Set $11.45
1 Super Lube 21030 Synthetic Grease $5.20