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Good used bike

Old 12-01-10, 09:37 PM
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sportymorty
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Good used bike

I'm thinking of getting a used road bike. I'm wondering what type of frame is best to look for - steel or aluminum - derailer & brakes - thanks
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Old 12-02-10, 12:57 AM
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that's such a general question, I don't know where to start, but here goes:

each frame material has its advantages and disadvantages: in general, steel is strong, relatively cheap, but also heavy and can rust if not handled properly. Aluminum is not as strong(can dent easily), relatively cheap, lighter than steel, doesn't rust, but can corrode. There's exceptions to this, mid to high end steel frames can be lighter than cheap aluminum frames, it depends on type and thickness of the tubing. But in general you can assume that aluminum is going to be lighter especially the newer frames.

Steel is considered more forgiving in terms of transferring road buzz to the rider, but the biggest factor that determines this is the brand/model of the tire and how much pressure you pump in relation to your weight/load. In general, aluminum is known for a stiffer ride which is great if you want to go fast and be efficient with your energy.

For used steel bikes, I'll look for made in japan bikes with Tange 1, 2 or Prestige tubing. That's quality stuff. Good ride characteristics. You can also look for bicycle made of Reynolds steel 520,525,531,631,725,853(higher number is better). It will cost a bit more than the Tange stuff especially tubesets after 631. There's columbus for Italian bikes, Columbus SL, SLX, Foco(I'm sure there are other good tubesets from this manufacturer, just not as familiar with columbus)

A lot of companies use generic steel with 4130 which is cromoly. The quality on this varies, but in general it is good and strong. Stay away from frames with are made of hi-tensile steel or 1020 steel, these are the lowest of the low. Heavy b/c the type of steel isn't as strong so they need to make the tubes really thick. Riding feels dead on these types of frames.

For aluminum there's pretty much two varieties: 6061 and 7005 aluminum. 7005 will be lighter. The shape and diameter of the tubes greatly affects the ride of these frames. For example, Cannondale frames have really wide diameter downtubes especially near the bottom bracket for added stiffness. Some frames have diamond or triangle shaped tubes, also to add stiffness.

There's levels for derailleurs and brakes. For mountain bikes, I'd stick with shimano deore level and up. You can google the level of shimano parts. I'd avoid bikes with grip shifts, most of them are crap that you have to overshift to shift properly, sucks. Shimano rapidfire shifters are nice.
For road bikes with shimano get Tiagra and up. For SRAM road, get Rival and up. You can get campagnolo parts too, but I'm not as familiar with them.

Last edited by 531phile; 12-02-10 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 12-02-10, 08:41 AM
  #3  
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Wow! thanks so much for taking the time to reply. It is very informative - exactly the info I was looking for and couldn't find -Thanks again
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Old 12-02-10, 10:00 AM
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sportymorty, There are roughly three 'classes' of drop bar road frames. Touring, Comfort and Racing. Riding position is more relaxed for Touring and more aggressive for Racing, with Comfort in the middle. This also goes for the frame's geometry. Frame material isn't a deciding factor for a frame that fits and is the type for your intended riding.

Componenents have improved over the last five years or so and aren't a deciding factor. I'm most used to Shimano products and their lowest level Sora stuff is just fine though many prefer the double lever shifting to the Sora's thumb button + single lever design. Many bikes you'll find will have a mix of component manufacturers.

Post up the bikes you're considering and you'll recieve more detailed opinions.

Brad
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Old 12-02-10, 05:20 PM
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Morty,

The type of riding you plan to do would be a big factor in what exact bike would be the best fit. Your price range would be a big factor, too, as there good relative values, and specific used bikes to look for at every price.

A great way to learn is to post links to a couple Craigslist ads that interest you. People will quickly point out what is good/bad about that bike. Also, check out www.sheldonbrown.com for a lot of great general info, with zero 'spin'. good luck.
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Old 12-02-10, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by 531phile View Post
Stay away from frames with are made of hi-tensile steel or 1020 steel, these are the lowest of the low. Heavy b/c the type of steel isn't as strong so they need to make the tubes really thick. Riding feels dead on these types of frames.
I disagree. I'm fast and comfortable on my $40 Hi-Ten midrange Panasonic. Bike was spec'd at 25# in 1981. IME, a high-ten bike from a decent builder is a worthwhile buy if the price is right. I've ridden frames with nicer tubing and do agree about what a nice ride they can be, but I think there's no need to kill hi-ten so hard.
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Old 12-03-10, 10:55 AM
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Thanks for the responses - I hope I can return the favour sometime
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Old 12-03-10, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Standalone View Post
I disagree. I'm fast and comfortable on my $40 Hi-Ten midrange Panasonic. Bike was spec'd at 25# in 1981. IME, a high-ten bike from a decent builder is a worthwhile buy if the price is right. I've ridden frames with nicer tubing and do agree about what a nice ride they can be, but I think there's no need to kill hi-ten so hard.
I'd tend to agree with 531phile. While you can get a serviceable frame from 1010 or 1020, it'll be heavier than a comparable chromo 5130 frame. It'll also be weaker/less stiff too, because 1020 is more malleable. Sure, there are exceptions; and a lot of chromo frames had hi-ten stays (and were fine.) But as a generalization, it works to say that a hi-ten frame means a low-end bike. In the used bike market, there's often no difference in price, so why not go with the better material?
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Old 12-03-10, 11:30 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
It'll also be weaker/less stiff too, because 1020 is more malleable.
I am not saying Hi-Ten bikes are good or bad, but you have this wrong. All steels have a very similar 'stiffness.' It is called the modulus of elasticity and it relates to how much a material will deform under a load. Since Hi-tensile steel frames tand to have thicker walls they might be stiffer than frames made of higher-quality thinner walled steel tubes.

There is more to consider than just wall thickness, though, so there really are no good generalizations to make.

The malleability you speak of is called 'ductility' and it only affects the amound a metal can deform before breaking, and a bike frame's behavior at the point of failure is not the same as its performance during regular riding.
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Old 12-03-10, 11:43 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
I'd tend to agree with 531phile. While you can get a serviceable frame from 1010 or 1020, it'll be heavier than a comparable chromo 5130 frame. It'll also be weaker/less stiff too, because 1020 is more malleable. Sure, there are exceptions; and a lot of chromo frames had hi-ten stays (and were fine.) But as a generalization, it works to say that a hi-ten frame means a low-end bike. In the used bike market, there's often no difference in price, so why not go with the better material?
When I've been looking, people seem to want $300 and up for "good" CrMo framed bikes. I got my Panasonic for $40, and I'm convinced from browsing CL that I could find something similar for $100-$150, but maybe my understanding of the current used market is out of date.
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Old 12-05-10, 11:38 AM
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When you go looking for used bikes, it would be best to remember that the older the bike is, the more likely it will need serious repair even if the asking price is low.

Those old "10-speeds" you see still on the road everywhere, the Japanese Panasonics and such, the old Schwinns, the Puegeots and Motobecanes... These bikes are all pushing serious age. A "10-speed" roadster has not likely been produced since the late seventies at best.
This means almost always that the bearings are shot... All of them. And that's if you're lucky. If you can do the work yourself, bearings and grease are cheap. However, to do a total rebuild at shop prices... You best be thinking of a newer bike.
As I said if you're lucky... And only the bearings are bad. If the cones and other bearing surfaces are bad, you may just be out of luck. Sometimes parts are available, and sometimes they are not.
All the parts used in these bikes are simply outdated, passe' technology. The industry has moved on.
If you want a cheap roadster, consider buying a used contemporary mountain bike that fits and putting some sale-price slicks on. Nashbar almost always has tires on sale.
For a couple of hundred bucks you can put together a functional ride.
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Old 12-05-10, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
When you go looking for used bikes, it would be best to remember that the older the bike is, the more likely it will need serious repair even if the asking price is low.

Those old "10-speeds" you see still on the road everywhere, the Japanese Panasonics and such, the old Schwinns, the Puegeots and Motobecanes... These bikes are all pushing serious age. A "10-speed" roadster has not likely been produced since the late seventies at best.
This means almost always that the bearings are shot... All of them. And that's if you're lucky. If you can do the work yourself, bearings and grease are cheap. However, to do a total rebuild at shop prices... You best be thinking of a newer bike.
As I said if you're lucky... And only the bearings are bad. If the cones and other bearing surfaces are bad, you may just be out of luck. Sometimes parts are available, and sometimes they are not.
All the parts used in these bikes are simply outdated, passe' technology. The industry has moved on.
If you want a cheap roadster, consider buying a used contemporary mountain bike that fits and putting some sale-price slicks on. Nashbar almost always has tires on sale.
For a couple of hundred bucks you can put together a functional ride.
I beat a field of 100 on titanium and carbon on a century ride in June, leaving 20 minutes AFTER the start, taking the alternate extra triple hill option and finishing in 6h10. On my $40 1981 Panasonic. Hi-Ten. With a loaded rack on the front.

My shop does a full resto on a bike for $100. A tune up with some bearings is less. If you have a good shop near you, don't fear the vintage. We have people on this board that can help...

(Ok, I'm maybe exaggerating-- two guys did pass me at mile 94 or so, but I betcha they didn't leave late. And they sure as heck weren't riding 30 year old steel.)

Rar. Get a decent old bike. Enjoy it. Never be afraid of theft. Learn to fix stuff on it without fear. Sell it for what you paid when you upgrade. Then enjoy that one. Or do like I do and keep the old one too! You can't lose as long as you have some sense of what's at least halfway decent. Rar.
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Last edited by Standalone; 12-05-10 at 11:00 PM.
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Old 12-06-10, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by sportymorty View Post
Thanks for the responses - I hope I can return the favour sometime
Mostly you are getting some pretty good advice. Just remember the frame material isn't as important as the fit and the components. If the bike fits and you like how it rides get it but try it first. You didn’t mention your budget so a good rule of thumb is get as good of a bike as you can afford. Like one of the other posters I have had everything from Sora to Dura ace I now prefer SRAM but wouldn’t kick Shimano off my bike. The single best investment I have ever made was better wheels. But newer sifters will make the riding experience so much better even if you get an 8 or 9 speed cassette.
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Old 12-06-10, 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
Mostly you are getting some pretty good advice. Just remember the frame material isn't as important as the fit and the components. If the bike fits and you like how it rides get it but try it first. You didn’t mention your budget so a good rule of thumb is get as good of a bike as you can afford. Like one of the other posters I have had everything from Sora to Dura ace I now prefer SRAM but wouldn’t kick Shimano off my bike. The single best investment I have ever made was better wheels. But newer sifters will make the riding experience so much better even if you get an 8 or 9 speed cassette.
I'm going to throw a wrench into this discussion. Any bike, no matter what material or how well equipped, will seem lousy if it doesn't fit the rider. On the other hand, a cheap bike will serve the rider far better if it fits that rider.

Morty, you'd do well if you talked to a person who does professional bicycle fittings and perhaps get "fitted" yourself. This can be a costly proposition, but even good advice will allow you to reject "great deals" that don't fit while maybe allowing you to find "the one" that will keep you riding.
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Old 12-06-10, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
Mostly you are getting some pretty good advice. Just remember the frame material isn't as important as the fit and the components. If the bike fits and you like how it rides get it but try it first. You didn’t mention your budget so a good rule of thumb is get as good of a bike as you can afford. Like one of the other posters I have had everything from Sora to Dura ace I now prefer SRAM but wouldn’t kick Shimano off my bike. The single best investment I have ever made was better wheels. But newer sifters will make the riding experience so much better even if you get an 8 or 9 speed cassette.
+1 THIS!
- fit
-upgrade costs

I still ride a 1986 Falcon (531c steel, downtube shifters, etc) I purchased new. Garaged and little rust which is something you need to be concerned about with steel.

Fiit back in 86, but with age one shinks and that topbar is getting very close with no clearance at standover. Only reason I can still ride it is that topbars were shorter back then so not stretched out.

Major upgrade 7 years ago made HUGE difference (unfortunately), but I didn't have the recent outlay of cash to acquire the bike. When you are shopping, it is not how much the bike costs, but what is the total costs. Other than general maintenance - which may have been neglected on the bike you are looking at - the upgrades were 1) built mavic open pro wheels and of course put decent tubes and tires on them, and 2) while you can find uber-expensive hubs for freewheels, the Campy Chorus hubs required cassette so I upgraded from a 6sp freewheel to 9sp cassette and of course a chain and rear Centaur derailer. Thankfully, front crank and deraileur were OK with the downtube friction shifters. You could so that upgrade with a steel frame which will spread 0.4mm for the wider hub, but forget it with aluminum.

Absolutely a great ride - comfortable for a century. The upgrade was a huge improvement, and while I do have frame flex, the downside is that it took away my rationalizations of why I needed a new bike.
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