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Old 09-10-12, 11:18 AM   #1
treadtread
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Bike fixing - priorities

We bought a cheap, second-hand bike (Schwinn Ranger, 24 inch wheels) for my wife (she's on the short side, and this size seems to work well). She won't let me buy a more expensive bike because she doesn't cycle much - only on weekend rides with me and our son. I want to make sure its not unsafe though - so here are a list of things wrong with it:

1. Brakes - weren't working very well, and both calipers were not striking the rim equally. This was the first thing I worked on, and the brakes work pretty okay now.
2. Right shifter is broken. There is no tension on the rear derailleur cable, so the chain has settled into the smallest cog and works fine there. I haven't been able to figure out a way to make it permanently stay in one of the middle cogs - that would be nicer since there would be less cross chaining when she changes the front gear.
3. Rear wheel is not true.
4. Just yesterday, the bike made a clicking sound - I don't know where it's coming from yet. All spokes are okay, and it doesn't seem to be coming from the drivetrain - I flipped the bike and ran through all the gears to see if I could reproduce the sound. Need to experiment a bit more before I can start looking at a solution.

So of the problems above, which one should I start working on first (apart from brakes)? W.r.t safety, which is the most important? I don't have many tools either, so I will buy and fix - but don't want to make too many expensive fixes (simply because it isn't worth it - at that point, I would rather try convincing her to get a new bike instead).
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Old 09-10-12, 01:49 PM   #2
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I don't know what to say. Personally I would just poke around and fix anything I could. I'd probably try working on all of them at once. The only slow down would be if something gets held up because a part or a tool is needed (that you don't have).

You learn as you are going along. It doesn't take long to gain the skills, but anything new might seem difficult at first.
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Old 09-10-12, 01:54 PM   #3
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Time to dump that Walmart bike. Wisdom is lost on trying to save money when you seem to be spending time and money on the fix. Look around on craigslist, again, for a deal.
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Old 09-10-12, 11:18 PM   #4
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I'd have trued the wheels first, since you wont be able to adjust brakes very well on wobbly wheels.

The rear derailer can be locked to a lower gear by using the limit adjuster screws. Alternatly just install a cheap friction thumb shift lever; the falcon ones are something like 10$; oh look, it even comes with cabling: http://www.amazon.com/Falcon-frictio.../dp/B0025UH44I

Aside from working brakes; other safety issues to check are... are things tightened down? the stem and handlebars, cranks and pedals, wheel QRs


if it uses stamped steel caliper brakes, then its probably junk not worth investing in.....

Last edited by xenologer; 09-10-12 at 11:30 PM.
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Old 09-10-12, 11:37 PM   #5
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. Personally I would just poke around and fix anything I could. I'd probably try working on all of them at once... It doesn't take long to gain the skills, but anything new might seem difficult at first.
Me, too. You're only talking about a morning's work. Google how to true a wheel and do that. It would take a mechanic five minutes, max. Check the cable tension on that shifter. It might just be way loose, so nothing happens when you move the lever. Easy to fix, but while you're there, pull the cable out and lube it. I'd probably replace the brake pads with good replacement ones--they're not expensive and make a big difference.
The clicking sound, I dunno. More details about when it happens would be helpful. Coasting, pedaling, how fast is it, whatever.
For a casual, sometime rider, I don't think it's necessary to junk it and get a new bike. Just make it work and let her ride it twice a month.
Contrary to myth, bikes aren't very complicated. You can usually see what's wrong and what you need to do to fix it. The Park Tool website is a good place for information.
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Old 09-11-12, 01:57 AM   #6
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poor quality bike will guarantee they wont want to ride it much, so a self fulfilling prediction..
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Old 09-11-12, 10:11 AM   #7
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poor quality bike will guarantee they wont want to ride it much, so a self fulfilling prediction..
That was my first thought but we're not talking to the rider.

It could be that she simply doesn't want to ride and prefers to own a crappy bike so she has an excuse for not riding. If that's the case, a more expensive bike isn't going to solve the issue.
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Old 09-11-12, 10:53 AM   #8
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Keep the tires pumped up close tot he maximum pressure.

True the wheels.

Get a new 7-speed indexed shifter

New cables


The bike is about $150 new, I think, so be careful not to spend too much money to get an old one running.
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Old 09-11-12, 02:07 PM   #9
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That was my first thought but we're not talking to the rider.

It could be that she simply doesn't want to ride and prefers to own a crappy bike so she has an excuse for not riding. If that's the case, a more expensive bike isn't going to solve the issue.
She doesn't really want to cycle - not yet, anyway - I'm working on it Right now the only purpose her bike has is to accompany me and our son on bike trails on weekends. I'll try truing the wheels this weekend - its more than a morning's work for me cos I don't know how to do it yet. Saw lots of videos online, hopefully will be able to do it. The shifter is definitely broken, and cannot be fixed so I'll need a new one there. Will scour ebay for a cheaper 7 speed right shifter.
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Old 09-11-12, 02:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by treadtread View Post
2. Right shifter is broken. There is no tension on the rear derailleur cable, so the chain has settled into the smallest cog and works fine there. I haven't been able to figure out a way to make it permanently stay in one of the middle cogs - that would be nicer since there would be less cross chaining when she changes the front gear.
There should be two screws on the rear derailleur itself. Move the derailleur cage so it is over the gear you want, and note how a tab on the derailleur moves towards one of these screws. Then screw in the other screw to prevent the derailleur from moving back.

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3. Rear wheel is not true.
Unless you are comfortable with wheel rebuilding, take it to a shop. This is a show-stopper. Your rear wheel must be true.

While you are at it, have the shop look at the shifter. Maybe it's not a big deal to fix, and the shop may have a used shifter cluttering the shop.
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