Yes! whenever bicycles are broken, or menaced by international communism, Bicycle Repair Man is ready!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Stack

It's a constant struggle to be rid of the bikes I'm always acquiring.  The current (and long running) projects is a neat old Raleigh Superbe.  However, it is very close to being finished, which will be worthwhile!

Then, it's back to the fabrication shop to build some sort of contraption that will bash out stuck seatposts.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Old 10-speed buyer's guide

I figure this is handy knowledge to have around, whether or not anyone finds it.

Let's say you're standing in front of a bike.  It's so shiny!  Or dusty.  Or greasy.  The seller may or may not know its value.  (Hint: it's as worth as much as someone will pay for it; no more.)  How do you decide if it's "good"?  Here are some tips!

  • Weight.   Pick up the bike.  Do you think "wow, light!" or "wow, heavy!"?  Lighter is better.  Also consider yourself.  If you're a big person, don't get a featherweight bike.  It could break.
  • Tubing.  Check for a tubing sticker on the frame - right below the saddle.  No sticker means a cheap bike or a clever previous owner.  Good things to see are "Tange", "Reynolds" or "Columbus".   Bad things are "Hi-ten" or "all brazed steel".   Flick the tubes with your finger, if they ring, it's nice steel.  If they thunk, it's not nice steel.  This test doesn't work for aluminum or carbon fiber.
  • Lugwork / welds.  Nicer bikes tend to have more interesting lugs.  If it looks like plumbing, it's probably just a utility bike - great for a beater but will never be as nice as something made with better tubes and lugs.   Also inspect the soldering jobs, sloppy work means a weak joint.
  • Dropouts.  They can be stamped, forged, or machined.   Look for a manufacturer's name on the dropout.  Don't trust the fork, it could be a replacement (although factor this in, and consider a replacement fork could have meant a crash)
  • Shifters.  Cheap bikes have the shifters up high on the stem.  Nicer ones have them on the downtube, or on the bar ends, or integrated into the brake levers.
  • Brakes.  Cheap bikes have "cheater levers" that you can pull when riding upright.  Maybe you want these, maybe not.  Don't let the brake levers or shifters dictate what you buy, if the frame is super light you can always change the brakes to suit yourself later.
  • Cranks.  Less important unless you're keen on upgrading.  Know the differences between one-piece, three-piece, and cottered cranks.  Consider the origin of the bike if you plan on swapping out the drivetrain, some French and Italian bikes use different threads in the components which can make upgrading more of a chore.
  • Wheels.  Aluminum is better than steel, hands down.  If you disagree, wait until it rains.
An easy rule of thumb is to add $10 for every "good" thing you can think of and subtract $10 for every "bad" thing.  Generally, a nice bike in poor condition is worth about $100.  A crummy bike in great condition is also worth $100.  Tires, pedals, attachments (water bottle holder!  yay!), handgrips and saddles should rarely factor into the value of the bike, unless they are unique or desirable.  And that's more for personal preference.

The consumables to give a bike a tune-up cost at least $25.  More if the chain, saddle, or cable housing needs to be replaced.

Until next time...