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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 02-07-06, 08:48 AM   #1
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Upgrade or Buy New?

I have a Trek 930 Singletrack that I've run into the ground a bit commuting daily in NYC. Rims and breaks are shot, seat is torn, etc... I'm looking at a Kona Dr. Dew or as a serious reach, a Jamis Coda Elite. Does anyone recommend instead keeping my trusty steel trek frame and upgrading most of the components? (wheels, disc breaks, derailleurs, etc.) I feel like I could have an almost new bike at half the cost of the above models, without a flashy new frame to go with it. Thanks.
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Old 02-07-06, 09:06 AM   #2
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That's a tough decision. I went through the same thing last summer. My 25 year old Miyata was still functional, but the wheels and drivetrain were in need of repair. And because it's so old, finding parts might be hard.

So I bought a used Trek. Found a barely ridden 97 2120 for $200. Unfortunately, I ended up having to spend a lot of time repacking bearings, truing wheels etc. And the frame was too big for me.

I rode it all summer anyway and saved my money and bought one of those bargain bikes that everyone seems to hate. I love it and it fits perfectly!

But I had a little money left over, about $200, so I started looking into the option of fixing up the old Miyata. First off, I scored some used Open Pro wheels with Ultegra hubs for $100. They were set up for 9 speed Shimano, so I cold set the old frame and dropped the wheels on. Perfect fit! The old derailleur worked perfectly on a new 9 speed cassette with the friction shifters, and with a new chain, the drivetrain worked great after some cleaning, lubing, and adjustments. I had some difficulty tracking down new front chainrings, but I finally found some in an old mom and pop bike store for $10 apiece. Toss on some new Contis (on sale at Performance for $12) and it was good to go.

The old bike now rides like new, and it cost me less than $200 to get it roadworthy. For a little more, I could add barcons and aero levers, but those will have to wait. It works flawlessly, and I'm very happy with the old girl.

So it's a tough decision, and you can easily go both ways. A new bike will be far less trouble and probably less down time, but it will cost more money. I guess it all depends on what's more important right now, money or time?

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Old 02-07-06, 09:11 AM   #3
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Actually I've found that the cost of a complete rebuild is higher than buying a new bike. There are exceptions of course and if your patient you can build up an old bike for cheap. The only problem with older frames is the spacing on the rear. The good news is you can bend a steel frame bike to fit. I think Sheldon Brown had a good article on that.
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Old 02-07-06, 09:18 AM   #4
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I did both. Seriously, you want a backup bike if you are going to commute on them. Personally, I would look for a barely used bike that fits me and I like. Failing that, I would buy a new bike. Then, I would take the old one to the basement and strip it down. Start trolling for good deals on pieces that you want to replace. You can take your time since you have another bike to ride.

So, I have a nice light weight high end 10 year old steel bike in like new condition and a 20 year old refurbished beater. The beater is set up as a single speed with fenders.
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Old 02-07-06, 11:39 AM   #5
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Buy a new bike and keep the steel frame and the parts that are still serviceable. You can build up the old frame later at your leisure.
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Old 02-07-06, 01:17 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice. I think I'm leaning toward the new bike. Probably be better served with the Trek as a spare. Now if I can just decide what to buy, I'll be set.
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Old 02-07-06, 01:29 PM   #7
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Good call. Upgrading the Trek could be done on the cheap, but the Dr. Dew will be pretty sweet. I went the upgrade route with my Bianchi Axis and the cost has been reasonable, but it's not cost effective for me to put on disc brakes front and rear. I plan to build my own lugged commuter frame this summer, then I will have a backup bike when the Axis craps out.
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Old 02-07-06, 01:41 PM   #8
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If you love the frame, do both if you can.

I have a 1989 Trek 950 as my primary bike, and I plan on keeping that bike forever. I love it.

I'm looking at a new Trek 7.3fx this spring for something faster.

I'm also going to put linear pull ("V") brakes on the 950 instead of the cantilevers. Posts are the same, and the cable stops can support them. I can get a complete new brake for $25 each (lever, caliper, and shoes) at the store, but maybe more like $15 each at the big April bike sales if I'm not too picky (bargain bins of misc upgrade leftovers).

Wheels tend to be harder to find a deal on, including second hand. But, the donor bike can be any size (w/ 26", of course), any make, so it can be done. Make sure you can swap your 7spd cassette with the new wheel. You can often get a whole second hand bike (especially w/ damaged frame) for less than second hand wheels of any quality. It might come with V brakes, too.
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Old 02-07-06, 02:00 PM   #9
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IF I have a frame thats the right size and Im comfy on and it has what I need for angles /attachment points I would rather upgrade.

upgrading is more fun, unless your doing a brand new everything and doing a self build.

I like to upgrade cuz I can procure and install parts that no Factory ready bike can or will offer.

But If You have a quirkey little road bike and want to make it into a touring machine then upgrading wont work...

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Old 02-08-06, 04:10 PM   #10
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I bought a new bike and thought it was the ideal replacement for my commuter. I could also use it for club rides and touring. The problem was (and still is) that the new bike is too pretty to get rained on, road salted and scratches from the chain and U lock.

I rebuilt the old bike and ride it 4 out of 5 days. Do both, you won't have any regrets.
I miss bicycle commuting.
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Old 02-08-06, 09:39 PM   #11
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Anyone reccomend a shop in the NYC area that could help with fram mods? I know chelsea does custom welds. But in order to get discs on this 930, I may be looking at too much effort and $. The key is to replace with a low key looking ride.
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Old 02-09-06, 05:42 AM   #12
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you can never have 2manybikes.
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Old 02-09-06, 07:48 AM   #13
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I am buying new next time, since I have a substandard bike that needs more repairs that I can justify on a "virtually free" bike.

On the other hand, the frame is somewhat in good shape and solid (and heavy), has a brand new BB, a new rear wheel, but I want a proper fixed gear road bike for raddoneuring.

On the other hand I could buy a new wheelset, drivetrain, tires, etc for the price of a whole new bike and keep the whole beater to beat around.

But after 3 years of riding consistently (and not going out to movies, restaurants, health clubs, buying bigger clothes, etc) I think I will be willing and able to spend some money on myself and actually ride something better rolling and better looking.\

No ... the rider's looks cannot be fixed.
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