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Old 08-21-07, 05:15 PM   #1
lefnire
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something cheap

if I have to spend $1,000 to save on gas, I'll drive.
So I figure i'll get something cheap and it seems the only options are old garage sale / craigslist beaters, and poorly built, cheap-part walmart bikes.
the walmart bikes are cheaper than anything i can find on craigslist, and I'm assuming they use all the latest technology (if the crappiest of that latest technology), so are more easily upgraded? i know, having previously owned an old beater, there there's an issue with upgrading parts on obsolete bikes.
In my own opinion, a walmart peice would be much better than an old beater, since it's (1) cheaper and (2) more easily upgraded. But I read some dude's post on another thread saying just the opposite, so i thought I'd as you guys.
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Old 08-21-07, 05:17 PM   #2
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I guess I should list the specific walmart bikes I'm looking at:
GMC Denali, Schwinn Varsity, and Kent GMC Yukon
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Old 08-21-07, 05:19 PM   #3
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Check ebay for good classic bikes, like this one...
ebay
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Old 08-21-07, 05:23 PM   #4
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If you want something new and cheap you may want to check out one of these http://www.pakebikes.com/nunubatmobile.html
I have no personal experience with the pake urban, but they are catching my attention, and for $280 it seems like a great deal. If i can get to a shop that has them i will give it a try as i was thinking of picking on of these up for my girlfriend, IMO girls look hot as hell on these style bikes.
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Old 08-21-07, 05:37 PM   #5
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My brother got a brand new Trek 3700 for $300 after tax and it's been a rock solid commuter. On the other hand, I ride a '93 Mongoose in every kind of weather you can imagine, and it's like an indestructible tank . I have another similar Mongoose (only it's an '88) that I recently bought for $45. I can promise you it would be a much better commuter than anything at Walmart, etc.
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Old 08-21-07, 05:56 PM   #6
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the walmart bikes are cheaper than anything i can find on craigslist, and I'm assuming they use all the latest technology (if the crappiest of that latest technology), so are more easily upgraded? i know, having previously owned an old beater, there there's an issue with upgrading parts on obsolete bikes.
In my own opinion, a walmart peice would be much better than an old beater, since it's (1) cheaper and (2) more easily upgraded. But I read some dude's post on another thread saying just the opposite, so i thought I'd as you guys.
No, the Walmart bikes DO NOT use the latest technology. They are made to "look" like whatever's popular... that's why today they mostly look like dual-suspension bikes, and 20 years ago they mostly looked like 3-speeds or road bikes.

The Walmart bikes are deficient in literally every single component. The frames are heavy, badly welded, and badly painted... basically junk. Many of the components are obsolete. For example, the fake-dual-suspension bikes at Walmart use 1" threaded headsets, which means you could never upgrade to a better modern fork, stem, or headset (which are all 1-1/8" because it's stronger). The drivetrain components are crap, and typically not compatible with modern components from major manufacturers. The rear wheels always use freewheel gears (obsolete) instead of freehubs and cassettes, which are much stronger and also easier to work on. The wheels often have steel rims (obsolete), which have dangerously bad stopping power, and are very heavy. The wheels are often built so badly that they wobble and break spokes easily. Etc. etc. I suspect that the companies that make throwaway Walmart bikes buy up old tooling and manufacturing equipment from more reputable companies that are getting rid of it... and then they proceed to make parts which are of much lower quality than what was originally made with that equipment.

I have looked at Walmart bikes that people have thrown out in the alley behind my house, trying to decide if any of the parts were useful to me. I've decided that literally not a single component of a Walmart bike is worth reusing. Not even the saddles--which are uncomfortably soft--or the pedals, which have bad bearings, are made of flimsy plastic, and won't accept toe clips.

It is *much* easier to upgrade an old bike of good quality than a Walmart bike! For example, I converted a 1990 road bike into a modern one with STI shifters and light wheels for about $150 (getting a really good deal on used parts and doing the work myself). It is probably not worthwhile to upgrade a bike so heavily unless you can do the work yourself though.

Your best bet, I'd say, is to get an older bike in good condition, and enjoy it as-is rather than trying to do extensive upgrades. In the DC area, there are many good quality used road bikes on craiglist in the $100-200 range, sometimes cheaper, typically 5-25 years old. For example, I got a very nice Nishiki for $25 for my girlfriend, which needed nothing more than air in the tires, a new $10 chain, and a bit of grease on the bearings. The trick is you have to learn how to spot the deals and avoid the junk on craigslist. The best way to do it is to get a local cyclist friend to help you out! I've done this for a number of friends... they tell me they're looking for a bike, what their price range and size is, and I watch craigslist for a few days, and send them what I found. It's worked out really well for at least 4 of them!
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Old 08-21-07, 06:06 PM   #7
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I've actually been impressed with the quality of Wal-Mart type bikes recently. Although, I have to state this is "relative" level of being impressed, in that compared to the Wal-Mart bikes being offered 10 years ago, the new bikes they're selling are miles ahead in design and quality.

Even, so, you could find a good used bike for less than you can buy a new wal-mart bike.
Craigslist is filled with rip-off artists, profiteers, and people who are just plain clueless so they price high. You can try talking them down (which you can't do at walmart) or you can check your local bike shops for deals on used bikes. Occasionally decent bikes show up at thrift stores too, I once got a Miyata 110 for $24 at an ARC, and have owned quite a few passable quality bikes that I've found at thrift stores and garage sales.

Also depending on your commute, "upgrading" might be a senseless waste of money. If the bike functions, there's really no reason to "upgrade" - you're commuting to work - not racing.
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Old 08-21-07, 06:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by lefnire View Post
if I have to spend $1,000 to save on gas, I'll drive.
So I figure i'll get something cheap and it seems the only options are old garage sale / craigslist beaters, and poorly built, cheap-part walmart bikes.
I'm a big believer in Craigslist if you can be patient. About half the bikes on there are crap. About a third of them are from people who think their 15 year old piece of s**t is a 'classic'. But if you can skim for a week, I'm pretty sure you'll find something like what you're looking for at a good deal. Probably depends where you live, but in the DC area Craigslist is great.

I got my current bike, a great entry/mid level road bike (older Giant OCR2) for $400. I've since seen the same bike offered for $350. Not necessarily everybody's idea of a commuter bike, but you could get the same quality commuter for the same or less. I bet if you tried, you could get a good bike, in near new shape, for $250-$500 that will do what you need it to do.

The reason why the used bike market is great is because so many people buy expensive bikes thinking they'll get into biking, and don't. They ride the bike 5 times and sell it 2 years later at 40-70% of the original value. Works for me.

Word of caution, though - it's amazing, at any given time, how many people are "moving" and need to sell their bike by "tomorrow night" and are willing to get rid of it for 1/3 what it's worth. Don't get involved with Craig's Fence.
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Old 08-21-07, 06:34 PM   #9
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There are tons of nice, older bikes that sell on ebay for less than $200 shipped.
For instance, I'm absolutely kicking myself for not bidding more on this bike.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...MEWA:IT&ih=002



I would never waste my money on a throwaway walmart bike. Besides, buying a bike that you're planning on upgrading is almost always a poor financial move.

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Old 08-21-07, 06:45 PM   #10
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There are tons of nice, older bikes that sell on ebay for less than $200 shipped.
For instance, I'm absolutely kicking myself for not bidding more on this bike.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...MEWA:IT&ih=002
Wow! That's an amazing deal, with Shimano 600 Arabesque. Presumably it was so cheap because it's a very large frame size. I have mostly given up on eBay, since it's usually a lot more expensive than Craigslist, and I can't try the bikes out... guess I'll have to give it a second look!
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Old 08-21-07, 06:54 PM   #11
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I forget the make and model buy my friend got a road bike off of ebay for $300. He promptly had it appraised for $700. It had a 9 speed Shimano Ultegra group set and it fit him, those are the parts that count ;-).
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Old 08-21-07, 06:57 PM   #12
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I guess I should list the specific walmart bikes I'm looking at:
GMC Denali, Schwinn Varsity, and Kent GMC Yukon
why would you go with a bike named after a car
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Old 08-21-07, 07:45 PM   #13
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I would never waste my money on a throwaway walmart bike. Besides, buying a bike that you're planning on upgrading is almost always a poor financial move.
well, i don't plan to upgrade a crap bike just to upgrade.
i had a beater whose freewheel went out. i needed a new one, and wanted to get a cassette (for moxfyre's reasons) and couldn't. worse, my last walmart bike's rims bent irreparably, and I actually couldn't find a new wheelset that fit!!!
so I mean to upgrade on an as-needed basis. having had bad experiences with both bike types, i was simply wondering which was the better of two evils. the way i see it, i commute 40 miles a day and i imagine that no matter the quality of my bike, components will fail. I imagine that starting cheap is just as good as starting expensive if i plan to replace on the go.

so it sounds like everyone is saying old bikes on craigslist over walmart anyday? thanks, good to know!
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Old 08-21-07, 07:46 PM   #14
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In my own opinion, a walmart peice would be much better than an old beater, since it's (1) cheaper and (2) more easily upgraded. But I read some dude's post on another thread saying just the opposite, so i thought I'd as you guys.
There are problems with upgradeability of the Walmart road bikes:
* some of them are single size only. You can't do anything with a bike frame that is too big or too small.
* you definitely need to upgrade the shifters, but good shifters are way too expensive.

But these factors are similar for the craigslist bikes.
* it's very difficult to buy a bike in your size
* if a bike is cheap, the components are not compatible with the modern ones.
You just ride them replacing the worn parts.

What to do? Go to www.bikesdirect.com or a similar site and buy the same Chinese bike as in Walmart having a better choice.
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Old 08-21-07, 08:05 PM   #15
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I would argue that it would be easier to upgrade parts on an old classic bike than it would be to try and maintain a cheap new bike. Look for good, reliable names like Trek and Cannondale. I just bought an '84 Bridgestone 300 off Craigslist and yeah, it needs some work, but the frame is in literally PERFECT condition. The people at the bike shop I went to to have it tuned up offered to buy it from me if I ever got tired of it!
The beauty of Craigslist is that you can try the bike out before you buy it. Ebay scares me.. Just shop around for awhile. I'm sure you'll find something you like.

(note: I live in mpls. and we have a very, very active Craigslist. If you don't live in a bigger city, you might not have the same selection..)
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Old 08-21-07, 08:18 PM   #16
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Look for good, reliable names like Trek and Cannondale.
I forgot to ask, while i'm the market for something used, what are good and bad brands?
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Old 08-21-07, 08:19 PM   #17
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I guess I should list the specific walmart bikes I'm looking at:
GMC Denali, Schwinn Varsity, and Kent GMC Yukon
Well, in all honesty... those are much better overall than the mountain bike crap that Walmart sells. Search around the forums for a few reviews of the GMC Denali, such as this fairly thorough one: http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/in.../t-237231.html

The Schwinn Varsity actually looks pretty decent to me. Less ugly than the GMC Denali, and has mechanically simpler shifters than the GMC Yukon (I wouldn't expect the STI shifters on a $300 bike to last long). If I couldn't do my own repairs, and if there weren't a steady supply of interesting 80s bikes around DC, I might go for one... though I don't like the lack of rack braze-ons and the solid axle rear hub
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Old 08-21-07, 08:23 PM   #18
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Even if you buy new, you don't need to spend $1000. I bought a new hybrid for $300, and I have 12000 miles on it. I'm happy.

Admittedly I spent another $500; $200 on lights, $200 on clothes, $100 on rack/panniers, but only the lights are essential and that only if you're riding at night. You can get by with a backpack and street clothes.

For value for the money, REI K2s are hard to beat. My wife and daughter picked up a couple and they're a pretty nice bike for $300, and well suited to commuting, IMHO. I have a Giant Cypress and it's in the same price range but not quite as nice.
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Old 08-21-07, 08:54 PM   #19
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windsor wellington? Leeds?
Motobecane Mirage Sport?

hey, i forgot about REI! i'll have to hit them up, thanks
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Old 08-21-07, 08:58 PM   #20
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Performance Bikes???
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Old 08-21-07, 09:06 PM   #21
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you mean the ones i listed are performance bikes? should I be looking for something else?
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Old 08-21-07, 09:33 PM   #22
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Just make a search here using the keywords "motobecane" or "windsor", but not in the Vintage forum.
http://forums.roadbikereview.com/ has a forum devoted to these bikes and the owner of BD visits it.

You want a cheap bike, buy it online. You know how to work on bikes, why pay extra to a shop.
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Old 08-21-07, 09:42 PM   #23
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why would you go with a bike named after a car

Good question. I just don't know.

But for the OP, buy a used bike at least. If you buy a Wal-Mart bike:

A) That money is going right out of your community
B) No free tune ups or anything
C) When you do need it to be fixed, your LBS won't like you because working on them is a pain
D) It was built by a savage Wal-Mart worker
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Old 08-21-07, 09:52 PM   #24
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I would argue that it would be easier to upgrade parts on an old classic bike than it would be to try and maintain a cheap new bike. Look for good, reliable names like Trek and Cannondale. I just bought an '84 Bridgestone 300 off Craigslist and yeah, it needs some work, but the frame is in literally PERFECT condition.
It's a nice bike, but it will be difficult to upgrade and maintain it for a 40-mile commute as the author wants.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/bridgest...stone-300.html
* it has 27" wheels, rims and tires are difficult to find.
* it has stem shifters, they are obsolete. If he wants to change them to STI, he needs to change the derailleurs and housing
* it has a free wheel, it is obsolete
* the saddle cover is probably cracked
* the wheels might need to be trued
It's good for riding AS IS, improvements will cost money.

Last edited by Barabaika; 08-21-07 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 08-21-07, 10:43 PM   #25
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It's a nice bike, but it will be difficult to upgrade and maintain it for a 40-mile commute as the author wants.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/bridgest...stone-300.html
* it has 27" wheels, rims and tires are difficult to find.
* it has stem shifters, they are obsolete. If he wants to change them to STI, he needs to change the derailleurs and housing
* it has a free wheel, it is obsolete
* the saddle cover is probably cracked
* the wheels might need to be trued
It's good for riding AS IS, improvements will cost money.
I agree that it's good as is... but I disagree about the freewheel and 27" wheels. Decent 27" tires for commuting use are still plentiful as far as I can tell. And 6/7 speed freewheels are easy to get. And there's nothing particularly wrong with non-STI shifters (I personally would switch them from stem shifters to Suntour bar-ends).
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