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best/ worst bikes for cheap money

Old 11-07-16, 12:24 PM
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capnjonny 
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best/ worst bikes for cheap money

Someone on another forum asked for an opinion on a Reichle brand mountain bike they were looking at as an occasional ride for their wife both on trails and in town.

After looking at the picture I said it looked like a bottom of the line dept store bike and suggested he look for a better quality used bike on craigslist.

I said to stay away from huffy and magma and said I liked the schwinn Mesa runner, specialized rock hopper, and My $25. Trek 800 Burning man bike.

So, the question before you:

If you were looking on Craigslist for a cheap mountain bike what brands, models would you consider the worst and which the best built for the money. Let's say Minimum $25. with some work needed to $75 for a bike that was mechanically in good nick but a bit scratched rusty .

I suggested he stay away from bikes with suspension. what do you think?
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Old 11-07-16, 01:17 PM
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Any "bike shop" brand rigid (non-suspension) mountain bike should be a good candidate. Those will generally have frames of decent quality and even the low-end ones will be fitted with reliable components. In the price range you're talking about, you really can't be picky about particular brands or models.

Rigid bikes without any suspension are good bargains for 'round town riding because (1) there are no suspension parts to service or replace, and (2) mountain bikers will generally be looking for newer, suspended bikes so these older bikes can often be found for lower prices.

Some examples of "bike shop" brand bikes: Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Giant, Marin, Bianchi, Jamis...

Since you mentioned Schwinn... A 1980s Schwinn mountain bike would've been a product of the ol' Schwinn Bicycle Company and quality should be on par with other bike shop brands. The Schwinn name gets a little murky in the 1990s, as the company went bankrupt and the name was sold a few times. Nowadays you typically see the name on department store stuff you'd be better off avoiding.

There are a few other brands worth considering, if you come across the right bike. Some Diamondback and GT models, for example, were pretty decent bikes and they often sell for less than a Specialized, for example.
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Old 11-07-16, 02:08 PM
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Rigid forks vs Suspension forks , 1 less thing to wear Out.
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Old 11-07-16, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by capnjonny View Post
Someone on another forum asked for an opinion on a Reichle brand mountain bike they were looking at as an occasional ride for their wife both on trails and in town.
If that bike is really a "Ritchey", it's decent and up to "bike shop" standards. If the name is really what you posted, then I have no idea what it is.
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Old 11-07-16, 11:58 PM
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Trek/Specialized/Giant the major players.

Motobecane can be a very good CL buy. These are BikesDirect mail-order bikes, but usually very good components for the price point. Because it's an off-brand and sold cheap they can be very cheap on CL.

Novara is along a similar vein. REI house-brand, but again good components and decent build quality. They sold a lot of decent rigid MTB's and touring bikes. If you're in an area with several REI's, they can be good to keep an eye out for.

Lastly, if you can, go with him to look at a bike on CL. That way you can make sure the bike is solid, and doesn't need a lot work.
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Old 11-08-16, 03:05 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by capnjonny View Post
Someone on another forum asked for an opinion on a Reichle brand mountain bike they were looking at as an occasional ride for their wife both on trails and in town.

After looking at the picture I said it looked like a bottom of the line dept store bike and suggested he look for a better quality used bike on craigslist.

I said to stay away from huffy and magma and said I liked the schwinn Mesa runner, specialized rock hopper, and My $25. Trek 800 Burning man bike.

So, the question before you:

If you were looking on Craigslist for a cheap mountain bike what brands, models would you consider the worst and which the best built for the money. Let's say Minimum $25. with some work needed to $75 for a bike that was mechanically in good nick but a bit scratched rusty .

I suggested he stay away from bikes with suspension. what do you think?
I would look for good componentry (Deore, LX, XT for example), no rust (look at bolt heads in stem, which are indicators), stored inside, used lightly, few scratches, well cared for.

No need to settle for less.

Also would not compromise on size.

I found a very nice Stumpjumper for 50 on CL last summer. Met all of above. Ready to ride.

Last edited by lightspree; 11-08-16 at 07:53 AM.
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Old 11-08-16, 07:35 AM
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My $25 1993 Mongoose IBOC Comp shoots a lot of holes in this thread, but it's a pretty rare exception. The guy thought it was a cheap Walmart bike, but it had a full Deore LX drivetrain. Score!
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Old 11-08-16, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by SkyDog75 View Post
Any "bike shop" brand rigid (non-suspension) mountain bike should be a good candidate. Those will generally have frames of decent quality and even the low-end ones will be fitted with reliable components. In the price range you're talking about, you really can't be picky about particular brands or models.
I agree with this. On any given day on CL you can usually find a lot of different 90's era mtbs that will fit this description - cheap & fairly reliable/durable. IMO as long as it came from a bike shop originally it's gonna be a decent basic ride, even the entry level stuff.
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Old 11-08-16, 12:54 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by capnjonny View Post
...After looking at the picture I said it looked like a bottom of the line dept store bike and suggested he look for a better quality used bike on craigslist. ...
Hi capnjonny,

I would not recommend CraigsList (CL) unless the buyer lives in a large metropolitan area where there will be a lot of bikes to choose from. Most of the time, the selection on CL is very limited and you run the risk of theft (criminals use CL to lure buyers with cash, then steel the cash).

I've purchased lots of used bikes over the years---it's how I could afford to eventually upgrade my entire family to some really nice composite-frame road bikes (mostly Fuji and Specialized). In every case, I purchased each used bike via eBay. As long as you buy from an "approved" seller that has been vetted by eBay and PayPal, you will have a money-back guarantee in case the seller misrepresents the bike.

But the biggest advantage is the size of the market---it is much larger, providing a larger selection and making it easier to find a bike with a correctly-sized frame. The biggest disadvantage is that you usually need to deal with shipping.


Originally Posted by capnjonny
... I suggested he stay away from bikes with suspension. what do you think?
This may not have been good advice. The first thing you need to consider is what the buyer will use the bike for. If they are looking for a bike to ride off-road or on very poor roads, then a suspension would be very important.

------------------------

My general advice for buying a used bike is to:

1 - Get a proper measurement to determine the size frame to buy. Then shop for a bike with that size. You can make a smaller frame fit if it isn't too small. But avoid all larger frames. For example, my optimal road bike frame size with a "classic" level top tube geometry is 58 cm (large) as measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube. I can make a 56 cm frame work by extended the seat and handlebars but a 60 cm would never work.

2 - Look for a brand that is sold at a bike shop. They will tend to be higher quality and can be more easily repaired and/or upgraded. One of my favorite "value" brands for road bikes is Fuji. Back in the 1980's, they cost much less than their European and UK counterparts yet had significantly better components in just about every way. Their quad-butted steel frames are still excellent by today's standards. Their Suntour drivetrains were never outperformed until indexed shifting was mastered (Suntour invented the parallelogram rear derailleur used by most manufacturers today). I still buy some Fuji bikes even though they are now owned by a Korean investment group because they seem to try to continue the original goal of selling pro quality at a fair price (I ride a top-of-the-line Team Fuji composite from 2008 today).

3 - Do your due diligence! Before buying a bike, search the internet for information about the model and features. Find out the good and the bad. Learn what a fair price is for the bike. Never buy until you've educated yourself on the model you are considering.

4 - If you decide to buy local through CL, make sure that any arranged meets are in safe locations (use Google Maps satellite to view the location ahead of time). Try to meet where there is good light and lots of people around. Take some big friends with you. Never give a local seller your home address.

Kind regards, RoadLight
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Old 11-08-16, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadLight View Post
I would not recommend CraigsList (CL) unless the buyer lives in a large metropolitan area where there will be a lot of bikes to choose from. Most of the time, the selection on CL is very limited...
You're right that selection is more limited in smaller cities' Craigslist sites since there are fewer items being posted, but the pool of buyers is also smaller, which can drive demand (and prices) down. The key is to be patient. If you don't need to buy a bike right now, check once a day or so and something will likely pop up eventually.

There's a downside to Craigslist in big markets, too. When someone posts a good bike at a good price, odds are pretty good that it'll be gone in minutes or hours.

I live in a pretty small area and all of my best bargains have come from Craigslist. Some from my local CL site, some from neighboring towns.

Originally Posted by RoadLight View Post
the biggest advantage (of eBay) is the size of the market---it is much larger, providing a larger selection and making it easier to find a bike with a correctly-sized frame. The biggest disadvantage is that you usually need to deal with shipping.
Shipping and increased competition since it's an auction with a big pool of potential buyers. I'm not dismissing eBay entirely, though, because there are some bargains to be found there.

Originally Posted by RoadLight View Post
One of my favorite "value" brands for road bikes is Fuji... I still buy some Fuji bikes even though they are now owned by a Korean investment group because they seem to try to continue the original goal of selling pro quality at a fair price
Fuji did make some good bikes. They were one of a number of Japanese companies like Bridgestone, Miyata, and Panasonic who were making high-quality bikes in the '70s and '80s. Because of the dollar was strong against the yen at the time, these Japanese makers exported lots of bikes to America at affordable prices ...until the value of the dollar declined steeply versus the yen in the late 1980s. Japanese bikes weren't cheap for Americans anymore, so Japan couldn't make bikes cheaply enough for export markets anymore and manufacturing moved elsewhere. Hello, Taiwan.

As for Fuji today, the brand is owned by Advanced Sports International, based in Philadelphia. (ASI is privately held and I don't know who their investors are.) The company owns a few other bike brands like Kestrel and SE, and they just acquired Performance Bike a few months ago.
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Old 11-08-16, 02:39 PM
  #11  
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Avoid suspension bikes - especially on a budget.

Make sure the frame fits you. Other than that - all can be fixed, or changed - just see how much it costs and see if the price is right considering that. I wrote a guide for checking 2nd hand bicycles here:

Buying a second hand bicycle - Cycle Gremlin

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Old 11-08-16, 07:52 PM
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i got a felt z100 for 300 ans a specialized crux for 200 , t 2016 trek 1.2 sexy af road you just have to find the deals scour the web and get a good find it doesn't have to be a cheap horrible bike ever, dont settle for crap when yuo can get something nice if you put the effort in , but it depends on what kinds of bike you are into
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Old 11-08-16, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by providencebikes View Post
...dont settle for crap when you can get something nice if you put the effort in...
Absolutely.

Words to live by.

You can get something really nice if you set your sights there, and hold out for that, and that alone.
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Old 11-08-16, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by lightspree View Post
Absolutely.

Words to live by.

You can get something really nice if you set your sights there, and hold out for that, and that alone.
Or get a cheap beater you won't sweat about when it gets stolen.
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Old 11-09-16, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Or get a cheap beater you won't sweat about when it gets stolen.
Or get a cheap bike that's a nice one as well, that you also don't have to sweat about.
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Old 11-09-16, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by lightspree View Post
Or get a cheap bike that's a nice one as well, that you also don't have to sweat about.
That's the best option - if you can find it without much cost in terms of time, effort and money.
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Old 11-10-16, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth_Firebolt View Post
My $25 1993 Mongoose IBOC Comp shoots a lot of holes in this thread, but it's a pretty rare exception. The guy thought it was a cheap Walmart bike, but it had a full Deore LX drivetrain. Score!
But anything after that date with Mongoose on the frame will probably be a Walmart bike and a piece-o-crap.

I asked a guy long ago how to tell the good bikes from the crap bikes. He had a GREAT way of figuring that out in seconds- Look for a bike shop sticker on the seatpost.

My fave for a cheap older bike is definitely Trek. A guy who bought one I salvaged from the scrapyard told me it was the BEST bike he ever rode. He was still happy 6 months later when I saw him on the street.

-SP
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Old 03-11-21, 01:09 AM
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GT fitness series Nomad hybrid bicycle
Where do I start? Started on CL looking for a relatively cheap bike as my wife isn't that serious about bikes. Found this bike decided to surprise her.
First the geometry of the bike. Wife is 5'3 and straddling the middle bar trying to take off is a bit of a challenge. If your butt is bigger than 6" than your pinned between the front part of the seat leaning into a forward position trying to take off with the pedals positioned in that forward point.
Once your on the bike and wanting to make a turn then only do you realize that the front wheel and the most forward position of the pedals get in the way because you happen to have feet. Yes, your feet bang into the wheels turning because my gosh God gave you feet to pedal. Not a big deal as eventually you'll learn to have your feet & pedal facing the rear when turning. But should you have to?
How the heck did this bike ever make it out of testing phase? Maybe it's me.
But for a short person this bike getting a leg over is tough, getting started is tough from a dead stop and finally turning.
Paid $50, I could have done better. Kinda upset at myself.

Odd geometry. Tough to get on if you got short legs.

Front of seat to frame 6". Your in this 6" straddling the bike.
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Old 03-11-21, 07:16 AM
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Take that monstrosity off the seat post, replace it with a bike saddle. Everyone will be happier.
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Old 03-11-21, 07:32 AM
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You got that right shelbyfv !!!

That is the FIRST thing I thought about when I saw the pic

Get that seat off and replace with regular seat.

Can get a basic one for about $20.00 !!!!
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Old 03-11-21, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Take that monstrosity off the seat post, replace it with a bike saddle. Everyone will be happier.
That thing ought to have armrests and a cupholder.
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Old 03-11-21, 10:17 AM
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The first thing is to do a bit of research. Most people can spend hours online but few will do any research on buying something like a CL bike. It is pretty easy to google reviews of even older 90’s bikes and components. A lot of info out there. This doesn’t mean you’ll find that Bontrager Race for $25, but you probably won’t end up with that shiny Next either.

Almost 25 years ago I was looking for an inexpensive bass guitar. There was a shop that had used instruments, and at times some interesting finds. There was this ugly metalflake green painted Guild from the 70’s and the previous owner had added a big ol’ humbucker in the neck position. There were also new Squires for about the same price. My wife couldn’t believe I wanted that ugly Guild. But I knew my stuff. I refinished it and it is such a beast.

John
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Old 03-11-21, 04:24 PM
  #23  
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The rule of thumb here is- avoid any MTB with freewheels. These were bottom of the barrel department store bikes.
The second rule of thumb is, avoid the 'no-name' Shimano groupsets. Shimano makes quality stuff but their no-name stuff is crude , third worldy stuff.

Aside from that- basically all bicycles are good.
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Old 03-11-21, 09:43 PM
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That "GT series Nomad" bike took a hard front-end hit. Fork is bent. You're lucky you paid only $50 for it. Here's a picture of another GT model showing how much clearance the Nomad had before it was hit:

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Old 03-12-21, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee View Post
The rule of thumb here is- avoid any MTB with freewheels. These were bottom of the barrel department store bikes.
The second rule of thumb is, avoid the 'no-name' Shimano groupsets. Shimano makes quality stuff but their no-name stuff is crude , third worldy stuff.

Aside from that- basically all bicycles are good.
Nah!

The first step before making such a decision is to decide what it is you want to do. Not what you think you should do, or what you think others will safely comment on, but what you want to do.

I want cheap bikes because I like fiddling with the engineering and then riding the result, which are changed things that other people do not have and yet still feel a connection to. Here in Poland Romet folders ('składaki') are a classic part of life, and still older people in the countryside ride them daily - so the choice is about accessible social culture than any idealised concept of a bike as a highly engineered object. I have one stripped down version loosely locked up in the bike rack outside my block, a second one with 3 speed derailleur sitting in my barn at our cottage, a third folded in the back of my car and ready for off-roading, a fourth and sleekly smart one almost ready for a friend and a fifth with almost chopper bars that I will sell in the spring. Parts are cheap and freely available, and I can and do swop parts between them.
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