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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 09-27-08, 02:09 AM   #1
Newspaperguy
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Is this bike worth the effort?

Some time ago, someone gave me an old Asama mountain bike. Judging by the component group and the U-brake, I'd guess it would be from 1987 or 1988. It would have been an entry level bike in its day. For several years, it had been sitting outside in the elements. Oddly enough, the frame seems decent with just a bit of surface rust.

I'm hoping to get this bike in shape for a winter cruiser, but I want to know if it's going to be more time, money and effort than it's worth.

The most noticeable problem is the bottom bracket, which must be replaced. The front chainrings don't look great either (although I might just be noticing the play in the bottom bracket.) The rear derailleur may need an adjustment or replacement as it's not moving through all the gears. The wheels are in good shape.

If I start to do the repair work on this bike, should I expect to find some expensive surprises? Is it worth fixing this bike?
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Old 09-27-08, 03:08 AM   #2
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Some time ago, someone gave me an old Asama mountain bike....I'm hoping to get this bike in shape for a winter cruiser, but I want to know if it's going to be more time, money and effort than it's worth?
Upgrading old entry/mid-level bikes is rarely worth it, but if you're able to stay true to the goal of mainly keeping it rolling around its original level of performance, that can be done pretty much on the cheap. (unless, of course, you get stiffed by a LBS with a poor customer attitude.)

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The most noticeable problem is the bottom bracket, which must be replaced.
Maybe, maybe not. At that vintage it's probably a cup & cone BB. If you're willing to settle for slightly less than 100% performance a repack and some new bearing balls will probably be enough to resurrect it. OTOH sticking a basic cartridge BB in there would probably be a faster process, and might turn out cheaper.

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The front chainrings don't look great either
If you're talking about the shape of the teeth being bad, then a replacement is in order, either immediately or in the near future. If it's rusty you might want to go for a new chain while you're at it, and a new chain will not play nice with a badly worn chainring. Still, a perfectly serviceable but low-end Sugino crank isn't particularly expensive either.

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..although I might just be noticing the play in the bottom bracket?
Now you're getting me confused. Have you noticed these problem areas while riding the bike, or while looking the bike over? Please describe the symptoms together with your diagnosis.

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The rear derailleur may need an adjustment or replacement as it's not moving through all the gears.
Once again replace or service is mostly down to your required level of performance. Simply riding a RD to the point where it will no longer function at all is pretty much an impossibility, usually you need to apply some external force to achieve that. Not moving through all the gears sounds more like adjustment than terminal wear.

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If I start to do the repair work on this bike, should I expect to find some expensive surprises?
Unless there's some parts of the bike that are utterly worn out and hard to replace(which seems improbable) - no.
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Is it worth fixing this bike?
Here's my recommendation:
-give it a good clean and lube yourself, particularly chain and RD, then take it out for a careful, restrained ride. If it then will take you around the block without any drama, then it will probably be a good candidate for a functional renovation. This is particularly true if you'll be able to resist the lure of upgrades instead of simple replacements.

Next issue is whether you give reliablity/service interval or cost the higher priority. If cost is a priority then replace only on an as-needed basis. If you're willing to buy yourself some piece of mind, then be a bit more radical, get all new tubes/tires, cables, brake pads, chain and cassette/freewheel in one go.
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Old 09-27-08, 05:08 AM   #3
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The real trick with a project like this is knowing when you're done.

Invest some time into the bike before you invest ANY money. Disassemble the bottom bracket and any other questionable parts and examine them before you spend the first dime. Make a projected budget for the project and decide if you think that it's worth it. Only then should you start acquiring parts. Every dollar that you spend on a project like this makes it that much harder to quit and walk away.
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Old 09-27-08, 06:36 AM   #4
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The real trick with a project like this is knowing when you're done.

Invest some time into the bike before you invest ANY money. Disassemble the bottom bracket and any other questionable parts and examine them before you spend the first dime. Make a projected budget for the project and decide if you think that it's worth it. Only then should you start acquiring parts. Every dollar that you spend on a project like this makes it that much harder to quit and walk away.
Actually don't even bother investing any time into it. Look at the bike, note what's wrong and ask yourself how much needs to be replaced, and the cost.

Part costs = ?
Tool costs = ?
Labour costs = ?

You can obviously cut down on the latter two if you already do mechanical work on your own bike. Most people who come in with "I just found this old bike somewhere and I want to fix it", usually end up with a bill several times more than the bike is worth.

So again, what is the condition of the bike? Do the brakes work properly? Are the wheels generally true? Does the drivetrain work? A bike that has been exposed to the elements for several years probably isn't going to be worth it as a general note.

If you can't write up a repair estimate yourself, show us some pictures of the bike and tell us what doesn't work. And we can help you.

Last edited by operator; 09-27-08 at 06:43 AM.
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Old 09-27-08, 06:51 AM   #5
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I have been helping a number of people at work to fix up old bikes into commuters. The average price for fixing up a bike has been in the $40 to $70 range. Remove and regrease everything, Check the bearing surfaces, replace the cables, replace the brake pads, look at the cogs and chain rings, and replace the chain are typical. Fixing up an older bike will hone your mechanic skills more than anything else because you have to work with older technology. If you can successfully get an older bike into shape you can get the more modern gear in great adjustment.
For the bearing surfaces for ball and cup type for both bottom brackets and hubs are pretty cheap from the Quality catalog. I have an old original Specialize Stumpjumper that I am setting up for commuting my self. The BB was trashed because it loosened up on a very long trip on the lumber roads of Oregon years ago. I have been living with the consequences however, when I went to replace the spindle it was found to be 135mm Siguno and it couldn't be found. I was going to replace it with a 127 Shimano UN seales bb but, I found a 131mm assymetrical spindle for $5 that would keep the chainling the same on the drive side (lucky). It has taken a little time and grease but the bike is ready to go and has cost me only $38.
Go to a good LBS and have them look up the parts needed in the Quality catalog. Most mechanics that have been around for some time know well how to do this. Young hotshots usually only know contemporary stuff and will tell you you need a new bike. NOT NECESSARY in most cases. Any bike is worth fixing up and will usually give you years more service.
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Old 09-27-08, 06:55 AM   #6
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I think the key to this project is the question that was raised by the other posts, who's going to do the work? If you're doing it or if you want to learn and don't mind buying some tools, you've probably got a great project bike. I do all my own basic work. Nothing you've said concerns me. I'd buy that bike at a garage sale for $10 and rebuild it. But, if you have to pay for labor and replace some parts with new, the price can get up there in a hurry. In this area, a basic MTB in good running order sells for around $75 to $90. BTW, you're right, they make GREAT beaters.
It's your call.
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Old 09-27-08, 08:06 AM   #7
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If you do the work yourself, you can start with a complete tear-down before buying anything. That way if you find a real show-stopper like the bottom bracket shell threads are trashed or the headset is shot and you can't find a replacement with a short enough stack height (that happened to me with an old Trek.) you can give up the project with no money lost. If the needed replacement parts are cheap enough you can decide if it's worth continuing.

I agree, the project isn't worth the money a bike shop would have to charge for labor and parts.
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Old 09-27-08, 08:39 AM   #8
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If you have the tools, the most expensive purchase might be a new set of tires. Cables still good? If you are using it for a winter beater, everything should be able to be brought in to tolerance.
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Old 09-27-08, 09:01 PM   #9
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I've put many abandoned or otherwise free bikes back into service. The big difference is whether they have been stored inside or left outside. Outside ones are usually pretty sad and often not worth fixing up. Inside ones usually only need lube, adjustment and tires to be returned to service.
For example I was recently given a full rigid Trek 7100 hybred bike that probably has less than 50 miles on it and has always been stored inside. I lubed the wheel, BB and headset bearings, adjusted the rear derailer. Even the original Bontrager select Inverse tires are in perfect shape.
Like some posters said above, the OP may find his bike is in better shape than he thinks when he relubes and adjusts it.

Last edited by CharlesC; 09-27-08 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 09-28-08, 06:45 AM   #10
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+1 Who does the work is key. If you do the work yourself, most decent bikes can be put into riding condition for a reasonable sum. If you pay your LBS, forget it.

I know nothing about your particular bike. My general rule is that I donate bottom end bikes that I find (I don't buy them unless they are super cheap, like $5). I refurbish bikes that meet some basic criteria: alloy rims, cromoly frame, no X-mart stuff. I figure if I am going to put time into a bike, it needs to something decent. Its kind of like rebuilding the engine on an older car that is rusted out. Not worth the effort. And it basically takes the same amount of time and the same amount of money in parts to fix up an old Huffy (junk) as it does an old Trek.

+1 Derailleur probably needs adjustment. Parks Tool site has an excellent guide to derailleur adjustment. And don't give up on the crankset yet. If the BB has loose ball bearings, replace them, repack with ample amounts of grease, and adjust. It could be saved as well.

Worst comes to worst, if it is not worth fixing, donate or resell cheap on C/L, and keep your eyes out for a better candidate.
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Old 09-28-08, 07:41 AM   #11
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Need Pictures.
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