Fixing Used Bike vs Buying New - University Commuter

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by WoodNUFC, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. WoodNUFC macrumors 6502a

    WoodNUFC

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2009
    Location:
    A Library
    #1
    As the title says I'll be looking to bike to a University campus starting this fall. I bought a used Trek 7.1 FX for $250, but it needs some maintenance to get it up to commuting - new tires, brakes, rear derailleur (orig. was bent), and chain. All told it will cost about $100 to do it myself.

    My wife isn't convinced that the used bike route is the best option, as I will have to spend more money on it. She wants me to sell it and put the money towards a new bike.

    I'm thinking that I'll still be ahead even after the repairs. $250+$100 = $350 as opposed to buying the same model new at $470+ tax.

    The big thing is, if this bike gets stolen I'm not emotionally attached to it at $350. (If that makes sense.)

    What would you cyclists do?
     
  2. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stuck in the middle with you
    #2
    I would have done the same thing you did except start with a cheaper bike. Tell your wife to look around a campus bike rack and she'll see that there are no flashy new bikes that haven't been stolen yet.
     
  3. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #3
    Buying new parts for an older bike can very quickly add up. Obviously the manufacturers buy derailleurs and tires in bulk for a fraction of what you'll spend at the bike shop.

    I've built a few "commuter" bikes from used ones I got free or bought at garage sales, and generally if I buy new parts for them, I'll buy inexpensive "no name" components from Nashbar or another online source. No sense in putting a Shimano or Campagnolo gruppo on a bike thats going to be chained to a lamp post.

    If you can end up with a good, rideable used commuter bike for $350 you've done well.

    I'd be a bit cautious about replacing a chain without replacing the cassette also - chains and sprockets tend to wear in unison, as the pins in the chain wear, causing it to "stretch" they also make the teeth on the sprocket slightly hook shaped. Putting a new chain on worn sprockets will make for rough riding. Unless the chain is in really rough shape, you may consider holding off on that expense. Its amazing what a good scrub in a bath of kerosene, followed by careful drying and re-oiling can do to a chain that simply "looks" old.

    If you are serious about commuting, there are three other purchases I'd heartily recommend: 1) A rear rack and set of pannier bags, to take a change of clothes plus any work papers, lunch, etc. 2) A GOOD QUALITY light to get you home safely if you work late; and 3) A decent set of plastic rain fenders. Riding in the rain isn't fun, but its not too bad if you can avoid getting sprayed by filthy water thrown up by your own wheels.
     
  4. WoodNUFC thread starter macrumors 6502a

    WoodNUFC

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2009
    Location:
    A Library
    #4
    Thanks for the insight. I was wondering about replacing the freewheel. The chain needs replaced, as it's stretched.

    I already have fenders on the list, but I'm not sure if I'll buy a rack yet. If I find that my backpack is too cumbersome I will certainly give it a shot.

    What about using a small LED flashlight for a headlight? I have a seminar once a week that lasts until 8:30p, so I need to be able to see on my ride home.
     
  5. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #5
    A lot depends on how long your commute is.

    It is obviously possible to commute with a backpack; but it makes riding much, much harder, especially if there is anything heavy in the backpack. Ideally you want to be leaning forward, with your head down, to get the best aerodynamics - and you find it hard to do so with the straps of a backpack tugging at you.

    A headlight is, IMHO (and also in most places legally) a necessity for riding at night. And I wouldn't rely on a flashlight - because you really need both hands to control the bike itself. Remember also that a headlight provides two functions - it alerts other road users to your presence, but it also illuminates the roadway ahead of you, showing potholes, manhole covers, drain grates, etc. If the entirety of your route is well covered by streetlighting you can get away with a smallish light but for dark side streets you need something that puts out a minimum of 200 lumens or so.
     
  6. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #6
    I'd go with a used bike. If it's anything like when I was at Uni they tend to get stolen anyway...
     
  7. WoodNUFC thread starter macrumors 6502a

    WoodNUFC

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2009
    Location:
    A Library
    #7
    The commute is 10 miles RT. I will probably look at getting a rack in the future. Especially if the backpack leaves me with a wet back!

    I was thinking about getting a flashlight mount from Amazon. I have a few mini flashlights over 300 Lumens that look like they'd do a good job. However, if a bike specific light is better, I'd consider it. I have to get a blinky for the back anyway, so I'll have a look.

    I know my brother had his stolen when we were doing our undergrad. Apparently a basketball player was too tired to walk, so he stole my brother's bike from the gym. :rolleyes:
     

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