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  1. #1
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    I'm new at this, I'm big(6'2" 320ish#), and on a very, very tight budget...

    Here's some background, I just moved to sam marcos tx recently, been using the bus to get around(our car is dead, no money to repair it), but I need more flexibility in transportation. I'd always wondered about getting a bike before, but now with the car dead it's moved into the forefront of my priorities. Also, I'm getting tired of being sedentary.

    At the moment I've got $200 in the "bike fund"(acquired via selling plasma about 40-50ish a week, about half of which i put in the "jar").

    San marcos's Craigslist bike page is kinda anemic, weak tea, not a lot of variety, and as said, getting to san antonio or austin area via bus is kind of a hassle. There's 2 shops in town, the Hub bicycle Lounge, and Pedal Power, the latter sells only trek, the lowest was $350+, and I'm not sure they'd handle my manateeness(also the guy looked a little green). The guy at the hub was way more friendly and helpful, but they deal in marin and kona, starting at $4-500ish even further out of my range, but he did explain the needs and physics of a bike for a larger guy(most of which contradicted the pedal power guy and with further research has shown to be mostly correct), even if he couldn't get me something in my range. There's also 2 bike co-ops that repair and sell used bikes, the bike cave run by the college and the SM bike project(but they keep odd hours, like 5-8pm, when the busses stop running after 6, it's a tight schedual, and across town from me, not easilly walkable in the dark...). The cave people were friendly but it's the end of the semester, they didn't really have much for me, they do have tools and workspace open to the public, and I haven't been able to get to the project(I went on a saturday, they were supposed to be open during the daylight then, but noone home ) I've hunted around pawn shops but they leave the things outside in texas heat in the rain and weather... they look like deathtraps tbh... cassets cable housings, brakes and chains rusted, frames look awful and invariably messed up seats...

    Hey BTW it's kinda fun walking into a bike shop and seeing the guys go like :

    Anyway, that's the plight so far, here's what i've learned:

    • Avoid moving parts on cheaper bikes(front and dual suspensions, even on the seat), better to get a rigid frame, preferable steel if going cheapo.
    • Get good wheels and tires asap, preferable steel and double walled with 36 spokes with minimum 12 gauge, and the wider the rims the better, to accommodate wider tubes and tires which apparently handle stress better.
    • I'm pretty sure I can handle most minor maintenance myself, between the friendly cave people and the books i've been reading, it doesn't seem that complicated.(I once built a little bike out of legos, had a chain, tires and everything...)
    • I've read anecdotal posts about people getting a cheap department store bike with a steel frame, then getting better wheels cheap off the internet.
    • Speed and the bike's weight are not issues, I'm not going that fast and not going over anything rougher then hard dirt. mostly sticking to bike lanes, roads, and maybe a sidewalk.
    • I like the way a "cruiser" or "utility" feels, and the lower priced ones seem to come in rigid steel frames with the above wheels(most have at least 26"x2" 36 spokes, though they seem to be alloy instead of steel)and their feedback sections tend to have a few posts by clydes with positive feedback. I've perched on both of them at the stores, coasted up and down the isle with no immediate and catastrophic failure (they were under inflated but I can fix that).


    My conclusion: Would a Huffy Newport($130 at bestbuy or academy) or Schwinn Link($150 at wallyworld) carry a manatee around town safely and reliably if I were to handle the assembly and adjusting myself(also those bike cave guys seem nice, like they'd help a newbie out). You think I might get about 3 months of use out of the stock wheels till i can get cash to upgrade them or lose weight(whichever happens first....). I think most of the issues in their feedback sections can be fixed by minor tweaks to the gears and if I can get time on a truing machine at the cave(if there's like a huge factory defect I'd just return and refund). San Marcos is sligtly hilly in places, so I'd like the option of shifting if i need it, and both have front and rear brakes(I had something with coaster brakes when I was a kid, could never get the hang of backpedaling...).

    huffy newport: http://www.huffy.com/products/Product.aspx?pid=492|4|9
    schwinn link:http://www.walmart.com/ip/26-Men-s-S...-Bike/13398151

    Am I going to die or what.... I don't want to waste money on a lemon, but I need to get mobile, I need whatever the 2 wheeled equivalent of like an economy hatchback is...

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Both of those bikes look like they've already got 36 spoke wheels. Probably machine-constructed but may work out. In general yes Clydes should have well-built wheels but I got 16 years out of my cheap mountain bike's machine-built wheels before I broke a spoke, they probably will still work great if I fixed them up.

    The Huffy is less complex, as it only has a rear deraillieur, whereas the Schwinn has both front and back. On one hand you could say that's a plus for the Huffy because that's less parts that could break. However, a visual inspection of the rear cassette on the Huffy leads me to believe it doesn't have a good gear range. They don't list the actual specs so it's hard to tell, but I don't see any large 30+ cogs on the back that would make your life easy on hills, and the front looks like a rather large gear. You can tell the Schwinn has a much larger rear cog, probably a 34t. Typically, for a utility bike 7 speeds should be enough for any general usage, but I'd be worried that the Huffy doesn't have enough low gears. It's probably meant to be biked on flat beachfronts.


    If you do need to buy a good wheel, and money is short, you can probably get away with only getting a good rear wheel. They say that around 60-65% of your weight goes on the back wheel, possibly more if you've got a loaded rear rack on the bike. Chances are any machine-built front wheel will be good enough. Many people say you can get away with using the default wheels and only buying new ones when they break, which is sound advice if you're on a tight budget, but you should be aware of the potential to get stuck somewhere if one of your wheels craps out on you. Since you don't have a working car, it seems like it could be difficult to call the spouse to come pick you up. Additionally, consider the amount of time you'll spend without a bicycle while you wait for the new wheel to be built. I'm not saying you need to get a new wheel right away, just that your contingency plans in the event that the wheel breaks should be well-thought-out beforehand.

    Potential problems with the Schwinn lie in the "suspension seatpost" and the front fork suspension. I've never dealt with seatpost suspensions before, but at $150 for the whole bike, it can't be too good. I don't know what the failsafe for one of those are in the event of failure. At least with the front fork, if it stops working you can usually let all the air out of it and it will act like a rigid fork. I'd try to find something closer to the Huffy, with a completely rigid frame, but with a larger gear range in the back. Front Derailleurs, especially in the low price range, perform like crap and usually break very easily, so I'd look for a bike with a 32 or 36 tooth front gear, and a 11-34 rear gear. That should give you more than enough range for any terrain you come across.

    Neither of these bikes are likely to kill you. This is bikeforums, so there's a lot of bike snobbery here (not usually in this forum though), but even those "bike shaped objects" are very usable and will probably be very beneficial to your lifestyle.
    Last edited by Mithrandir; 11-20-11 at 04:30 PM.

  3. #3
    Neil_B
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    Schwinn Sidewinder if you can find one. A Bike Forums member rode one from SC to TX with no problems aside from flat tires. And even 'better' bikes get flat tires. Wal-Mart online doesn't seem to be carrying it, but perhaps you can find one in your local store.

  4. #4
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    Hugh,

    Go here:

    http://www.tram.txstate.edu/bicycling/Bike_Cave.html

    See if you can earn a bike or build a bike by working off hours. If it is a good collective, they should be able to help you.
    Old steel makes me squeal!

  5. #5
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    Old steel makes me squeal!

  6. #6
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    IMHO, you'll get more bang for the buck by getting a brand name used rigid MTB. I find Trek and Giant chrome moly MTBs in ridable condition for $75 - $150 all the time. These frames are more than tough enough for clyde commuting. Post a wanted to buy on CL and you'll likely get lots of responses. I know opinions vary, but I've had good luck with factory wheels from either of these companies. Don't go with steel rims. If you are going to upgrade, get good 36-spoke double-wall with stainless steel spokes and decent commuting tires (I like my Bontrager H2 Eco in a 26 x 1.5" for general commuting and light touring).

  7. #7
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    oops. I should have read more carefully. You already went there and did that.
    Old steel makes me squeal!

  8. #8
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    I am of the opinion that you are better off used as Myosmith said. You can get a depreciated bike just like a car. Cheaper used. Very few people want 1990's mountain bikes since they do not have suspension and they are generally bullet proof. You can generally get good high end older bikes for a song if you are in the right place at the right time. If the pawn shops are not working out for you, have you tried thrift stores in the area? Bikes generally do not hang around them long since they a priced reasonably in most cases. I buy all my bikes from thrift stores.



    Also, a cosmetic defect can play to your advantage in these cases. I bought my favorite bike from a thrift store for $12.50 since it had some cosmetic rust, a rusted solid chain, the rear cassette was packed solid full of mud, and the bag on it had been dry rotted. I got them to half the price on it and have been riding it ever since. If it LOOKS terrible, most people are not interested in fixing things up on a bike and will pass it by. A little knowledge about repairs and some parts and you can have them running like a top in no time. As long as there is not a frame problem, in most cases you are good to go for a few dollars.



    For repairs, either work with the cave people or go to the library and check out a good bicycle repair manual.
    Old steel makes me squeal!

  9. #9
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    No advice, just wanted to wish you best of luck.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  10. #10
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    ok, weird day last friday. I was walking home after the latest plasma donation, when these college-y kids call to me from across the street "HEY! Hey you! Want a bike!" Now I'm loopy from the plasma loss and the 2 mile plod there and back home, I think this must be some sort of mirage. I walk over and turns out they have some old beat up mountain bike they're trying to get rid of. The chain is off the front drive, the cassette and chainrings are worn(I think it was a 10 speed), the rear derailer is broken(suntour derailers), all the cables are frayed or worn out, the rims are a little brake worn(it has cantilevers), needs lubing and there's a lot of rust, especially on the seat post, and I haven't even taken it apart to look at the hubs, brackets and headset... Also, I didn't notice it at the time, but there's a cable lock wrapped around the top bar for which i forgot to get the combination for, in my post plasma daze.

    So I now have sitting in my living room a red mountain bike, apparently from "Ray'S bikes 1730 niagara falls blvd" in new york if the sticker on it is right(how it's in texas is beyond me), the other markings are all for Ritchey Logic with some japanese small print, and there's a cracked and decayed Bridgestone sticker on the frame.

    At worst I can take it to the cave or goodwill and let them harvest it for parts or sell it off, but for now it seems I have an interesting project. The frame is steel, and scratches aside doesn't look that compromised if the rust hasn't hurt it much(no ripples or cracked that I can feel). What I need to figure out is what the cost of the repairs and parts might be VS acquiring a new bike.

    In other news I was going to pull the trigger on getting the huffy up there last week... but academy's website fouled up and charged my account without the order going through so I have had to wait a few days for them to refund the money into the account...

  11. #11
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Sounds like an interesting learning project if it fits you. Some bolt cutters will take care of that cable lock (or just leave it if you prefer).
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  12. #12
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    Bridgestone made some good bikes in their time. I bought one in 1991. The first bike I purchased myself. You can look through their catalogs and determine what you have. Sheldon Brown has Bridgestone catalogs on his website:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/bridgestone/#catalogues

    Any pictures? If it does not have any major frame flaws, I would fix it up. But,
    that is just me and I am a sucker for hard luck bikes.

    If it fits you, I would work with the cave people to buy some used parts and get it back
    on the road. Otherwise, see if you can make a trade.

    When I get a used bike with some rust, I use a lube like Breakfree CLP to help
    rehab the rusted parts. I have lubed up several rusted solid chains with it.

    Think of it this way. You have a free bike. Learning to wrench on a free bike
    is a good way to learn as you will probably have to work on all parts of the bike and if you screw something up badly, you are no worse off. Get a repair book or have the cave people to help you and consider it a golden learning opportunity. If you get a Huffy, you will need to know mechanic skills anyway.
    Old steel makes me squeal!

  13. #13
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    Bridgestone made some sweet bikes. If that frame is appropriately-sized for you, that is a lucky break.

    You can hit Walmart for a set of brake/derailleur cables for $5, a chain for another $8, and a couple of tubes and tires for under $20.

    I agree with the above comments: if nothing else, this is an awesome learning opportunity that fell into your lap.

  14. #14
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    As an aside: I would take an old Bridgestone over a new Huffy any day of the week.

  15. #15
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    Your list of what you've already learned is awesome. It was pretty much what I had in mind to offer as advice when I clicked on the thread.

    What size is the bridgestone?

    I'm slim, but tall, and prefer a nice tall frame. Being able to stretch out my legs is important for the health of my knees. I ride a 62-66cm. Recommend trying a 60-62 cm for you. Some newbies feel safer on shorter bikes, and an old racing trend of too-small frames tends to put people on bikes that are too small. Plenty of folks will disagree with me, though...

    Getting together the extra $100 that a basic bike will cost at a real bike shop is also worth it. Those bikes will have better components, and maybe you can cut a deal for a few free wheel truings....
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

  16. #16
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    Thanks for the catalog link, I think it is one of their hybrids or mountain bikes. There is a sticker with a make on the seat tube. I thought it had mostly flaked off, but it was just one of their abbreviated bike types. The MB-01 might be what the sticker is, it does have the suntour derailer(which is damaged), the others seems o have shimano. I'm going to look have to look around and price cassetts, chainrings, and derailers but at a glance I may be able to get this thing moving for about $50-80ish.

    I'm still shopping around for something i can ride, I found this:
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...3631206&type=3

    ^ordinarily the library filters facebook and I can't see what the cave folk have posted, if they ever do post anything, dunno why I can get through now but turns out they recently posted their stock. The yellow one is apparently a Raleigh sprite, looks interesting, but i don't know if it would hold up 320#... there's also a couple of cheaper mountainy looking possibilities. I think they're technically girly frames but I could care less as long as it moves, however I as I understand it, the "girly" frame is slightly weaker then the standard diamond and that factor with that these look like low end department store frames concerns me....

    one last question for the week: Micargi or Firmstrong cruisers, they look durable on paper, mostly steel parts, and come in 7 speeds. They seem to be available in the $230-250 range with the shipping factored in from smaller california based retailers. Not now, but eventually yall think they might support weight of a clyde? Is there anything about the geometry of a cruiser that might make it weaker, because even if they don't set land speed records they sure look comfy...

  17. #17
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    If that bike turns out to be a Bridgestone XO-1 the gave you a classic that is well worth fixing up. Well worth fixing...........

    http://johndogfood.com/john/x01.html

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/bridgest...ellisabob.html
    Last edited by Nightshade; 12-01-11 at 04:19 PM.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  18. #18
    Member justtom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    Schwinn Sidewinder if you can find one. A Bike Forums member rode one from SC to TX with no problems aside from flat tires. And even 'better' bikes get flat tires. Wal-Mart online doesn't seem to be carrying it, but perhaps you can find one in your local store.
    i love my sidewinder,no probs at all


  19. #19
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    There's one thing missing. How much ground do you plan to cover? You mentioned getting a bike on the two mile walk home from the plasma bank ... but that's the only distance I saw.

    And the reason I ask is that you're wanting a bike not just for exercise, but to replace your car. Which implies that you might be putting a lot more miles on it. Some bike types are more suited to lots and lots of miles, while others are better for carrying heavy loads, and all sorts of other specialties. I guess that matters less when you're on a tight budget, but the C&A forum is a helpful people who love talking about bikes. The more we know about you, the more good advice you'll get here.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    I just skimmed the thread. Plenty of good advice.

    I jsut have one thign to point out, run your tires at the high end of the inflation range. Some people thnik a lot of weight puts stress on the tires and they should run them low, the truth is the opposite. High weight can cause pinch flats and having the tires under inflated makes tha tissue worse.

    The unsuspended mountian bike idea is good. Remember that mountian bikes are made for riding over very irregular surfaces and sometimes even getting significant air. A 150 lb rider riding off road would put much more peak stress than you will on the road.

    It looks like you will be doing a lot of yuor own work. For my money making sure the brakes work and work well should be a focus. Drop a chain and yuo walk home, brakes don't work and yuo can end up much worse.
    Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly.

  21. #21
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    Hugh,

    The Raleigh Sprite appears to be the best quality bike of the bunch but it has 27x1-1/4 wheels on it. These wheels are not the norm these days. Tubes and tire for it might be harder to come by and may be more expensive today. I would stick with a bike that has 26" wheels on it for now. That is the most common and most widely available tire size today and you can find them the cheapest. The bike is a steel frame and would most likely have no problem holding you. The tire size is the drawback on that one.

    The Micargi or Firmstrong cruisers appear to be in the same quality range as Huffy or Pacific bikes. They are most likely steel bikes and will hold you but neither is a better quality bike. Cheaper department store bikes sometimes do not follow the parts conventions of the bike industry and that can make repairing those bikes tough if a part breaks.

    Generally, we Clydes have problems with wheels on a bike. That is generally where the problems arise. High spoke count is generally better.

    Personally, given a $230-250 range, I would either continue to search for a used (better quality) bike in a more rideable condition and/or concentrate on getting the Bridgestone up and running.
    Old steel makes me squeal!

  22. #22
    Fat Cyclist
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    I just got rid of my Schwinn Link and bought a Trek. The Schwinn was okay, but it is very slow, and very heavy. But on the upside, it is very comfortable, and I rode it for a good three years and I never had a problem, not even a flat tire.
    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” - Jiddu Krishnamurti

  23. #23
    Junior Member cameron540's Avatar
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    im in the same boat as you man. no money, no car, and 330lbs 6'3''. i was on a tight budget at first and got a "next" hard tale full ridged steel pos form walmart for 60 bucks. its full steal(frame and rims) i lost a little weight(i started at over 350 lbs) and got a Genesis Two Nine 29" Mountain Bike from walmart online and assembled it my self. the frame is on a lifetime warranty as long as you don't stunt ride or jump it. parts are under warranty for 6 months i believe. this bike is $200 and its got good parts and crushes hills being a 21 speed. the only thing i might look into is getting sturdier rims. i can see me trying to turn all of a sudden and bending a rim and beefing it into the ass-fault! xD
    "The Broodwich, forged in darkness from wheat harvested in Hell's half-acre, baked by Beelzebub, slathered with mayonnaise beaten from the evil eggs of dark chicken forced into sauce by the hands of a one-eyed madman, cheese boiled from the rancid teat of a fanged cow, layered with six-hundred and sixty-six separate meats from an animal which has maggots for blood!"

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    it has 27x1-1/4 wheels on it. These wheels are not the norm these days. Tubes and tire for it might be harder to come by and may be more expensive today.
    It's true that 27" wheels are not current spec, but if a bike is otherwise a good fit, I would never call it a deal-breaker. They use the same size tube as a 700. In fact, many times you will see that listed on the box, though some companies probably do label a separate '27" '.
    As for tires, one of my LBS keeps a stock of 27" tires. Only 1 or 2 brands/styles, but they are under $20. I bet this is pretty common in a city of any size. Also, on Amazon, the Panaracer Pasela Tourguards in 27" are normally $25, sometimes dipping to $20. Those are what I tend to go for, and I think they are definitely good tires. There are others, even up to Gatorskins, in 27".

  25. #25
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    I'll look in my parts bin. You say you have a broken rear derraileur? I may have an old school SunTour GT in the bin. If I do, I'll send you an email (One of the advantages of being the forum admin. ). If I do, you can have it. It'll work for a 5 speed cluster or 6 speed at the most, though.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

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