giglet: (Default)
[personal profile] giglet posting in [community profile] bicycles
I have a cheap bike that is only half-functional at the moment. Should I kick it to the curb? Salvage reusable bits from it, and then kick the carcass to the curb? Or save it and try to fix it with found bits from other cheap bikes?

Provisos:
Time and money are both in limited supply, but knowledge is the big barrier for me.
I like fiddling with bikes, know almost nothing about how bikes are put together, have almost no spare cash to spend on a bike and only limited time. I also have too many half-finished projects to lightly engage in a new one.


Ex-housemate explicitly abandoned a dubious 10-speed with a flat tire. Other than the flat tire, it looked pretty serviceable: a step-through frame, thin 1.5 inch tires, upright handlebars, good brakes. Also, the frame has attachment points for a rack and fenders. (My current bike does not have these, and the kludges I've indulged in to attach them cause frequent problems).

This weekend, I learned the theory of how to change a tire and bought a new inner tube, and fixed the flat. In the process, I learned many different wrong ways to disassemble and reassemble the back tire on the bike (and finally went out and replaced my ratchet wrench), so that was an educational experience.

It's rideable, and riding on thin tires was a revelation. Much easier to coast, much easier to get moving than my current mountain bike.

But it isn't entirely functional. Some of the rear gear teeth are broken/worn down. Also, the chainring (if that's the word I want? The metal ring between the front gears (sprockets?) and the pedal that sometimes stops the front gears from eating my pants leg) is bent so that it sometimes catches the chain if I ride in the lower gear. It is, effectively, a not-very-good 3-speed.

Should I even think about replacing gears? I suspect that that is crazy talk, but I don't know.

[Edited to add: Thank you for the help and encouragement! In the end I didn't trash the bike. I now have another thin-tired bike, with rotten tires, but good gears. There will be swapping of bits and attempts to build a single bike that I like in my future.]

Date: 2012-04-16 09:09 pm (UTC)
cpolk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cpolk
you can totally replace gears. you could totally customize your ratios if you wanted to.

it sounds like you will be replacing a lot of parts on the bike and that's not a bad thing but you want to take a look at your frame and your front fork. look for--

wait.

Clean the bike. you don't have to break it down to the ball bearings or anything but you probably want to really clean your chain and your derailleurs and check your brake shoes and your spokes.

look for rust and look for cracks. if you find a crack in anything, that part is broken and needs to be replaced.

sheldonbrown.net is your buddy at this point. that guy knew a ton about bikes and he shared a mountain of knowledge.

you can literally take a bicycle completely apart and put it back together again. I know because I've done it. you can replace every single part so long as the frame is still rockin'.

but clean it, inspect it, clean the chain, and see what you're getting into before deciding to overhaul. but it sounds like you need a new crank in front too, so be aware that you might be saving parts off this bike to cobble onto a different one.

Date: 2012-04-16 10:06 pm (UTC)
pinesandmaples: A cropped image of a black Globe Work bicycle (bike: Globe Work)
From: [personal profile] pinesandmaples
Does your city have a program that offers bike clinics for low-income folks or something like Bike Church? Orgs like that love bikes that can either be fixed up or scavenged for parts.

I know in my city (New Orleans) there is a bike clinic that offers free bikes to high school students if the students participate in the rehab process and learn some basic maintenance in afterschool programs. We donated two bikes that way when we upgraded, and we were glad to get some new riders on the road!

Date: 2012-04-16 11:35 pm (UTC)
daedala: line drawing of a picture of a bicycle by the awesome Vom Marlowe (Default)
From: [personal profile] daedala
Terminology note -- this will help you if you talk to bike shop people -- what you're calling the chainring is really the chain guard, and what you're calling the front gears/sprockets is also called the chainrings (but can also be called the front gears or sprockets).

Bikes are very serviceable. Also, bike shop people are often super friendly, and if you take it in and talk to them they will help tell you what you need to know, and if you buy parts from them that you may need to buy anyway, they may help you do it. I strongly recommend talking to the bike shop folks to find out what's feasible before trying -- there are few things more frustrating than spending a lot of time fixing something that you later find isn't fixable. Parts may end up costing more than you can afford, etc.

Your city may have free/cheap maintenance courses. Bike shops will also have courses on this, though they tend to both cover more and cost more. The one I'm doing is 6 hrs for $70 and my bike will be all tuned up at the end, so it's a good deal, but may not be an option for you.

Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance is pretty well-regarded and should be available through your library; if not, other books on bike maintenance and repair will be.
Edited (fix formatting) Date: 2012-04-16 11:37 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-04-17 05:28 pm (UTC)
daedala: line drawing of a picture of a bicycle by the awesome Vom Marlowe (Default)
From: [personal profile] daedala
I'm very lucky in my local bike shop; it's for-profit, but a worker owned co-op, and has women-only open shop nights, women's rides, and a close association with the local women/trans/femme biking group. The instructor for the class is a guy, but he's always been super-helpful about showing me stuff without making me feel stupid.

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