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  1. #1
    Bluegrass Atheist silverwolf's Avatar
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    Cheap Utiliy Bike Build

    Hi, I'm new to the forum and thought this place would be best to post my bike project- if not, administrators feel free to move it.

    After my Trek was stolen two years ago, I didn't buy a bicycle- until now. I can't afford gas, even on my (70mpg) motorcycle so I needed a cheapo bike to use as an all-rounder. So be forewarned there is some cheap stuff being thrown around here, as well a very minor homebrew modding- please, don't harp to much on it. I know it's not a "proper" or "quality" bike, and that some compromises must be made, but when I finish it fully-equipped under $70, that's what I can do.

    Okay, so here is the plan: A bike that can serve as a minor to medium trail bike, be fairly durable, do well in all weathers and times of day or night, and be used as a commuter.

    That means-

    Bike $15 (purchased)
    Lights, ebay $8
    Mirror, walmart $6
    Tool bag, ebay $10
    Tools (screwdriver, allen multi tool, adjustable wrench) purchased
    Cycle computer- $3 ebay

    Very cheap, even cheaper than a Mallwart bike if it stays on budget.

    Problem number one:

    Chainrings. (Note: it's a one-piece crank). The crank only has two chainrings and they aren't that different from each other (it looks at a glance like a 50/46 or maybe a 46/42). I need a "granny gear" or hillclimb gear. I have a spare very low sprocket for a one-piece crank, my question is will an old one-piece crank be able to use an extra sprocket (I would basically be adding the low sprocket right behind the current chainrings and then resecuring everything) if it was spaced correctly and the proper adjustments were made to the front derailer? I'll be trying it anyway tommorow but just wondering if anybody has even done it before.

  2. #2
    Bent builder purplepeople's Avatar
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    If you want an all weather bike... fenders - full length mounted, not the clip-on type.

    To upgrade to a 3-piece crank... say from a freecycle bike, you can get one of those Ashtabula to ISO BB adapters. Doing so will give you a much better selection of chainrings to choose from, as well as pedals.

    :)ensen.
    Those who claim to be making history are usually just repeating it.

    My tilting trike: Video and Images

  3. #3
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    I ride in all weather without fenders, they aren't really necessary.

    I found the BB adapter )ensen mentioned;
    http://harriscyclery.net/itemdetails.cfm?ID=1335
    Very cool, I didn't know that was available, but it's $25 plus you will need to find crankset, BB, and pedals.

    The same site has these for $20. They got the picture wrong. Triple chainrings and chainguard. It might not fit though.
    http://harriscyclery.net/itemdetails.cfm?ID=2547

    I think the picture on this page is what they look like.
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/opc.html#opc
    Last edited by qmsdc15; 05-22-10 at 06:12 AM.

  4. #4
    Bluegrass Atheist silverwolf's Avatar
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    Thanks guys- just scored on ebay today; got a 48-38-28 chainring set (is that the right term?) for $10! They need a good clean but looked solid enough to put on the bike.

    Tore the bike down today and got halfway through rebuildling it. I mounted a sprung seat, a square utility light (4xAA batteries and a halogen bulb), and new tires. Apart from the stuff a typical bicycle is equipped with, it will have a lightweight rear rack (seatpost mounted) and a mirror and speedometer.

    Managed to keep the budget so far at $45; $15 for the bike, $1 for the light (yard sale, but it looks new), $10 for the tires and rack used at a bike shop, $10 for the seat at walmart, and $10 for the chainrings.

    Another $20 might do the trick as I dug up good brake pads and other things from my spare parts bin that would've cost quite a bit. If I can find my damn camera, pics will probably be posted in a couple of days.

  5. #5
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Sounds good! Waiting for pix.
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

  6. #6
    Bluegrass Atheist silverwolf's Avatar
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    Attachment 152488Attachment 152489Attachment 152490Attachment 152491

    Pics!

    Might not look too impressive compared to the proper off road, touring and utility bikes out there but remember, it was all done on a budget of $45 grand total, plus about $50 of spare parts and such that were already laying around in my work area (brake pads, seat, tires, etc). I made the headlight from what appeared to be a battery-powered "work" light, but had a cheesy plastic mounting clip on the bottom. To use it on the bike, I sawed off the mounting clip, sanded the area affected by the cut, drilled a small hole in the bottom of the casing and used a bolt and an old shifter clamp to mount it on the bars. It uses four AAs like the ones at walmart but gives better light. It has "tekna" written on it, if anyone wants to find one.

    Here are the specs-

    Frame- 90's Roadmaster ATB frame, steel, non-lugged

    Bars- Generic MTB straight bars

    Seat- Bell sprung comfort seat

    Rack- Bell touring rack

    Light- Homemade

    Drivetrain- Shimano 5-speed rear derailer, generic front derailer, 25-38-48 front chainrings, 28-11t rear cassette.

    Levers, cables, etc accessories all generic.

    Toolkit- underseat bag, small toolkit (allen key multi tool, combination screwdriver, adjustable wrench/pliers). Also includes aimlessly mounted lock and air pump.

    Cyclecomputer- Surprisingly accurate Mallwart computer. I've so far done 45 miles on it and clocked my average speed at 14mph in top gear. Can get it up to 20 on the flats doing about 75rpm. The gear range is surprisingly good for a 15-speed, in low (25t) chainring it does quite well off road and in the high chainring (48t) allows a cruising speed of 15mph at low rpm.

    All in all I'm fairly impressed with it. Went into the project thinking it'd be crap but it turned out nicely, far better than any Walmart bike I've ridden (before it's correctly reassembled of course )

  7. #7
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    Very well equipped. Better than my bike and I payed more than you did. Haha. Throw a patch kit in your tool bag if you haven't already and a spare tube if you have room. Enjoy the ride!

  8. #8
    Bluegrass Atheist silverwolf's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    Just rode past the 75 mile mark on the odo today- everything working perfectly.

  9. #9
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    You are killing it. Fast average speed and good distance. Keep it up and post here. Your riding may inspire others. It has already inspired me.

  10. #10
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    You should make fenders out of old tyres...

  11. #11
    Senior Member gldrgidr's Avatar
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    I hope I'm not being ignorant by hijacking your thread, but I also just made a low-cost utility bike.
    free Roadmaster bike from a dumpster,
    $3 for a better sadle,
    $2 for brake shoes,
    $5 for rusted rear rack.
    The basket is from a freezer.

    There was a bunch of assembly, adjusting, and cleanup.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by gldrgidr; 06-07-10 at 01:54 PM.

  12. #12
    Eater of Food WillJL's Avatar
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    First off, good for you!

    Second, qmsdc15 is far more hardcore than I, for I need fenders! (so don't let him talk you out of them!!!) They'll keep you dry/clean even in dry weather (there's lots of gunk on the road). A good way to make fenders on the cheap is with this method:

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Bike...and-clothes-h/

    If they're well made and you cover them with black duct tape, then they might even look good! Then again, you could probably find some real fenders on the super-cheap if you look around.

    Good luck!
    Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia. ~ H.G. Wells

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/willjl/

  13. #13
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WillJL View Post
    First off, good for you!

    Second, qmsdc15 is far more hardcore than I, for I need fenders! (so don't let him talk you out of them!!!) They'll keep you dry/clean even in dry weather (there's lots of gunk on the road). A good way to make fenders on the cheap is with this method:

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Bike...and-clothes-h/

    If they're well made and you cover them with black duct tape, then they might even look good! Then again, you could probably find some real fenders on the super-cheap if you look around.

    Good luck!
    Amen to that. Where I grew up, horse drawn vehicles were commonplace on the roads. Good place to use fenders.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


    Rule #12: The correct number of bikes to own is n+1

  14. #14
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    I'm not hardcore, I just feel fenders are sort of a luxury, not something a guy who is trying to put a vehicle on the road for a minimum amount of money would be interested in.

    It looks like silverwolf has decided to go fenderless for now. Keep telling him how much he needs fenders, he seems unconvinced. I've used fenders in the past and found them to be more trouble than they're worth.

  15. #15
    Eater of Food WillJL's Avatar
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    @qmsdc15: Well met. I guess I just don't like having crap (I use "crap" in its broadest sense here) all over my legs when I'm done riding. Whether I'm wearing dress pants to work and I don't want to be spattered and filthy when I arrive, or I'm wearing shorts on tour in the summer and I don't want gritty, oily, roadfunk coating my legs, I've never wished that I didn't have fenders.

    You're totally right in saying that fenders are not a necessity. That is, in the sense that the bike will roll and function properly without them. However, fenders are not in any way, as you say, "a luxury". Even the cheapest bikes in most other countries come with fenders standard. I say this having lived in Japan where EVERY bike, especially the cheapest bikes, are sold with fenders. Even kids bikes. Its because people use the bikes as something other than a toy. The fenderless commuter bicycle in the U.S. is a product of the mainstream, trickle-down, racing-focused bicycle industry that cares little whether people use the bicycle as a means of getting to work.

    Perhaps if fenders are a luxury, then so are lights and cargo capacity!
    Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia. ~ H.G. Wells

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/willjl/

  16. #16
    Bluegrass Atheist silverwolf's Avatar
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    Well, I always have lights on my bikes but my cargo capacity is my back .


    As was posted somewhere else I have bought my "pampered" bike, a 29er MTB with dual discs. Sadly the wheels are too big to meet airline baggage regs (even if the bike is totally disassembled and placed in a large bag) or the same for buses or cars or trains. And because of the big wheels and discs it attracts theft.

    So basically, I need a crappy-looking, cheap, basic bike that can fit all together in a bag that meets the typical airline regulation of 62 inches cubed and no more than 50lbs (so I can meet the most draconian weight limit).

    Here are my problems:

    1- i love the new bike, but i could let go of the larger wheels and disc brakes. I can't however let go of the ride height, i am 6'0 but usually ride a fitment for someone about 6'2 to 6'4- I need to keep the height the same to be comfortable on long distances. Keeping the seat and bar height the same as my 29er won't adversely affect the smaller bike's handling too much will it?

    2- Brakes. I am thinking fixed gear here, with a front brake, for possibly riding in bad weather. Good idea?

    3- Lights. Will one of those cheap sets from walmart do the trick?

    4- packing. What kind of bag (preferably with a handle) could hold the frame/wheelset/etc comfortabley so it can be used on an airline without the extra baggage charge? I saw this: http://www.instructables.com/id/Fold-Any-Bike/ on instructables, would it actually do the trick?

  17. #17
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    Haha, you were a guy with 50 bucks in need of wheels and now you're a guy with a bike that's too big to fit on an airplane. Send it ahead via Fedex. Have it delivered to your hotel.

  18. #18
    Bluegrass Atheist silverwolf's Avatar
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    Well, I have the 29er for most of my riding for fun/training/recreation now and the folder is for more than just air travel- if i ride to a bad neighbourhood, I have to be able to fold+pack it when entering a store, that type of thing. And I may be doing some bike touring/backpacking with lots of bus, train, and boat rides (as well as a bit of air travel and cycle touring). So a folder is pretty necessary now. The Dahons and Bromptons look very nice, and Bike Fridays look excellent- but they are all expensive. Bleh. I need something cheaper. Used, project, or even walmart quality (hell, i had a roadmaster every day for a month, what's worse than that ).

  19. #19
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    If you are looking for some cheap but sturdy Rear Cargo Baskets to hang off your rack, try what I did. I took two black plastic Milk Crates(one for each side) and looking at the Crate from the top(open) I cut the crate practically in half(6 1/2 inches wide). This is just a hair's measurement over half wide. This is just the right width to fit a Gallon of Milk btw. As a back plate for the cut open side, I used a piece of Plexiglass cut the open side the size of the milkcrate. This is the side that attaches to the Rack and the Bike. I drilled several spaced holes in the plexiglass and attached it to the Milkcrate with Zip Ties. This done and the crate now closed on all 4 sides, I then hung & attached it to the Rack and chain stays with more Zip ties until it was super secure. I can easyily carry 20 pounds in each box. If you don't have plexiglass, substitute 1/2 or 3/4 plywood(whatever size you have laying around). Total cost to make the Boxes was under a dollar for the zip ties as the boxes were free as they were discards along the road. Total Time was under a couple hours start to finish..

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