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  1. #1
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    mechnics of a used bike - when to upgrade to a new/another bike?

    ok, i have been using a used bike (huffy) to start easing into biking. My question is how do I determine if i need a another bike? Like the current one seems to work fine, its not breaking on me. the gears maybe a little off, but i can live with that.

  2. #2
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    When you feel that you are riding an amount that justifies the purchase of a nicer bike. If you are happy on your current bike, keep riding. Sometimes at the end of the season there are good deals to be had, though. Keep an eye on the bike shops and try riding a few in what you decide your price range is. I think you will find them nicer than your Huffy.

  3. #3
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    All decisions involve balancing cost, benefit and risk. Upgrading (making small improvements) involves smaller costs and benefits, but there is very little risk of making things worse.

    Buying a new bike will cost more all at once, may not improve things and may have cause other problems (like theft risk). Also note that if you use a bike alot even a new bike will likely start to need upgrades as no stock bike is perfect.

    If your frame is wrong, the wheel size is wrong, you need a fancy suspension system, or other large changes your best bet is a new bike.
    2000 Montague CX, I do not recommend it, but still ride it.
    Strida 3, I recommend it for rides < 10mi wo steep hills.
    2006 Rowbike 720 Sport, I recommend it as an exercise bike.
    1996 Birdy, Recommend.
    Wieleder CARiBIKE (folding), decent frame.

  4. #4
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    When to decide to upgrade/get a new bike? That's an easy one, on the way home from the shop after you pike up your lastest new bike.

  5. #5
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    Diminishing returns come into play. By buying a better bike (with decent components... and decent doesn't mean XTR or Dura-Ace in a lot of cases... for a lot of people, an Alvio-based drivetrain is all they need,) and making sure it fits you (size, clipless pedal angle and adjustment, stem height, seat height and angle, etc), you get to an optimal point in riding.

    There is a cost point where once you have a properly fitted bike, throwing money at it will get you lighter parts and style points, but that's fundamentally it. For me at my level (or lack of) skill... (using Kona's stuff as an example as I am on their website) a King Zing that costs around $5500 will not do me any more good than a $1200 Zing, because I don't have the skill that can take advantage of Dura-Ace components over 105s. It may even be a liability, as if I am riding a very twitchy racing bike may end up totalling the bike due to inexperienced crashes.

    Another example would be a front wheel hub. Both an XT hub and an XTR hub will do you quite well. The XTR hub is designed to be finely-tuned and lightweight for racing, however you will pay at least 2-4 times the price for the XTR hub. For most people, the difference between the two may not even be noticable. If you want a bike that has the best of everything, XTR hubs have 137-150 grams of weight (without QR), and XT front hubs have 150-180 grams of weight (without QR). For some, that 20-30 grams may win or lose them races, for others, the $100 shelled out for the difference between an XT and an XTR hub may not mean anything at all.

    There is by far a bigger difference in ridability between a $100 X-Mart special versus a $350 hardtail than a $350 hardtail versus a $4000 hardtail.

    Its sad in a way -- people get lured into buying a $100 X-Mart special for cycling, end up crashing or getting sore on it, and giving up cycling as a hobby/sport altogether not realizing the eason they had the problems was due to a crappy bike.

    Its all up to what you want to spend money on. There is a nice sweet spot (I'm roughly guessing around $1000 for a hardtail, $1800 for a DS [1], $1200 for a road bike) where you get a good, well made and well-fitting bike, and money after that will get you better looking and lighter stuff, but not as big a return.

    [1]: I've found some dual-suspension bikes which look to be great buys for the price. The "plain" Kona Kikapu for example. However, if you chuck $200 more for the Kikapu deluxe, you get a MUCH better drivetrain. For a new DS, I'd expect to pay $1200-$1500 at a minimum. Correct me if I'm wrong, please.
    Last edited by mlts22; 10-12-06 at 03:11 PM.

  6. #6
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    If your Huffy is typical, the components won't be very durable and will wear out rather soon. As soon as something major breaks, plan on buying a new, better bike. There is nothing on a Huffy worth replacing as it is just throwing good money after bad. Not to seem snobish, but Huffys are very cheap because they are very cheaply made and equipped.

    Just for fun, borrow a good quality bike from a friend or ask for a test ride at a bike shop (a real bike shop, not X-Mart or Dicks Sporting Goods). I believe you will be amazed at the difference.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by leob1
    When to decide to upgrade/get a new bike? That's an easy one, on the way home from the shop after you pike up your lastest new bike.
    This is the answer everyone has been waiting for!!!

    Maybe to be really helpful to the OP -- instead of displaying a pathological bias against Huffys* -- a few answers are needed to questions such as: What year and model is the Huffy being ridden now (let's get that out of the way first)? What do you want to use your bike for? How far and how often do you expect to travel on it? What is your current experience -- how many years or months have you been riding? How much money do you wish to spend or budget for? Do you know anything about fit? Do you have any physical ailments that might influence your riding? Are there bike shops in the neighbourhood? Have you dealt with them... and do you trust them? Are you sore after riding the Huffy? Are there bicycle riding courses offered in your area that you could take so you do know what you want to buy?

    * Remember, the OP's Huffy was already used, and the only apparent need is for a gear tune-up. Refer to the current drool-over-a-Huffy thread in Road Cycling on how misguided broad denigration can be. And if people took a really close look at the low-level bikes in LBSs, they would realise they are no better in component quality than the Huffys and probably no better assembled (and because the componentry is often of similar standard, Huffys don't rust or corrode or wear out any faster). I also wonder what the answers would have been like if the bit in brackets (Huffy) had been omitted in the orignal post.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  8. #8
    Senior Member rykoala's Avatar
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    Rowan- agreed on the cheap LBS bikes. I see very little difference between them and the *mart bikes. Esp the older huffy's, those weren't half bad bikes for the causal rider. The new stuff is garbage.

    I upgraded from a *mart bike ( a "mongoose" full suspension thing.... prolly weighed 40lbs by itself...) when the rear wheel disintegrated on me. I knew it wasn't worth it to fix it. I make it a point not to polish a turd....

    I bought a used rock hopper and haven't looked back. Its an awesome bike.

  9. #9
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    I tell friends, if you have ridden 1,000 miles, you are a committed rider and deserve nice equipment. This doesn't necessarily mean a 3K carbon roadie, but decent stuff within your general budget. It might be a $400.00 Trek. It's up to you how high you want to go. But keep in mind, I have never heard a complaint about someone having too nice a bike. Upgraded bikes really have a lot to offer. bk

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    This is the answer everyone has been waiting for!!!

    Maybe to be really helpful to the OP -- instead of displaying a pathological bias against Huffys* -- a few answers are needed to questions such as: What year and model is the Huffy being ridden now (let's get that out of the way first)? What do you want to use your bike for? How far and how often do you expect to travel on it? What is your current experience -- how many years or months have you been riding? How much money do you wish to spend or budget for? Do you have any physical ailments that might influence your riding? Are there bike shops in the neighbourhood? Have you dealt with them... and do you trust them? Are you sore after riding the Huffy? Are there bicycle riding courses offered in your area that you could take so you do know what you want to buy?

    * Remember, the OP's Huffy was already used, and the only apparent need is for a gear tune-up. Refer to the current drool-over-a-Huffy thread in Road Cycling on how misguided broad denigration can be. And if people took a really close look at the low-level bikes in LBSs, they would realise they are no better in component quality than the Huffys and probably no better assembled (and because the componentry is often of similar standard, Huffys don't rust or corrode or wear out any faster). I also wonder what the answers would have been like if the bit in brackets (Huffy) had been omitted in the orignal post.

    Year and model of the Huffy... no idea... i would say its about 4+ years old.. maybe more... (sorry cant help here)
    What do you want to use your bike for? : commuting to work, (recent college grad, i have a car, but want to bike.. ) also occusional weekend rides (20+ miles)
    my riding experience.... well.. i know how to ride a bike.. that is about it...
    budget... this is flexible.. went to REI and saw a bike for $450 that interested me... so.. it depends on the deal that i think i am getting.. but say from $300-500 ? (i know that is low, but yea.. that is why i have a huffy... )
    fitting: vaguely.. but not much.. so answer is no... to be safe...
    no physical problems...
    bike shops.. there are a ton of them around.. but i dont know how to approach them to ask for a test ride and such...
    and lastly.. no bicycle classes... .. well at least none that i know of



    as of now.. i just tune up the huffy every now, but it isnt great... am going to visit the local bike shops to test some rides out and see if there is a difference...

  11. #11
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    And if people took a really close look at the low-level bikes in LBSs, they would realise they are no better in component quality than the Huffys and probably no better assembled (and because the componentry is often of similar standard, Huffys don't rust or corrode or wear out any faster)
    I disagree. I've attempted to assemble and tune X-mart level bikes and the worst Bike Shops have to offer is vastly superior.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by infernobutterfl
    Year and model of the Huffy... no idea... i would say its about 4+ years old.. maybe more... (sorry cant help here)
    What do you want to use your bike for? : commuting to work, (recent college grad, i have a car, but want to bike.. ) also occusional weekend rides (20+ miles)
    my riding experience.... well.. i know how to ride a bike.. that is about it...
    budget... this is flexible.. went to REI and saw a bike for $450 that interested me... so.. it depends on the deal that i think i am getting.. but say from $300-500 ? (i know that is low, but yea.. that is why i have a huffy... )
    fitting: vaguely.. but not much.. so answer is no... to be safe...
    no physical problems...
    bike shops.. there are a ton of them around.. but i dont know how to approach them to ask for a test ride and such...
    and lastly.. no bicycle classes... .. well at least none that i know of

    as of now.. i just tune up the huffy every now, but it isnt great... am going to visit the local bike shops to test some rides out and see if there is a difference...
    For your price range, you should be able to pick up a reasonable bike. But pay special, special, special attention to fit (you did get that? ). If the bike shop doesn't show any particular interest in how the bike fits you, say thanks and go somewhere else. It's the biggest failing of all bicycle matters. Do a bit of research on the net on bike fit so you have a clue.

    If you are thinking of just commuting, you might have to consider the type of roads you ride over. If they are littered with potholes, then an MTB with wide tyres might be appropriate. Don't buy one with knobbies on it if 50% or more of your riding is going to be on the road; get the LBS to swap out the tyres. The commuting forum is also a useful place to check (which I think you already know).

    As to front suspension, try to avoid it, although the marketing experts and LBSs continue to provide junk at the lower price scales. Suspension forks might seem a good idea, but they wear out quickly, and you would be better off with an ordinary fork.

    I am not particularly keen on hybrids -- they are a compromise between MTB and road, and to me don't work sufficiently well. If you are young and fit and have reasonable core strength, consider a road bike, but not a racer.

    Again, the market seems to be limited for practical road bikes with drop bars that have sufficient fork and stay width to take wider tyres, and with suitable braze-ons for a rear rack. If you do go the road bike route, try to make sure it is delivered with the handlebars close to the seat height. A touring bike meets all these parameters.

    Check the commuting forum for some advice on what they use... a bit of a Search should help, or just a browse through the pages. But don't mention you want to upgrade from a Huffy... just say you want to upgrade from a cheap, used bike to something in the budget range you mentioned.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  13. #13
    Senior Member mattface's Avatar
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    If you want a road bike, you might want to look for good used rather than new cheap. It's really hard to get a decent road bike for under $500 new. That will require more resaerch, and self education to get a good one that fits, but if your so-inclined the homework can pay off. Lots of really nice older bikes are under-appreciated and you can get really nice deals. The trick there is to know what you are looking for really well. Upgrading bikes can get costly fast, so wether it's a new bike or a used one try to make sure it's very close to how you want it, or you can very quickly spend a lot of money on parts to get it there.

  14. #14
    Senior Member mattface's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, and to address the original question: The only time upgrading an old bike is worth it is if you really like the bike. Complete used bikes are so cheap, wether they are Huffys or Treks, or Raleighs, or Nishiki or whatever. If you have an old bike and it's not quite what you want, you will spend a lot of money trying to get it there. If it winds up not doing it for you you will never get that money back out of the bike. Sure you can sell the nice components on ebay, then put the bike back how it wa and sell it or give it away, but it won't be worth the trouble.

    On the other hand if you have a bike that you love, no matter what brand it's probably worthwhile to upgrade it to make it better. It's still true you'll never get your money back out of it if you sell it, but if you already love it then that's probably not going to happen.

    So to oversimplify: If it doesn't make you sad to consider selling your bike then it's probably not worth upgrading.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattface
    So to oversimplify: If it doesn't make you sad to consider selling your bike then it's probably not worth upgrading.
    Simplified, to be sure, but a very true statement.

    I agree that you should spend some time test riding bikes so that you get some idea of what's available and how it feels/performs.

    If you've never experienced a road bike, you will be amazed at how fast they can go, how quiet they are, etc.

    I, personally, love the speed, that feeling that I must be cheating to be able to achieve that feeling of freedom that comes over me when I can so pleasantly cruise along at 15-20 mph all day long without having to part with a dime for gas, oil, etc.

    I would mildly disagree with the advice to lean towards a mountain bike with wider tires if your route takes you over roads with broken glass and other debris. You can work around that problem, and, if you like the feel of a road bike, I feel moving to an mtb for that reason alone is giving up more than needed.

    If your path frequently takes you off road for extended periods, then, perhaps an mtb would be the better choice.

    My main bike these days is a cyclocross (which most would consider a hybrid). I is fitted out with thin tires and is geared for the road, so in its current setup, is more of a road bike than a hybrid.

    I wouldn't recommend against my bike, except that I doubt you'll find a good one new in your price range, and used ones in your range may be hard to come by.

    But, there are literally hundreds of capable, quality, used road bikes in the bike shops these days. When properly maintained, these will ride as well as when they were new.

    If you purchase from a reputable bike shop that tells you a bike has been reconditioned, then, it should be in like new condition except for any cosmetic blemishes.

    I truly believe this would be your best bet.

    Good luck to you, and keep us up to date on your shopping progress.

    Caruso

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