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  1. #1
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    Buying First Road Bike - College Student - Budget of $150-$200(maximum) - Decisions?

    Hi everyone,

    I am a college student with almost no money (I have a budget of $150 at a maximum of $200 if I can beg some folks. Other than that I have no extra money) I am looking to purchase a road bike for my commuting (25 miles/week) + if I take it out on the weekends for normal bike rides. The problem is that I don't have a lot of money to spend. I know the saying "you get what you pay for" and that's why I'm wondering if I should buy an 70s-80s used bike from a local seller or the GMC Denali 700c from Walmart (Truth be told, I just bought it yesterday and am questioning myself right now.)

    Anyhow, I have been looking at a local bike seller and the following bikes w/ descriptions are available in my price range. These are the only pictures and descriptions the seller has. I'm 6'2" 190lbs and figure I'd need a 60-62cm bike. If you guys have time, can you please look at the below bikes and tell me if they are worth the price (better than the GMC Denali?) and if the bikes are going to last me for a couple years? (any problems you guys notice in the pictures?) Also if there are any specific questions I should ask? THANK YOU SO MUCH

    1. 62cm Univega Nuovo Sport - 12 speeds, ready to go, new brake cables and tires. $160



    2. 63cm Schwinn World Sport. 10 speeds. Frame is in good shape. Everything works. Ready to ride. $150



    3. 62cm Schwinn Sprint. 10 speeds. rides smooth, ready to go. $150



    4. 62cm Univega Gran Rally. 12 speeds new tires. Ready to go. Triple butted chromoly tubing. Shimano 600 group. $180



    5. 62cm Schwinn Le Tour II. 10 speeds. very clean bike. ready to ride. $160



    6. 62cm Schwinn Prelude. Great bike. shimano 105 and 600 components. rides fine. Columbus Tenax frame tubing. $200



    Thank everyone in advance as I really really appreciate your help and expertise. Thank you

  2. #2
    Buh'wah?! Amani576's Avatar
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    If they fit... The Schwinn Prelude or the Univega Nuovo Sport.
    -Gene-

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    Senior Member that_guy_zach's Avatar
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    Yep. I would grab the Prelude. The rest of them have dry tires, no bar tape etc.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amani576 View Post
    If they fit... The Schwinn Prelude or the Univega Nuovo Sport.
    -Gene-
    Hi there amani. Do you mind explaining why those 2 out of all 6? And also, you say "If they fit...", you think they might be too big/small?

    Thank you for your help.

  5. #5
    Ride heavy metal. Maddox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by headstrong22 View Post
    Hi there amani. Do you mind explaining why those 2 out of all 6? And also, you say "If they fit...", you think they might be too big/small?

    Thank you for your help.
    The Univega and the Prelude are the most desireable based on frame materials (type of steel) and componentry. They are good riding models which would be easy to maintain and upgrade, and both have a reputation for quality (out of their respective model ranges). As far as the Prelude goes, 105 and 600 components are great, and last well.

    I vote for the Prelude or one of the two Univegas - they're both top notch. Steer clear of the World Sport, LTII, and Sprint - those aren't nearly as good as the others.

    Regarding fit, you'd really have to try them out to see if they'll fit. I'm 6'1, but because I have a lower hipbone, 59 or 60 is usually optimal for me - I could never dream of riding a 63cm bike comfortably. You'll really need to try them out to see, but 60-62 should fit - 63 maybe. Only way to know is to try.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by that_guy_zach View Post
    Yep. I would grab the Prelude. The rest of them have dry tires, no bar tape etc.
    Hi zach. What are your thoughts on the Univega Nuovo Sport? Also, is it safe to say that all of these bikes are better than the GMC Denali 700c I got at Walmart?

  7. #7
    sultan of schwinn EjustE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by headstrong22 View Post
    Also, is it safe to say that all of these bikes are better than the GMC Denali 700c I got at Walmart?
    Yet. Lightyears ahead. The Prelude is the best of the bunch because:

    -it has the best frame
    -it has index shifting (it is an 1989 btw) and upgraded components.

    The gran Rally is a close second. The Nuovo sport had a heavier frame than the rest and not so great components, also looks like steel rims. World Sport and Sprint were entry-level Schwins (late 70s/early 80s for those 2) and the Le Tour was an ok bike with a high tensile frame
    -E

    still stuck in the '80s; '70s were good as well, but i severely dislike tubulars.
    I tri...

  8. #8
    Curmudgeon in Training 20grit's Avatar
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    Quick indicators of what you should look for among these frames...
    1. stem shifters typically indicate a lower end frame.
    2. rear derailleur mounting method. if the derailleur mounts in the drop out slot it's typically an indicator of a lower end bike.
    3. tubing decals. chromoly/mangalloy trumps hi-tensile steel. butted tubes trump straight gauge.

  9. #9
    Ride heavy metal. Maddox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EjustE View Post
    Yet. Lightyears ahead. The Prelude is the best of the bunch because:

    -it has the best frame
    -it has index shifting (it is an 1989 btw) and upgraded components.

    The gran Rally is a close second. The Nuovo sport had a heavier frame than the rest and not so great components, also looks like steel rims. World Sport and Sprint were entry-level Schwins (late 70s/early 80s for those 2) and the Le Tour was an ok bike with a high tensile frame
    That's exactly how I'd place it.

    1. Prelude (Columbus, Indexed, 105/600 combo=good)
    2. Gran Rally (much better than Nuovo)
    3. Nuovo Sport (lower end than Gran Rally, also more neglected looking)

    The only concern I have with several bikes is the apparent rust. The Prelude looks okay, but the Gran Rally seatpost has appears to have a significant amount of rust, and a bunch of the bolts (DT shifter hanger bolt, RD bolt, Front wheel bolt, seatpost bolt) all look pretty red, which is a bad sign.

    In any case, whatever bike you try out, take a set of metric Allen Keys along and make sure the seatpost and stem are removable and aren't stuck or rusted into the frame.

  10. #10
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by headstrong22 View Post
    Hi zach. What are your thoughts on the Univega Nuovo Sport? Also, is it safe to say that all of these bikes are better than the GMC Denali 700c I got at Walmart?
    The Prelude is the only one that I would be interested in. And unfortunately, as I look at all of the pictures, I really have concerns about this seller: what he claims, and what the pictures show, just don't match up.

    Let me just mention a few obvious concerns:

    He claims bike #1 has new tires. No way. He also claims new cables. If so, his cable routing is awful. And if he replaced the cables, why didn't he take a couple of minutes and address the rust on the shifters?

    He calls bike #4 ready to go. So why is there no bar tape. A good flipper can get bar tape for $4 or $5 (I just loaded up on bar tape for $3.99). If you are selling bikes for $150 to $200, why cut that kind of corner. I don't see any reason to leave it incomplete.

    Tires on bike #5 look shot, dirty, etc. And he describes that bike as super clean. Huh?

    There are clear signs of rust on several of the bikes.

    Overall, this has a "pass the trash" look to me. Kind of like he picked up some bikes at garage sales or whatever, knocked the dirt off them, and declared them pristine, ready to go.

    When I can see obvious stuff being overlooked in just looking at pictures, I really question the stuff you can't see, like wheel bearings, bottom bracket bearings, headset, cables, wheels true, frame damage, brake caliper function, etc. I would prefer to pay a little more and buy from someone with obvious pride of workmanship, someone that can walk you through any maintenance they performed.

    Are you ready to perform this additional maintenance, or do you have more in your budget for such maintenance?

    I have owned two Preludes in the last year, they were nice bikes!
    Last edited by wrk101; 06-17-10 at 03:29 PM.

  11. #11
    FBoD Member at Large khatfull's Avatar
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    1) Prelude
    2) Gran Rally
    3) Nuovo Sport
    4) Keep looking

    The first two are fine machines most anyone here would ride. I'm unfamiliar with the Nuovo Sport.

  12. #12
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    Nearly the same here, but I'd go for the Gran Rally as 1 and the Prelude as 2 due to budget. Mainly because it has new tires and you may have a little budget left over to buy a helmet, lock and pump. But I agree with Maddox, the Prelude is a better bike.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Whit51's Avatar
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    If you're using the bike to commute you need good tires from day one, so use some of your 200 dollar budget for some panaracer pasela TGs or equivilant. +1 the Prelude!

  14. #14
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    Take heart, there's an epic thread in the commuting forum reviewing the GMC Denali: Review on the GMC Denali bicycle

    However, if you are intent on vintage, I'd also vote for Schwinn Prelude first, and the Univega Gran Rally second. I'd try to negotiate $175 for the Prelude and $150 for the Univega. Point out as many 'problems' as you can that will cost you additional money: worn or cheap tires, no bar tape, no brake hoods, rust on frame or spokes. Spin the rims to see if they are true (or if they wobble a bit), bring a metric allen key set to test if seat post and stem can be removed (or ask seller to do it), release the wheels and spin the hubs by hand to feel if there is any roughness. Lift the bike to see if the front wheel easily falls to one side of the other - if it doesn't the headset may be toast.

    Unfortunately, unless you trust the seller and/or can confirm it's been completely overhauled (new bearings and grease, brake pads, cables, etc), you're going to have to spend above and beyond your budget. You'll also probably need better tires sooner or later, but that's a given even on new bike shop grade bikes. Wheels are often the weak spot on these and any new entry level bike, so be sure you have plans for a replacement set or learn how to true and service the hubs.

    The Denali will require some adjustment up front, but it's likely to have fewer problems initially than any of these used bikes. However, it's got inexpensive parts that will wear quickly, and you'll probably have to tension the wheels properly sooner than later.

  15. #15
    sultan of schwinn EjustE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JunkYardBike View Post
    Take heart, there's an epic thread in the commuting forum reviewing the GMC Denali: Review on the GMC Denali bicycle

    ...

    The Denali will require some adjustment up front, but it's likely to have fewer problems initially than any of these used bikes. However, it's got inexpensive parts that will wear quickly, and you'll probably have to tension the wheels properly sooner than later.
    That's a great thread, btw, on the commuting forum. The Denali has really scary handlebars: to make those MTB twist-shifters fit, they cut the bar in two places, add the shifters and 'glue' the bar together again. No thank you, an unpleasant surprise waiting to happen...
    -E

    still stuck in the '80s; '70s were good as well, but i severely dislike tubulars.
    I tri...

  16. #16
    Senior Member 5cagm's Avatar
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    I would have to agree with the Prelude as #1 and the Gran Rally for #2. I recently graduated from college so I completely understand your predicament with regards to budget. I also thought about getting a cheap newer bike, but since getting my first C&V I have never looked back. A good deal at $200 for a C&V bike (a la prelude) trumps the quality of any new bike at the same price point. If they'll take it back, I don't think you'll regret returning the GMC. Cheers.

  17. #17
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    Where do you live? Maybe one of us can put something together for you that has been overhauled properly.
    "Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, itís the triumphant twang of a bedspring."

    S. J. Perelman

  18. #18
    Senior Member DiegoFrogs's Avatar
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    I agree with wrk101. The guy (presumably) selling these either has no idea what he's doing or is trying to deceive people. The brake cable housings only appear to be long enough on the Prelude. My guess is that he's flipping these things upside down to work on them or whatever, which is causing damage to the brake cables on the non-aero levers. It's also funny that given the quality difference among the selection, the price difference between high and low end bikes is only 33%.

  19. #19
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    Prelude...$80 max.

    The other two Unis...$40 max.

    You'll probably need to buy new chain and rear cogs. Some many need new tires and brake pads. So figure another $60 bucks. Plus $30 to $50 for a tune up if you don't know how to fix the bike. If seller will not lower price, then wait for a better deal.

    FYI, I paid $25 for a 1985 Bridgestone 400, and $5 for a 1995 Cannondale R600.

  20. #20
    Senior Member DiegoFrogs's Avatar
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    I just noticed the derailer hanger on the World Sport. Is it not even attached?

  21. #21
    Senior Member 5cagm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by furballi View Post
    Prelude...$80 max.

    The other two Unis...$40 max.

    You'll probably need to buy new chain and rear cogs. Some many need new tires and brake pads. So figure another $60 bucks. Plus $30 to $50 for a tune up if you don't know how to fix the bike. If seller will not lower price, then wait for a better deal.

    FYI, I paid $25 for a 1985 Bridgestone 400, and $5 for a 1995 Cannondale R600.
    Well you must live in an awesome market then. I think that the $200 asking price for the prelude, if actually in good condition, ready to ride, and the right size, is fair market value where I am. You're lucky to have found the deals you did but that doesn't mean that someone else who is looking for something to ride should hold out for a miracle deal like the ones you found. That being said I agree with some of the other posters that this guy seems like a sketchball.

  22. #22
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 A late 1980s, indexed shifting Prelude, in pristine, ready to ride condition, would bring about $250 around here. Unfortunately, the Prelude above is not in that condition. So I would discount it accordingly. Certainly it is the best bike of the lot, and a better value than several of the others (seller seems to be stuck on a narrow range price wise, regardless of build quality).

  23. #23
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    That Prelude has mis-matched wheels and a VERY long stem.

    None of the those bikes are "clean, ready to ride" IMO. They all need work and, as someone mentioned a while back, if they need visible work you should be wondering about the bb, wheel bearings, headset, etc.

    None of those bikes are worth their asking price in the condition they are in. Overhauled and ready to go - yeah. But not in the shape they're in now.
    "Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, itís the triumphant twang of a bedspring."

    S. J. Perelman

  24. #24
    Ride heavy metal. Maddox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
    That Prelude has mis-matched wheels and a VERY long stem.

    None of the those bikes are "clean, ready to ride" IMO. They all need work and, as someone mentioned a while back, if they need visible work you should be wondering about the bb, wheel bearings, headset, etc.

    None of those bikes are worth their asking price in the condition they are in. Overhauled and ready to go - yeah. But not in the shape they're in now.
    That is actually a good point. Stem is super long...and wheels very well may be mismatched.

  25. #25
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    I was trying to decide if those Prelude rims are mismatched, or the rear just has a lot of brake pad wear. Really hard for me to tell.

    +1 If you buy the Prelude, that stem is probably too long, get him to trade it out.

    Seller really looks like someone passing off rough garage sale finds onto unsuspecting college students. Prepare to do quite a bit of work to it to make it ride ready, and get a discount for your efforts.

    I routinely buy projects, and I would rate any of these bikes as projects. But I get them at a sizable discount. This does not seem to be a seller interested in selling these projects at discounts. Apparently he can get buyers to overpay for them in as is condition.

    Good catch on the World Sport derailleur hanger, its definitely not attached. I would not buy anything from this guy, unless I could pick it up at a project price (and then, you have to be willing/able/ready to do some serious wrenching on it). The good news is that even a bicycle that has been neglected and ignored for 25 years can be brought back to life. Unless a bike has been crashed, or left outside to rot/rust, they are pretty indestructible.

    I love the term "sketchball". Seems to fit this seller very well.
    Last edited by wrk101; 06-18-10 at 09:43 AM.

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