Author Topic: Bike Help - Repair/Replace/Lighting  (Read 2541 times)

smalllife

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Bike Help - Repair/Replace/Lighting
« on: July 10, 2013, 05:02:01 PM »
I started utilitarian biking two years ago (grocery store, etc.) and have been regularly bike commuting since February when my commute went from 15 miles to 5.  Currently I have two bikes, both mid-70s steel work horses.  The dilemma, and why I am bringing it to you all, is how to best accommodate my changing desires in a bicycle.

-Schwinn Collegiate: Fits great, but recurring flats make me think the wheel needs replacing - tried new tire and new inner tube.  Gear shifter unreliable, but 5 gears in theory.  It was fairly rusty when I got it off of Craigslist ($50) and apparently they don't make that diameter of seat posts anymore.  Not sure I trust the integrity of the steel enough to put a lot of money into it. 

-Raleigh Sport: Bike was free, with some initial clean up. Handlebars are stuck and I would prefer them to be an inch or two higher, but it is lighter than the Schwinn and doesn't bother me on the 5 mile commute.  3 gears but such a delay that it might as well be a single gear.   Currently this is my commuter bike.  (Side question: How else can I unstick the handlebars?  We - two strong people - tried pulling it apart and were only able to partially raise it.)

I would like a bike where I can shift gears easily, dynamo lighting, and fits well so I can start doing longer distances.  Lighter wouldn't be a bad thing, but I feel like a reliable low gear would suit just as well.  I'm partial to steel and vintage bikes, like being upright, and don't particularly care about speed although I feel if I started riding longer for fun I might. 

Would it be better to frankenstein the Schwinn to suit my needs - wheels for dynamo hub, gear shifter, handlebars - or to find a new bike with all of the above?  Theoretically I could take those components and put them on a newer frame down the road to even out expenses. 

Or - pay to get the Raleigh fitted and hope that includes unsticking the handlebars?  This doesn't add the dynamo lighting but would make the bike more versatile. 

Re fit: I'm a fairly short female who bikes in skirts and dresses.  I haven't come across any new step through frames that aren't cruisers or awful quality, although the local Craigslist market is great for vintage bikes $100-$300 (or cheaper if you hunt). 

*I want a dynamo lighting system because I use my front basket frequently, which makes for an awkward off-center and partially blocked light attachment on both bikes.  Safety, increased use, etc.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

ellevendollarbill

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Re: Bike Help - Repair/Replace/Lighting
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2013, 06:36:40 PM »
Good job making it work with two less-than-perfect bikes.  Not sure if conventional wisdom around here will agree, but my own view is that it's totally worth it to spend money on a light-weight bike that fits your needs - it doesn't sound like you've done this.  My justification for the expense is that you will love riding your bike, and therefore you will ride it more, and therefore you will save money.
My advice: keep one of those bikes as a rainy day bike, and get rid of the other (you mentioned you might not trust the frame, but if it's an old steel frame it's pretty much bomb proof, unless you can see tons of rust. also recurring flats can be wheel related, so go ahead and run your finger (carefully) along the wheel with the tube/tire off and see if you can find any sharp protrusions).  You are ok with a ladies-style bike? Great news! In my town at least, nobody wants those frames so they are cheap. Lot's of them were made with really high quality steel.  Assuming your town is similar, you should be able to get a nice, steel frame in this style. Take that to a bike shop and have them build you something, or do it yourself, if you are handy/want to learn.  This is what my wife did and $400 later she has a bike that fits her well, is lightweight and she loves riding it. Who knows, maybe you'll find one with decent components already and you can skip the bike shop step.
Bottom line is that it's worth spending a couple hundred to get a bike that suits you and your needs.

aj_yooper

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Re: Bike Help - Repair/Replace/Lighting
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2013, 07:53:08 AM »
OP I am impressed with your tenacity and frugality with your biking.  Have you looked into Dutch bikes like the Oma?  I am looking at one on Craigslist now (Opa) and it looks great to me.  They look good as a utility and commuter bike.  For me, it would just be groceries and fun rides.

smalllife

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Re: Bike Help - Repair/Replace/Lighting
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2013, 05:39:08 AM »
[quote = "elevendollarbill"] Not sure if conventional wisdom around here will agree, but my own view is that it's totally worth it to spend money on a light-weight bike that fits your needs - it doesn't sound like you've done this.  My justification for the expense is that you will love riding your bike, and therefore you will ride it more, and therefore you will save money. [/quote]

This is actually the way I am heading - while I do like my upright/Dutch style bikes I also want to start doing longer distances and a more traditional road bike will be the best for that.  I went to the bike shop this weekend hoping to buy during a sale but because I am so short they only had one bike in my size.  I did test drive something the size up that I really liked the feel of and will be testing it's smaller version in a week or two.

So it looks like I will be spending some money on a bike that fits me and will let me grow as a biker.  Not thrilled about the money part, but I've found myself more excited than I thought at the prospect of gear shifters and lighter weights.   Thanks for the input!