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  1. #1
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    Buying new or used for car-free bike?

    Greetings,

    I am about to go car-free and am looking into purchasing a geared-bike (I have a fixie, but with my long-distance running, want to save my legs a bit on hard training days). Being a "voluntary simplicity" kind of person, I am trying to decide if I should buy a cheapo used bike or a new entry-level bike. I am looking at either a cheap, old road bike, or a new entry-level hybrid/cyclocross bike that would give me some more versatility on the roads (dodging potholes, hopping curbs, etc.). Can anyone provide any recommendations on which way I should go? I am torn between the frugality and recycled nature of a used bike and the fact that I will be riding the bike alot, and may want to invest a bit more.

    Thanks in advance,
    BacktoBasics

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    Live Deliberately. davidmcowan's Avatar
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    Even if you are going to ride the bike a lot its age shouldn't matter. If you are concerned about frugality and recycling spend the money on a used road bike (with some fatter tire replacements) and use the difference to buy yourself a handful of quality tools to do your own bike tune/repair. If you are going to live this way a long time you'll never regret getting the tools to support it. I've built up on an old schwinn frame and have been quite happy putting in 15-20 miles daily with more on the weekends. Used is the way to go.

  3. #3
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    Don't buy a bike so expensive that you're unwilling to leave it locked and unattended at the places you'll need to go.

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    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Why does it have to be a cheap used bike or a cheap new bike?

    If you're willing to spend the money on a new bike, why not a nicer used bike? My recommendation is to take the money you would spend on the new bike and buy a used one of the same value. You'll come out way ahead, have a better bike, and feel better about "recycling".

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BacktoBasics
    Greetings,

    I am about to go car-free and am looking into purchasing a geared-bike (I have a fixie, but with my long-distance running, want to save my legs a bit on hard training days). Being a "voluntary simplicity" kind of person, I am trying to decide if I should buy a cheapo used bike or a new entry-level bike. I am looking at either a cheap, old road bike, or a new entry-level hybrid/cyclocross bike that would give me some more versatility on the roads (dodging potholes, hopping curbs, etc.). Can anyone provide any recommendations on which way I should go? I am torn between the frugality and recycled nature of a used bike and the fact that I will be riding the bike alot, and may want to invest a bit more.

    Thanks in advance,
    BacktoBasics
    In 7 years of car free and many years of off and on car-lite before that I've gone both ways. Platy's advice about expense depends on where you'll be leaving the bike. I've had complete junkers stolen. But also you don't want to buy a bike so junky that parts wear out weekly or monthly. A used bike in good condition is a good value. Since I rarely leave my bikes in high crime areas I don't mind having a good high quality transportational bike. On the other hand, I'm looking around for a junker to park at train stations. On balance I'd rather have a factory built transport bike than something I have to cobble together out of disparate parts. The bike shops don't seem to carry the high quality add ons that come pre-installed on a European style transport bike. For example it would be hard to find a frame mounted lock or coat protectors that will merge seemlessly with the "Planet Bike" mud guards the local shops carry.

  6. #6
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    Well, the advice all looks good in this thread

    I'd agree that you ought to buy all the tools necessary to fix the bike up if you're going really used, but it shouldn't be so old as to fall apart every 10 miles. I made the latter mistake myself when I found a $20 stem-shifting, suicide lever-equipped, 1970's road bike on sale at a flea market/swap meet But in my defense, that was back when I didn't know the difference between a LBS Trek and a Wal-Mart Huffy, and I was only looking for a "road bike" with "dropped handlebars" and "skinny fast tires." Skinnier than the slow knobbies on my aunt's unused mountain bike, anyway. Besides, that bike fit me way better than the mountain bike did.

    Maybe you ought to find one that looks really old and yucky, but build up its drivetrain such that the bike (including the frame and fork) last for a long time with proper maintenance.

  7. #7
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I'd go with the used IF (big "if") you can find a good one.

    Mainly look for a good frame--sturdy, light, unrusted, and it fits you. Good wheels are nice too. Putting good components and tires on it will be pricey, but worth it if you have great frame and wheels. It's harder to find good used road bikes than mountain bikes, in my experience, so you might end up buying a new bike. Some of the entry-level road bikes look pretty nice, but will probably will cost around $800, so look for sales and deals.

    The reason I say this is that you sound like a fairly knowledgable rider. If you were a true newbie, I'd give you different advice.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  8. #8
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    What's the IF for? there's 1100 road bikes on ebay right this second, most of them used. Used doesn't have to mean a rusted-out thrift store/yard sale bike.

    Next week there will be that many more and on and on. I have consistently been able to find good deals (less than 50% of retail), ride the bike a while, and resell for at least what I paid for it, including shipping.

    It's easier to do, of course, when you're not in a hurry to buy.

  9. #9
    Senior Member AlanK's Avatar
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    I've purchased 5 bikes over the last decade: new from an LBS, used from an LBS, new on-line, used on-line. In terms of best value I would check new or slighly used on-line, especially a local classified service like craigs list. You will typically save at least 30% not buying from a dealer. Many people purchase bikes, then put them in the garage and forget about them, then clean out the garage a few months later and end up selling a basically new bike for much less than they bought it.

    The major advantage to buying new from an LBS (dealer) is the warranty. If anything goes wrong with the bike most companies will replace or fix it within a certain time-frame (Trek for instance has a lifetime replacement warranty against frame defects/failure not caused by accident or misuse). But if you buy a quality bike, you probably won't have to do anything other than period maintenance, so I'm not sure the extra 30% is worthwhile.

  10. #10
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I buy used bikes from my LBS and the thrift shop, and private parties and I find them in dumpsters and trash piles Out of my 10 bikes (or so ) I have only bought 3 brand new all the rest were purchased used. My two favorite bikes are both used one is my 1972 Raleigh Superbe the other is my 200? Staiger. I also ride my 1968 Raleigh Compact RSW a fair bit. I do plan on purchasing a few more bikes in the next couple of years, at least two of them will probably have to be new. If you are using it as a commuter and have to leave it outside get something old and ugly, but mechanically sound.

    Aaron
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  11. #11
    tsl
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    Everyone has different values and priorities. There's no right or wrong to this decision. There are probably several choices that will work equally well for you in your situation. The trick is to figure out which one also make you most comfortable.

    I chose new. It was my only bike and needed it to be reliable. I could not afford downtime for maintenance or random mechanical failures. This was because I knew that if I had mechanical problems, I'd quit the bike experiment. This also pointed me towards something more rugged than your average wonderbike.

    My everyday, commuting and shopping bike is a hybrid. Since it's scorned equally by roadies and MTBers, there's a complete absence of bling, and it has (Gasp!) fenders, well, X-Mart bikes are higher on the average thief's radar. Yet, it's been absolutely dependable, has taken a few beatings and hauled more than should be loaded on a regular bike. I like that I can see (and be seen) over the top of minivans, jeeps and whatnot. All my commuting and shopping is in the city, so a fast bike would be a waste too.

    That said, when it came time for a second bike, I bought a used roadie. It's still not a blingbike, but it's half the weight and a heluva lot faster than the hybrid. It's a nice stretch-out-and-crank ride, yet it has (the horror!) braze-ons for fenders and a rack in case it needs to be pressed into service as the backup commuter.

    When it comes time to replace my commuter rig, chances are it'll be a new bike, and chances are it'll be another hybrid. Should I come into a lot of money, it might even be a custom Ti frame. I'm tired of leaving paint on every rack and signpost in town.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  12. #12
    Live Deliberately. davidmcowan's Avatar
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    IF you want a bike that is functional that won't break down and won't get stolen (as much as others) convert an old roadie to single speed.

  13. #13
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    I bought an old steel hybrid for $75.00, and put new tires, cassette, brakes, and chain on it, and I LOVE that thing. I don't think this is the type of bike you want, but the point is that you can get pretty much any used frame you like for not a lot of money, and make it suit your needs with not much more; you'll end up with a very nice used bike for less than a mediocre new one.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  14. #14
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    I'm completely in the used camp. I love that people buy new bikes, it keeps my foraging good, but I've gotten tons of gems set up for under $100, from dumpster frames. Heck, I even pulled a pair of 95% new tom slicks out of a dumpster last year (someone had put them on a MAGNA of all things. Didn't take the magna)

    Check out the classic and vintage stuff for a while, there's a LOTof undervalued stuff out there- Mesa Runners, old Bianchi 700c MTBs from the early 90s, someof the peugeot mtbs were really nice, some were really awful. In the past week I've seen at least 4 bikes in my size on CL that would be great deals if I didn't have a junkyard of bikes already- all under $100 and much more ridable than any $150 bike i'd find new
    looking for the one true bike.

  15. #15
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    My suggestion is simple - get the bike that you will ride all the time and love every minute of it.

  16. #16
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidmcowan
    IF you want a bike that is functional that won't break down and won't get stolen (as much as others) convert an old roadie to single speed.
    He already has a single speed. He specifically said in the OP he wants a geared bike.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  17. #17
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffS
    What's the IF for? there's 1100 road bikes on ebay right this second, most of them used. Used doesn't have to mean a rusted-out thrift store/yard sale bike.

    Next week there will be that many more and on and on. I have consistently been able to find good deals (less than 50% of retail), ride the bike a while, and resell for at least what I paid for it, including shipping.

    It's easier to do, of course, when you're not in a hurry to buy
    .
    The IF is for I don't like to buy bikes sight unseen. But I do think your suggestion is a good one, if the OP isn't bothered by buying a bike he hasn't seen. Of course if you use craigslist, you can probably check the bike out before you buy it.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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    As usual, this forum has provided great advice. I've spoken to some guys at the local lbs, and they seem to think that a cyclocross bike would be my best bet if i'm going car-free. Of course, that is a very expensive bike. One guy stated that if I was commuting alot on a road bike, i'd have to change out the drivetrain every year, and would wear the bike out alot quicker than a cyclocross bike. Any thoughts on this? I like dropbars, so right now, i'm leaning towards a used/new road bike or a cyclocross bike. I just don't know if i'm comfortable dropping a grand on a cyclocross bike. It seems like a lot of carfree people have got a heck of a lot of miles out of older bikes with a bit of maintenance.

    -BacktoBasics

  19. #19
    Dare to be weird!
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    Quote Originally Posted by BacktoBasics
    One guy stated that if I was commuting alot on a road bike, i'd have to change out the drivetrain every year
    I think new bottom bracket cartridge and rebuild hubs after maybe 5000 miles due to grit getting past the seals, new chain, new brake pads as needed, true wheels, new back tire, lubricate and adjust everything else. Eventually the brakes will wear out the rims but that's probably not something that happens every year for most people. I wouldn't see a lot of difference in the annual maintenance required for road vs cyclocross bikes under the same usage.

    Edit: IMHO.

  20. #20
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    The IF is for I don't like to buy bikes sight unseen. But I do think your suggestion is a good one, if the OP isn't bothered by buying a bike he hasn't seen. Of course if you use craigslist, you can probably check the bike out before you buy it.
    I tend to forget about people wanting to touch something before buying.

    Unfortunately, Craigslist doesn't have a huge amount of traffic in our area.

  21. #21
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffS
    I tend to forget about people wanting to touch something before buying.

    Unfortunately, Craigslist doesn't have a huge amount of traffic in our area.
    Or too much to offer...unless you want a weight weenine wonder at 99% of retail or a Walmart NEXT at 102% of retail (I live about an hour south of you )

    Aaron
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    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    _krazygluon

  22. #22
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc
    Or too much to offer...unless you want a weight weenine wonder at 99% of retail or a Walmart NEXT at 102% of retail (I live about an hour south of you )

    Aaron
    I try to put all my bikes on CL first, with a firm asking price. I hate the practice of jacking the price up so you can be talked down. Even with FIRM by the price, I get nothing but emails offering half what I'm asking. So... I put it on ebay and get more than I was asking locally.

    I just prefer the ebay model where I can "negotiate" without having to talk to a person - and the bike "magically" arrives at my front door.

    Strangely enough, there was a bike posted last night that I would like to have. There's no pics though, and it's 45 minutes (or more) away. I rarely drive anymore so it's hard to get up the motivation to talk my wife out of her car so I can drive an hour and a half on the hopes that we might reach a deal.

  23. #23
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Jeff,
    I know what you mean. I put what I consider to be a fair price on something with the intent of not wasting my time haggling. People don't want that, they want to think they are getting "a deal" I just sold a popup camper, I started the price at $2k over what I was willing to take (still in NADA range BTW) and ended up discounting it $1100. So I still got $900 more than I was willing to accept, but it took a week of emails and phone calls, plus 3 hours on a Saturday to get the sale completed...If I see something for a firm price I will check it out, if I don't feel it is worth it I won't buy it. Simple and to the point. If the person asks why I will tell them why without being ugly about it. People want to nickel and dime the individual and small business to death, but you don't hear them asking Wal-mart or Macy's for a discount, or to throw something in for free. I have purchased several bikes off of couple BF members, they gave me what they felt was a fair price and I purchased what I chose. I am happy with my deals and I assume they are too.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  24. #24
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    I buy new, I've looked at some used bikes recently, the ones that peaked my interest and that would fit my needs and price, sold before I could look at them or they would have cost almost as much as a new one to fix them up. I've fixed up older bikes in the past, but again, the time, energy and money spent on replacing or tinkering with mismatched or well used components just made buying a new bike more cost effective for me.

  25. #25
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    There's a pawn shop near my house that usually has a dozen or so bikes for sale. The prices are decent, but not the greatest. The best thing about this shop is that they have a guy who fixes and cleans them all before sale. They've always been totally honest with me. If there's something that they didn't fix, they point it out and price accordingly. They also let you test ride the bikes as much as you want. If you like used bikes, shop around all the time, even if you're not really looking to buy. You get to know the reps of the various outlets, and sometimes you find a great buy that you just can't pass up.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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