11

I am looking for a substitute for my commuting bike. It is a cheap second hand general store bike. It do the job but just don't worth keep maintaining. But at same time I have to keep my bike outside for 10 hours a day in place where several bikes where already stolen (attached with cheap bike locks but still a fact). So I am afraid of leaving a decent bike there.

I checked second hand bikes pages and looks like there is a lot classic second hand old road bikes for sale really cheap and from big brands.

But I am not sure how much work a bike from 90s need and what I should check if I am buying one or even if it is a good idea.

  • 1
    Bike thief doesn't really care if you have a grotty BSO or a nicer old bike. If he wants it, he gets it. Can you do anything to enhance your security? If its at work, can you bring your bikes inside? – Criggie May 17 '16 at 11:12
  • 1
    @Criggie In my case it is not an option. Maybe in a future. But I am working in huge company the entire building it is starting to become small. I don't feel like it is ok to ask for space for my bike when we are low on space for people. – kifli May 17 '16 at 11:28
  • 2
    @Criggie: How nice your bike is does matter, but it's relative: All else being equal, make sure you lock up your bike next to one(s) which look(s) nicer. – errantlinguist May 17 '16 at 13:18
  • 1
    What do you mean by a road bike? For commuting you really want to have a bike with fenders, luggage racks, etc. – gerrit May 17 '16 at 13:43
  • 1
    Some steel bike with 90's shimano 105 or shimano 600 is what Id recommend. – gaurwraith May 17 '16 at 13:43
15

A (decent) bike from the '90s would not be significantly different from (a decent) one only a few years old except for a small weight difference and possibly lacking brifters, which are de facto standard on road bikes these days. This statement is of course excepting top-of-the-line superbikes made of carbon fiber and dragon's blood.

  • Check it for stuff like rust in hard-to-see places (small bolts etc.): This is a good sign of how well (or rather poorly) the bike was taken care of. If there is no or minimal rust, it's probably been taken care of well enough.
  • Look over the frame for any signs of crashes: Big dents, cracks, fissures, etc.
  • Check if the headset wobbles or not: It shouldn't, and if it does, it might need to be replaced, which would be very expensive.
  • Check how worn the chain is: If it looks horrible and probably has never been changed, that's a warning sign.
  • Check the teeth on the front chainring(s): If they are starting to look like shark fins, the chainring will need to be replaced.
  • And of course, just ride the thing and see how it feels.

"Significantly different" means from a mechanical/engineering perspective: IMHO, some of the ugliest bikes I've ever seen were from the '90s.

  • Rust: Even my 2009 aluminium bicycle has superficial rust on the bolts. I’d still consider it in very good condition. Chain: If only the chain is worn it’s a <15€ maintenance cost. If it’s the first chain the rest can still be in good condition. Headset: Could just need tightening and grease. I’d look at the usual wear&tear components: Cables, brake pads, saddle, bar tape, tires, chain … if several or all of these need replacement it can get expensive and work intensive. – Michael May 17 '16 at 12:48
  • Okay, I guess I went overboard with the "no rust" condition; Amending. – errantlinguist May 17 '16 at 12:53
  • 1
    Some 90s bikes also have different wheel spacing in the rear. 126 mm road was still available in the 90s. – Batman May 17 '16 at 13:12
  • Also, Shimano/Microshift do make 7 speed+ brifters now, so its not too bad to add them on afterwards if you want to. – Batman May 17 '16 at 18:11
  • @Batman: Good points, but they don't actually count against buying a '90s bike as long as the obsolete parts are still in good working order (it's another matter if they need replacing, of course). Disclaimer: This is coming from someone who laments the disappearance of 10-speed down-tube shifters. – errantlinguist May 17 '16 at 18:22
2

@errantlinguist gives some excellent points, but I have a couple to add.

  • Make sure you have 700C wheels not 27" wheels. I have only been able to find a single tire in my LBS to fit 27" wheels.

  • As @errantlinguist mentioned, biffers. This is a huge regression. To the extent, that it changes the way the entire bike feels. I have switched to flat bars (at great expense) to avoid bad 80s/90s biffers.

In addition to the purchase price, plan on spending $20 - $200 to fix things that need tweaking.

  • Brake pads in particular, don't stand the test of time. Over 10 years, even unused pads will harden and become less sticky. Replace these right away.
  • Adding new bar tape is a great way to freshen up a new bike.
  • If you ride clipless, you will probably want to add the same kind of pedals you have on your main bike. This makes switching less of a mental jump. I run crankbros eggbeaters on all of my bikes. enter image description here
  • 4
    It's not clear why you added the big photo of the pedal since that seems like such a minor point of your answer. I don't think it's that important to run the same pedals on road and commute bikes, I run SPD's on my commute bike (for walkability and "normal" looking shoes), and Looks on my road bike and have no problem at all switching -- the biggest mental leap for me is switching from the commute bike with extra cross levers for braking and the road bike with only STI levers. – Johnny May 17 '16 at 19:36
  • I don't know where you live, but here, the 2 LBS's and even Wal-Mart have good-enough-for-commuting 27" tires for my road bike, in stock. The selection and prices aren't as good as 26" or 700mm, but not so bad. – Jeffiekins May 17 '16 at 22:31
1

It will need much work and VERY hard to find parts, been there done that after my nice bike was stolen with a crap lock. Just get a UBERKILL LOCK. The thief will not want to mess with your bike and just go to the next lock he sees.

  • 3
    You do realize that a crazy uberkill lock will cost almost as much as a used bike, and weigh a lot, besides? I like the "park next to a more expensive bike" technique. It works for cars, too. – Jeffiekins May 17 '16 at 22:33
  • 1
    Welcome to Bicycles! Do not use profanity on the site, we are alerted to it in Charcoal HQ and have to clean it up. – user24892 May 18 '16 at 6:10
  • @Jeffiekins yes but you only have to buy it once and it is provably will last through several bikes. Also a cheap lock potentially can make you spend double (triple for a friend of mine until he learned the lesson) – kifli May 18 '16 at 8:09
  • What does "uberkill lock" mean? – unforgettableid Jan 4 '18 at 6:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.