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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 05-03-14, 04:07 PM   #1
kivish
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a few questions about buying a used bike for the first time

hi there - i had a bike i liked a lot a few years ago (an iro mark v) but it was stolen and i haven't had a bike since. i finally have enough money together (~$450) where i think i can buy something that won't make me too bummed out about the last bike i had.

so with that said, i don't know very much about bikes. i wouldn't mind learning more, but while looking on craigslist i've quickly found that there were a lot of terms i didn't really understand. i spent a few days doing research (so i really still know nothing) but i now know a little bit about different frame materials (thanks to metallurgy for cyclists by scot nichol) and more importantly i know that a single number won't be representative on how strong the frame is. but for every other part of the bike which isn't the frame, i have very little knowledge about. for instance the bottom bracket or crankset. with many older bikes it seems lucky if the owner knows the frame size, let alone its composition, reputation of the manufacturer, or the proper identification of most of its components. i'm sure this is something that just comes from seeing a lot of bikes and learning about each part's functionality and design, but i'm clearly not someone who has.

with that said, i've decided on trying to find a used bike with a decent frame that i can improve the components on later as i learn more. but knowing how little i know, is there anything that i can do while looking at bikes to figure out if it has any defects or is decent? should i stick to a name-brand bike where i can research the frame myself, like a steamroller/pista/iro/etc? is it usually assumed that if the components aren't named, that they are stock and i just need to find its year?

i considered for a while buying a new cheap bike (like a kilo tt) just so that i can start riding and then replace parts as i learn but i think i don't mind going a slightly more difficult route if it means i learn more sooner, conserve energy/raw material, and possibly get a better bike for the same price.

so with all of that said, any recommendations? i just moved to new york city and fortunately there are a lot of bikes posted on craigslist and a few lbs that seem nice/promising. i'm also willing to change my mind on any of this if there's a compelling enough reason. it's just difficult to look at thirty japanese frames from the 80's and know if any of them are decent (most of them don't have badges/markings that i can make out in the pictures).

tl;dr: please no kilo tt / how do you know if a 'custom butted frame' is well-engineered?
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Old 05-04-14, 12:21 AM   #2
rms13
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just post links to bikes your interested. People will tell if you it's decent or sucks and breakdown their reasoning. If the frame is Hi Ten steel it sucks. If it's steel and people don't specify it's chrmo or reynolds or columbus or tange etc then it's probably Hi Ten. The used game can be tricky if you are newb with little knowledge. On CL especially people will misrepresent what they have and some people will actually swap out components for cheaper stuff and hope you don't know the difference. But there are also great deals to be had and you can get a nice bike for 1/2 the cost of a new one or better. If you are looking used post here for opinions and if you know anyone that knows more than you about bikes bring them along to look at it. Or just play it safe and get a Kilo TT...Pro. For your $450 budget you get a new bike with good frame and upgraded crankset and wheels over the regular Kilo TT. Or get the Kilo WT which can fit really wide tires and also has upgrades. Or get the Kilo for $400 and upgrade later
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Old 05-04-14, 10:13 AM   #3
kivish
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thanks for the great advice my friend. i will try posting links, do you think that any good bikes i find though will just be immediately purchased by bike-hungry fiends searching for their next joyride? i worry that i deliver them a conduit to their addiction, but here i go: Surly Steamroller Fixed 56cm - would this one be terrible? it's my size and the frame seems like a slightly relaxed track frame. i can't find much out about the crankset because i'm not sure which shimano nexave crankset it refers to.

i've looked at the kilo tt's quite a bit - if the stripper or pro were in stock i might consider either but because they aren't i can just pretend it's not an option and continue this maddening adventure.
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Old 05-04-14, 10:41 AM   #4
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You're in NYC, the fixie capital of the world. Most messengers cycle on single speeds.

Go to www.bikesdirect.com right now and order the Kilo TT while they're hot!
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Old 05-04-14, 11:05 AM   #5
kivish
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