The problem is I'm worried it will be way more expensive than just
forking out $250
Good that you set a price. Then think about how much value has your time (either in term of lost time, or in investment towards building certain skills).
Let's start with the negative aspects.
I can see easily 3 to 4 weekends spent on fixing the bike.
So much time because usually the learning by doing on bicycle works like that:
- get the required part for cheap or even for free (Friday);
- realize you miss a certain tool (Saturday);
- get the tool (a friend on the other side of the town for free, flea market next saturday, local used stuff for just 5$ ... you know, all the possible sources) (Tuesday);
- watch yt to understand how the tool works (Tuesday eve, and Wednesday);
- discovering that the "new" piece does not work/is not compatible (Friday, and Saturday giving a second try after rewatching yt)
- Repeat for each item on your list ...
I see easily spending 5-10$ per each part, plus 5-10 per ea. tools, buiyng them on the fly (it is very annoying when you discover you miss the hex-key with size 9, while having the complete series from 4 to 32, and when you buy the good quality "9" for 15$ at the convenience store, you suddenly remember where you left the hex-key "9" six months ago)
Plus, there is a big disadvantage in working on a bike with many things and with no experience: usually the bike is not rideable!
On the other hand, I can see easily at least 3 to 4 weekends spent on learning things about the bike (thanks @aaron cicali). But the bike is still not rideable for these weeks !
So let's assume you have enough space in your basement and proceed like this:
- Fix the emergency first: buy a decent rigid (no suspended fork, no suspension) bike for X$ (X in the range 150-200). Yes, you can go offroad and do anything with that one. And it is only a temporary bike, so don't worry about being a no-frill bike;
- scout the internet for a bicycle in despair/to be fixed, possibly with less rust than yours. Price range: <50, possibly <20, if you are lucky for free;
- get ready for the transplant: take off all you need from the scrap bicycle you just bought (if you do not have space in your basement: get rid of the frame, recycling it);
3b. try to remove the fork from the donor bicycle. It can be an interesting experience to see "what is inside" ...
3c. you can use the 150-200$ bike to run all the errands you need to get the tools to perform point 3;
- after 3 or 4 weeks of repair, you will have one working bicycle (the one you bought for 150-200$) and maybe another one. But you will have learned a thing or two about bicycle maintenance :) !
P.s.: by getting your hand dirty, you will discover that a bike mechanic asking XY$ to fix a puncture is a lot of money, BUT it is usually not unreasonable.