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Thread: Fix or Sell?

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    Fix or Sell?

    Hi all,

    I'm new to the world of cycling and picked up a 1984 Trek 420 about a month ago. I've loved riding it around (seems fast to me) but it has had a few faults. (previous owner had seat post that high)

    bike2.jpg

    The chain has been skipping sometimes and the rear derailleur is not calibrated correctly (it won't go into the biggest gear and will fall off on the smallest). But other than that, the frame has no rust and the tires are basically brand new.

    Today, I broke a link on the chain and it is no longer ride-able. I was really hoping to get a year's worth of riding out of this bike before having to get it tuned or anything. I figure since I have to take it into a LBS to fix the chain, I might as well get it tuned and looked at. I'm worried that the skipping might not be just the chain because the front cogs are a bit worn (but not horribly so). I know it will cost around 60 for a tune-up plus however extra for fixing or replacing the chain (maybe around 100 total?).

    My question is, would you guys fix it, get it ride-able and flip it on CL and either buy a new bike or search for a different used one or stick it out with this bike. I'm really worried that this bike may turn into a money pit of constantly buying new parts/fixing things. I'm reasonably handy but don't have a lot of space/tools/time (med student).

    I don't have a lot of money but if it will be cheaper in the long run to just buy a low-end new bike I would consider it. Thanks
    Last edited by hurley81388; 05-11-11 at 09:45 PM.

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    Seņor Member 4Rings6Stars's Avatar
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    Buy a chain and put it on yourself. Then adjust the rear derailleur (there are two 'limit' screws), it's very easy if you can't figure it out on your own or by searching online then ask here. Neither of those tasks take a lot of space/tools/time and then you can go from there.

    Post some pictures and you'll get some help, we like old steel Treks here
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    Senior Member Dec1st's Avatar
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    If you love riding it, keep it!

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    wheelin in the years ebr898's Avatar
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    I would be concerned If you Dr.( well to to be ), not to be confused with Dr. Welby who really was not a doctor only played one on tv.... I digress forgive me. It is not brain surgery but be forwarned there may be a couple of specialty tools you may need: Chain tool (wallmart version about $4- break three and you would have been better off buying the cheap park at $13, learn from my mistake), freewheel remover unless your bike is equipt with a Mallard rear hub, then look for a donnor wheel. Chains and rear cogs break in together and if your chain is to the point of skipping your rear freewheel should be replaced. Freewheels are cheap if you order online. FWIW - I think I have regreted selling about every steel Trek Road bike I have ever had.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebr898 View Post
    I would be concerned If you Dr.( well to to be ), not to be confused with Dr. Welby who really was not a doctor only played one on tv.... I digress forgive me. It is not brain surgery but be forwarned there may be a couple of specialty tools you may need: Chain tool (wallmart version about $4- break three and you would have been better off buying the cheap park at $13, learn from my mistake), freewheel remover unless your bike is equipt with a Mallard rear hub, then look for a donnor wheel. Chains and rear cogs break in together and if your chain is to the point of skipping your rear freewheel should be replaced. Freewheels are cheap if you order online. FWIW - I think I have regreted selling about every steel Trek Road bike I have ever had.
    My biggest fear is having to replace the rear cogs. Casettes are fairly expensive online and it looks like a much bigger job than I'm comfortable with considering I've never worked on a bike before. The tools aren't super expensive, but to do such a big job it looks like you really need to have a bike stand. Doing a quick search online those run about 100 bucks. I paid 150 for this bike... did I get ripped off?

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    Cassettes for that bike don't cost nearly that much. If you need to replace that freewheel, that should be fairly cheap- maybe $35-40 or so, and the shop would probably put it on for you for free or really cheap, like $5 I'd bet. I'm guessing the cassettes you saw were 9 or 10 speed road bike cassettes for modern road bikes- those ones are usually pretty pricey, and they wouldn't fit your bike. I think you'd need a freewheel, not a cassette (difference is in how they attach).

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    people's champ marley mission's Avatar
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    who says the freewheel is actually worn and in need of replacing? replace the chain and adjust the limit screws and see how it rides - unfortunately - C&V bikes need maintenance as do all bikes so you can either learn to wrench or pay the LBS to do it - but i would say keep the bike - it looks nice - and from what you say it sounds like its in good shape to boot
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    Having a bikestand is nice but is hardly a requirement, if you don't want to bend over you can flip the bike upside down, or hang it from some rope from a tree... or a couple hooks in the ceiling. Tie the string to the saddle and the stem and wala, a bike stand.

    Also you bought this bike to use, not to flip to make a buck so there is nothing wrong with having to invest a few bux into it, in reality the parts you probably need are the equivalent of one tank of gas! Seems like a good deal to me.
    Last edited by Aquakitty; 05-12-11 at 01:56 AM.

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    In the future, would you rather reflect on your medical school days with a nice vintage, American Trek or a Walmart bike that would probably die on you before you graduate. . Point is, that's a quality bike and putting in a little bit of money and time is more worthwhile in the long-run. Chains are cheap (KMC makes great chains) and the finicky shifting is probably due to your rear derailleur (you might want to tighten your shifters too). To do that only takes about 10 minutes and a screwdriver. Make those changes before thinking about replacing others things like the freewheel etc. More than likely, your bike will run good as new. If you need help, this forum seems to be a friendly and helpful place.

    Oh, and nice bike!

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    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    If you were to buy a new bike, especially a cheap one, you would still have the day to day up keep and expenses. chains are pretty cheap, so is the chain tool, assuming you dont buy a chain w/ a masterlink that requires no tools. cassettes and chainrings will wear out but will still work good enough for thousands of miles. To me it sounds like you just need to set up your rear derailieur, maybe replace the cable while your at it (thats cheap too). there are plenty of tutorials online as to how to do it. its pretty easy once you know how.
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    I would suggest if you are new to cycling and unfamiliar with bicycle mechanics taking it to a shop and have it tuned. ask about replacing the chain and freewheel. it my cost a bit more than doing it yourself but if the bike is runing well you will enjoy riding it more. you have lots of time to learn to work on it.

    perhaps there is a fellow BFer nearby wo is willing to help.
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    wheelin in the years ebr898's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marley mission View Post
    who says the freewheel is actually worn and in need of replacing? replace the chain and adjust the limit screws and see how it rides - unfortunately - C&V bikes need maintenance as do all bikes so you can either learn to wrench or pay the LBS to do it - but i would say keep the bike - it looks nice - and from what you say it sounds like its in good shape to boot
    I am the one who put the idea that he may have to replace the freewheel out there. I may have jumped the *** - sorry to have alarmed you, Hurley81388
    I reviewed the specs. at VintageTrek.com ( http://www.vintage-trek.com/images/t...ek3Touring.pdf ) and if the bike is original it has the Heliomatic hub. Which I belive is good news and bad. Good they seem to be very durable and last a long time. I have kept a spare one around in case I ever needed it, I haven't.
    Bad when it is worn out the OP will face the problem of having to find a new hub/wheel/ wheels set etc. That will be good also, because the new free wheels/ cassets shift oh so smooth compaired to the block cut cogs he has now.

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    Senior Member that_guy_zach's Avatar
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    I agree to keep it and spend a little money on it. Bicycles are simple but intimidating ( at least for me ) when you first start wrenching on them. After you learn how simple they really are the fun begins. The best thing to do is find a GOOD local shop that will sell you what you need for the bike and not run your wallet through the ringer.

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    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    My $.02

    If the chain got so bad as to have actually broke I fear that the cogs may be toast on at least the favorite gears and he'll probably experience skipping in the smaller cogs with a new chain.

    Maybe I'm wrong. The only sure way to know is to try to put a new chain on and to adjust the derailleur and hope for the best.

    If the cogs are worn it's not going to be nearly as cheap to replace the Helicomatic cogset as it would be with a modern cassette or older freewheel. I wouldn't bother. I'd ditch the whole rear wheel and look on Craigslist for a used replacement 27" wheel. That shouldn't cost very much at all if he shops around. Maybe his LBS will hook him up with a good used deal. It might even come with cogs/cassette that works with his system. As Sheldon said, these Helicomatic hubs are losers. Not only are they expensive to find new cassettes but they have bearing issues as well and conesets are unobtanium. I bet the OP could sell the old wheel for as much if not more than the cost of a replacement if the hub and bearings are OK. Perhaps his LBS will help him with this too.

    If the OP isn't up to doing the work himself I can't see why he can't get the work done at a decent LBS using a used wheel and selling the old one for much more than $100. Perhaps much much less. I see wheels on CL all the time for half that price if he can do it himself or find a friend who is local who will help him.

    I'd fix it and ride it or fix it and flip it. It's not worth much broke. The bike is worth fixing in any case IMHO. Just dumping it and buying a low end bike is not a good idea either as far as money is concerned and you'll have a low-end bike in the end. Spend a little money on a new/used wheel if a new chain doesn't cut it and if that is all that is wrong with the bike then he's got something fairly decent.

    Perhaps he can recoup all or most of his losses selling that Helicomatic Object when he is done.
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    Keep it. I recall the thread over in valuation when you thought about buying it. You were excited when you got it and said it rides great, super smooth and fast.
    If you sell it as is you will take a loss since it needs parts/repairs. If you fix it up and sell it you will lose money and then go and buy a POS Walmart bike? No way.
    Fix it and enjoy it.

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    Thanks for the great advice everyone. Took the bike into a LBS on my way home tonight and the mechanic gave me a few options. He could replace the broken link with a master link and see if it rode okay or replace the chain and freewheel. He said he would recommend just replacing the link (~10 bucks including labor) and seeing if the chain skipped. If it did, then it means I'm stuck replacing all the big stuff.

    Haven't had a chance to really ride it out and test it yet, but fingers crossed. Also, while I was in the shop I asked him how much a tune-up costs. I was told 83 dollars!!!

    Anyways, for 83 dollars a tune-up is not worth it to me. So a quick question about adjusting my rear derailleurs. I've read the instructions from Sheldon and the written instructions on Bicycle Tutor and just had a question.

    Right now, the chain falls off at the highest gear (smallest cog) and will only shift as high as the third cog when I really jam the shifter all the way back. It is a six speed rear cog. Because it is so far off (3 gears away) do I have to tighten the cable or can I get away with just adjusting the limit screws? Adjusting the limit screws seems easy to me, messing with the cable much more difficult. Thanks!

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    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Messing with the cable on a friction shift bike is super easy. Reread the Sheldon Brown adjustment info, or better yet, just go to the Park Tool site.

    Chain is cheap, you should be able to pick one up at Walmart for under $10.

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    But my question is how do I know if I need to mess with the cable? Or will adjusting the limit screws be good enough?

    I skimmed this park tool article about adjusting the rear derailleur:

    http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...nts-derailleur

    It didn't seem like it had any information on whether or not the cable itself needed to be adjusted. Thanks!

    EDIT: just watched a youtube video and it says that there should be a barrel adjuster somewhere to adjust cable tension. where would I find this on my bike with downtube friction shifters? thanks!
    Last edited by hurley81388; 05-12-11 at 07:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hurley81388 View Post
    But my question is how do I know if I need to mess with the cable? Or will adjusting the limit screws be good enough?

    I skimmed this park tool article about adjusting the rear derailleur:

    http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...nts-derailleur

    It didn't seem like it had any information on whether or not the cable itself needed to be adjusted. Thanks!

    EDIT: just watched a youtube video and it says that there should be a barrel adjuster somewhere to adjust cable tension. where would I find this on my bike with downtube friction shifters? thanks!
    The barrel adjuster is mostly for index and some friction. I would assume you don't have one. The way I adjust the rear derailleur is this way:

    1. Shifter the shifters back to normal.
    2. Untighten the cable from the rear derailleur.
    3. You have two limit screws (H and L). Adjust the 'H' >in< until the chain can get to the first cog without skipping. Test by hold the bike up and pedaling or you can have the bike upside down and pedal it.
    4. Tighten the cable and pulling on it and screw it to the rear derailleur. Shift down until you reach the biggest cog. Adjust the 'L' screw >out< until you can. Test by holding the bike up and pedaling or you can have the bike upside down and pedal it.
    5. Test the range of gears by holding the bike up and shifting up and down or you can have the bike upside down. Be careful shifting down as if you didn't adjust it correctly, the derailleur might go into the spokes (i.e. turn the pedals slowly).

    6. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
    Last edited by Veloh; 05-12-11 at 08:28 PM.

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    Also, you might as well replace the chain anyways. Chains are one of those things that should be replaced after a while and since it'll cost you $10 to fix a link, you can just get a new chain (which already comes with a master link!) and put it on yourself. See if there's a bike co-op that lends out tools so you can shorten the chain or pay someone to shorten it for you. Putting it one would require no tools since the master link is a wonderful invention.

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    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    $10 to install a master link? Yikes Sounds like LBS's in your area are a bit on the pricey side. You should be able to find a 3/32" chain at walmart for $10 or get one on Amazon (although a new chain might make your skipping problem worse than the old chain if your cogs are worn.) Get yourself a chain tool while you are at if if you are on Amazon and you'll never have to worry about stinking master links again. A chain tool is a basic bicycle tool anyone should have if they don't want to be chained to a bad LBS that overcharges $10 for master links.

    Chains wear out. They are cheap. If you are going to ride bikes you might as well learn to replace them and get the tool to do it.
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    Veloh- thanks for that awesome step-by-step guide. I plan on attempting to adjust the rear derailleur based on your instructions and a few videos I've watched this afternoon. I will update tonight when I finish.

    What I guess I didn't make clear is that I already paid the 10 bucks to replace the broken link with a master link. I don't know why. I wanted to ride my bike this weekend and I had already dragged my bike out there so I figured I might as well do it. So, given that the chain is in one piece, should I replace the chain anyways still? If I did, I would definitely do it myself. I looked around for instructions and it looks like a fairly straightforward procedure (I'll probably kick myself for saying this later). Like you guys mentioned before, I'm worried that replacing with a new chain may make the skipping worse, or I guess it could fix it altogether.

    So I guess I'm stuck here and I guess there's no way to know what will happen for sure....

  23. #23
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    The first question is if the chain is still skipping.

    If the chain was stretched then your LBS should have told you that. Perhaps they did but advised you that a new chain would cause skipping. Even if it isn't skipping an out of spec chain is certainly going to eat what is left of that rear cartridge eventually. I guess it depends on how much you are going to ride it.

    Adjusting the limit screws of the RD or even the cable (if need be) is a really simple job if the derailleur or hanger isn't bent. Your LBS should have seen this right off and told you about that.

    I know you don't want to spend a lot of money on a bike, tools, or parts but I would suggest you get a book that will make working on them a cinch. Glenn's is very good and they are cheap as all get-out used. Look here and get yourself a copy for well under $10 with shipping -probably more like $5. It will take you step by step through even the most complex job and all you need to know how to do is read. I really encourage you learn a little bit more about wrenching if you want to ride and don't want to spend a lot of money on bikes (your LBS seems to be even more expensive than most.) If you do end up buying a walmart bike you are going to need to know even more about wrenching because they don't stay new very long and end up being even more work to keep up than a real bike like you have.
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    The LBS didn't measure my chain to see if it was stretched but I'll measure the chain using the Sheldon Brown method when I work on the RD tonight. If it's >1/16 inch off I'll go ahead and replace it which it probably is. I ride my bike a fair amount. I use it to get for commuting during the week, trips to the grocery store and nearby errands when I don't have a lot to carry, and also ride in the afternoon and on weekends when I have time. So yeah, it definitely gets use.

    I do really want to learn more about fixing up my own bike. I've been reading up about it as much as I can on the internet but it's a little more difficult because it seems most of the stuff is written for newer bikes. I will definitely consider picking up a copy of that book you just posted.

    In terms of replacing this bike with something newer, I think I'm going to stick with this bike for now. I would never replace it with a Wal-Mart bike. What I was considering was buying a new, low-end road bike from a LBS- maybe a Fuji or Jamis. However, I know that now is probably the worst time of year (for a consumer) to buy a bike so I'm definitely holding off on that. The only reason I was considering that is because I was worried (and still am) that I would have to sink 100+ dollars into this bike and have to buy a new freewheel. At that point, I would be nearly 300 dollars into the bike and who knows what would break in the future. A new road bike I figure will cost roughly 600 or so (maybe?) which may be a better deal in the long-run assuming it doesn't need major maintenance in the near term.

    Yes, I was an econ major in college which probably means I'm over thinking this way too much. But money is always tight here and I don't want to sink 300 bucks into something that's going to continuously involve money and time (which I won't have much of after this summer).
    Last edited by hurley81388; 05-13-11 at 06:20 AM.

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    people's champ marley mission's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hurley81388 View Post
    But money is always tight here and I don't want to sink 300 bucks into something that's going to continuously involve money and time (which I won't have much of after this summer).
    that is the catch with bikes though - best thing to do is bite the bullet in the beginning - tool up and learn some wrenching so that later on - you've got the tools, the knowledge and confidence to manage bike issues as they pop up

    best thing to do really is to take a bike down to frame and reassemble - repacking bearings and such - you'll get a better sense of how it all works and you'll start to acquire the necessary tools - hopefully you enjoy the process too - and of course - come here - whatever question you have there is always somebody with some guidance
    Kleins, Kleins...everywhere there's Kleins

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