When is a good time to let go of your bike?

If your bike looks like this ... | Photo by Brian Yap

Earlier today I found myself, intentionally, fixing two bicycles for a family friend. Fixing other people’s bikes has two great benefits: Firstly, you learn more about bicycles and usually your friends have rides that are a bit worn out – you’ll have much to dismantle. Second, you can make some money to cover your lost time and costs. It’s never about making a profit, but the minute you stop asking money, you’ll have four thousand bicycles waiting outside for you to fix them.

Anyway, these two bicycles in question were the usual deal. The other was a 23 year old Carraro, an Italian mountain bike – which was quite steep at the time of purchase (it cost around 850 euros converted to the money value of today. Bikes have always been expensive in this part of the world). It has a 7-speed cassette and a triple setup in the crankset, Shimano’s cantilever brakes – the usual. The other bike was a Finnish made Tunturi city bike, with a 7-speed roller brake hub and I think it was from the 90’s with it’s funky purple coloring. Personally, I’ve always been the type to take care of my stuff, but these bikes were a sad sight.

There were so many things wrong: First of all, neither of the bicycles obviously had been maintained properly, the wheels were bent like Uri Geller, the brake pads were installed wrongly to the brakes which were themselves installed wrong. It looked like someone had taken the mountain bike apart and decided to install every part to the bike mainly using a blindfold and a quart of whiskey. Both bicycles didn’t have a working transmission, the chains were stretched like the new kid in an S/M party and I could feel the resignation in my sighs. The worst thing was, that I knew that the owner didn’t really give a damn about the bikes even if they would work perfectly.

The simpler it is, the easier the repair | Photo by Mizrak

That got me thinking. When is it the time to let go of your current bicycle?

Personally, I’ve always tried to think the whole way through, either continuing to use my old bikes or sold them right after getting a new bike. I’ve never just thrown a bike away, although I’ve had more bikes stolen from me than I’ve sold them on. The question is, what if you have a bike that no one even wants to steal? The kind of bike, which just has no value and the cost to repair it would cost more than buying a working second hand bicycle. Sadly, it seems that many people give up much earlier than this stage. When is the right time for you?

For the two patients of today, I pretty much resigned with the mountain bike – it would have been too expensive and the frame geometry just was not worth repairing it. The city bike was a different deal, and since it has less and simpler parts, I managed to fix it to working order with the suggestion to go and true the wheels so the rider wouldn’t kill herself.

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By Markus Sandelin

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.