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upgrade for commuting with kid? to what?

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upgrade for commuting with kid? to what?

Old 02-20-09, 12:09 PM
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socbike
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upgrade for commuting with kid? to what?

5 months ago I bought a Giant Sedona ST for commuting 7 miles each way on the road/bike trail. This was working fine and a few weeks ago I got a rear child seat and front rack so I could pick my son up after school and carry necessary gear. Picking him up adds 3 miles to the commute and his ride home is 8.5 miles. A few days ago I ventured onto more of a mountain bike trail than the bike can apparently handle (my son wasn't on the bike for that) and I don't think I'll be doing any more serious trails on this bike.

Yesterday I started to hear strange noises on the ride home with my son and when I got home I noticed that the rear wheel was wobbly. I took the bike into the LBS today and the mechanic found a spoke broken off at the hub. He suggested I avoid the mountain bike trail, which I had already decided myself. He also suggested that the components related to the rear wheel on this bike are not really up to the task of having an extra 40 pounds of weight in the form of my son (I weigh about 175 myself). Although I have been pretty happy with this bike, he suggested that it is typically used for lighter duty riding and less mileage. Since some of the parts on the bike are not easily interchangeable with higher quality parts, he recommends against upgrading individual components and suggested that I consider selling the bike and trying to get a better quality bike used on Craigslist.

So I guess my options are to:
1. Just keep riding the bike, with my son on board, and repair the wheel as is malfunctions, or at least wait until the next malfunction to take action.

2. Get a trailer to use instead of the rear seat. Issues: $250 already invested in rear seat and front rack, where would I lock up trailer? (is it an option to bring it with me to work empty and lock it to a bike rack?), I actually like having my son near me on the bike so we can talk, though I know many people think trailers are more safe/visible.

3. Upgrade via Craigslist. I am hesitant because I think finding a good deal here in Austin may be hard since I am not so bike savvy and many others trolling CL probably are. Also, I am not sure exactly what to look for. What type of bike would be more appropriate for a 17 mile commute through downtown/hike and bike trails, with kid on back for half the miles?

What would you do?
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Old 02-20-09, 12:19 PM
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Sounds like they're just trying to sell you something.

First, a broken spoke is sometimes just a broken spoke. Replace the spoke and keep riding. If you keep having problems you have a decision to make. Have the existing wheel rebuilt correctly or have a new one built.

If you want a new bike, then by all means buy one. Just don't do it because you think you have to.

---------

BTW, my personal preference is to have the kid on the bike with me.
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Old 02-20-09, 12:20 PM
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Find another bike shop.

Pay the new shop to build new a stronger wheel specifically for load carrying.

Carry on as normal.
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Old 02-20-09, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
Sounds like they're just trying to sell you something.

First, a broken spoke is sometimes just a broken spoke. Replace the spoke and keep riding.
To the contrary, they fixed the wheel for free and recommended AGAINST buying new parts for the bike from them The mechanic also recommended getting a used bike on Craigslist. I don't know enough about bike parts to evaluate the info he gave me but he seemed to suggest that the difficulty/expense of replacing the wheel, hub, whatever else, would be such that in his 22 years of experience, it didn't make sense (his opinion). I was inclined to trust him because he was not trying to sell me something.

This is a $300 bike with basic parts.
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Old 02-20-09, 12:54 PM
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It shouldn't be that hard to upgrade some components. He might have meant that its an entry level bike, and might not be cost effective to upgrade. Off the top of my head I don't think there would be too many compatibility issues associated...

Given the funds, I would have a stronger wheel built up, and ride on.
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Old 02-20-09, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by nahh View Post
It shouldn't be that hard to upgrade some components. He might have meant that its an entry level bike, and might not be cost effective to upgrade. Off the top of my head I don't think there would be too many compatibility issues associated...

Given the funds, I would have a stronger wheel built up, and ride on.
I think he said that the bike has a free wheel and cogs that would not be compatible with higher quality parts though the derailleur is. He said something about better parts having a cassette system. Guess I will have to learn more. It is strange to be between a bike shop mechanic arguing against upgrading parts and forum posters saying it is worthwhile to upgrade the bike. I would have expected the opposite. My car mechanics have always been happy to fix up old beaters.

What should a stronger wheel include/cost? New rim/hub/cogs? What would be durable enough for my purposes?
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Old 02-20-09, 02:23 PM
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I think the bike mechanic is saying rather than replace the wheel, just get a new bike. It's interesting that you mention car mechanics, yeah, bike mechanics (in shops that also sell new bikes) do tend to push toward replacing old bikes rather than patching and repatching them.

I think a new freewheel wheel, 32 spokes or more, should run around $50. You want a wheel that has been hand QC-d (by a knowledgeable QCer, I've been done in by blind monkey QCers...). Maybe that last part would bring the cost up a bit. The cogs are not holding you back.

If you're happy w/ the bike, I think a $50ish wheel would get you a lot happier (certainly per dollar) than upgrading to a $400 bike would.
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Old 02-20-09, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by socbike View Post
I think he said that the bike has a free wheel and cogs that would not be compatible with higher quality parts though the derailleur is. He said something about better parts having a cassette system. Guess I will have to learn more. It is strange to be between a bike shop mechanic arguing against upgrading parts and forum posters saying it is worthwhile to upgrade the bike. I would have expected the opposite. My car mechanics have always been happy to fix up old beaters.

What should a stronger wheel include/cost? New rim/hub/cogs? What would be durable enough for my purposes?
How old is your Sedona? Cassettes (and freehubs) started to replace freewheels in the late 80's. There still might be an issues if your bike has 7 sprockets in the back instead of 8 or 9. I don't know how available new wheels are with 7 speed freehubs.

I think what folks here are suggesting is that you find somebody to rebuild your existing wheel, not get a whole new one.
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Old 02-20-09, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
How old is your Sedona? Cassettes (and freehubs) started to replace freewheels in the late 80's. There still might be an issues if your bike has 7 sprockets in the back instead of 8 or 9. I don't know how available new wheels are with 7 speed freehubs.

I think what folks here are suggesting is that you find somebody to rebuild your existing wheel, not get a whole new one.
7 sprockets in the back, 3 in front. Yes, maybe that was the key issue. Apologize for my ignorance making my question more obscure.

How do I know where to go for a good QCed wheel? I am in Austin, in case anyone has local knowledge.

The bike was purchased in September--I think it is a 2008 model.
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Old 02-20-09, 02:51 PM
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Show's what I know. I didn't realize that they were still selling 7 speeds. If that's the case, then I don't think it should be a problem getting a new wheel.

If you bought the bike in September is there are warranty that still applies? The weight you're talking about shouldn't be that much of a problem really unless the wheel wasn't properly built.

The freewheel vs cassette argument the mechanic fed you is probably a bunch O' crap. I can't believe a 2008 multi-speed bike would use a freewheel instead of a cassette.

They might be telling you to get something from craigslist in hopes that you won't bother and will get something from them instead.
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Old 02-20-09, 06:01 PM
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UPDATE:

I went to another bike shop. They said I would be fine with a new wheel. They sold me a hand built 26" wheel for $70 and transferred over the old cogs. They also noticed that the tread was separating on the original tire. So they sold me a new rear tire too.

In retrospect, the old wheel and tire might have been covered under the 1 year warranty from Giant. Of course, my bike shop didn't bring up that idea. I only thought about it after rereading comments above. I didn't save the old parts that were replaced at the 2nd bike shop so I guess I just lost out on that warranty opportunity. I am probably better off with the double layered rim, hand built wheel though than I would have been with a replacement part like what was originally on the bike.

Thanks for the advice above. I am very glad not to have had the hassle of selling my bike and buying a new one. I am sure I will get another bike one day but until then I will just keep buying gadgets for my entry level bike.

I figure I could probably have got a slightly better deal on the wheel and installation compared with what I paid ($114 for wheel, tire, rim tape, tax, and labor) but I am just glad to have this problem resolved so I can feel confident that it is safe to keep riding with my son on the back and no worries that the rear wheel is going to crap out on me anytime soon.

Of course, now that I put that money into my new rear wheel with its fancy stickers, I am wondering whether I should secure it when I lock up bike. I usually just u-lock the front wheel and frame to the racks on campus, as is customary here.
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Old 02-20-09, 06:18 PM
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I'm glad it worked out.
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Old 02-20-09, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by socbike View Post
Of course, now that I put that money into my new rear wheel with its fancy stickers, I am wondering whether I should secure it when I lock up bike. I usually just u-lock the front wheel and frame to the racks on campus, as is customary here.
If you want, you can just get a cable from the bike lock section with a loop at each end for like $10 (like in the picture here). Put the U from the u-lock through one wheel, put the cable through the other wheel, then pull one end of the cable through the loop at the other end (make a little lasso to hold the wheel) and then put the other loop on one leg of the U. And then lock the U-lock.

U-lock 'best practice' is here: http://sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html if you can find the space to use the U-lock like that, can still use a cable w/ looped ends to attach the other wheel to the U-lock.

Just locking the front wheel and then looping the back wheel to the front might not be bombproof but you don't need to be bombproof, just a little bit more work to undo than the next bike over.
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Old 02-20-09, 09:40 PM
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Actually spent some time reading up on locking best practices tonight. I have used the Sheldon Brown technique when locking up to something like a parking meter (some kind of pole I have full access to) but it doesn't work easily with the racks on campus that already have lots of bikes attached. Additionally, recent posts on the interwebs suggest that determined thieves are able to cut through rims, contra Brown.

I have a cable I can thread through the ulock and will probably do what the above poster suggested for a while. However, I am thinking that I will probably acquire a mini-ulock. At that point, I will continue to lock the front wheel and frame to the rack and perhaps just lock the mini ulock to the rear wheel inside the frame triangle. I think this would provide enough security for my mediocre bike that any thief would easily find more attractive prey. The two ulocks would each be significantly more difficult to open than any cable and there wouldn't be much space inside the lock area to fit a jack, which I guess is a common way to defeat u-locks.
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Old 02-20-09, 10:08 PM
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After a few weeks take the bike back to the shop to check the tension in the spokes. I leave my U-lock on the rack at work, to save carrying the weight on the ride.
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Old 02-21-09, 06:26 AM
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Just curious, what kind of kid seat do you use as I thought most of those only have a 40 pound weight limit?
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Old 02-22-09, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mparker326 View Post
Just curious, what kind of kid seat do you use as I thought most of those only have a 40 pound weight limit?
A Copilot Limo -- it has the 40 pound limit also. My son weighs about 38 pounds, his half-full kid's camelback and cold weather gear probably add 2 to 4 pounds, so clearly he is pushing the limit of the recommended weight. My plan is to keep transporting him in this setup through the spring. As it warms up here in Texas, we will both be wearing lighter clothing, which will cut down on weight and I don't think he will gain weight quickly over the next few months. I feel like the bike handles fine with him on back, especially now that I have a new heavy duty rear wheel. Height is as much of an issue as weight.He is shorter than average for an almost 4 year old kid but I think his legs are a little cramped already in the seat.

The challenge is what to do in the summer/fall when the seat is no longer viable. I guess a trailer may be the best option at that point. I like the trail-a-bike idea but I don't think it is realistic to expect that he will want to hold on and ride 8.5 miles home every day (whereas being in the seat or a trailer is a much more passive experience).
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