Why Cheap Used Bikes Are Better Than Department Store Bikes

Robin Khan By Robin Khan, 12th May 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/mb_-99v1/
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Transport>Other

Cheap used bikes are preferred for commuting because they’re able to withstand tough city riding, and there’s less of a risk of a big loss if they’re stolen when left out on the street.

Used Bikes

Riding a bicycle to commute to work is gaining in popularity. In Dublin, it’s estimated that almost 40,000 people commute to work every day, and the number is growing rapidly. Many more people ride their bicycle for fun and relaxation. While daily riders want a bicycle that performs well and is durable, they really don’t want a fancy bicycle. High performance bicycles are expensive, and can be delicate.

If you scan the newspapers to look for bikes, you’ll soon discover that you can purchase a brand-new bicycle for less than the cost of many used bikes. That doesn’t tell the whole story of the value of a new bike compared to a used bike. In many ways, brand-new inexpensive bicycles for sale at a shopping center should be considered disposable. A high quality older bike that is maintained properly will give better service and last longer than a poorly constructed new model.

If you look for cheap used bikes at a shop that specializes in repairs, you’ll find high quality bicycles in good shape that are ready for a generation or more of regular use. The quality of the materials and construction is much higher than department store bikes sold at very low prices. When you’re comparing new bikes to used bikes, here are some of the most important attributes to look for that let you know you’re getting a better bike.

Fitted Frame Members

For a long time, the best bicycles were made from steel frame members fitted into lugs at the joints, and then brazed. Lugs are transition sleeves that accept two or more frame members. Brazing joints uses much lower temperatures than welding, and it produces a better bike frame, because welding at high temperatures makes the steel tubing brittle at the welds. The quality of steel and other alloys used to make high-quality bicycles has improved a lot in the last 25-50 years, but the quality of steel and welding is actually quite low on mass-produced import bikes. The way manufacturers make up for weakening the frame tubing from welding was to make the tubing thicker. This adds weight to the bike without adding strength. Better quality bikes are stronger even though they’re made from lighter tubing.

Excellent quality used bikes don’t have to be constructed with lugged frames to be strong and light any more, but they do have fitted welds. Look for the ends of the tubular frame pieces to be fitted closely to their mating pieces and welded with clean welds. Unlike high quality used bikes, inexpensive mass-produced bikes are simply butted together and welded with rough looking joints that can crack under stress.

Look for Three-Piece Cranks

Cheap used bikes can have much better construction in their moving parts when compared to mass-produced new bikes. The crank arms on high quality used bikes are made in three pieces, with a straight crankshaft and two separate crank arms. Mass-produced new bikes have a single bent rod for the crankshaft and crank arms. A straight crankshaft can be mounted in high-tolerance bearings. Bent crank arms are inexpensive, but they can’t be built with the close tolerances and whisper smooth operation of a three-piece crank. Three-piece cranks can be adjusted easily, too, and any of their three parts replaced as necessary.

Used Bikes Have Better Brakes

If you look on inexpensive mass-produced bikes, you’ll see that they usually have stamped steel brakes that are hard to adjust. A well-maintained older bike will have cast alloy brake parts with smooth, effective action when you depress the brake lever. Good braking on a bicycle is the most important safety feature there is, so it’s important they be adjustable and effective. One good way to tell if the brakes will be effective is to see how far the pads are from the rims before the brake lever is depressed. If you spin the tire, the brake pads shouldn’t rub anywhere along the rim until you brake. If the brake pads are opened too wide to avoid rubbing, they won’t give you the braking power you need in an emergency stop, or when you’re traveling down a steep incline.

Step Through Frames

Bicycles aren’t sold as mans and ladies models as often as they were in the past. In general, there are regular diamond frames and step-through or mix frames. Step-through frames are more popular with both men and women when used for urban commuter bikes, because they’re easier to mount when you’re wearing regular clothing. A step-through frame has to be designed and constructed with much more care than a standard diamond frame. There is a great deal of strain put on the weld where the dropped upper frame tube joins the upright steel tube that ends at the seat post. This a common failure point on newer bikes. A well-maintained older bike with a lugged or fitted weld frame will give more years of service than a newer model with rough welds.


Rust is a problem that plagues newer bikes, especially at their weld joints. To save money on mass-produced new bicycles, manufacturers use heavy gauge steel that’s not a corrosion-resistant as in older models made from alloy steel. Once corrosion begins inside the frame of your bicycle, it’s almost impossible to stop, so look for a quality used bike if you want to keep your bicycle for a lifetime.

Good Bikes Can Last Nearly Forever

Choosing to purchase cheap used bikes in good shape over inexpensive mass-produced bikes is a smart move. If a bike was well made from good materials when it was new, it can last for decades if you keep it in good repair and maintain it regularly.


Cheap Used Bikes, Used Bikes

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author avatar Robin Khan
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author avatar Retired
12th May 2015 (#)

I've got a bike which I've had about 20 years now and still use it.

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author avatar Robin Khan
12th May 2015 (#)

That's really sounds great.

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