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Got a free bike.. Total noob.. Help?=0
#1
Hey everyone! This is my first post here!=)

Okay. So I'm a total noob when it comes to bikes. Used to ride a cheap one as a kid (that my dad fixed up for me), so needless to say, all the fancy parts have my eyes swirling!

Anyways, I had been thinking about how I wanted a bike, saw a sign with a free bike someone had put out, and grabbed it!=D

It's a green/white 19" Norco bigfoot(I have no clue from what year) that has flat tires, a crooked rear reflector plate, and a few kinda rusty parts. It appears to roll along fine, but as I said, I really don't know about bikes, so I'm not sure of the condition.

So basically, I'm not hoping to be a pro cyclist, but what steps should I take to make it road or trail worthy?(I live in BC, Canada) I'm worried about going to a bike shop, and them saying a gazillion things need to be changed when they actually don't, and it costing a bomb. Also, I've heard people saying changing wheels or tubes is easy, and right now, that's all that seems to be stopping it from going. Are walmart wheels or tubes worth getting? Or should they be from a proper bike store? And how can I know if I actually need to change just the inner tubing, the outer tire or the whole wheel itself? And how on earth do I go about measuring the wheel size so I can buy tubing of the right size?=X

Also, are there any tests I should carry out to make sure it's safe to ride? And once (or if) I do get it in working order, what basics do I need to keep it running? (Like lube, oil, pump, tube repair kits, etc...)

Sorry for the long post guys! And please excuse the wordiness, or if it seems like I'm asking stupid questions!=X Any help would really be appreciated!=D
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#2
Most will probably want pictures of it to see what's going on. There might be more troubles than the tires, too. Check the brakes to see if they work, check the shifters/derailleurs to see whether the bike shifts. If some of the parts are rusty that might keep it from working. Turn it upside down or whatever and try to turn the pedals and see if you can do that successfully. As for your post:

(07-30-2012, 10:42 PM)xxHappyxx Wrote:  Also, I've heard people saying changing wheels or tubes is easy, and right now, that's all that seems to be stopping it from going.

I wouldn't spend any money on the bike until you tested out what I wrote above and all of it works out (unless you want the experience of working on bikes, that's a different story - if you just want a rider, you really have to watch how much money you put into a bike). The tires might be deflated so simply inflating them to the proper pressure might take care of it. It might not too. Look at the appearance of the tires and see whether the rubber is dry/cracked, and whether the tread is worn or not. Basically you use the same tests on bike tires that you use on car tires for general fitness. If the tire itself looks like a mess, replace the tube as well.

(07-30-2012, 10:42 PM)xxHappyxx Wrote:  Are walmart wheels or tubes worth getting? Or should they be from a proper bike store?

Depends on what you're looking for and whether they carry what you would need. I'm running OEM tires on one bike and walmart on my other, but running walmart tubes in both without trouble. Just don't expect Walmart to carry anything too exotic.

(07-30-2012, 10:42 PM)xxHappyxx Wrote:  And how can I know if I actually need to change just the inner tubing, the outer tire or the whole wheel itself?

As I mentioned, try to inflate the tire and see if it will hold air. If that won't work, inspect the tire as I mentioned. If the tire is good yet it won't hold air then you want to inspect the tubes and see what is going on. You might be able to patch the tube or not, or it might be crap and you need to replace it.

(07-30-2012, 10:42 PM)xxHappyxx Wrote:  And how on earth do I go about measuring the wheel size so I can buy tubing of the right size?=X

Tires and tubes are both sold by width and height of the wheel (you said 19" didn't you?), and this should be marked plainly on the tire, along with the recommended pressure. You will need to match these (within certain variances) when replacing them. For example, my heat-related tube problems were on 26x1.75" tubes and that's what I got to replace them.

(07-30-2012, 10:42 PM)xxHappyxx Wrote:  Also, are there any tests I should carry out to make sure it's safe to ride?

I mentioned all of what you need to check. Also, be sure the frame and seat post are not too rusted out so they can support a rider's weight. If your parts aren't functional as I mentioned above, then it's not safe to ride.

(07-30-2012, 10:42 PM)xxHappyxx Wrote:  And once (or if) I do get it in working order, what basics do I need to keep it running? (Like lube, oil, pump, tube repair kits, etc...)

I wouldn't bother with this until you figure out what the problems are with the bike and whether you want to put the kind of money into it necessary to get it working.
Why is it that they make adult bikes that'll generally work for 5'9" or above, yet when you pedal these same bikes they only work for someone who is 5'4" or so?
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#3
Umm well said! Just want to say welcome to the forum and the only question not asked is the stupid one Wink
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
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#4
Thanks a lot for responding Skyguy9999 and Bill!=D

The brakes, derailleurs, seat, chain, and pedaling works fine, ! (Yay!=D) The tread of both tires don't look too bad either, so I guess I'll buy a cheap pump + gauge, and see if I need new tires or not. By the way, sorry for the confusion (cause I dunno how to list bike specs...=P), but the 19" I was referring to was the C-T measurement of the body frame, and not the wheel...=X Oopsie! My bad!XP

Anyways, thanks again Skyguy9999! Really awesome help!=) Just what I was looking for really!;D

And thanks Bill! That's so true!=)

*******
Just another thing though, since there is some rust(like on some nuts and bolts, wheel rim/spokes, and the reflector plate), would it be best to remove it? Or can I just leave it alone? And would white vinegar do the trick (and if so, is there a way you can tell if a part is acid-safe?)?
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#5
(07-31-2012, 07:25 AM)xxHappyxx Wrote:  Just another thing though, since there is some rust(like on some nuts and bolts, wheel rim/spokes, and the reflector plate), would it be best to remove it? Or can I just leave it alone?

The brakes, derailleurs, seat, chain, and pedaling works fine, ! (Yay!=D)

You mentioned rust. If the rust is on anything that's moving (chain, the cog parts, shifters, cables, brakes, and so on), it'll probably need replaced anyway. This is part of the functional stuff I was asking about before. If the rust is in certain places you need to deal with them, usually by changing out the parts. As for other parts, it depends on where the rust is and how thick it is. If it's on something that needs to be removed at one time or another (bolts to adjust/change the brake pads for instance), or part of the moving parts (wheel rim needs to be clean to get good braking), it'd be good to look into changing them out. As for cleaning the rust, it depends on where. If the spokes are rusted out enough, you'll need to replace those, since that's part of what supports your weight when you're on the bike.

With stuff like this it usually is best if we can see pictures of things to help see what you are working with.

(BTW, when I do bike grabs at garage sales or the like, usually rust coupled with what the asking price is on the bike is the biggest reason why I disqualify a bike for purchase. A rusted enough bike is usually an overhaul job and not worth it, unless it's something really classic. )
Why is it that they make adult bikes that'll generally work for 5'9" or above, yet when you pedal these same bikes they only work for someone who is 5'4" or so?
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