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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2013

    Looking at Cheap road bikes


    I currently have a MTB in need of repairs, but I have never owned a road bike and have an interest in getting one. I had a decent new one picked out, but I want a cheap one first to see if I really like it.

    I have seen dozens of no name or vintage bikes in decent shape for $65 and less in my area- Kent, Sears, Huffy, or old Schwinns, to name a few. Some as old as 40 years.

    I came across a few that I am interested in- and after doing some research, it becomes hard to identify models, year, etc to determine value.

    I found a Raleigh Capri of unknown year in my size and fit in great shape, for $90 (bottom dollar). This seems high for an old bike- but maybe Im wrong? Raleigh Capri Road Bike Also so this one Motobecane Men's Road Bike

    Just looking to get some insight on things to look for as far as values on older bikes. I realize this is very very vague, but I am not looking for collectors items or anything of the sort, so mainly looking for advice on what to look out for, and if the Raleigh or MB bikes are worth it...that will give me an idea on a few others as well.


  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: johnb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Give some thought to getting something off eBay. Watch it for a few weeks. Get an idea of what a bike with certain component groups sell for. Stop off at your LBS and price out bikes - look for some with Shimano Ultegra components (kind of mid-price range). Then look for comparable bikes on eBay. Don't jump on something right away, you'll see deals over and over if you watch enough. Give it some time to get a feel for what a good deal is.
    But my point is, if you're on a budget, going "used" is much better then buying a low-end "new" bike. IMO.

  3. #3
    Just Ride
    Reputation: Cormac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    I bought a bike off a friend of mine last summer who had it in storage for the past 15 years. he said it was about 20 y/o. For $50, I figured, what the hell? Glad i bought it. Only needed a slight adjustment of the rear derailuer and new tires/tubes to get it road worthy. Works just fine for an old heavy (for road bikes) steel bike. I really should replace all the cables and the chain, but I really see no need since it all works just fine for me. Road is for when the trails are to sloppy and for the trainer in the winter. one of these years I actually use the damn trainer! Every spring I suffer for not using it. So anyway, yea, used for a road bike isn't so bad.
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    I just bought an old early 80s late 70s Schwinn of some kind for $35 off craigslist. Had to put new tires and tubes on it and grease a few thing but it seems fine otherwise well other than weighing 38lbs lol.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Rev Bubba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Used is the best way to go to try a road bike. They don't take anywhere near the abuse of a mountain bike.

    Size matters! I'd be more concerned with getting the proper size frame than the actual bike. In road biking, size is much more important that in mountain biking. The biggest challenge is going to be figuring out what size you should be on. Size does not translate directly from a mountain to a road bike. My suggestion is stop by a bike shop and get some idea what you should be looking for unless you are absolutely sure you know what you should be on.

    As for the MB or Raleigh, for a first road bike, either sounds fine and it's hard to argue with $90. That is the price of a lift ticket for one day of skiing these days.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: J.B. Weld's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Depends what you want out of them I guess but those are both very basic bikes, a step above department store brands but still very low end. 27 inch wheels, single wall rims, etc. The Raleigh is slightly better between the two but you may want to do a bit more research.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JoePAz's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    What is cheap? What do you want to do with it?

    Last September I went looking for a use road bike with $400 cash in hand. My desire was to get a solid reasonably modern bike I could use when not mtn biking. After much looking I found a 2001 Trek 5200 offered by a local on MTBR. Craigslist was a bust due to mostly flaky sellers. Anyway I spent a little than my budget, but got a nice carbon bike with ultegra components. This was a upper mid range bike when new and a very solid bike. Maintained well and I have zero issues with it. And it fit. I could be slightly small, but with a stem change I am comfortable. Heck the next size up could have been slightly large.

    Anyway you need to decide on budget and goals. From there fit is key. Road bike fit is alot more critical than mtn bike fit and the sizes are all done by CM sizes. 50,52,54,56,58,60 cm prety common sizes however not very mfg's 54 is the same. Plus due the graulairt in sizes you probably can fit on bikes to 2 size ranges with minor adjustments. I ma 5'7" and my trek is a 52cm bike. For my a 50 would be too small and 56 would be too large. However I could probably fit on a 54 as well as 52. The biggest advantage to a LBS is that you can test this out and see which one fits you better. Going used the choices are more limited. Anyway a good fit is important to being comfortable on the bike. If you are not comfortable you will not want to ride it.

    The other issue is that fit changes as you get more comfortable on the bike so what is comfortable now may not be as comfortable later. It takes a little time for the body to adjust to the different riding position.

    So decide what your budget is and what you want of the bike. Personally I wanted a bike with shifters on the handlebars not on the downtubes. I wanted a 700c wheel not a 27". I wanted threadless headset rather than threaded. I wanted at least 105 grade shifters to keep the action a little more smooth. Some of this was for use on the bike and others to keep a little more commonality with todays trends. (less looking for old obsolete parts). These wants kept me out of the really old bike range.
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Well, I got my bike! My girlfriends dad had a Cannondale 3.0 Aluminum that was too large for him- perfect fit for me! I tried to buy it and he gave it to me for free. Went to the LBS and bought two tires and tubes- maiden voyage tomorrow. Cant wait!!

  9. #9
    No known cure
    Reputation: Vader's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Older high end used is the way to go. And make sure it fits. I looked for over a year, with an e bay search for 56cm steel frames, and scoured craigslist. Last June my ship came in when my brother found a 2001 Litespeed Vortex with Dura Ace for $400 at a garage sale, in a size 56 and picked it up for me, and then charged me a $50 finder's fee . Worth every beatdown he received when we were kids.
    Ripping trails and tipping ales

  10. #10
    I like turtles
    Reputation: TiGeo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    I would avoid anything before the ' at least want "brifters" (shifter/brake levers) rather than downtube shifters. I picked mine up off eBay for <$300 and it is mid-'90s vintage with 8-spd great.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2018 Niner RKT 9 RDO - enduro are #@$%

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    the crappy shifting will drive you nuts, better off with a single speed. but i will give credit the old steel frame are amazing.

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