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I'm a poor student and I bought a used bike. I don't have experience with bikes and I want to make sure that the bike is safe for me because actually I found the bike in a garbage container and the owner offered to sell it for 15 euros. Now I really need to be sure that it's safe!

I saw some videos on youtube to understand what gears are and so on and I found that the gears are working and the chain is switching correctly between the chainrings and the cogs. I also checked the breaks handles and I saw that the bike stops correctly when I press them. The rear breaks need a little adjustment to better stop the back tire.

The only thing I did so far is cleaning the bike. Actually I'm so happy about it that I go outside every few minutes just to look at it. I never had a bike when I was a kid but I know how to ride them :). But anyway back to subject!

Here are what I'm planning to do:

0- One of the breaks handles are not so tight, so it is safe to leave it?

1- Remove the rust from the chainrings, cogs, screwdrivers and other parts. (actually i have no idea how to do that and no idea how to do that in a cheap way, so I posted a question Restoring the original color of metal and chainrings)

2- Change entirely all the cables in the bike because I found them rusty.

3- The tires are completely damaged and I need to fully buy new ones. This is the most expensive thing ever to me since I realized I need to spend 25 euros on that.

So that is basically what I thought of for safety check but I wonder if there are other stuff I need to check or buy/change.

Here are some pics for my bike:

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More pictures here: Painting a bike with minimum cost

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No time to write a proper answer, but as for safety, make sure it is solid. Tighten up the cable slack on that brake, inspect all of the welds to make sure it isn't cracked anywhere, check the tightness of the headset (see Google for this), check for any loose bolts/nuts, check air pressure and most of all; make sure the brakes actually stop when going down a hill. I can tell you right now that the rear tire is toast. Get a new one. – canadmos Jun 8 '14 at 20:51
To add to that, the rear brake cable looks frayed. I would replace that cable. The brakes and tires are two (three?) of the most important things to not neglect on a bike of any kind. – canadmos Jun 8 '14 at 20:54
The rust is pretty much just aesthetic - I wouldn't worry about it. By the time it becomes a problem, you won't be a student anymore. I'd probably also outfit new pads just to be safe. – Batman Jun 8 '14 at 21:03
Adjust the brake pads to make sure they don't foul on the tyre. The rear tyre sidewall is really torn up; I reckon the brake pads have done that. – headeronly Jun 8 '14 at 22:34
@headeronly: Good advise, although I have seen exactly the same failure from very old tires (these tires are possibly 25 years old now). – mattnz Jun 9 '14 at 0:36

By far the most reliable way is a visit to the Local Bike shop, find a smaller one with lots of kids bikes and entry level bikes (They know about tight bidgets). It should take less than 5 minutes for them to give you a quick assessment of what needs to be done to make it safe, and most will happily do the assessment for free (especially given they will get a sales of at least 2 tires and tubes)

Tires and tubes - replace.

Wheels - remove from bike and check bearings, adjust if required. If noisy not really a safety issue, but if too loose it is. Check rims for wear from brake pads and big dents. Check spokes for tightness. Check where spokes go into rim for cracks. Ensure the QR levers are tight (They should leave a dent in your palm when you press down to do them up). Check wheels to ensure they are true (Wobble from side to side or up and down) - only a safety problem if the brakes cannot be adjusted tight enough.

Brakes - Adjust so they are tight. Check pads for wear. Lube cables and replace if budget allows. Frayed rear brake is not a safety issue unless the tension side is frayed.

Seat - check seat post is tight and seat bolted on to seat post.

Steering / Handlebars - are all attachements tight (stem, handbars, brake levers and shifters). Do the handles bars turn freely and without play in the head.

Bottom bracket/Pedels - do they spin freely and smoothly without play. Listen for creeks and grinding noises. Look for cracks and damage to the cranks.

Frame - look for visible cracks - its steel so sudden failure is not likely. Go for a ride and jump up and down a few times, listen... Pick the bike up and drop it onto its wheels from about 300mm. Listen to the bike for rattles, squeaks etc. Some are normal, but it can give away a lot.

Rear derailuer and shifters - not really a safety issue unless the chain jumps off and jams. , but do read up how to tune it. Make sure the chain stays on the cogs.

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I'm always worried that the chain could break down (split) because the bike is old. I'm not sure if this is the case here or not. But do you think the chain is a safety issue? – Jack Twain Jun 9 '14 at 9:00
Chains can and do break, and more so when old. However its usually due to factors other than just being old - bad gear shifts under excessive load are the main cause I have seen. If concerned, a replacement chain would be advised as its not nice when they break, especially for boys..... – mattnz Jun 9 '14 at 20:25
what do you mean by not nice especially for boys? what happens?!! – Jack Twain Jun 9 '14 at 21:12
When the chain breaks, the pedals suddenly have no resistance, the pedal with pressure (Usually a lot) suddenly rotates downwards, the leg and attached body above the leg follow and tend to keep going down. The frame has a cross bar that stops the body going down.......... – mattnz Jun 9 '14 at 21:51
Labial and clitoral bruising hurt, but not apparently as much as testicular and penal (?) bruising. – RoboKaren Jun 13 '14 at 17:03

It's a very inexpensive department store bike. I wouldn't put too much money into it except for a good lock. Even new tires would cost half as much as it's worth.

The nice thing about it is that most bike thieves will also recognize it for what it is and won't steal it, if you have a halfway decent U lock on it.

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Not sure what countries XT equipped bikes are considered "....very inexpensive department store bike.". – mattnz Jun 15 '14 at 4:26… – RoboKaren Jun 17 '14 at 5:04
yeh, so what. The OP's bike is NOT a walmart bike. Its a good condition mid range Scott Sawtooth circa late 80's, probably with upgraded components. – mattnz Jun 17 '14 at 6:25

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