I already own not one , not two, but three different 'department store' brand bikes. The bikes I currently own are a 1970's All-Pro bike from K-Mart; a 1990's Huffy Broadmoor bike from Target; and a Wal-Mart Next bike. I bought the Broadmoor brand-new on sale years ago, but the other two bikes were bought used. I bought the All-Pro very cheaply--$3.50 and a thrift shop, marked down from $5.00 for 'customer appreciation week'. The Next bike I bought for $20.00--which he really didn't want to accept--from a kid who salvaged it from the trash as a fix-up project that he never quite got around to fixing-up.
I have the chance to buy a very inexpensive Raleigh bike. Bike is for sale for $20.00. Gears seem to work (derailleurs shift the gears, front and back); brakes work; wheels turn freely. The tires are flat and the bike is damned tall--I'm 6'00" tall with a 32" inseam and the top bar on the frame just brushes my crotch. The seat is shot--they've covered it with a cheap Bell-brand gel-foam cover but I lifted that and the seat beneath is just the metal skeleton--whatever served as padding previously is long gone. I'm going to assume the tires themselves are dry-rotted and need to be replaced. Oh--the tires are EXTRAORDINARILY narrow--one of my department-store bikes is a 1970's road bike with narrow tires and the tires on the Raleigh look skinnier than these. The Raleigh seems lighter than my K-Mart All-Pro road bike--I think the Raleigh must have an aluminum frame whereas the All-Pro is definitely steel.
Part of my concern is that--depending on what the bike ends up needing--I might spend a fortune just finding parts for the Raleigh. It is a British-made bike, apparently, and an older model of a British bike--are compatible parts readily available in the USA? I can recoup the initial investment by selling off one of my other bikes--I could sell the Wal-Mart bike for right around the same amount the thrift store wants for the Raleigh. (Of course I dumped a lot of money into the Next bike to get it running--it came to me vandalized, and I had to replace freewheel, rear derailleur, and crankshaft--and the bike is still a 'prima-donna' bike that gives me some sort of trouble every second or third time I ride it. I love the 27 gears that the Next bike sports, but I scarcely ever get to use them, with the bike going down almost every month). The Next bike has better traction on soft surfaces than the All-Pro has, and with even narrower tires, I would tend to bet the Raleigh would be even pickier about what sort of surface I ride it on. I really don't want two road bikes, but I actually enjoy riding the All-Pro bike more than the Next bike, and think I might enjoy swapping between the All-Pro and the Raleigh. I'm going to try to post an image of a bike that resembles the Raleigh I looked at--but the bike I saw had foam rubber on the handlebars. If the foam is 'original equipment', I'm gonna guess the bike I saw is a later model than the one pictured. This one is close enough, though:
I think the distance between the seat-post and the handlebars on the Raleigh bike is much closer than that on my Next brand bike. On the Next--even though it has flat handlebars instead of the knurled-under road bike version handlebars--I feel a little too stretched-out--as if my nose were in Illinois and my rear were in Kansas somewhere. One of the reasons I've come not to like the Next bike so much as I thought I would. I think that having the handlebars closer to me would feel less like I'm doing push-ups at the same time I'm riding the bike. Or mebbe I'm trying to rationalize buying the bike. Any thoughts, folks?