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  1. #1
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    When to stop putting money into a bike?

    Good morning everyone... I need some opinions here...

    I currently commute on a '89 Schwinn World, stock except for fenders, lights, racks, panniers and moustache bars. I paid $60 for the bike, then sunk another ~$150 into commuter-fying it. I really dig it... it's a cool looking bike, relaxed geometry, nice steel ride, etc. The only real negative I have about it is the considerable weight. It's about 35lbs with nothing on it, and with a morning load plus lights, racks, bags, fenders, etc it's well over 65lbs.

    Over the last week, I've sheared the threaded post that holds my front brake caliper together and on the fork (not sure what to call it) and broken 3 spokes in the rear wheel. So here begins the dilemma as I see it...

    I need new brakes... I'm running the stock cheng shin calipers, and there's really no use repairing them. So I need some single pivot touring calipers, and new pads while I'm at it.

    Next, I need new wheels. This brings the total of broken spokes to 6 in the last 2 months. And before you ask, I'm 155lbs and don't jump curbs or bang through potholes. It's a smooth ride to work. The stock 27in wheels really aren't worth rebuilding... they were cheap 20 years ago, and time hasn't been that kind. So that puts me looking for a set of 700c wheels. But it gets more complicated that that... It has a 6spd threaded cassette, and a short cage Shimano Light Action derailer. I've already tested it out and even in friction mode, the derailer can't handle any more than a 6spd cassette. So I'd either have to have a custom wheelset built with a 6spd cassette or a threaded freewheel (mucho expensive), buy a new wheelset with a 7 or 8spd cog and upgrade my derailer (also mucho expensive), or find a used 700c wheelset in good shape with a 6spd cassette (laughably difficult).

    I don't know how to justify sinking this much money into what was a relatively cheap taiwanese frame to start with... I can buy a Novara Big Buzz for $360 off CL, and I'm thinking about just selling the Schwinn for what I can get for it and buying the Buzz.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    I'd recommend you buy a good used bike. If you want to spend $360 for one, that's fine, but typically you can get a really reliable used bike for only $150 if that's what you want to pay. If you want a lighter bike, the $150 price range might not suit you though.
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  3. #3
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    for the money spent its better to buy a used bike on CL. i would go with the novara and either transfer parts over like fenders/rack/seat and sell of parts of old bike or rebuild old bike and keep it as a backup. you really are going to need to invest a good 400bucks just to get the old bike back up and running. open pro ultegra wheels would be best, ~300, althought you could go with something cheaper like forte titan for ~150bucks. just keep in mind the new bike will break down it has cheap wheels, cheap disc breaks will probably need a new saddle, ect.

    as to your question when to stop putting money into the bike. you want to be function and you need to look at your needs. if the bike is only getting 5miles a week and you need to spend 500 to fix it up, not worth it. if your bike is the only way to work, you love riding it, its part of your personal fitness, or you do 20mile weekend rides on it, then the same 500 bucks is worth it. going from 1 entery level bike to another isn't really worth it in most cases.
    real cyclist can bunny hop potholes on a recumbent.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    I would fix it, but not in one big dump of money. I would begin with getting some decent but inexpensive brake calipers and pads. You can get decent used ones, or new Tektronic/Nashbar ones for a song ($50 for calipers and pads?).

    I would then replace ONLY the back wheel right now. Get one that will fit your current rear cog system, so you need to find out if you have a cassette or a free-hub ($139 and up for Open Pro caliber wheels). There tend to be more choices and better deals out there for new wheel-hub combinations that use a cassette. Just about anything out there these days is better than what you have on there.

    You can replace the front wheel later. You will end up fixing stuff on any used bike that you get. Why not fix-up what you have? It would be different if you just wanted a new bike to race or ride off-road. My opinion.

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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the input, everyone...

    Pinyon, does running one 700c wheel and one 27in wheel do anything wonky to the handling? I always assumed that wasn't an option.

    I'm riding about 100mi/week on the Schwinn currently. I really want something like a Surly LHT, but that's just considerably beyond my price range at this point.

  6. #6
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJFlowe View Post
    Good morning everyone... I need some opinions here...

    I currently commute on a '89 Schwinn World, stock except for fenders, lights, racks, panniers and moustache bars. I paid $60 for the bike, then sunk another ~$150 into commuter-fying it. I really dig it... it's a cool looking bike, relaxed geometry, nice steel ride, etc. The only real negative I have about it is the considerable weight. It's about 35lbs with nothing on it, and with a morning load plus lights, racks, bags, fenders, etc it's well over 65lbs.

    Over the last week, I've sheared the threaded post that holds my front brake caliper together and on the fork (not sure what to call it) and broken 3 spokes in the rear wheel. So here begins the dilemma as I see it...

    I need new brakes... I'm running the stock cheng shin calipers, and there's really no use repairing them. So I need some single pivot touring calipers, and new pads while I'm at it.

    Next, I need new wheels. This brings the total of broken spokes to 6 in the last 2 months. And before you ask, I'm 155lbs and don't jump curbs or bang through potholes. It's a smooth ride to work. The stock 27in wheels really aren't worth rebuilding... they were cheap 20 years ago, and time hasn't been that kind. So that puts me looking for a set of 700c wheels. But it gets more complicated that that... It has a 6spd threaded cassette, and a short cage Shimano Light Action derailer. I've already tested it out and even in friction mode, the derailer can't handle any more than a 6spd cassette. So I'd either have to have a custom wheelset built with a 6spd cassette or a threaded freewheel (mucho expensive), buy a new wheelset with a 7 or 8spd cog and upgrade my derailer (also mucho expensive), or find a used 700c wheelset in good shape with a 6spd cassette (laughably difficult).

    I don't know how to justify sinking this much money into what was a relatively cheap taiwanese frame to start with... I can buy a Novara Big Buzz for $360 off CL, and I'm thinking about just selling the Schwinn for what I can get for it and buying the Buzz.

    What do you think?
    Do you have any bike shops in your area with a "junk yard" or used parts area? There's a place a few blocks from where I work that has a ton of old parts including wheels. You could also try ebay for calipers and wheels.

    I can't imagine why a derailleur couldn't handle a 7 speed freewheel when a 6 speed freewheel worked OK. They're almost the same width. Unless the large cog on the 7 speed was just too big. Do the limit screws just need to be adjusted?

    If you want a newer bike though, go ahead and get one. You don't need anyone's permission.

  7. #7
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    No problem running a 27" front and 700c rear. The sizes are so close that you'll probably never even notice the difference - unless you try to mount a tire of the wrong size on one of the rims. If your rear hub is in decent shape I'd be inclined to just respoke the wheel with a 700c rim. Tension it properly and stress-relieve and it should solve the breaking spoke issue. That, and fixing/replacing the brakes, should get the bike back on the road without too much cost - and let you save up some money for the bike you'd really like later.

  8. #8
    Pro Paper Plane Pilot wunderkind's Avatar
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    When it's stolen. Seriously for a commuter bike which may not get the luxury of sharing the same parking space as your work space, you really shouldn't bother with putting money on a bike. It will just increase the pain.
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  9. #9
    Female Member KitN's Avatar
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    When to stop putting money into a bike? When it no longer makes sense to you or is no longer worth the money.

    But "worth" is perceived and highly individual. Is this bike your only means of transportation? Is it your only means of exercise? Does this bike have major emotion value to you? Do you love riding it?

    At a certain point, there's a cutoff. You and only you can decide if it's worth it to you.

    As you mentioned, you can buy a decent used bike on CL that will get the job done for a good deal less than fixing up the current bike you have.

    Unless your current bike has some serious emotional value to you like it was your first bike or your dying grandfather told you to keep it or other such history, then I'd suggest you buy a nice, solid, reliable used bike on CL, transfer over your current rack, fenders, etc., then sell your current bike to recoup some money.

    Problem solved.
    Ride what you like. Ride in what you like.

  10. #10
    Female Member KitN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wunderkind View Post
    When it's stolen. Seriously for a commuter bike which may not get the luxury of sharing the same parking space as your work space, you really shouldn't bother with putting money on a bike. It will just increase the pain.
    +1

    Don't go crazy pimping out your ride making it a more attractive target for thieves if you are going to be riding it daily and locking it up outside.

    Ride a beater or a plain looking bike to work if you can't take the bike indoors with you.
    Ride what you like. Ride in what you like.

  11. #11
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    If the frame was a hand-brazed Reynolds 531, Columbus SL/SLX, Tange Prestige -or similar- frame, I'd say stick with it. However, with a more moderate (heavier non-butted tubing, machine-brazed, etc), puts it more into a greay area, IMO. The frame might make a fun SS project for yourself or for a hipster in need, or a good donation to the local bike co-op.
    Transfer over the commuter stuff, and you're good to go.

    Oh, and not to be TOO much of a stickler, but if the rear cluster is threaded, with its own mechanism, it is a freewhel, not a cassette.

  12. #12
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    buy another old schwinn 10-speed and combine parts for a good running single bike. it's fun, who knows, you might wind up with two running bikes if you buy enough old ones. counting mine, my kids, and spouses, I have 11 frames in the basement and I have 4 running bikes for me!

    BTW, it sounds like the bike is not the weight issues, but rather what you're carrying. I recently checked out a new Trek 1.5 and a Fuji Touring. I can use both for sure ... I may buy neither cuz my commuting season is coming to an end.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  13. #13
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    You should be fine putting a 700c wheel on there. The biggest problem tends to be with the brake calipers lining up, and since you are replacing them anyway, you will be golden.

    I still think that it may be worth fixing for a commuter bike. Unless you do stuff like paint/powder-coat it, and add lots of snazzy details, an older bike like that is less desirable to thieves.

    One of the reasons that I say fix it, is because of the frame. Steel frames from that era have such a smooth ride, tough-as-nails, and still relatively light. I think that it is worth it. I've thought about not fixing my 1987 Trek a few times (bad wreck a couple of years ago), but always end up fixing it. The only original parts on it now include the frame, rear hub, and the shifters and derailures. Everything else was replaced slowly over the years, and I really do enjoy riding it as a commuter. It is fast enough to take on at least keep up on group rides, and I can haul 50+ lbs of groceries in my panniers. Heaven.

    I say fix it. Fix it with decent parts (newer double-walled rims are MUCH better than what you have now), but don't get too snazzy with add-ons.


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  14. #14
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    I just remembered something. If your bike has 6-7 speeds on the back, the frame may only have a 126mm opening to accept the rear hub. Bikes made after 1990 or so all come with a 135mm gap. All of the cheaper wheels that you can buy online, or that come stock from your bike shop will be 135mm.

    Since your bike is steel, you are in luck. Steel frames can be expanded by hand using the techniques described here:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/frame-spacing.html

    Aluminum bikes cannot be widened. I would still fix it...

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  15. #15
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    I actually have a 135mm gap already, thankfully. I pulled the wheels off my "fast" bike to test it out and everything works fine. That's how I know the derailer definitely will not handle a 9spd cassette.

    As far as security goes, my employer is fantastic. I work for a small software firm, and I am permitted to store my bike in the office. I actually use an empty cube as my closet/bike parking space. That, combined with the showers here, makes this the perfect place to bike commute. I'm still shocked that I'm the only person here who does.

    Thanks everyone... this is a lot of good ideas, and workarounds I didn't know were possible.

  16. #16
    Peace, Love, Bikes
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    I think it's largely a personal question. What's it worth to you?

    I've been working on my 78-79 Schwinn Le Tour to make it a solid commuter. I finally reached a point where I felt that it would be a wash to keep going with what I wanted. Just felt it would be better to look at a newer bike on the used market that had what I wanted. Luckily I found something that will work pretty well.

    I'll keep the Schwinn as a second bike, tweak the stock parts a bit, and keep it largely as is.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    A 35# bike with 25# of extras is a lot. Anyway you can think minimalist and cut down on all the stuff you're carrying every day? And keep stuff at work so you don't have to carry it back and forth ?

    If you're riding 100 miles a week and have good security for the bike, I'd take a second look at the dream bike and talk payment plans to the bike shop. You could still use a lot of the commuter extras and the sooner you get it the longer you'll enjoy it.

    Are you riding the bike with broken spokes or fixing them immediately ? Bad goes to worse if you put off the repairs.

    My '78 Schwin Super LeTour 12.2 was a decent enough bike, just wish it was the right size frame.

  18. #18
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    Not sounding worth it. I'd give up on it when you start buying parts you couldn't throw on a new bike/frame. It sounds like you're looking at that at this point.

    I upgraded my old beater with new wheels, RD, shifters, and brakes, but it's all stuff I'd move to another frame anyway, so no real loss. But in your case, with the weird drivetrain, unless you can get a good deal, it's not worth it.

    Ultimately, price it out, and see how it compares to a solid used bike of similar cost

  19. #19
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    I ended up just buying a new bike last night... By the time I priced out everything I needed, it just got way too expensive. I picked up an unridden 07 Buzz for a price I couldn't argue. So we'll see, but I think I made the best decision I could.

  20. #20
    Very, very Senior Member JPprivate's Avatar
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    Congrats, post some pics :-)

  21. #21
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    Will do... I have to figure out how to get fenders on around the disc brakes first. I think I can just get some longer bolts and some sort of nylon spacer at the hardware store. I'll try that out tomorrow.

  22. #22
    Senior Moment bikegeek57's Avatar
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    you mean there's a limit?

  23. #23
    Senior Member Kimmitt's Avatar
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    Sounds like you made a good decision.
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  24. #24
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    First commute on the Buzz this morning. I felt a lot slower on the ride in... amazing what difference moving from 27" slicks to 26"x1.75" cross tires makes.

    But the shocker for me was that I shaved 5 mins off my time. Apparently I was wasting a lot of time slowing to a crawl over the nasty sections of my commute. Today I just blasted right over curbs and through the dirt, had more fun and was faster... Now if I can just grow to love flat bars.
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