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Hal buying a used bike

The first rule is never pay over $100


This article first appeared in the Spring 1997 edition of the Bicycle Habitat newsletter.


Buying It Used
...With Hal on Your Side

by Hal Ruzal

You've had eight bikes stolen in the last five years and you've had it. You decide to buy a used bike. There a certain rules to remember when you purchase this piece of machinery.

The first rule is never pay over $100. You can purchase a very functional new bike (the Trek 800 Sport, for example) here at the shop for only $240. Paying more for a used bike may be tempting, but remember, the new $240 bike has a warranty, is assembled properly, and rides nicely.

Most used bikes are just that -- pretty used up. They have worn brake pads, worn chain and freewheel, worn tires, shot rims. Between your initial cost and the cost of replacement parts, you'll spend a good deal of money on a bike that runs pretty ratty.

The second rule is never buy a used bike in a bicycle shop. By the time the shop adjusts and overhauls a second-hand bike, and makes it safe enough to be roadworthy, you've paid $150 for a bike that's worth $50. This is a common occurrence in New York City. Some bike shops that sell used equipment have actually been known to sell STOLEN equipment. The best place to buy used bikes is from Recycle-A-Bike (see related article), which is sponsored by Transportation Alternatives. The second best place is the flea market on Sixth Avenue and 24th Street on Sunday morning. Mike the bike man has some decent values for commuting and his average price is $75.

The third rule is that the fewer gears the better. The last time I looked, Manhattan is relatively flat. You don't need many gears here. Multi-geared bikes are much more expensive to repair -- a new chain and freewheel (installed) costs something in the neighborhood or $65. Your used bike just got quite expensive. If you decide to buy a used three-speed, make sure it's Sturmey-Archer equipped, as replacement parts are easier to come by. The best one-speeds use Bendix hubs which are fun to work on.