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Let's say I have 500€ to buy a second hand bike. How much of that budget shall I keep for repairs and upgrades, and how much shall I spend on the bike itself?

Of course it depends on the condition of the bike, but I was wondering if there is some general wisdom about this.

When buying a second hand car, the common wisdom says that ~30% of one's budget should be kept for immediate repairs and upgrades. So when someone has 10000€ for a second hand car, wisdom says to buy a car for 7000€, and keep the rest 3000€ for the repairs and upgrades after the buy.


The resources I found had no mention about the expected costs of repairs and upgrades.

I researched these topics already:

External resources:

  • It depends on what you buy. There are a lot of very good used bikes in the US in the under 300 dollar range even ready to go without any repairs - you just need a lock, some lights and a helmet! – Batman Jul 4 '14 at 7:42
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    Depends on how old the bike is and how much wear (and also how obsessive you are). In general I'd figure on replacing the tires and chain, but most garage sale bikes have never been used enough to require a new cluster, eg, or new brake pads (though the old ones may be hardened with age). If the bike has clearly been left in the weather for a long time, don't buy it -- the bearings may be bad, in addition to rust everywhere, jammed shifters, etc. – Daniel R Hicks Jul 4 '14 at 12:45
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    If you've got a fixed budget there's a possible trade off you can make: older but better vs newer but cheaper. The problem is that the older but better will have a two factor cost implication: the parts will be more worn out and they will be better parts so each of the individual parts will be more expensive to replace like-for-like. I personally would always go for the older but better and add in the extra potential costs of replacements – icc97 Jul 4 '14 at 13:47
  • I've never heard of the ~30% for the car. :) – tymtam Apr 23 '18 at 0:53
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For convenience here I've made some assumptions here about the type of bike you're buying, but since you don't say...

If I were buying a second-hand bike, I would examine the following as soon as I got it:

  • chain
  • cassette
  • tyres
  • brake pads
  • brake/gear cables (conceivable but unlikely)

and if any of these showed sufficient wear I would change them. You can get a ballpark estimate of the associated cost from Google, but note that changing the top two and the last requires special tools, so you might need to factor these in as well (or mechanic costs).

I'd have thought all those items would come to a bit less than €100 as a guide, just the parts, with no labour or tools. But you should take this with a pinch of salt because it depends on the specific items you get - you could quite easily blow €100 on a pair of tyres alone if the fancy took you. Similarly you probably wouldn't have to change all of them, at least initially.

Provided the bike is in generally good condition, this should be all you need to change in the short term (first year or so). But of course because it is used, you're taking a bit of a chance that it doesn't have other stuff wrong with it that you'll need to sort.

  • So, with my 500€ budget, it would go in the range of 400€ on the bike, 100€ on upgrade and repair (with matching quality). That is about 20% of my budget. – olee22 Jul 4 '14 at 10:48
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    @olee22 I guess. I mean, its not an exact science, but that kind of ratio seems reasonable. Of course if you're buying second hand, but from a shop, you could always ask them to fit new tyres, brake pads just as a gesture of goodwill. – PeteH Jul 4 '14 at 13:02
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Maintenance costs will heavily depend on you.

  • Do you do your own maintenance? Do you already have tools?
  • Do you take your bike to a bike shop to fix it/lubricate/adjust?

I would say there is no general number for this.

Let's say that you decide to do your maintenance. In general a bike running costs include:

  • Chain lubricant
  • Brake pads
  • Tyres

You may consider:

  • Cleaning set - you may reuse household items for this
  • Standing pump with a pressure gauge

When budgeting when buying a bike you should include:

  • Helmet
  • Lights - e.g. a set of rechargeable front and back lights.
  • Bell
  • Clothing - especially if you plan to commute you should consider a weather proof clothing
  • Carry on fix-it set:
    • Spare tube (I recommend getting multiple and carry at least one)
    • Patches, glue on patches are easy to use
    • Multi-tool
    • Bike pump
    • If the bike is single speed/fixed gear you need a tool to unscrew the wheel nuts to change the tube
    • Bag for the fix-it set (potentially saddle bag?)

Additionally, depending on the style of riding, your fitness, your preference, etc., you may want to consider:

  • Water bottle holder and a water bottle
  • Short fingered cycling gloves (mitts)
  • Shoes - if you're buying a bike for fitness/commuting you may consider purchasing a pair clip-in shoes (please check compatible pedals)
  • Backpack
  • Lock

Happy riding!

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At my shop a typical "heavy" tuneup will cost about $130. We have considerably cheaper labor costs than other shops, where that might be more like $200+. That includes replacement of all the wear-and-tear items on a bike: brake pads, chain, freewheel/cassette, cables & housing. Those are things that wear out ON EVERY BIKE regardless of what the bike costs initially. This is also the general annual upkeep cost of owning a bike. There is no ratio that will be helpful - there are too many variables - but what you can do is go to your local bike shop and ask what it usually costs for a tuneup with all the wear-and tear parts replaced. That'll be your maximum cost. You'll get a more precise answer if you know what kind of bike you intend on getting.

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