Friday, June 20, 2014

Buy a Brand New Bicycle

I've been reading Chin on the Tank and a handful of other motorcycle blogs that focus on resto-mods for a few years now. I love seeing some of the wild design concepts those guys come up with. While I occasionally entertain the idea of making the leap into motorcycle restoration, it's not something I've had the money, time, or drive to pursue. My small fleet of bicycles keeps me plenty busy and - for the most part - pretty happy. So I think I'll stick to simple, human-powered machines for the foreseeable future.

Earlier this week, Ed published a great post called Buy a Brand New Motorcycle and I couldn't get over how much it paralleled my experience in giving people guidance on buying a bicycle. When shopping for a bike, it's easy to get on Craigslist and be enticed by the $50-100 price tags of used machines. But two of the things I've learned from working on old bikes over the years are: 1) shit breaks and 2) people don't take care of their shit. Shearing old brittle anchor bolts and snapping derailleur hangers are pretty much par for the course if you work on an old bike long enough. And you can pretty much bet on dealing with bent chainrings, hubs and bottom brackets filled with molasses-like sludge, and derailleurs that have never been cleaned or serviced.

I enjoy a challenge and I take great pleasure in tinkering on my bikes, so bringing a neglected bike back into working condition - and fixing everything that gets jacked up while doing so - is all part of the fun. But not everyone has the time and energy to do this. And yeah, you're only going to spend $100 up-front for that 1970's roadster, but then you've got to pay to have the thing tuned up. That'll get you out on the road, but if you want it in really good working order you've then got to drop another $100 for an overhaul, plus an additional $100-200 or so in parts (cables, housing, tubes, rubber, brake pads, etc.). Now your investment is up to around $400-500, which is about as much as you'd pay for a pretty sweet flat-bar road bike. On top of that, most shops will service your bike free of charge if you buy it new from them, which is a major cost savings for ongoing maintenance.

So yeah, old bikes are cool, but don't fool yourself into thinking you're saving any money or getting some kind of bitchin' deal.

No comments:

Post a Comment