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TheAnalogKid 04-19-05 09:28 AM

Depressed, need advise.
(If I get some the parts and descriptions wrong, sorry I'm a newb)

So I was a very enthusiastic newbie a couple weeks back. I began riding my bike more and even commuting to work. Beginning last Thursday I was riding home from a great day at work in beautiful 60 degree weather when the chain on my mid 90s Trek 850 MTB began skipping. It usually skipped when I stood on the pedals for more power, but this day it was skipping about every 4 turns of the pedals. I made it home and looked at the bike, but didn't see anything outright wrong. So I went inside and began cooking dinner.
I took my bike into the LBS and they saw the teeth were worn down and 5 were broken off on two of my three front chain rings. That and a much needed tune up would cost at least $100. He also told me about their trade in program and that I could maybe get a decent new or used road bike (something I eventually want to get) and they could work on a deal with me. I have also had an offer to buy a used roadie from another person within these forums.
The only problem is that my girlfriend and I are closing on a new house in a month and a half and need to save a ton of dough for closing, and some vital appliances like a fridge (to keep beer cool) and a washer & dryer (to wash bike clothes after long rides). Basically I cannot spend a ton of cash right now, and do not want to make large purchases on my credit card.
Well it has been since Thursday when I last rode a bike and I do not feel the same anymore. I loved commuting and began to lose some weight too. I also wanted to take some weekend rides and my girlfriend wants to get into riding casually. I am feeling down about the whole thing, want to bike again and continue my quest to commute, lose weight, and just be on a bike.

What would the collective wisdom of BikeForums have to say? Any alternatives I could do? Should I bite the bullet and buy a new (maybe used) bike or fix my old one?

Thanks in advance, sorry for the long description.

The Kid

Surferbruce 04-19-05 09:33 AM

fix your old one. be happy. hell, wait 6 months and refi the house and buy what you want.
or see how cheap you can cobble together a fixed gear and really start enjoying your commute. there's some awesome bikes on the fixedgeargallery that were made for under a hundred bucks.

powers2b 04-19-05 09:33 AM

I would find another bike shop that wasn't so quick to try to sell me a new bike.
Then I would just buy 1 chainring (48), 1cog (16) and a new chain and just ride SS until I could buy/build another bike.


LordOpie 04-19-05 09:35 AM

You should get your current bike in decent working order, even if you bought a new bike. Always nice to have a reliable back-up. So, learn how to do some of the simpler tune-up adjustments like brakes and derails. Do you need a whole new drivetrain? Maybe just a new crank? Maybe just a new ring?

NW NJ Biker 04-19-05 09:42 AM

It is unlikely that you caused any meaningful wear by riding the the bike for a few weeks. If it was working, and now it is not it is probably just an adjustment. Also, I think that it is normal that some of the teeth on a chainring to be smaller than others.

Try turning the rear shifter barrel adjuster 1/2 a turn at a time. If it gets worse, turn it the other way. See if this fixes your problem.

MichaelW 04-19-05 09:44 AM

Are the teeth broken or just abridged to help shifting. It is hard to see how the chain could slip when there are at least 15 teeth holding it in place.
The usual cause of a chain skipping is when you put a new chain onto worn rear cogs (with a shark's-fin profile). The only solution is a new set of rear cogs and the long-term remedy is to change your chain before it gets worn out.

The Trek 850 is a nice commuter frame and you won't find anything substantially better new for less than $600. It is worth maintaining the bike. Cycle commuting is low cost but it isn't no-cost, you do have to have a budget for maintenance and spares.
The alternative to cycle commuting is going to cost you money anyway; work out how much this would be each year.

rule 04-19-05 09:51 AM

Wow...I got to the part about a mid-90's Trek and thought, "Well at least he's got a decent bike to ride."

In my humble but lengthy experience with bike shops the world over, they seem to come in one of two forms...those that like to repair what you've got and get you back on the road again, and those that only want to sell you something new and expensive. In my area, there are shops that won't even sell you new tires without pitching you on new expensive wheels, and other shops that will ask to see the tread wear to make sure that you aren't just over-reacting. In the best local example of the latter shop, I spend more time standing back and watching them save me money than I do spending it. I'm not kidding. They work every warranty, barely used parts at a discount, maybe we have something in the back that we could use angle you can imagine. And yeah, when I actually, eventually was in the market for a new bike, they were the ones who got the sale.

Point being, it sounds more to me like you had a bad experience at the bike shop. I would absolutely look for another one before I would quit riding. It sounds too like you were really enjoying it! And if that is the best that this LBS could do was to basically scare you off from cycling, believe me there are better shops out there.

I would see what a good shop can do to get your present ride back into action. A mid-90's bike sounds like a great way to get going with riding to me for sure! And if money is tight, definitely keep riding. You will save a heck of a lot of money in the process, just on gas savings alone.

Keep your chin up whatever you decide. Life is too short to be in dumps about anything. ;)

lotek 04-19-05 09:51 AM

I'd invest in new chainrings, replace a few cogs in the back,
new chain and a Zinn or Bicycling Maintenance manual.
This does a few things, you learn to work on your own bike
and you are not tied to the LBS for any minor work.

Analogkid? you post on AudioAsylum? I seem to recall seeing
that moniker before.


TheAnalogKid 04-19-05 10:05 AM


Originally Posted by lotek
Analogkid? you post on AudioAsylum? I seem to recall seeing
that moniker before.

Nope just a huge Rush fan.

Anyways I appreciate the advise. I may have jumped the gun here in my explanation. The LBS I went to was great, and I was the one who proposed the trade-in and asked to see the road bikes, they were into fixing it.

I think I will fix it up. I actually just found out that a coworkers husband used to be a bike mechanic and offered to help or advise. Eventually I would like to get a roadie to probably ride on the weekends, but I do have an attachment to my old Trek, and it feels good to be riding it again.

I was only a little down because I fell in love with cycling again, and I haven't been able to do it.

I did look at the chain ring and a couple have broken off, while a substantial amount are worn down, but I will also try to adjust the derailleur tonight as well.

Is there any place I could buy new chain rings online? Any cheap place? What kind should I get for a mid 90s Trek 850?

Thanks again, I'm going to the library to look up books on bike maintenence.

The Kid is excited again.

slooney 04-19-05 10:30 AM


I'm a little far from you (Highlands Ranch, south of Denver), but have some experience with skipping drivelines, and I may have parts you can use. PM me if you're intersted, and we'll try to figure out if I have anything which would help.


jeff-o 04-19-05 11:06 AM

And one final tip: Look online for great deals on bike parts. If you're in a cash crunch, I'll bypass my usual advice to give your bike shop some business, and go right to the online recommendation.

77Univega 04-19-05 08:39 PM


Originally Posted by TheAnalogKid

I did look at the chain ring and a couple have broken off, while a substantial amount are worn down, but I will also try to adjust the derailleur tonight as well.
...Is there any place I could buy new chain rings online? Any cheap place?

- - Broken and worn teeth shouldn't be tolerated on any bike. Try Sheldon Brown's website; a new or decent used chainring will last for years and cure your depression.


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