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  1. #1
    Junior Member stonepiano's Avatar
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    4 year old bike - to repair or replace?

    hey all,

    Haven't been around the forum in a while. My wife and I had a baby in 2011 and that pretty much put the brakes (heh) on my bike commuting (about 15 miles round-trip through downtown Chicago).

    Little junior is going into daycare now and I want to start riding again so I dropped off my Cannondale Adventure 5 at the shop for a tuneup and repairs of any little things that needed attention. I bought it back in 2009 and had some modifications to handle someone of my size (had the wheels replaced with stronger handmade ones).

    Turns out, my back wheel needs replacement, the gear shifter is broken, my bicycle computer is broken, need a new chain, need new brake pads and the saddle needs to be replaced. The repair quote I got was for $380 on a $600 bike. Naturally, I freaked and told the repair guy I should probably just buy a new bike. He asked if I wanted some time to think it over and I said yes.

    Once he planted the seed, I started to warm up to it. I've never loved the bike (secretly wishing I was 'light' enough for a street bike or a touring bike). Plus, this one is clearly not sturdy enough to handle my size (~285lbs).

    This morning though, I kind backtracked and decided I was better off with the devil I knew as opposed to what mysterious problems would lay ahead on a new bike. I called him to go ahead with the repairs and he said, "actually, I wouldn't do that. This bike is dead." I was floored. He then mentioned the Scott Sub or a Mountain bike with street rated wheels as a potential replacement, considering my size.

    So, after that long narrative, the question I humbly submit to the Clydesdale and Athena forum, is this guy right? Not about the replacing the bike (pretty sure I'm going to) but would a Scott Sub be better? Or are there touring bikes that can handle my size (285 lbs) and terrain (somewhat rocky city streets)?

  2. #2
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    No bike is ever dead.

    Chain $20
    Brake pads $15
    Saddle $40
    rev twist shifter $20
    wheel ...maybe $100 if you shop smart.

    I'm betting you could do without the chain. brakes or saddle if you wanted to ride it. They will help but I'd have to see current stuff to actually say "you need it".

    Not to mention, if someone had the current rebuilt with a handmade stronger one, you could reuse the hub, pay for a new rim and spokes and come out maybe more durable than buying a new rear wheel.

    Something tells me the dude knows he planted the seed in your head.

    Heck, why do you need a new wheel? Did he say? Did he try to straighten the old wheel? Unless you have broken spokes/nipples you won't know a wheel is toast till you true it (straighten it) then ride it to see if it holds tension or not.

    Otherwise the wheels of that size should hold your weight no problem. Heck, I rid skinny wheels just a few pounds less than you are now.

    If you want a new bike,then that's a different story.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ahultin's Avatar
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    I am @310 and ride a road bike so there is no reason a road or touring bike would not be okay for you at 285. I got about 2000 miles out of the factory wheels (20/24 spoke) and when they went out I built a set of velocity deep v's for it.

    That said, I cannot see why a 4 year old handbuilt rear wheel needs to be replaced unless it was seriously abused or not built right in the first place. I would take this as your opportunity to learn how to wrench on your own bike, an eight speed chain, replacement seat and replacement shifter for that bike could all be had for well under $100 bucks

  4. #4
    Senior Member ahultin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    No bike is ever dead.

    Chain $20
    Brake pads $15
    Saddle $40
    rev twist shifter $20
    wheel ...maybe $100 if you shop smart.

    I'm betting you could do without the chain. brakes or saddle if you wanted to ride it. They will help but I'd have to see current stuff to actually say "you need it".

    Not to mention, if someone had the current rebuilt with a handmade stronger one, you could reuse the hub, pay for a new rim and spokes and come out maybe more durable than buying a new rear wheel.

    Something tells me the dude knows he planted the seed in your head.

    Heck, why do you need a new wheel? Did he say? Did he try to straighten the old wheel? Unless you have broken spokes/nipples you won't know a wheel is toast till you true it (straighten it) then ride it to see if it holds tension or not.

    Otherwise the wheels of that size should hold your weight no problem. Heck, I rid skinny wheels just a few pounds less than you are now.

    If you want a new bike,then that's a different story.
    Looks like I was typing while Beanz was. What he said

  5. #5
    BF Avatar Zombie Hunter Jseis's Avatar
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    Other than a wheel true, I wrench everything and find deals through CL. Saves a ton a money on shop labor rates. And...just scored a 33 year old steel 12 speed in top shape at $40 (well, it needs tires...but I already scored them at Goodwill). A dead bike is usually one you back over by mistake or let rust under the tree for a few years.
    Amerika, Land of the Very Brief.

  6. #6
    Senior Member wbuttry's Avatar
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    That is what the L B S is suppose to do is try to get you to do is buy new. He knows it is easy to fix all that stuff. Go to nash bar I bet you can get everything to fix it there and put on yourself. Brakes are easy fix seat yank it off go get a new one that simple. Chain Wal mart carries those. Along with chain breakers those are easy to use. If it needs new bearings or grease chances are you can do that your self to. I paid 45 dollars for a bicyle repair kit from nashbar and it comes with 45 or 50 pieces and they work excellent all park tools. Check out the frame for rust take a flashlight and look down in the steel tubing and see if you can find flaking rust or in the weld joints for rust if so then yes but if not than no don't. That is the good part of owning bikes to be able to work on them yourself with out much L B S influence just my 2 cents ..

  7. #7
    Senior Member gyozadude's Avatar
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    285lbs ain't that heavy. Your current bike is probably just fine for riding.

    The question I guess you need to ask yourself is what would the new bike give you that your current one does not give, or does not give as competently? If durability is a feature, will the new one for $600 or maybe $1000 give you the durability you seek?

    Another thing to think about might be the long term. What is the path to long term cost controls when something goes wrong again? Because I am curious with many folks and their bikes how the bikes were likely working some years ago, but after some magical storage for a long period, wheels get busted, the shifters break, the chain and brakes go bad. Is it that some folks have gremlins in their storage? Or is the shop trying to sell you a bill of goods because you don't seem to have sufficient background in bike maintenance to know how much something ought to cost?

    I think long term, which ever bike you ride, things go out of adjustment and need maintenance or replacement. More knowledge on what is the cause of the problem will likely get you back in the saddle sooner and it will cost you much less to maintain.
    Yes, I can roll my own potsticker skins!

  8. #8
    Senior Member the fly's Avatar
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    I'm just going to echo what everyone else is saying. My local LBS wouldn't even offer me some lube before bending me over. Learning to do much of the maintenance myself was surprisingly easy, and well worth the effort. Even if money were no object, time out of service is. I can't count on my LBS for timely repairs either.

  9. #9
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    I'd have the wheel trued, fix the other things myself and plan on what bike I'd buy next. The bike which was right for me in the beginning, like yours a hybrid, was not the best choice 4 years down the road. Then you will have time to get back into riding form which will make whatever new bike you buy feel different from what it would feel like now.
    Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

  10. #10
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Another thing you might look into, if you have a nearby cyclist friendly soul, he may just have a saddle in the closet that he is willing to part with. Heck, I've given away 4 or 5 quality saddles, wheels, bikes, stems, speedometers, pedals, you name it to other rides that I figure will put to good use.

    Plus he might take the time to show you how to replace the chain, true a wheel etc. As metnioned, it's a whole lot cheaper than paying $60 pe hour labor to a shop.

    If it's a comfort saddle you are looking for, try Target. No lie! Gina used to ride those spandex fat seats, hsop wanted $30+ for them. A brand called Velo.

    At Target, the same exact seat sold under a different header card. Turnit over, and it had "Velo" stamped on the underside of the seat for $15.

  11. #11
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    Go to a bike cooperative and have them teach you how to fix it yourself. You gain the knowledge and get the bike fixed cheaper. Unless the bike does not fit you or you hate it or the frame is broken, you can fix it.
    Old steel makes me squeal!

  12. #12
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    I agree with the choir. Get the parts and fix it. Shifter is dead easy, brakes simpler and a seat... well thats basic. trueing thr wheel is the only slighly difficult operation.

  13. #13
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    I'd fix most of it myself, but that's easy for me to say. I grew up fixing things. After looking at a couple of videos online, ordering parts off the internet, and replacing the exhaust header on my Jeep, there's not a lot a bike can throw at me.

    I've been doing basic to mid level repairs and fabrication on cars, engines, houses, etc. for a long time, but still get a little twinge that I might be messing it up before I start. I dive in to get over the feeling.

  14. #14
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Yay! fellow Chicago Clyde!

    I live up on the NW side of Chicago and would be willing to lend a hand in helping you get the bike fixed. I have a local bike shop (LBS) that I have been dealing with for over a year now and the owner is good people, so if something is over my head I usually pick his brain or let him do it. I also can get a wheel trued through a coworker who builds them on the side.

    Also I have a gel seat that would work well if your seating position is more upright. I don't particularly like it on my MTB and definitely doesn't work on my roadie. I'll shoot you a PM.


    And if it make you feel any better, look at the bikes I ride in my sig below. I ride both of them, especially the Trek MTB pretty hard and haven't had too many issues. Well the Trek was a nightmare but that is because for the first 20 years of it's life no one had it into a shop for tune ups so everything went bad now at the same time, but now it rides nice and will only need tires by the end of summer.
    Last edited by Chitown_Mike; 04-11-13 at 08:15 AM.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  15. #15
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    It is amazing what you can learn from YouTube videos as well if you don't have a real person to show you. OTOH, if you really want a new bike, do it, but don't let them pressure you into it.

  16. #16
    Junior Member stonepiano's Avatar
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    Wow! So many thoughtful responses here that I don't know what to say. Thank you all for considering my problem and offering your advice.

    I'm going to spare everyone the excuses that I might have made regarding doing the maintenance and repairs myself (no time, no room in my 3rd floor apartment, not "mechanically inclined") and just say the thought of fixing my own bike is scary. That said, you've all given me the confidence to investigate that path once more. They say having the belief that you can do it is half the battle, right?

    And I think I want to echo what stevel610 said, "The bike which was right for me in the beginning, like yours a hybrid, was not the best choice 4 years down the road." I think that encapsulates how I'm feeling. I was concerned about road bikes being uncomfortable or scary for downtown rides but, after a few summers of commuting through high congestion, I have the confidence to make the switch if I can find one that will support me. I don't want to rush that decision though so, in the meantime, I'll try to fix the bike I have but use it as a learning exercise instead of simply "throwing money" at the problem. Like gyozadude said, what happens the wheel breaks the next time?

    And Chitown_Mike, I'm totally up for getting together.
    We're probably even closer than you think. Would love to hear more about the Park Ridge bike shop as well.

  17. #17
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LiamSkymom View Post
    It is amazing what you can learn from YouTube videos as well if you don't have a real person to show you. OTOH, if you really want a new bike, do it, but don't let them pressure you into it.
    +1 on Youtube. And +1 on new bike advice.

    I'd definitely try to fix it yourself. And if you completely &#$& it up, then get a new bike.
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  18. #18
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stonepiano View Post
    And Chitown_Mike, I'm totally up for getting together. We're probably even closer than you think. Would love to hear more about the Park Ridge bike shop as well.
    I live up by Devon and Milwaukee, born and raised in the Jeff Park neighborhood. I believe I PM'd you my number, feel free to give me a ring or a text.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  19. #19
    Junior Member stonepiano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chitown_Mike View Post
    I live up by Devon and Milwaukee, born and raised in the Jeff Park neighborhood. I believe I PM'd you my number, feel free to give me a ring or a text.
    Cool. Montrose & Pulaski so a short ride (once I get this beast fixed)!

  20. #20
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    The brand name bike that is four years old, was only ridden for two years, and is "dead" ? ? ? That's not some Next mountainbike from WallyWorld. There is no reason that bike should be dead unless it was horribly abused, especially with hand-built wheels. New chain and brake pads are just normal maintenance. Why are you replacing the saddle? Worn and/or damaged or improper fit? You can get some decent saddles for under $50 and some pretty good ones for under $100. If you aren't fussy, you can often pick up entry level factory saddles at the LBS for $15 - $20 that came off of new bikes when owners traded up. I've got three Bontrager entry level saddles sitting in my garage right now that I picked up for $5 each and keep around for flip bikes or so I can help out some kid who can't afford to keep his bike on the road.

    Twist shifters are realtively cheap and easy to replace. Or you could upgrade to a set of Shimano Alivio shifters for about $45.

    Unless that rear wheel has been crashed, or is way too light and low spoke count, or has been badly abused, there is no way it should need to be replaced. What is wrong with it? I'd check with another LBS or an independent wheel builder. If you are the DIY type, it isn't that hard to relace and true a wheel.

    Bike computer is irrelevant since you'd have to get a new one for a new bike as well.

    Any decent touring wheels will handle your weight and some rough pavement. IMHO you should look for double-walled rims (preferably eyeletted), 36 butted spokes, and something like a Deore, LX or XT hub. Put some decent 28mm tires on that and you'll have no problems. If you are really concerned you could go to a 40-spoke tandem hub, but really, you are not that heavy. The most important thing is to get any wheel properly trued and tensioned. I have absolutely no doubt that you could confidently ride well built 32-spoke road wheels.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  21. #21
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    No bike is ever dead.


    If you want a new bike,then that's a different story.
    What Mr. Beanz said...........
    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?

  22. #22
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    What Beanz said, plus: 4 years--Really? I have socks older than that! Heck, ALL of my bikes are at least 4 years old (my Cannondale Rize just turned four this year), and I'm lusting after 20 year old bikes... So, in short, it's ok to want a new bike. But don't spend $380 fixing your old one--that just sounds outrageous to me! Buy the new one, bring your old bike home, learn how to fix it yourself, then sell it for a tidy sum on CL (Cannondale anything sells very quickly on the local CL...). Now that yo've fixed it, you'll be well-equipped to tune/maintain your new bike. There.
    "I had this baby hand made in Tuscany, from titanium blessed by the pope. It weighs less than a fart, and costs more than a divorce..."

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by InOmaha View Post
    I'd fix most of it myself, but that's easy for me to say. I grew up fixing things. After looking at a couple of videos online, ordering parts off the internet, and replacing the exhaust header on my Jeep, there's not a lot a bike can throw at me.

    I've been doing basic to mid level repairs and fabrication on cars, engines, houses, etc. for a long time, but still get a little twinge that I might be messing it up before I start. I dive in to get over the feeling.
    Try replacing the heater core!
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  24. #24
    Senior Member eja_ bottecchia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arvadaman View Post
    Go to a bike cooperative and have them teach you how to fix it yourself. You gain the knowledge and get the bike fixed cheaper. Unless the bike does not fit you or you hate it or the frame is broken, you can fix it.

    Best advice yet. My daughter volunteered at a bike co-op and she taught many women how to do their own bike repairs.

    Give a person a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he can feed himself and others forever.
    My current stable:

    1989 SLX Bottecchia (Campy Athena 11s)
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  25. #25
    Junior Member stonepiano's Avatar
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    Ok, wife helped me with a little reality check. I'm going to offer it as-is on craigslist. See if anyone can use it for parts or wants to do the fixes themselves. Then, I'll hit the market for a new touring or cyclocross bike. Next stop is looking for Chicago LBS rec's.

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