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A Cyclist Explains Why You Shouldn't Bother Buying A New Bike

Illustration for article titled A Cyclist Explains Why You Shouldnt Bother Buying A New Bike

A lot of the stuff we buy is already on its way to being obsolete as soon as it's pulled from the box. So, with your phone, computer, and appliances all marching inexorably towards the graveyard, how much use should you really expect out of an old bicycle?


In response to this question about the things that you fix, rather than buy anew, a number of responses focused on items that were either no longer available for sale or things that had been modified to specification. There was also, however, another category: restorations that lasted longer than an equivalent new product. Here, two cyclists explain why getting a fixed-up, used bike is not only the most economical choice — it also often actually results in a better product:


Once upon a time steel was the preferred material to make a bike out of, so every bike from the first one you got as a child up to the bikes that were winning the Tour de France were steel. Technology left steel bikes behind and the market followed, but the durability of material and classic aesthetics remain. For a fraction of the original price you can own a bike that was professional level when new, still rides just as well, and can be easily and cheaply maintained, and all the moving parts are still the industry standard and can be swapped for new replacements by a home mechanic with minimal skill in less than a day. They arguably offer superior performance and comfort, as some studies suggest that the tradeoffs of materials like carbon fiber negate the weight savings.


Unless you are competing, modern bike tech is mostly incremental changes on the same themes. Some modern tech can be rigged onto older frames well enough (indexing, compact cranks, etc) and most of the rest has only gotten lighter, not better. I ride around on a 1985 Panasonic that was my dad's. I have changed the shift levers (for indexing) and gears (for easier climbing), but just about everything else is the same. I think I am going to swap in some modern brakes soon, for easier adjustment and stronger braking power, but I only need the power because I have been doing some loaded touring; the old brakes are fine enough for myself and light loads, even down severe grades.


What do you think? Do you use a bike to get around? How did you pick yours and how long do you expect it to last? Tell us all about it in the comments.

Image: tmcsparron

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There is a woman where i work who rides her bike everyday and she looks so graceful. It's funny because i'm a bit jealous, she just looks as though each time she leaves work she's off to ride into the country side of france with a baguette in her basket (she actually has a messenger bag /saddle bag straddling the back tires of her bike, like you'd see on a motor cycle or on a horse, but you get the point). Her beautiful cardigans always flutter in the wind as she peddles past wearing clothing that I swear to god Audrey Hepburn once owned. The colors are always in perfect contrast with her dark skin and she almost always has on the most adorable TOMS shoes. As she goes gliding by on her bike (usually all smiles) I can't help but think, that's what i wish i looked like on a bike. Only today I noticed that her bike is very old (think 1960s schwinn) and a bit bruised. She had it locked up outside of my office and i took a second glance at it as i walked by. The paint was worn but the tires were brand new and she had no hand brakes (clearly this bike was from before that). It was very similar to a bike that my father gave me last year (and that i'm slowly restoring). It's funny that i found this article today just hours after i noticed how well used and loved her own bike was. She clearly didn't need anything fancy to get her about. She's taken great care with her old bike and really seems to enjoy it, so why get a new one and like i said, the joy she has with owning that bike comes shining through every time she rides it. I only hope i enjoy mine half as much when i finally get it fixed up.