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COVID lockdown gave us an opportunity to clear out our garages, where I discovered many old bikes.  It got me thinking about how to bring your old favourite bike back to life by undertaking a restoration project.  So, if you have an old bike, why not consider getting it cleaned up, repainted and reused.

Argos Racing Cycles is one such company that specialises in this type of work. I visited them to get my bike frame paintwork repaired and I realised there are many people who are getting their old bikes smartened up.

Who are Argos Racing Cycles?

Argos Racing Cycles is a company that has been in operation for nearly 50 years and specialises in custom bike building, painting and anything mechanical. 

The company was founded in 1974 by Arthur Needham, and initially built custom frames that were exported to California and Florida in the US.  By the 1980s the company expanded into renovating frames in 1992 and built low profile frames.  One was built for Stuart Dangerfield which was used to win the British National Hill Climb Championship.  Remaining focused on creating customised time trail bikes ensured the company stayed true to their roots of manufacturing frames.  In 1998 Stuart Dangerfield won the 25 mile time trial championship on an Argos built bike.

It was in the 1990s that the company responded to the changing market and increased their capacity to undertake renovation and respraying of bike frames.

The changing of the century saw founder Arthur Needham retire (to ride his bike), and his son Garry take charge.

And for the next 20 years, the company has continued to build, paint and restore bikes.  The only work which is out of their scope is fixing carbon bikes, which is a complex process. 

Aladdin’s Cave of bikes   

On my visits to Argos to drop off and collect my bike I saw some interesting and unique bikes.  Argos were in the process of restoring a Mark 1 Raleigh Chopper.  This bike was going to be used for display purposes only.  In addition, they were in the process of stripping down a bike dating back to 1908, called the Royal Winchester, which had an old-fashioned lock which when engaged, meant you could not turn the handlebars. 

There was a whole range of bikes that were in the process of being restored and they ranged from across the generations, these included a Colnago from the 1990s to a recent Trek Speed Concept. 

The Process of bike restoration

Mark, an employee of over 30 years was kind enough to give me a tour of their workshop and explain the very methodical and refined process that all these bikes undergo to be restored to their former glory. 

Step 1 – Requirements gathering

This is the most vital part of the process, where the customer’s requirements are discussed, documented, and understood.  The details are recorded on a data capture sheet that has been refined over the years and this is what will be delivered.

Step 2 – Degreasing the bike

In preparation for Step 3, which is where the paint is removed, the bike is completely degreased and components removed and the bike completely disassembled.  The point is to remove all contaminants and an industrial chemical is used to achieve this.  The chemical does not remove the paint, it merely cleans the surfaces.

Step 3 – Paint removal 

The process for removing paint is different, dependent on the material. 

For steel, components can be shot blasted, using fine grit blast. 

For aluminium frames, you can not use that process as it is too hard and so chemicals are used.

For carbon, this is a labour intensive process as the frame has to be hand sanded.

Step 4 – Paint

Like with the previous process, the painting is done in stages.

The first part is applying a primer or undercoat, 2 coats are applied before the frame is baked in an oven and the paint hardened.

The second part is applying the colour.  Three coats are applied and again a baking process applied.

The third part of the painting process is where any decals are placed on the frame.

The fourth and final part is where a lacquer is applied to seal the paint.  Two coats are required.

A quality control check is undertaken after each process.

Step 5 – Cleaning the bike

The threads are cleaned and the paint polished, to take away any imperfections.  Matt finish can’t be polished.

Step 6 – Assembly

The bike is then finally assembled.


Mark talked me through the bikes that are being currently worked on and each bike has a unique story.  Some are being restored as there is a family connection but the common theme is that the bikes all evoke an emotional link for their owner.

Mark noted that many of the bikes in the shop are as a result of what he calls “COVID projects” – people have dusted off old bikes that they have had stored in their garage and are getting them restored. 

I appreciate Argos Racing Cycles is a UK based company.  They even accept bikes that are shipped to them from across the world

Over the years, I have let a few bikes go, including a beautiful purple Raleigh Chopper, which I now deeply regret, so my advice, forget decluttering, opt for restoration and give those old bikes the tender loving care they deserve and get them back in use.

For more information visit Argos Racing Cycles (