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Old 09-25-09, 03:09 PM   #1
4evrplan
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which bike for an ultimate cheapskate

I've heard all the reasons why it's better to get a quality bike from a LBS than a cheap department store bike. In spite of this, I simply cannot justify spending a cent over $200 (though a used bike in good shape would be fine), and I need to stop riding my wife's (women's) bike before she kills me. Can anyone make a suggestion for what they would consider the best of the cheap bikes? I ride about 10 miles a week, mostly commuting, but I hope to increase that to about 25 or more, some of it on a fairly rugged trail, when I have my own bike.
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Old 09-25-09, 03:16 PM   #2
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I can't justify a dept. store bike as as option. For 220 + tax is another story.
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Old 09-25-09, 03:25 PM   #3
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Sigh... Looks like I'll be hitting garage sales.
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Old 09-25-09, 03:39 PM   #4
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I might be able to spend $220 if I sell my wife's bike (assuming I get a good price for it) and get one we can both ride. I don't really have room for two bikes anyway. So out of curiosity, old and new, what bike did you have in mind?
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Old 09-25-09, 04:04 PM   #5
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Used bike. Used bike. Used bike. Any used bike (but not used-department-store-bike). I started out by Googling every thing I found in the classifieds. The C&V is useful here, as well as the Search the Forums function (it works, mostly.)
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Old 09-25-09, 05:30 PM   #6
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Meh, I find some Target hybrids are quite half-decent for the price you pay. Rigid fork, regular brakes and 700c wheelset is doable for ~200. OK maybe a bit more. Just take it to a trusted LBS and have them tune it up. Any bikes right off the shelf irregardless LBS or dept. store need a good set-up prior to riding. Or if you are bike savvy enough, just hit Craigslist and maybe you can find a gem.
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Old 09-25-09, 06:04 PM   #7
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If you're looking for a more beefy-tired hybrid, as it sounds like, I would look at the best of the steel mountain bikes, without suspension, from the nineties. The Trek 850's or 900 series with full chromoly frames ran about 25 - 27 lbs. Also the better hybrids from this period, like the Trek Multitrack 730-750, or Specialized Crossroads, can take some pretty wide tires, and the frames are built like tanks. These are old enough that they will usually be going for around $200 if well-maintained or upgraded, and below this price if they need some work.
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Old 09-25-09, 11:29 PM   #8
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older bike, for sure. I have an old Schwinn Woodlands (late 80's?) mountain bike that has a super upright ride, I paid $30 for it, could have ridden it as it was but the guy I bought it off decided to spray wd-40 all over the chain and in the bearings!!! I could smell it! Anyways, I bought it to restore, so I re-painted the frame, all new cables and housings, new chain, fenders and a rack. Now I have a great beater bike that is not flashy, no one would steal it to sell it, not worth much. It is just a 10 speed though, so gears are limited. But, I have less than $90 into it. The wheels, with new grease, spin so smoothly, too!

Craigslist is a great place, lots of older bikes on there in good shape that might need nothing or might need all new cables, chain and normal wear items. Lots of old steel bikes around $100 in good shape, old trek's especially popular in my area.
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Old 09-26-09, 05:18 AM   #9
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Meh, I find some Target hybrids are quite half-decent for the price you pay. Rigid fork, regular brakes and 700c wheelset is doable for ~200. OK maybe a bit more. Just take it to a trusted LBS and have them tune it up. Any bikes right off the shelf irregardless LBS or dept. store need a good set-up prior to riding. Or if you are bike savvy enough, just hit Craigslist and maybe you can find a gem.
How much does a bike shop charge for a complete tune-up?
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Old 09-26-09, 07:08 AM   #10
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If you check your local Craigslist, you can probably find someone who does it as a side job, for $30.

LBS's will be all over the map - you might find $30, or all the way to 139....
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Old 09-28-09, 08:32 AM   #11
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How much does a bike shop charge for a complete tune-up?
My LBS charges $40. $220 + $40 =

I have high hopes for craigslist, garage sales, and online auctions.
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Old 09-28-09, 09:13 AM   #12
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One of the guys that works for me bought a used Specialized Hardrock for his son for $30 this past weekend and on older Schwinn with downtube shifters for himself for $10. He's a real piker compared to you but still he found two decent bikes by looking around hard. I have another friend that bought an older Schwinn hardtail mountain bike with steel frame that rides very well off craig'slist for $80. Any and all of those are a lot better choice than a mart bike. Hang in there and keep looking and you will find something that works for you that is still a bargain.
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Old 09-28-09, 09:14 AM   #13
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Lots of bikes on craigslist. My local craigslist has an older Specialized FSR for $300! Id buy it if i still rode off road...probably sold by now anyways.
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Old 09-28-09, 09:58 AM   #14
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Lots of options...

Lots of options:

Trek 800 for $120 http://easttexas.craigslist.org/bik/1392658129.html
And another for $150 http://easttexas.craigslist.org/bik/1383847670.html
Trek 950 single track for $120 http://easttexas.craigslist.org/bik/1379519527.html
Specialized Rockhopper for $75 http://shreveport.craigslist.org/bik/1355089838.html

And last but not least, if I want to drive 3 hours for pickup, there's a company in Dallas selling a Giant Yukon and a Farrago 4 together for $180.

With my limited knowledge, the 950 looks nice, but the seller says it's for 5'5" and under. I'm about 5'7" 125lb. Probably a good bike for my wife, but as little as she rides, her "mart" bike is more than sufficient. Perhaps a different stem and/or other components would fit it for me?

One other concern is that I don't have room to keep a bike indoors. I've been keeping ours under a tarp off of the ground, but some of the components are still showing rust, so I worry about the steel frames.

Thoughts?
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Old 09-28-09, 10:05 AM   #15
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i share the same thoughts with everyone else - go to CL, find a high end track bike (or mountain bike - whichever bike you want) from the 90s for like $100-$200 bucks. clean it up or take it to your LBS to get cleaned up / tuned and you'll have yourself a good ride.
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Old 09-29-09, 07:24 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by 4evrplan View Post
Lots of options:

Trek 800 for $120 http://easttexas.craigslist.org/bik/1392658129.html
And another for $150 http://easttexas.craigslist.org/bik/1383847670.html
Trek 950 single track for $120 http://easttexas.craigslist.org/bik/1379519527.html
Specialized Rockhopper for $75 http://shreveport.craigslist.org/bik/1355089838.html

And last but not least, if I want to drive 3 hours for pickup, there's a company in Dallas selling a Giant Yukon and a Farrago 4 together for $180.

With my limited knowledge, the 950 looks nice, but the seller says it's for 5'5" and under. I'm about 5'7" 125lb. Probably a good bike for my wife, but as little as she rides, her "mart" bike is more than sufficient. Perhaps a different stem and/or other components would fit it for me?

One other concern is that I don't have room to keep a bike indoors. I've been keeping ours under a tarp off of the ground, but some of the components are still showing rust, so I worry about the steel frames.

Thoughts?


I like the Rockhopper for $75. The first thing is to find the size of the bikes. The TRek 800 may be a little tall, but test ride it first. At 5'7" I would think a 17.5 frame would work well for you.

I wouldn't worry about the frame rusting as much as the chain and cables. Keep both of them wiped off after a rain and well lubricated to help prevent rust.
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Old 09-30-09, 08:08 AM   #17
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Thanks ed. I was thinking the Rockhopper too. One of the Treks is an '01 with a 16.5" frame, and the other two look older with 18" frames. Decent bikes, I'm sure, but I've heard about some reliability issues with them (chains falling off, gears coming loose, etc). Plus, $150 seems a bit above market price for an 8 year old 800. 75 for the Rockhopper, OTOH, seems like a great price, and the previous rider was also 5'7" (albeit the wrong gender). If I were to get the Rockhopper, how much could I reasonably expect to pay to fit a suspension fork (1" threaded, I think)?

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Old 09-30-09, 12:24 PM   #18
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Thanks ed. I was thinking the Rockhopper too. One of the Treks is an '01 with a 16.5" frame, and the other two look older with 18" frames. Decent bikes, I'm sure, but I've heard about some reliability issues with them (chains falling off, gears coming loose, etc). Plus, $150 seems a bit above market price for an 8 year old 800. 75 for the Rockhopper, OTOH, seems like a great price, and the previous rider was also 5'7" (albeit the wrong gender). If I were to get the Rockhopper, how much could I reasonably expect to pay to fit a suspension fork (1" threaded, I think)?
Most steering tubes are 1 -1/8". A 1" threaded may be hard to find. I think the 1996 and newer rockhoppers had an 1-1/8 tube. A used Rockshock, Suntour, or TST fork 80cm travel or less can be found for around $30. Look for someone who has upgraded to a better fork. I am not sure how much a bike shop would charge to install one as I do the mechanics myself. Here is an older thread with some good info on replacing forks: http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/in...p/t-47459.html
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Old 10-06-09, 03:14 PM   #19
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Personally, if I were in a financial situation where every $20-$40 counted, I would not get a suspension fork. But I'm not riding your "fairly rugged" trail, so I'm not in a good position to offer advice. I'd probably prefer to put the money elsewhere.
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Old 10-07-09, 11:33 AM   #20
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I got my MTB for free (from my BF) it's early 90s, Kuwahara. I however, sank about $150 into him (I assign genders to my bikes) getting tune up, new tires, some new cables, gears repaired, fenders, rear rack, lights etc.

Don't look for free bikes though, they're trouble. Look for a used MTB (if you get a lugged frame, bonus!) that has been stored indoors, make sure the wheels are true, wiggle the crank to check if it's loose, stuff like that. Check that all gears work properly. Foremost, make sure it's comfortable for you.
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Old 12-03-09, 05:02 PM   #21
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In case anyone stumbles upon this thread and wants to know the ending, I've resigned myself to riding my wife's '08 Schwinn Ridge AL. Though it looks like a MTB, I'm pretty sure it was only meant for bike paths. I bent the fork on the trail pretty badly, and replaced it with a simple cheap spring fork from eBay for $40 shipped. Since then it's been holding up just fine. My prediction is that the wheels will go next, we'll see. I've actually gotten several compliments on it from friends, but even so, it's the sorta bike I'd be ashamed of around knowledgeable riders. I console myself with the thought that it's a good way to improve my riding skills and work my way up until I'm ready for a "real" bike.

I just couldn't convince the wife to let me buy another bike when we already had one she felt we spent too much on anyway, which brings me to this advice:

To anyone looking for a cheap bike, I was always turned off by the "elitist" feeling I got from my LBS and dedicated bike people in general, not wanting to believe that an inexpensive xmart bike was really that bad. Well, unfortunately, they were right, and I've learned my lesson. A bike really is a magnificent peice of engineering, and you pay for that sofistication. I spent $230 for my wife's bike new, which I felt was high to begin with. Though I bought it somewhere other thant the bike shop, to save money, I ended up having to spend another $40 there to get it tuned up anyway. And then, I spent $40 to replace the fork. So, all in, I've got in the neighborhood of $310 sunk into this bike, and who knows what else is going to break. I probably could have spent that same money on a closeout at the LBS and ended up with something at least as good, not to mention getting the tune up for free. If I'd spent that same money on a bike from Craigslist, I could have gotten something far superior, or spent a fraction for something equivelant. I wish I'd known about CL at the time.
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Old 12-04-09, 01:30 AM   #22
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Yamaha I will prefer

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In case anyone stumbles upon this thread and wants to know the ending, I've resigned myself to riding my wife's '08 Schwinn Ridge AL. Though it looks like a MTB, I'm pretty sure it was only meant for bike paths. I bent the fork on the trail pretty badly, and replaced it with a simple cheap spring fork from eBay for $40 shipped. Since then it's been holding up just fine. My prediction is that the wheels will go next, we'll see. I've actually gotten several compliments on it from friends, but even so, it's the sorta bike I'd be ashamed of around knowledgeable riders. I console myself with the thought that it's a good way to improve my riding skills and work my way up until I'm ready for a "real" bike.

I just couldn't convince the wife to let me buy another bike when we already had one she felt we spent too much on anyway, which brings me to this advice:

To anyone looking for a cheap bike, I was always turned off by the "elitist" feeling I got from my LBS and dedicated bike people in general, not wanting to believe that an inexpensive xmart bike was really that bad. Well, unfortunately, they were right, and I've learned my lesson. A bike really is a magnificent peice of engineering, and you pay for that sofistication. I spent $230 for my wife's bike new, which I felt was high to begin with. Though I bought it somewhere other thant the bike shop, to save money, I ended up having to spend another $40 there to get it tuned up anyway. And then, I spent $40 to replace the fork. So, all in, I've got in the neighborhood of $310 sunk into this bike, and who knows what else is going to break. I probably could have spent that same money on a closeout at the LBS and ended up with something at least as good, not to mention getting the tune up for free. If I'd spent that same money on a bike from Craigslist, I could have gotten something far superior, or spent a fraction for something equivelant. I wish I'd known about CL at the time.
Yup For this I will prefer Yamaha...It is really a good...
Thanks

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Old 12-05-09, 11:53 PM   #23
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Never heard of a Yamaha Hybrid. Huh. Must be new.
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