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  1. #1
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    Things to change on low end bike?

    My husband and I are very, very new to cycling. We are both overweight, and haven't ridden in probably 20 years, so we didn't want to invest much yet.

    I've acquired 3 bikes for next to nothing (2 free, $30 for another) and they're pretty low end.
    2 are Roadmaster Mountain Sport SX's (Wal-Mart carries these for about $80 new) and the other is a vintage Raleigh Grand Mesa (The catalog I found says 1985-ish)

    They're all in working condition but I'm going to replace the pads for sure.

    What else should I be leery about and look into replacing?

    Of note:
    I don't have much money in the bicycle budget thanks to my son's private school, so I can't invest much in parts
    We will be on a flat, paved surface (Silver Comet Trail in Smyrna, Georgia)
    We will probably only ride at most 30 miles a week (Right now, anyway - this could change as we get more into it)

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

  2. #2
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    Overhaul headsets, bottom brackets and wheel hubs, make sure the brakes, derailleurs and cables are adjusted properly. The adjustments are important, It is great if you can do this yourselves because the bike shop labor will be more than the bikes cost new. That is not a reason to not get the work done, but it hurts a little bit.

    You can put off the headset, bb and hubs for a while on the Roadmasters, just put them on the list to do in the next few months. The Raleigh needs to be worked on now unless you know it has been cared for.

    The cables, brakes and derailleurs need to be checked out before you ride since they need to function correctly.You will also need to check the wheels and probably do some minor truing and generally tighten up the spokes. The wheels on low-end bikes like the Roadmaster always need some care.

  3. #3
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    Tune 'em up like Al said, then ride 'em until you just have to get something better.

    Don't bother upgrading 'em. If you do wind up wanting something better, it'd be cheaper to just buy a whole new bike than it would be to upgrade piece-by-piece, even if you can do the labor yourself.

  4. #4
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Welcome Kayhold. If the tires are dry rotted they'll need to be replaced.

    Stop by the Southeast Regional subforum and say hello to the locals in the Atlanta area.
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

    Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. ~ Charles Schultz

  5. #5
    Senior Member ScottStr's Avatar
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    If you don't know how old the tires are, or you do and they're over about 4-5 years old, replace them. Dry-rot isn't always obvious. I pulled our son's last mountain bike out of the garage when I got started a couple of years ago. About 3 months after I started riding it, the fron tire blew out on a ride. My wife was riding close behind me. When I went down, she ran over my back wheel and bent it. The replacement wheel cost more than the tires would have, and more than the bike was worth. If I had been going faster when it blew, I could have been hurt too.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies. So far I put road tires on, changed the entire front brake system and took everything else apart and cleaned/lubed it. I probably put about $120 into a (free) $80 bike, but I simply don't have any other option right now anyway if I want to ride.

    Hopefully since I"m learning to do things myself and my own maintenance, they will last until we can buy 2 newer/nicer ones.

  7. #7
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    I came across an ad for the Roadmaster bike by googling on the name. They were sold new for as little as $53.67 a couple of years ago according to the ad. This points out the hazard of trying to resurrect an inexpensive bike. It almost never works out well. I used to attend the local police auctions and many stolen bikes were up for sale. You never had a chance to carefully inspect the bikes and I often saw people bid up the price of a bike beyond the brand new cost if they recognized the brand name. They let much better quality lesser known brand bikes go for a pittance. I was able to buy a bike or two and get a really good one but also was stuck with one where the frame had been bent but it was not really apparent as they held up the bike in front of the auction. Caveat emptor! It's almost much better to search garage sales and second-hand stores for a used bike and then get the parts by mail order. Find someone who really knows bikes and have them teach you what to look for in a bike as you go out to upgrade what you found. The Raleigh is pretty heavy at 36 pounds but probably should have been the first one you fixed up, not the other two.

  8. #8
    Riding twobadfish's Avatar
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    You spent $120 on an $80 bike? Well hey, if you get some enjoyment out of them I'd say it's worth it.

  9. #9
    Did I catch a niner? Mr Pink57's Avatar
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    I would see if you have a local forum and check their for sale ads. Here in MN we have a great forum called MORC (Minnesota Off Road Cyclist) were you can get parts very cheap even frames or complete bikes. I would also see about any swap meets in your area, we have one ever Valentines day that has a pretty good turn out.

    If those don't pan out check for the used part local shops or co-ops we have at least 3 I can think of in a 5 mile radius, I can get some things there dirt cheap and most are newish (got a LX front der for $6 it was a year old). They also sell used bikes.

    If that bike is in fact the one mentioned for $80 I would be cautious to put much of anything into it or if I do it's parts I can put on a new bike later, or keep as replacements. Now is a great time to buy a bike at a shop since most have some lingering closeouts that they desperately want to get ride of, I bet you could find a nice comfort bike for $200 which is only $80 more then you spent.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the advice. I'm not really too worried about the parts I bought as REI will let me return them for life, but I plan to upgrade soon enough that I can reuse the parts. If I Do in fact upgrade, I will be using our local co-op to buy one so I can reuse the parts anyway. The reason I didn't start there is because its pretty far and I need to arrange child care to go.

    Thanks again for the advice

  11. #11
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    I would fix up the Raleigh for road riding. The Roadmasters, I would not spend hardly anything on. Maybe salvage one for parts to keep the other going. You would be better off to get rid of those & get something ,,, anything,,, better.

  12. #12
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    Wednesday I am going to pick up another Raleigh and Trek from someone and I'm going to move to fixing up the ones of those that are in better shape. Luckily, I can reuse the parts I bought, and find the rest at the co-op. I wasn't sure the Raleigh Grand Mesa would be worth fixing up since it's hi-ten which is the same as the Roadmaster, so I went with the one in better shape.

  13. #13
    Riding twobadfish's Avatar
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    I'd take them to the scrap yard and put the money from recycling them towards a new bike.

  14. #14
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    I wish I could just buy a new bike, but I've recently accrued about $60k in medical bills and a new bike ain't happening any time soon

  15. #15
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    So, I just found a beautiful Schwinn Traveler at the thrift store for $45 in working condition. The rims have a bit of rust but I think it will come off. From what I am reading, it seems to have all of the original parts, except tires. It rode well when I rode it, too.

    The number on the headbadge is 3000 so I assume this means 300th day of 1980 since a google image search came back with photos of the bike. There is a number at the rear drop-out - g1080

    There is no sticker saying what kind of steel it is, though. Just that it's an xtra-lite.

    Should I go back and grab it? It's in much better condition than the xmart one I am using but I'm still not quite sure what type of bike I will want long term. I figure worst case I can make my $45 back on craigslist.

    Edit:
    http://www.trfindley.com/flschwinn_1...0/1980_11.html
    Here's the catalog specs for this year of bike.
    Last edited by Kayhold; 01-25-11 at 11:58 AM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kayhold View Post
    Edit:
    http://www.trfindley.com/flschwinn_1...0/1980_11.html
    Here's the catalog specs for this year of bike.
    That's a pretty hefty bike at 32lbs. Although I couldn't tell you what a more recent hybrid might weigh. I imagine somewhere in the low to high 20's, if I had to guess. The Schwinn has a lot of steel on it. If there is not much rust, chances are it was not ridden much and sat in storage.

    The parts against it are the 5 cog freewheel, not impossible to find but not as common anymore. Also the rims are 27". Tire choices are again not as plentiful as 700c, 26" offerings that you would likely have with something newer.

    If you just want to tool around some, it would likely be fine. Probably not a large resale market for it. For $45, it's hard to lose sleep over though.

  17. #17
    Riding twobadfish's Avatar
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    masiman, I recently bought and sold a 2010 GT Transeo 2.0 disc hybrid bike and the X-Large weighed about 31lbs out of the box. It cost $750 new.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by twobadfish View Post
    masiman, I recently bought and sold a 2010 GT Transeo 2.0 disc hybrid bike and the X-Large weighed about 31lbs out of the box. It cost $750 new.
    Are there suspension components on that model (seat, fork, larger saddle)? Pedals can also hide weight, also steel kickstands. I think if the steel bits were swapped on the Schwinn you'd definitely save some weight. I'd even guess you might save a pound on the frame with a recent vintage aluminum frame. Lightness is not a reason people get disc brakes . I've seen estimates of 150g - 2lbs difference for disc vs rim brakes.

  19. #19
    Riding twobadfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by masiman View Post
    Are there suspension components on that model (seat, fork, larger saddle)? Pedals can also hide weight, also steel kickstands. I think if the steel bits were swapped on the Schwinn you'd definitely save some weight. I'd even guess you might save a pound on the frame with a recent vintage aluminum frame. Lightness is not a reason people get disc brakes . I've seen estimates of 150g - 2lbs difference for disc vs rim brakes.
    Yes.. it was a hardtail - which probably added ~3lbs. +1lb for the disc brakes. Maybe tires?

  20. #20
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    Thanks for the reply!

    As it turns out I was given 3 bikes today - a trek 820 (it has no suspension making it easier to make a hybrid!) which I will be using parts I have to fix and will become my mtn bike. It's much lighter than the freebie Roadmaster I was given. Everything is in working condition except the tires, but I have the ones I will steal from the freebie roadmaster.

    The other 2 are a Raleigh Grand Prix Mixte, and a Ross Gran Tour. I love the Raleigh. Love, love, love. It was also made the month and year I was born (10/78) so I'm taking that as a sign. I don't care about the weight or anything else right now, this bike screams me from the style, the rainbow striping, and the date - it's fate I found this bike! it has all original parts and seems to be working, but needs new tires. I'm super stoked.

  21. #21
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    I found a Trek 820 put out for the trash a while back and after a little TLC gave it to one of my Scouts. It is a much better bike than the Roadmaster. I thought the one I found had front suspension on it. Lighter is always better. The less effort you have to put into riding a bike, the more fun it is to ride. The Ross bike is another one of those mass-merchandiser bikes, not worth putting money into.
    Last edited by VegasTriker; 01-28-11 at 09:53 AM. Reason: added info

  22. #22
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    Hello and welcome

    I want to say I been there and done that, if the bike it's riding fine i wouldn't fuss too much about it, it's a old bike and there's more thing can go wrong if you try take stuff apart.(unless you have a bin full of spare parts and know how to wrench)

    Learn that the hard way in the garage rebuilding cars, it's a investment of time and cash that often doesn't pays back.

    if the money is tight(which is okay), i would just invest in a good bike shorts and helmet instead of tune up(given if the bike is riding "true")

    set up the bike geometry and enjoy riding as much as you can

  23. #23
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Kind of like #2 response,
    General dismantle , check bearing race condition, relube, re adjust ,
    new brake and gear cables, new brake pads ,
    basically see that stuff works and is not on the verge of going kaput

    #6 suggests you did most of that .
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-04-11 at 02:34 PM.

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