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  1. #1
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    Ride a free bike or buy one?

    Hey guys (and gals),

    I am just getting into mountain biking and wanted to get some opinions on how to start. My neighbor gave me his 2005 Schwinn Aluminum Comp mountain bike. It's a 21 speed, SR Suntour M2000 front fork, Shimano tourney derailleurs, and 26 inch wheels. It's ride-able as is but it needs a tune up, new rear cassette, probably a new chain, and new pedals. I'm trying to decide if it's worth putting money into it or buying a new or used bike. I'm thinking if I can put around 100 bucks into the Schwinn it would at least get me riding and buy me some time to figure out what kind of bike I want/need. On the other hand if fixing up the free bike is going to cost ~$200 I'd rather put that into a used bike that's in better condition or a new bike.


    There's lots of easy/intermediate trails around my house and the type of riding I plan on doing is 1/3 intermediate trails, 1/3 cruising around with friends/neighbors on pavement/dirt roads and 1/3 pulling my 2 year old daughter in a trailer. Hopefully in the future I will get into more difficult trails but for now it wont be anything too crazy.

    What do you guys think? Ride the free bike? Search for a used bike in better condition? Or go to the LBS and look new? My budget right now is around 200-300 but if it's something I enjoy I will be willing to spend 600ish in a few months.

    Thanks so much in advance!

  2. #2
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    My suggestion would be to only replace what's necessary, watch some youtube videos to get practice on maintaining a bike, and save cash for a new/used bike later on when you can spend a little more. Unless the chain is rusted like crazy or bent/twisted, it's probably fine to ride around on. Same with the pedals, unless they're broken or need to be replaced, I would just ride them as is.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by owensjs View Post
    My suggestion would be to only replace what's necessary, watch some youtube videos to get practice on maintaining a bike, and save cash for a new/used bike later on when you can spend a little more. Unless the chain is rusted like crazy or bent/twisted, it's probably fine to ride around on. Same with the pedals, unless they're broken or need to be replaced, I would just ride them as is.
    Thanks for the advice. The rear cassette is missing teeth on 3 of the gears and one of the pedals is cracked. I only mentioned the chain because I read you should replace it when you replace the cassette but I'm not sure if it needs to be.

    I'm thinking about taking it to my lbs and seeing what they would charge for a tune and new pedals and new cassette. The brakes aren't working very good and the rear tire/wheel is out of alignment.

  4. #4
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    I would not sink too much into it, but some good pedals would be a good investment as most decent bikes come with crappy pedals or no pedals at all.

  5. #5
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    So the pedal completely broke and the rear cassette missing teeth is starting to bother me. The rear deraileur also like to jump gears. I'm now more seriously looking into buying a bike. I started the "Guardian vs Seeker" thread and was pretty set on buying one of those but priorities (money) has shifted and I'm now looking at Craigslist again.

    Some of these don't have a lot of info on them but they are what caught my eye:
    awesome Cannondale mountain bike for sale
    KONA FIRE 18'' FRAME DISK BRAKES mountain bike
    Fuji Mountain bike (like new)
    18" Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo Mountain Bike
    Cannondale Mountain Bike w/ Disc Brakes and Upgrades
    Trek wahoo 29er Large
    Specialized rockhopper 29er comp m4
    2005 Cannondale F600 w/ disc brakes

    The more I look the more I think I should just save up for the Guardian (or the Seeker now that's it's marked down to $830) but a used bike would be easier to swallow right now.

    I was hoping to ride the free bike while I narrowed down what kind of bike I want/need. I'm sure more then a few of those can be crossed of the list for various reasons.

  6. #6
    Ludicrous Speed
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    You can get pedals for as low as $10 that will work just fine for up to a year..
    Chains are cheap.. And I bet if you called or visited the REI superstore downtown denver and asked if they have any used cassettes available, my guess is they either have a few things laying around or can point you to someone/somewhere who does.

  7. #7
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    As a "free" bike (not really free, because it needs work), it should be worth keeping in service for pulling the kid trailer or using as a bar bike or something. It would be usable on dirt trails, but will have some serious limitations because of the low end components. Tourney type stuff is really meant for general low-intensity riding, family riding, etc, not actual mountain biking.

    I'd be looking for cheap ways to keep it rolling. Replacing components with the same stuff, and not doing any sort of upgrading on it unless you encounter a screaming deal of some kind.

    Ride what you have now, and find a way to save for the upgrade you really want.

  8. #8
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    IMO, not even a question, keep riding the free bike until you can save up for something decent you really want. By the time you've "outgrown" that bike, you will know more about what exactly you want and need in a bike. Pedals are something very personal you can bring with you to any bike, most bikes are sold with the assumption you will be getting your own pedals. Chains and cassettes are maintenance items, and are changed on any bike you get. You can spend as much as you want or as little as you need to, it's all about weight savings and durability. You can get them new dirt cheap if you aren't concerned with weight savings. Don't do yourself a disservice and buy something flashy and cheaper now because it's new. Learn what's really important in components and frames by experience, and buy smart the first time since you have the opportunity.

  9. #9
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    Those are all good suggestions. I think I will get pedals and maybe bring the bike in to the LBS and see if I HAVE to replace anything else or if I can just ride it as is for the rest of the year. By the end of the year I should have the money for the Guardian or Seeker.

  10. #10
    Ludicrous Speed
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    After 6 months of riding, you'll want a Goblin or better. Save those nickles.

  11. #11
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    Unfortunately, that vintage of Schwinn is post financial meltdown and is the same as a Next/Magna/WallyWorld bike. Don't put too much into it. Your LBS may not even work on it.

  12. #12
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    Sounds like the Seeker for 830 would be a solid option now at the reduced price. Keep an eye on CL for something in that price range with better fork and components.
    Scott 950 29er Mountain Biker
    Like this one depending on size.

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