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  1. #1
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    Need a bike with an absolutely tiny budget

    I got into riding about a month or two ago. I wasn't going too far, probably putting in 2-3 miles a day at first but it was slowly growing. Then last Thursday night my chain broke and bent a few gears. Seeing as the bike was too small for me (gift from a friend about 6 years ago that I never touched until recently) I didn't see it worth investing too much time or money into. (Yes, I know fixing it may be the most efficient option... I'm just trying to explore more options first!)

    Anyhow my question is more for opinions than fact. My budget (if I stretched it as far as it could possibly go) is about $300. I'm hoping to find a used bike for a lot less than that. I have a nice deal on craigslist fall through recently which increased my fervor for finding a bike a bit more. Not being able to go riding kind of depresses me! I was previously looking for a hybrid or mountain bike but the only off-roading I do is to get out of the way of a car or bus. I never considered a road bike until I was scanning the stickies in this forum. I see a lot of road bikes on craigslist that seem to be in acceptable shape for a very cheap price. But would a stock road bike be able to get me by for the time being or would the tires buckle under my tremendous girth? (about 330lbs right now) I'm about to be jobless and have nothing lined up immediately so the cheapest I can get myself back on to a bike, the better.

  2. #2
    No Money and No Sense sillygolem's Avatar
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    The biggest factor is whether or not you feel you can work on it yourself. If you don't doing a little trueing, regreasing, and adjusting (or learning how) you can get something usable very cheap. Unless you're in a bike-crazy area, it's not too hard to find something fixable for under $50. The trade off will be some technical niceties and time -- both to find a bike and to fix it.

    An old 10-speed, mountain bike, or hybrid shouldn't have too much problem handling your weight. Any of these will have 36 spoke rims, and are designed to take some bashing.

    There are plenty of road tires that will fit a mountain bike's 26" wheels. This will make the bike roll a lot easier and handle better.

    Keep in mind that you'll be extremely lucky if the bike has a saddle that is a good fit for you, and you'll probably need to spend a bit on things like brake cables to get it back on the road.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrodzilla View Post
    I ride fixed because I'm mad at my parents. **** you Mom!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Rona's Avatar
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    I agree-- there are awesome bikes to be found for under 100 used. To me, the most important thing is the steel. Look for something that is Cro-moly, Reynolds.. any kind of good steel. Learn about fixing bikes on youtube and use the rest of your budget on things like a new bottom bracket, maybe a new rear cassette (these always seem worn out) and brake pads. You only need a few special tools which you can buy one at a time. Each bike is a journey and totally worth it.

  4. #4
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Around here, I can find good used mountain bikes for about $150. A mountain bike with slick tires does well on the road, and they last without much maintenance. Road bikes, even used, under $300 tend to be too low end for me. Prices in different areas can vary a lot, though, and you can find killer deals every once in a while if you are patient or lucky. From my experience, check CL at least a couple times a day, and be ready to call and show up with cash immediately if the price is right on a bike that fits you. The good deals sell very fast.

    Spending $150 and holding back $150 for upgrades, repairs and extras would be my plan. Good luck.
    Campione Del Mondo Immaginario

  5. #5
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    Go to the local thrift store, garage sale, or pawn shop and get a used mountain bike without suspension that fits you. Since they have no suspension, no one wants them anymore. You can get them cheap. I go with 1990's mountain bikes. These are as rugged and bullet proof as they come. Look for Trek, Specialized, or other high quality named brands. Buy it at as low a price as possible.

    Then, depending on your mechanical aptitude, either go to the library and check out a book to learn how to fix it yourself. If you are not sure of yourself or not mechanically inclined, take it to a shop. If you take it to a shop, you will spend the bulk of your money in tune up and/or replacing parts.
    Old steel makes me squeal!

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the input. I tend to over-think things and assume it won't work unless I try too hard. The internet is probably the worst invention for my type of mentality.

    I ended up getting a call back from a bike on craigslist I inquired about earlier in the week. It looked good and I bought it.

    Specialized Rockhopper. Paid $100 for it, looks very clean, minimal rust. Back wheels a little bent, some of the spokes have some rust, brakes don't stop me fast enough for my liking, derailleurs are all a bit out adjustment and it torque shifts when I pedal up a hill. But, most of that is just being nitpicky. The bike is wonderful and I'm already happy, I'll be ecstatic once I tune it up and get everything straightened out! I now feel like this was a pointless thread though! Haha.



    I think my first purchases now will be some tools and maintenance equipment. Nothing else seems to be in bad enough shape to require replacement anytime soon.
    Last edited by vsanthos; 08-13-11 at 01:51 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Looks like a good deal! Nice looking bike.

  8. #8
    Senior Member green427's Avatar
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    While the quality of the components may be lower than the higher-end bicycles, you can buy a new bike at Performance Bike or Dick's sporting goods for under $300. Even Walmart online sells new bicycles cheap (you won't find many in the store). Many members here have Walmart cans-of-doom but haven't had any major issues.

  9. #9
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by green427 View Post
    While the quality of the components may be lower than the higher-end bicycles, you can buy a new bike at Performance Bike or Dick's sporting goods for under $300. Even Walmart online sells new bicycles cheap (you won't find many in the store). Many members here have Walmart cans-of-doom but haven't had any major issues.
    Look up poster GPSBlake. He rode a Wal-mart Schwinn Sidewinder from SC to TX without any major mechanical problems. That said, he pushed as much life as he could get out of the bike.

  10. #10
    Senior Member green427's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    Look up poster GPSBlake. He rode a Wal-mart Schwinn Sidewinder from SC to TX without any major mechanical problems. That said, he pushed as much life as he could get out of the bike.
    I think I saw an article on that. I did see a GMC Denali in the Elkton Walmart, it looked okay, but for $130 it was pretty decent. Thought about getting one for my daughter for the upcoming holidays. If she doesn't ride it as much as I hope, at least I did not spend too much.


    Vsanthos: here are other options for a brand-new bike at $300, these seem to have higher quality components than the $300 bike my wife got: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/road_bikes.htm

  11. #11
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by green427 View Post
    I think I saw an article on that. I did see a GMC Denali in the Elkton Walmart, it looked okay, but for $130 it was pretty decent. Thought about getting one for my daughter for the upcoming holidays. If she doesn't ride it as much as I hope, at least I did not spend too much.


    Vsanthos: here are other options for a brand-new bike at $300, these seem to have higher quality components than the $300 bike my wife got: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/road_bikes.htm
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/poorguyonabike

    "The Walmart Schwinn bike performed perfectly. Other than flats, this bike had no mechincal problems except wear and tear. I would have gotten two new tires had I continued from Abilene. I would have also gotten puncture resistant tubes. When I do another trip, it will be on another Schwinn sidewinder. To those who think this bike is a piece of junk, it isn't. It may not be the best bike for fitness and speed, but the bike performed great. The rack, GPS unit and cyclometer worked perfect also. "

    Here's a second tour, four days on a bike from Dick's Sporting Goods:

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/poorguy2006

  12. #12
    Senior Member green427's Avatar
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    Funny thing is, I got my daughter a new Schwinn Sidewinder a couple months ago after she said she wanted to ride the trails with me. The bike may be bulky and crude, but it is pretty darned decent for the $160 tag. Even the wheels stand up to the abuse of the trails. It has Shimano components.
    Last edited by green427; 08-14-11 at 08:50 AM. Reason: clarification

  13. #13
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Awesome score! A tune-up and some TLC will turn that gem into a reliable commuter. The only upgrade I would suggest are the brakes. The old cantis that came stock with your bike may not be up to the task. They can be easily replaced with some modern linear-pull brakes (aka "v-brakes"). This will also necessitate a brake lever swap, but will be worth it. Ask your LBS about a set of brakes like this, and some levers like these.

    You may eventually want to upgrade your saddle. Do a search of "Which Saddle?" threads here for lots of ideas.

    Have fun with your new ride!
    Last edited by irclean; 08-13-11 at 11:35 PM.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  14. #14
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I wouldn't switch out the saddle too quick, ride it for a while to see if it feels good, if it isn't, then if the saddle on the old bike is comfortable the swap saddles with that one. I would look at the brake pads to determine if they are glazed or hardened, using a set of Koolstops would improve braking.

    Nice looking bike, it resembles my old stumpjumper.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

  15. #15
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    brakes probably just need new pads as suggested above. I also recommend the koolstops. Also, the rider is 330 lbs, the bike isn't going to stop as fast as it would for someone lighter in weight. OP, looks like you got a nice score. I bet you can have a bike shop give it a decent once over for about $50 or a thorough one for about $100. the bike looks to be in good shape but if it's been sitting around for too long it could benefit from having hubs regreased, headset regreased, deraileurs properly adjusted and cables replaced. I'm all for the idea of riding it til it breaks but at the same time, if you can get it tweaked up nicely for cheap, you will have piece of mind that it wont break.

  16. #16
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    I would like to learn to maintain my bike by myself eventually. Would you advise just getting it serviced first to make sure everything is working properly so that it is less overwhelming since I am a newbie?

  17. #17
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    Ask them to service it as you watch/help if possible.

  18. #18
    Senior Member MLKATO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrantH View Post
    Ask them to service it as you watch/help if possible.
    One of the local LBS here offers free maintence classes. Maybe your does the same. Don't be afraid to check out department store bike like Schwinn or Diamondback. My sister and brother in law both bought theirs at a sports store for $200 and rave about them. At 330,which is where I am,I would look at a older mountain bike,or the Schwinn Sidewinder for now.If you don't plan on doing any tricks or jumps,it should be ok.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrantH View Post
    Ask them to service it as you watch/help if possible.
    good idea and I'll take it a step further, if you can, bring it in early in the day on a monday when bike shops are usually pretty dead and they won't be busy and will probably be able to help you. most basic maintenance doesn't need to be done that often so if you are getting cables replaced, yeah it's nice to know how to do it, but once they do it, your cables will probably be good for several years. depending on if you ride in bad weather, once you get the hubs serviced, you may not need them done again for years as well. get out and start riding it, it's been sitting for a while if things are gonna go bad, they will probably show themselves pretty quickly.

  20. #20
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by vsanthos View Post
    I would like to learn to maintain my bike by myself eventually. Would you advise just getting it serviced first to make sure everything is working properly so that it is less overwhelming since I am a newbie?
    If there is a local bike coop, they usually want people to come in and help fix bikes. They can assist you in getting your road ready as well

  21. #21
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    See if there is a bicycle cooperative near you. If there is, they have the tools and are willing to show you how to fix your bike.

    http://www.communitycycles.org/links...llectives.html
    Old steel makes me squeal!

  22. #22
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    Ok I got a wal-mart special for 80 bucks. I am a big guy (345) and was worried about it holding up but I have over 150 miles on it, and I have only had to replace a front tube, kept getting flats, so I swapped it out with a slime tube. no other problems. Gears dont shift perfectly, but thats because I havent learned how to adjust them. After this thread, I am going to try to figure it out with youtube. I initially wanted to buy a sick GT bike that I saw that was all white, but then I didnt want to shell out that money and then have it sit there, and be mad because I dont use it like i said i would.
    As soon as the tread wears down, Im going to switch out tires to road slicks. I cant wait to see the resistance difference. and my first goal is to go down to 250 from 345, and then I will reward myself with a new bike, or maybe I will just be in love with this one, and replace some parts and keep it! but its pretty heavy, around 47 lbs. but sturdy for my weight, not sure whats next for me.
    Here is the bike i got. a roadmaster! HAHAHa http://www.walmart.com/ip/26-Men-s-R...-Bike/13398147 the brake components I have notest seem to be the cheapest, real cheap plastic for the adjuster by the brake handles, and the front brake, is off centered, so one of the pads was rubbing on the rim. Because of that the front brake is loose. Someone had commented on braking on a bike, both these brakes are great, minus the front one being offset, but if I slammed on my brakes, I could very quickly fly over the handle bars. Can the front brake pads be adjusted?

    Take care and have fun riding, remember, consistency makes it easier and easier. I rode on monday and then again today, and this morning's ride, although the same time, seemed way easer. I cant wait for the ride home and my thursday or friday ride to work.

    Take Care.

  23. #23
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    I dropped my bike off yesterday at my LBS for a tune up. I spent all day at work (we're closing down for good, so since we rarely have customers coming in I have a lot of free time now) trying to get it tuned up myself. I feel like I learned a lot and got rid of a lot of fear of tinkering with things. But I just couldn't get things to stop locking up whenever I shifted nor my back brakes to work so I bit the bullet and shelled out the cash. It's supposed to be done tomorrow after work. I'm so impatient.

    I've heard some people having great luck with department store bikes. When i was about 16 I went to Target and bought a Magna mountain bike off of the shelf. When I got home the front tube popped on my first ride down the road. I replaced that, then the back tube did the same thing. Then the left pedal ripped the threads out when I was a few miles from home. It was an awful experience, it kind of made me reluctant to buy another bike from a department store. I know everyone has varying experiences but I'm happy with my $100 craigslist bike. You can find some really nice used bikes that people just let sit for years and don't expect to get much money out of.

  24. #24
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    Specialized is a good brand and Rockhoppers are good bikes.

    It appears to be in pretty good shape overall. With a little grease and adjustment, I think you will find your new bike to be a very reliable and serviceable bike.
    Old steel makes me squeal!

  25. #25
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    Got my bike back from my the shop today. Tuned up, new brake shoes, new cables. Cost me $85. So I'm into the bike $185 total and it really seems worth it. The shifters are old non-indexed Suntours and the mechanic at the bike ship told me the rear derailleur had a weak spring which was causing the chain to slack sometimes when I was running in a front low rear high combo. So, I'm just going to avoid that combination. All in all I'm happy with my purchase! I don't know why I'm updating this thread with it. I guess it just gives me someone to tell about my happiness! lol

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