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Old 02-06-14, 09:50 AM   #1
BruceHankins
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BSO Options

Not sure if this should be in hybrid, mountain, commuting, or anywhere really.

I have a Magna Great Divide 21 speed BSO that I use for limestone trails and family rides. I'm looking to upgrade it on the cheap, like really cheap. I've put on some 26x1.75 Forté Gotham tires, added some MKS pedals, changed out the from suspension fork for one only slightly better, changed out the rd for a shimano tourney, and I'm in the process of repacking all the bearings. I have a Forté saddle and alloy seat post I'm going to buy, it has panniers and a cheap rear rack. I'm going to get a set of trigger shifters, just like them better. What other changes or upgrades can I make to make it a little more comfortable and ride just a little bit better? Keep in mind I got this bike for $15 to use as something I can not care about and other than tires (which cost just under $30/pair), everything have been out if the parts bin. The budget is a low as possible.
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Old 02-06-14, 10:44 AM   #2
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Moved from Foo to General Cycling.
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Old 02-06-14, 10:59 AM   #3
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The trick with a project like this one is to buy as few parts as you can manage. If it was my bike I'd tour the neighborhood on garbage day. Do that enough and you'll find a "donor bike" or two that you can scrounge upgrade parts from.

Rear wheels are gold. Fronts not so much.
Brake parts are gold. Derailleurs and shifters, not so much.
Cables and housings you will probably have to source new ones.
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Old 02-06-14, 11:26 AM   #4
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Old 02-06-14, 02:19 PM   #5
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I will start doing the rounds in the neighborhood to find usable parts. I gotta admit, even though it's a big box bike, sourcing good parts and trying to build a higher quality BSO for little to no monetary investment is kinda fun.
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Old 02-06-14, 06:51 PM   #6
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Would it be worth changing the crank if I found a suitable donor? Also, say you find a donor or two but the frames are no good, what would you do to the BSO to make it more fun or just plain better?
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Old 02-06-14, 08:18 PM   #7
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wally world has a craptastic single speed
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Old 02-06-14, 08:49 PM   #8
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Would it be worth changing the crank if I found a suitable donor? Also, say you find a donor or two but the frames are no good, what would you do to the BSO to make it more fun or just plain better?
If I found another crank that was lighter in weight, had better gearing choices, or just looked better to me - I swap cranks in a heartbeat. The same is true of any other part on the bike. Handlebar, saddle and seatpost are also common parts that deserve to be swapped.
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Old 02-06-14, 09:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by BruceHankins View Post
Not sure if this should be in hybrid, mountain, commuting, or anywhere really.

I have a Magna Great Divide 21 speed BSO that I use for limestone trails and family rides. I'm looking to upgrade it on the cheap, like really cheap. I've put on some 26x1.75 Forté Gotham tires, added some MKS pedals, changed out the from suspension fork for one only slightly better, changed out the rd for a shimano tourney, and I'm in the process of repacking all the bearings. I have a Forté saddle and alloy seat post I'm going to buy, it has panniers and a cheap rear rack. I'm going to get a set of trigger shifters, just like them better. What other changes or upgrades can I make to make it a little more comfortable and ride just a little bit better? Keep in mind I got this bike for $15 to use as something I can not care about and other than tires (which cost just under $30/pair), everything have been out if the parts bin. The budget is a low as possible.
I don't know about this Magna, but brakes are usually an easy cheap upgrade.


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wally world has a craptastic single speed
I was going to buy one, but looking at it closely I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
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Old 02-06-14, 09:23 PM   #10
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Is a bike equipped stock with tiagra or 105 a BSO? Really hate that term.
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Old 02-07-14, 08:14 AM   #11
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Is a bike equipped stock with tiagra or 105 a BSO? Really hate that term.
I don't know which bike you are referring to as a BSO. But mine is a Magna that came from Target and I grabbed second hand basically for just taking it away. I used to only ride big box bikes (except for my bmx) until about 2 years ago when I got my first real bike. An entry level Japanese built Kuwahara Newport Road bike sold in Canada. I still love the big box, BSO, what ever you want to call them bikes. For riding slow paces, short (no more than 10 miles so far) distances with the family they're great. I can get 2 of those bikes and clean/lube them for less than what one tire costs for my road bike.

Now I know I'm crazy upgrading such a lowly frame, but it's fun. Plus I let my son help and he enjoys learning and spending time together. And any parts I use can alway be taken back off to use elsewhere.
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Old 02-07-14, 08:18 AM   #12
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If it was me.. I'd probably watch CL for a "donor" bike "for parts".. then probably ride said "donor" bike instead of the BSO.
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Old 02-07-14, 09:23 AM   #13
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Bruce- Is there a bike co-op or community bike shop in town? If so, that could be a great resource for cheap parts. The one in my town gets tons of cheapo bikes donated. The volunteers tear them down and/or build up the better examples. They have bins of spare parts, and can help find the decent stuff buried in there. Plus, they're okay with wrenching on cheap bikes to make them usable for anyone.

If you can swallow your pride, the dumpster outside a bike shop will have gems in it sometimes, especially if they don't donate the cheap bikes folks trade in.
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Old 02-07-14, 11:49 AM   #14
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Unfortunately there is no co-op in town or reasonably close by. I haven't tried dumpster diving the bike shop l, all though that's not a bad idea. CL is almost not an option. People around my area sell Next bikes for about $75 and schwinn bikes that are not close to rideable for $60. If it's a road bike expect $150+ and that's for turkey levers and stem shifters. They are a bit crazy. I saw a Bridgestone MB-4 listed for $395! I just like the idea of building it up a bit. Plus it's fully rideable now and I've put 100 miles or so on it. See how comfy/nice/smooth/more performance I can get out of it for little to nothing.
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Old 02-08-14, 01:54 PM   #15
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Plus I let my son help and he enjoys learning and spending time together.
How old is the son?

Some of my favorite memories are of working in my home shop with a grandson. I even once paid a 13 year old grandson to sag/wrench a big week long ride across Missouri. Got to know him a lot better and really respected how good he was working with our customers.
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Old 02-08-14, 04:08 PM   #16
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He is 6. He's been helping work on all the bikes with me, but of course he prefers working on his.
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Old 02-09-14, 11:03 AM   #17
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If it was me.. I'd probably watch CL for a "donor" bike "for parts".. then probably ride said "donor" bike instead of the BSO.
Look for bikes with weird frame sizes. Bought a 63cm Univega Gran Rally with Shimano 600, a nice aftermarket seat, and a great set of rims. Sold the frame off fer cheap.

I have respect the bottom of the market bikes. The average bike commuter in my hood is on an old BSO, not a fancy boutique bike.


Retro Grouch:

"Rear wheels are gold. Fronts not so much.
Brake parts are gold. Derailleurs and shifters, not so much.
Cables and housings you will probably have to source new ones."

Pretty much sums it up. My beater mountain bike was sourced from a junkman. I'm using friction shifters. Makes life easy.
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