waste of bikes

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by tadworth, Mar 4, 2012.

  1. tadworth

    tadworth New Member

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    Go to any rubbish tip and you will find a pile of scrap bikes, mostly low cost MTB, even some good names, the main reason is the cups have worn out in the hubs, and that means it's not economical to buy new wheels, what a massive waste !

    I get all my bike parts from this kind of free source, and i have 2 nice alluminium frame numbers as my main bikes that get all the sexy parts. I picked up another 4 bikes today.

    Has anyone succesfully replaced pressed in cups ? I'm sure it can be done, though i'm too busy at present to start on it, retrofitting drop in sealed bearings would be ideal.

    My old dads Raleigh with solid rod brakes, and sit up and beg handlebars still has good cups.


    It makes me suspicious why manufacturers still use this design, when sealed bearings cost peanuts, i'm guessing they want us to buy a new bike ASAP.
     
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  2. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Of course they want you to buy new bikes, it keeps the economy rolling and you broke, it's the new world order of making junk and getting you to buy a new something or another every 2 or 3 years. And then the world screams about using natural resources and polluting, but instead of making stuff that can be fixed we make stuff that needs to be built in a factory more often thus polluting more and using more natural resources.

    Humans are their own worst enemy.
     
  3. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    You get what you pay for. In this case, the people that bought the el cheapo bikes originally got exactly that: el cheapo bikes made from poor designs, poor materials, and likely less than optimal production standards. It's no surprise. Most people have no idea that wheels, let alone hubs, can be replaced. FWIW, there is absolutely nothing wrong with cups and cone bearings as opposed to hubs with sealed bearings. There are many folks that would argue that cups and cones are superior in many ways.
     
  4. AlanG

    AlanG Member

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    That surely is true but there is another factor. The cost to overhaul an old bike at a shop can be too much. And even the cost of basic maintenance might discourage some. Whereas for those of us who are knowledgeable, it is no big deal to keep our bikes in shape ourselves. Those who have "good" bikes are likely to keep them well maintained even if thy have to take them to their LBS. And if they took care of these bikes and did basic cleaning, lubrication, and adjustments, some of those parts might not have worn out.

    Likewise I am good at fixing most things around the home. But it is easy to understand that someone will buy a new $15 toaster rather than looking for a repair shop that would have to charge more than that in order to stay in business.
     
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  5. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    True.
     
  6. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Actually I disagree. I have a small collection of 6 80's era road bikes and they cost nothing to very little to operate. One of the bikes bought new in 84 I have has over 150,000 miles on it and not one problem other then your normal tire, chain, freewheel wear out, rim wear, haven't had one major component failure. The most expensive wear out item has been the rims that last about 30 to 40k miles. About once every 5 to 6 years I take the bike in for an overhaul, just to make sure I haven't missed anything, and the most it has ever cost me was $125 due to needing cables that I thought didn't need them but had them do it anyway, otherwise it usually cost $90 to 100.

    If a person has rudimentary mechanical skills they can learn how to work on most things on their bikes because their very basic in their design, especially older bikes. The only real problem with older parts is finding parts for them should they break, but E-Bay is full of people selling older stuff and a lot of it is unused brand new condition; the only real expensive parts are the top of the line models of Suntour, Shimano, Campy, and more rare stuff like Zeus, and Huret. I replaced a Shimano BioPace ring gear on a 86 Nishiki Olympic that I found brand new on E-Bay for $22. One of the reasons I'm retiring the 84 Trek is because it has all Suntour Superbe components and the ring gear is needing replacement again and on E-Bay a NOS ring gear is over $100. So there's an example of high end component cost vs mid level cost. Keep in mind though that gear clusters, chain rings and chains last longer on older bikes by at least 3 times longer then newer bikes due to wider chains and thicker gears. The average new chain will last 3 to 5k, the older wider chains 15 to 18k miles.

    New bikes are actually more expensive to own then older ones. If a Ultegra briftor goes bad just one will cost you over $250 and Dura Ace over $300. So just because you have a newer bike doesn't mean it's going to be cheaper to repair, usually due to a newer bikes complication it will cost more then an older bike not less. I also know a lot of people that ride newer bikes and their costs to keep them going have been substantially higher then even my Superbe equipped bike! Some older bikes come with 27" wheels like my 85 Schwinn Le Tour Luxe, but I haven't had any issues finding great quality tires for it.

    The only time your going to run into an expense factor on an older bike, besides the mentioned higher end replacement components, is trying to switch the bike from freewheel to cassette. Then you have to justify whether or not the expense is worth it. Personally I see no need for anyone to want to make the switch because 14 gears is plenty for most people. However I know one friend who make the switch and said it was far cheaper then buying a new custom lugged steel frame bike and getting the modern components on it, now he has a retro looking bike with modern stuff. So I guess it depends on your perspective.

    I can't even find a place anymore to fix a toaster, and a $20 toaster would cost more to fix then replace. I would rather spend $60 bucks for a repairable toaster then $20 for a throw away! My front loader washing machine motor went out after just 8 years of use, the appliance man said it cost me as much to fix it as it would be to buy a new one! Sorry but that's just sad commentary on our society. Even Consumer Reports has downgraded their life expectancy on appliances over the years due to smaller energy effcient motors, and those smaller energy efficient motors are not saving us enough energy to pay for itself because they don't last long and they cost a lot to replace.
     
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  7. AlanG

    AlanG Member

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    Froze I think you might have missed what I was getting at. I'm not talking about how you or I handle things or what we prefer. The average owner of a cheap bike is not going to take it into a bike shop and pay even $100 to have it adjusted after it has been abused for a few years and no longer works very well. A lot of people can't even adjust the most simple things on bikes themselves. Should they be able to? Yes, I think so but that doesn't make it happen. (Some people can't even figure out how to change a tube and get the chain back over the sprockets when trying to put the wheel on.) And even some decent older bikes can only sell for $150-$250 in good shape so some people are reluctant to put any money into them if there is something wrong and they hope to sell it. Some bikes are abandoned to parents when their kids move out.

    In my area some unwanted bikes go to a middle school that fixes them up or to a non-profit called "Velocity" that teaches bike maintenance and sells the bikes. (Some of these donated bikes are pretty nice models.) Our county recycles a lot of things and I think they segregate bikes to send to "Bicycles for the World."
     
  8. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    In Tucson, we've got Bicas. A fair number of the bikes that get discarded are owned by people that don't have rudimentary tool sets or even the knowledge to make simple repairs. Applying to them what you'd expect of regular cyclists--a fair number of whom can't even fix their own bikes--doesn't work.
     
  9. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I can buy into that thought process. What's weird about what you said though is I think today's generation of people have very little mechanical skills, everything is electronic, newer cars are almost impossible for a backyard mechanic to work on so the would be backyard mechanic is forced to take it in and thus never learning how to repair stuff mechanically. Oh sure they can fix a computer, just not a car. And this lack of mechanical ability translates to bikes. There was a time I never saw or knew a person who couldn't fix at least a flat tire on their bikes, now I run into guys on the bike path that have flats and don't have clue as to what to do and thus never carried the tools to do it. I've seen guys who had flats call their mommies, sorry, I mean wives, to pick them up off the street somewhere and take them to a bike shop to get a flat fixed!! And I too seen riders with dropped chains at a complete loss as to what to do.

    When I see guys like that I do stop and help, but I DO NOT do it for them, I get my tools out, explain what those tools are for and they need to buy them, then talk them through the flat repair process; they learn by hands on not by watching someone do it for them. Most of the time that means my ride was interrupted for an hour, but if they learned how to repair a flat through it then I think it's time well spent. I've had a couple of guys get frustrated that I wasn't going to do it for them, and I told them quite frankly that I wasn't and that if they are going to be out riding a bike 5, 10, 35 miles or more from home they need to know how to fix a flat themselves...they just snort and grab their cell phones and call their mommies.

    We here in Fort Wayne Indiana do not have a bike donation program other then Goodwill type of places. Most people today around here aren't even turning in their bikes anymore to Goodwill places because they know they can sell them on CL for money and sometimes ridiculous amounts of money. I frequent those places and it's been a long time since I've seen anything outside a Walmart bike and even those are scarce.
     
  10. AlanG

    AlanG Member

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    I too wonder about the average mechanical ability of most people. But then look at all of the tools and hardware sold at Home Depot and the popularity of various home fix up tv shows, sites, and magazines. The same is true about cars, motorcycles, and other items I'm sure. And somebody is buying all of those bike tools, pumps, tubes, etc. from bike shops. Being able to see diagrams and instructions on the web gives me the confidence to fix just about anything. Amateur brain surgery anyone?
     
  11. jpr95

    jpr95 Active Member

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    I think being able to fix things is both a blessing and a curse. I've mostly turned my own wrenches on my vehicles over the years, even newer, computer-controlled ones. They still all need fuel, air and ignition to run, you just have to know how to use the electronics/computers to your advantage (and I'll take a computer-controlled vehicle over carbureted until we get hit by an EMP). There are online forums for just about every brand and/or make of vehicle out there if you need to get past the basics. I consider myself blessed that I can generally get stuff fixed. The curse comes when those who are not mechanically inclined learn that you are fair-to-middlin' or better at fixing things...

    As for bikes, my mechanical involvement is a mixed bag. I enjoy working on my bike and maintaining it, and I don't mind working on other peoples' bikes, either--usually it's something pretty simple that needs adjustment. The reason I don't mind is that most of the non-solo riding I do is in Habitat for Humanity fund-raising rides, and since this is a college town, many of the riders are students. Many of those students are not avid cyclists, so rather than let them get frustrated with a repair, I (and MY mentors) will just work on the bikes so they can enjoy the tour and perhaps get hooked on cycling. If they show an interest in the how the repair is done, that's icing on the cake, and I'll gladly take the time to explain if I can. Some of the students even rent bikes from HfH (bought for that very purpose) and I check them out and tune them up before they go out to the students--gratis, of course. I'm not rich in the bank, so I help with the tools, skills and time I can muster.

    But, I am a bit disheartened by the number of people I see who are absolutely incapable of fixing anything.
     
  12. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    The people I see on and buying the cheap bikes are people typically of limited means. I'm willing to bet a significant number of these folks can't afford to buy tools. To them, tools would be a luxury. No doubt there are more than enough people who just have no interest--for whatever reason--in working on their bikes. Those people, though, have always existed. LBS mechanics as a group have always been busy. I don't think anyone can say for sure whether the fraction of mechanically inclined people has gone up or down. The raw numbers have increased, but that had to happen with an increase in population. I think it could very well seem like fewer people work on their bikes given that the number of people riding has gone up. I don't know of any studies that have collected relevant data. Certainly, there is some level of "use and dispose of" behavior, at least in the US, but that is to be expected, too, given how deeply rooted consumption is in the US. The US--and I'm sure other countries--is growing some measure of a technology trap, a state in which the technology is beyond the education or understanding of some segment of the populace. On hand, this is to be expected given the high level of technology today and the increasing need for specialization of scientists, engineers, and technicians. Unfortunately, our technology trap bed is also laid by our substandard science and math education in the US. I've been amazed--perhaps a better word would be stunned or gobsmacked--by how poorly prepared many undergraduate students are when they arrive at college. With the poor STEM education and lacking emphasis on STEM topics, it's no wonder that so many studies show our critical deficit of engineers and scientists. If you don't believe our STEM education is lacking, just consider all the people that doggedly defend beliefs about bicycles that can't be supported scientifically. It's not as if a bicycle is a complicated machine or that we lack the scientific tools to explain different things about bikes. No, we have folks that outright reject science because the science doesn't square with their beliefs. When we can objectively analyze something, we're dead in the water. It's certainly not worth it a lot of the time to even bring up science or scientific explanations. Why bother? The decrease of manufacturing in the US and the transition of US industry to a service industry likely adds some component to the technology trap and to an unwillingness or inability for people to fix their stuff. We have a few generations, now, that have grown up believing it is normal to have someone else fix their stuff. I've a friend who's newish to cycling. He's been doing so seriously for a bit over a year. He was like many and was not sure how to approach working on his bike. Now, he's collecting the appropriate tomes (Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance) and asking the right questions so that he is able to do work on his bike. He's at least one more cyclist that won't be helpless when a mechanical issue crops up, and perhaps that's the best we can do for now: increase the numbers of people working on their bikes or fixing other things one person at a time.
     
  13. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    I understand people on limited incomes will buy low cost bikes and cannot afford tools, I don't have an issue with that. But to pay $5 for a cheap set of plastic tire irons, $4 for a patch kit, $10 for a cheap frame pump, optional $7 for a cheap tube, and $12 for a saddle bag; so for about $40 they save themselves from being stranded and calling their mommies to come get them which cost gas. Then if they are tight for money they can take the time and learn how to fix things themselves with the wealth of videos on the internet, and only buy tools as their needed so they don't have tools they may never use or get tools they may already have around the house when they buy a kit of tools.

    There are ways around the financial problem they just have to think smart and stop buying lottery tickets!!! Great, I probably started another war with that comment, but at least I didn't call someone a slut!!
     
  14. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Then clearly you must understand their situations much better than them.
     
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