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Half a year ago I started to use again my old Schwinn Woodlands MTB for commuting. I didn't want to spend a fortune on a new bike, I wasn't certain that I would like to bike commute daily.

Bike has kinda old equipment: screaming Shimano cantilever brakes and Shimano SIS derailleurs (48-38-28, 14-28). Steel wheels. Highest gear is too slow for me. However, the good old heavy CrMo frame is comfortable.

Since then I used the bike a lot mainly for commuting, touring. Now I'm at a crossroads. I'm thinking of buying a new bike (brand new or used) or re-equipping the old bike. I would like better brakes and a bigger gear ratio on a workhorse.

If I buy a new bike, I would probably choose a new or used Merida Crossway 100D /Speeder/S-presso. I think a trekking bike would be better than MTB because of speed. I've tried a Crossway but at first it was strange, although I loved the big gear ratio and disc brakes.

If I would reequip my bike, I would use Shimano Alivio V brakes (maybe with red/blue Ritchey brake pads), derailleurs and shifters and 7-8 level sprockets. I also need to change wheels.

My dilemma is that is it worth to spend half price of a used bike to my old bike? to reequip? Or is it better to sell it and buy another (new) bike. There are used bikes with quite acceptable prices.

2012 models are on sale nowadays, although I'm a bit skeptic that I really need a brand new bike.

What do you think?

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You might want to see if you can find a good used bike a little more to your liking, if you don't want to drop the bucks on a new one. As to your old bike, there's nothing wrong with cantilever brakes (and changing those out would require new brake levers). But if you really have steel wheels that's not ideal, and changing the gearing could get complicated. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 11 '12 at 20:14
    
The new bikes you're looking at are what's commonly called Hybrids (flat handlebars, and made for the road). All the major bike manufacturers have a line of them. It's worth checking out what several bike shops have. Shouldn't be too hard to find a decent used version, either. Also, shopping for a new bike when the new year's models are becoming available and last year's models are going on sale is a good time to get a good deal on a bike. –  freiheit Nov 11 '12 at 20:36
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Yep, definitely now (until maybe mid-January) is a good time to shop for bikes -- you can often get 30-50% off. But of course the selection will diminish the longer you wait. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 12 '12 at 0:51
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

As @Daniel said - I would suggest looking for a newer second hand bike closer to what you want. the cost of components, along with compatibility issues, will like make the exercise more expensive with a bike that has a few niggly problems that just won't go away. However, it you are particularly attached to the frame, it might be worth while. Consider getting a donor bike, as whole bikes are usually significantly cheaper than the sum oft there parts.

If you go down the seconds hand or new path, Jamis (an I am sure others) make mid and high quality steel bikes (Look for the Dragon range in MTB) for those of us that appreciate the advantages of steel. At the highest end, the weight penalty is so small it can be ignored.

Edit : List of steel road bikes

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+1 - New to me is the best way to go. I've gotten more mileage out of my dollar, and had the opportunity to try more things, by going second hand. –  Ritch Melton Nov 11 '12 at 21:33
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I have an '86 Peugeot Orient Express which is not too different than your Schwinn. The bike pictured below is very similar to mine.

Mid 1980's Peugeot Orient Express

I have not used the bike as a commuter, but I have put around 1400 miles (2250 km) on it in the past few years. It's a great bike, very well-built, with gearing similar to yours. I use it as a townie, when riding with the kids, etc.

My only real complaint is that the handlebars are flat. For short rides, I can live with that, but for longer rides (>20 miles/32 km), I don't like it at all. I like moving my hands around on the bars as I ride. I've even considered putting some road bike handlebars on it, just so I could move my hands to different positions when riding.

The only things which have stopped me from upgrading significantly are 1) my Peugeot weighs around 35 lbs (about 16 kg); 2) it would be difficult to use the current brake levers and shifters on road bars; 3) in for a penny, in for a pound: if I am going to upgrade, why dick around? In other words, I would want to get rid of the heavy bolt-on wheelset, the drivetrain, everything. That means some serious dollars.

The frame on that Peugeot is Tange gaspipe, which rides great, but I think putting big dollars into upgrading would, in some sense, be like perfume on a pig. It borders on false economy, considering that a much nicer, lighter, more modern bicycle can be had for just about the same money.

The Meridas you linked look OK, and if you can afford decent components, that might be a good choice. Here in the USA, you can get some pretty decent deals on similar bicycles from online sellers. I don't know if there are equivalents in Australia.

But if I throw in my $0.02, assuming you will be riding the bike a lot-- commuters can really rack up the miles-- and that you can secure the bicycle adequately at work, I'd encourage you to get a full-on road bike. I know of riders who went with a hybrid bike and regretted it later, as evidenced by their road bike purchases, but I don't know of any who went with a road bike and later decided they would be better off with a hybrid.

If necessary, make do with what you have at the moment, and save for a better bike.

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Yeah. Road bikes or touring bikes are great for commuting. Many road bikes cannot accommodate a rear rack while all touring bikes can also touring bikes are a little less aggressive and have a more upright posture, although not too much, which makes them more comfortable. –  Kibbee Nov 11 '12 at 23:08
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