New vs Upgrade

fuzzybuddha

Well-Known Member
Location
DC
i have been using my Schwinn Solara for the past 4+ years and have put in a decent amount of time in it. It has been a valiant steed, but I can tell it is braking down. I know this is a “cheap beginner” bike. I would love to get a new, or new to me, bike. But I have limited funds. Shocking. I cringe at anything over $500 (about £430). I feel as I have reached or nearly the end of this bikes life. Should I slowly upgrade my current bike, or save and save and get a new(ish) bike. I am worried the bike is also limiting my ability. I push as hard as I can but I feel like I am fighting the bike more than the terrain. Thanks in advance.
 

Sharky

Guru
Location
Kent
Bikes with a bit of TLC will go on for ever. There are plenty of vintage bikes around that demonstrate this.

Some parts are expected to wear - tyres, bearings, brakes etc, but all can be replaced. All you can do is decide which parts need to be updated and add up the costs and compare with the cost of a whole bike.

In the old days, when frames were hand built, it was the norm to upgrade the frame one year, then the wheels the next. Nowadays, whole bikes are cheaper than the sum of the parts, so just have to do the sums.
 
As above, upgrade if it makes financial sense, otherwise keep an eye out for
a replacement.
I recently bought an almost new second hand bike for 220, new it was
700, it’s a flat bar hybrid, suits me fine as am only starting out, but even to
buy new parts for this bike to lighten it up is not feasible, as a second hand bike
can be bought cheaper.

If your real sure your frame is not holding you back and you can get parts cheap
then go for it.
 
OP
fuzzybuddha

fuzzybuddha

Well-Known Member
Location
DC
A98AA8C0-FDEA-41A1-99A4-753C9236B2CB.jpeg
As above, upgrade if it makes financial sense, otherwise keep an eye out for
a replacement.
I recently bought an almost new second hand bike for 220, new it was
700, it’s a flat bar hybrid, suits me fine as am only starting out, but even to
buy new parts for this bike to lighten it up is not feasible, as a second hand bike
can be bought cheaper.

If your real sure your frame is not holding you back and you can get parts cheap
then go for it.
That’s the thing I do t know for sure if it is. It is a strong suspicion. The bike as a whole clocks in about 33-35lbs. It is an aluminum frame. Bulky but solid.
 

Sharky

Guru
Location
Kent
The bike may have been cheap, but it actually looks OK. Maybe a bit heavy at 15kg, but a reasonable road bike would come in at about 10-11 kg, so not that heavy. It is only the top of the range bikes that are sub 10kg and for that you pay for it.

If you want to do a partial upgrade, I would look to replace the wheels. It always makes sense to have two pairs of wheels. One set up for winter and one for summer, with lighter tyres. A set around £150 would give you a decent pair, something like Mavic Askiums. You would also need a new cassette and probably a new chain. Tyres - no wider than 25mm, unless you are going off tarmac.

I would also remove the D lock unless you know you will be leaving it exposed and remove the bike stand.

Is the saddle comfortable? Looks like a bit of a gel saddle, which does not always equate to being comfortable. Any doubts about it, get a more aesthetic sports saddle. However, saddle comfort is a black art, so only venture down this route with caution.

Just one comment about your front QR lever. It seems very much in line with the forks. This makes it easy to apply force when tightening the lever, but can be difficult trying to release it as you cant get you hand between the lever and forks. Better to have the lever horizontal/perpendicular to the forks.

Happy cycling
 

Cycleops

Legendary Member
Location
Accra, Ghana
If you think your Schwinn is old and clunky what about mine?

IMG_20190710_140059.jpg


It's cro-mo steel frame from the eighties. Very little used when bought and still going strong a few years later and I love it, wouldn't change a thing about it.
You could probably find a little used bike going for a bargain price but you could also upgrade your existing. I think I'd do it the opposite way to Sharkey and replace the frame and transfer all the bits over but maybe upgrade the wheels too. That would get you a real transformation.
 

Spiderweb

Not So Special One
Location
North Yorkshire
Your bike looks perfectly ok to me. If you enjoy riding it and find it a comfortable ride then why not replace the components you thing are failing or worn. If budget is limited then there are Lots of YouTube video tutorials that will help you maintain, tweek , fix and replace components on your bike.
What issues are you having?
Lots of help and advice on here from some very Knowledgeable folk so ask away.
 

Mrs M

Guru
Location
Aberdeenshire
That’s a nice looking bike.
I’d keep hold of it, just replacing parts as they wear out.
Still be on the lookout for a bargain though and when you find one you’ll be amazed how you zoom along after all your fittening up on the heavier bike.
:bicycle:
 

cyberknight

As long as I breathe, I attack.
what new parts have you had for the bike ?
If you have ridden it well fr 4 years without new cassette, chains, bottom bracket, greasing wheel hubs etc then its liable to need a fair amount of bits to keep it pristine .
If you plan to upgrade 1st check the width between the rear wheel drop outs as some bike at the budget end can have a smaller width than the standard 130 mm which makes upgrading to a higher number of gears with shifters built into the brakes harder work and im guessing your rear wheel has a screw on freewheel rather than a cassette so your liable to need anew wheel too if you decide to upgrade.
 
OP
fuzzybuddha

fuzzybuddha

Well-Known Member
Location
DC
Thank you all! Think I will go for the upgrade route, @Sharky after looking at the pic I had also come to the conclusion to take off the lock. I don’t know why I hadn’t yet. I have just replaced the rear tire recently with a higher grade Shwallabe. The seat is a gel, but very comfy. I may look into a new one as this one is a bit worn.

@cyberknight - outside of the aforementioned tires (tyre) replacement and seat, I have not changed out anything. Everything is original.

I do like and enjoy this bike. It has helped me tremendously. So I will start the process of upgrading. As the frame is solid and sturdy. If down the road I see a good frame for a decent price, perhaps I can transfer all the new bits to that. Thank you all!
 
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That’s the thing I do t know for sure if it is. It is a strong suspicion. The bike as a whole clocks in about 33-35lbs. It is an aluminum frame. Bulky but solid.
Ask a seasoned rider you trust to take your bike out and tell you in particular if the frame is doing things that holds him
or her back, hopefully there won’t be much wrong that when compared to your riding ability
will hinder you, and take it from there.
 
Last edited:
@fuzzybuddha , you mention weight of your bike, that’s only an issue if your competing
Or trying to keep up with a group, or carry lots of gear on a carrier or panniers.
As long as you have enough gears to get over any hills, you will be fit and pay no heed
to the weight weenies flying past, they would be slowed well down if you did a swap.

All in all, your bike should do what you want of it, if it doesn’t, then upgrade the components
or keep an eye out for a second hand bike.
Either way, bearings need to be clean and greased, chain lubricated too, otherwise you will be wasting
a fair bit of energy grinding down components instead of moving along freely.
 

SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
I don't see a lot of point trying to upgrade a cheap bike, unless it currently has heavy steel wheels and alloys are available cheaply. Replacing a cheap alloy wheel set with an expensive one is not going to save more than a few ounces per wheel. The potential weight saving on most components is individually small, unless directly replacing steel with alloy.
Before trying to lighten the bike by component substitution, I would firstly lose the D-lock, it's mounting bracket, the propstand, and ask myself if the gadget mounts on the handlebars were actually essential. Saddles can be surprisingly heavy, and another possibly cheap way of saving weight if a different lighter design is found to be comfortable enough.
In terms of speed, on a relatively flat route, a few pounds difference in bike weight is going to make very little difference to overall performance. Anyone who thinks that losing a few pounds off the bike is going to give them the performance of a significantly fitter or stronger rider is kidding themselves. No amount of weight-paring is going to give you more lung capacity, and ultimately that is what limits rider performance. I've got various steel machines with weights varying between about 24 lbs and 35 lbs, and the lightest one on road tyres is only about 1 mph faster on overall average speed than the heaviest one on knobbly MTB tyres. If I compare the lightest and heaviest on road tyres only, and exclude the knobbly tyred ones, the average speed difference is only around 0.5 mph. Cyclists really should not get too excited about bike weight unless they ride a lot of hilly routes where they will actually notice reduced weights when climbing gradients.
 
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