Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Bikes: 2004 Bianchi Veloce, Schwinn 3-speed, coaster-brake road bike, Fuji MTB
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Centurion: the wiggle probably means your hub is loose. By that I mean the cones that roll along the bearings on opposite sides of the hub are too far away from each other. If this is the case, it is an easy fix, but it absolutely requires that you use a cone wrench. If you want to do it yourself, a bike shop will probably sell you the correct-size cone wrench and a good repair manual (I like the Glenn's and Bicycling Magazine ones). There are other possibilities, though: While you jiggle the wheel, watch the axle nuts or quick-release skewer and make sure the axle isn't moving in the forks. If it is, then you may just need to tighten the nuts or skewer. If the axle isn't moving and the wheel is, it's probably the hub being loose. You can tell that this is the case if you can see the hub move w/respect to a non-moving axle. If on the other hand, the hub isn't jiggling but the rim is, you could have lots of really
loose spokes. This is more common on totally junky wheels unlikely to be found on a Centurion, but you never know. If you have tons of loose spokes, you're probably better off taking it to a shop for repairs, as it would probably involve wheel truing.
Unless your town has a community bike shop where someone'll show you how to do the work. Tell me where you are and I might be able to recommend one.
As for the Murray, you tried the right thing. You may just need a new stem or even just the stem wedge. As for whether it's worth bothering, it depends on what kind of bike it is, what else is wrong with it, how much time you feel like spending on learning bike repair, and what you're gonna use it for. I wouldn't bother with any dept-store-brand "mountain bike." But a cruiser or 3-speed is nice for getting around a flattish town if you're not making really long trips on it. And with a giant basket, it's great for groceries..
Originally Posted by gazolba
I bought 2 bikes from thrift stores. One is a Centurion Executive (cost $12.50) , the other is a Murray (I bought this for $9 mainly to get the neat luggage rack).
Here are the 2 problems and bear in mind I know zero about bike mechanics.
On the Centurion, when I hold the front fork the wheel can be moved right and left. Does this mean the hub is worn? Is this an easy fix?
On the Murray, when I hold the front between my knees, I can move the handlebar stem right and left. I tried tightning the nut on top and it made no difference. I realize this is a crappy bike, should I even bother with it?