How to fund your bike riding activities.

Mountain biking is an expensive hobby, no getting away from it.

I've three bikes in rotation, which smooths things out, yet every so often the planets align and I get stuffed. All three bikes need new transmission. My Tassajara may be just a new chain, same with the PACE. Can handle that. The Orange needs everything, right down to the bottom bracket. Looking at the thick end of £250 for that bike, perhaps £100 in total the other two.

Doable, but the Tassajara just had new tyres and new brakes fitted. £200 there.

Not moaning, these things happen. My issue is that thanks to a number of factors I only work three days per week. £550 is a lot to me. Indeed it's £350 more than I have right now.

The Orange also needs the suspension servicing.

Yet I'll get it done, quite possibly for free.

How so?

Well as a mountain biker, mechanical fettling at home is a given. The tyres and brakes on the Tassajara I fitted myself, right down to bleeding them. When the bits for the Orange arrive, I'll fit those as well.

So, what has this got to do with funding the service repairs? Come on Muddy, pray tell.

Aha! It's a secret....

Oh, go on then.

We all know people who don't know how to do this stuff. Change a tyre? Bike shop. Fit a chain. Bike shop. Do the brakes? Me? You must be joking. Bike shop.

You see that pattern? Repair = take it into the bike shop. There is no alternative.

I don't do repairs for people, I'm not a bike shop. Not going down that trail thanks. However, every so often a person will suffer a minor issue with their bike and will junk it. Rather than fix it, they'll put it up for sale as needing work.

I'll buy that for a dollar!

My Tassajara repairs were self funded from the purchase and subsequent sale of two bikes. Both bikes were bought as having "punctures beyond repair." Sorry? When is a puncture beyond repair? At the most expensive it'll be wheel, tyre and inner tube - and thanks to eBay or Gumtree those things are cheap. New front wheels, even decent ones, can be had for as little as £1. Tyres are often free and inner tubes are always up for repair.

Both bikes I bought had suffered nothing more than punctures and were wheeled into sheds to be forgotten for years.

I bought both, got them home, pumped the tyres up.

The tyres stayed up, so I sold the bikes on at a small profit. Small profits [around £45 in both cases after eBay fees] are fine when CRC have a sale for the bits I want. CRC sell stuff at less than your bike shop buys it in. My small profit turned into a free repair for my Gary Fisher - two new tyres, one new floating rotor, two new Deore disc brakes. Just took a little bit of effort on my part.

Kona. £60 to buy, sold for £130. Did nothing to it other than pump the tyres up.

It's not always so easy, and a small profit can turn into a loss. The Peugeot racer I bought. Easy fix of the wheel bearings, move it on! Except the handlebar stem was corroded into the frame, and the cotter pins were same. Trying to do the stem trashed the bike. One cotter pin I couldn't remove. Taken a few bits off it as salve to my wounds. Bike cost £50, scrapped. Life's hard.

I'd not buy and sell bikes for a living; too much risk, too little reward. Yet if you're a little cash strapped, or hide funds from SHWBO, why not use the mechanical skills you've learnt on the trail to good effect? Just be careful what you buy....

Anything used as a commuter will have trashed transmission, and possibly wheels. Avoid. Same for people with lots of well used bikes in their yard - walk away from them. They're either car boot dealers, or crappy home mechanics. Too cheap to be true? Walk away; it'll be stolen. Don't travel too far; anything more than a few miles is too far. Indeed if you have to even think of using the sat nav or Google to find the place, it's too far.

Brand names sell. Stick to familiar branded goods and you'll always be able to shift it on. Don't overbuy unbranded goods, ever.

Look at the seller and the bike. A lot of people will buy a bike for one ride, then put it away, to be forgotten. Whilst sitting there the tyres may go flat, or the chain develop a bit of rust. The bike may well sit there for ten years, so perhaps even the wheel bearings dry out and seize. The owner will rightly figure that by now the bike is beyond economical repair. Bike shop wants £15 per puncture, £30 to fettle the gears, and the bearings will be £30 please. The bike in good condition may well only be worth £80, so why not sell for £20 and be done with it?

£60 potential income from that bike. It's not a huge amount is it? Certainly not enough to give up the day job. Yet if you're smart, that £60 could be gained from doing nothing more than walking down your road, pumping up some tyres, a quick wash and a photo. How much effort is that? Bet you do it after every ride anyway....

You also have to think of where this is all going from a personal perspective. Fixing a puncture is easy, we all do that. Can you tape up the handlebars on a racer? When was the last time you as a mountain biker did that? Adjust cantilever brakes? Paint a rusty component? Get rid of corrosion on an aluminium stem so it's all bright and shiny? True up a wheel or adjust cup and cone bearings? Oddly useful skill sets that go off with time, it's nice to use them now and again.

This GT. Didn't buy to sell on. Fancied trying a fully rigid bike, and found this on-line cheaper than a rigid fork alone would cost. It wasn't peanuts, but it wasn't expensive either. Looked OK when collected, but at home, ah. Needed a new front wheel, some rust attending to, and new cables, plus a service, couple of tyres. From a bike shop that lot would kill the purchase and make it uneconomic. However, used or out of my spares box?
  • Cantilever brakes adjusted and polished. Free, just time and elbow grease.
  • Gear cables, plus new outers. £4 off eBay plus time.
  • Chain dirty. Free - just remove and pop into a bottle of degreaser for a week.
  • Rusty front wheel? Was £1 off eBay for a barely used one, but the guy couldn't face charging me. Free.
  • Rust? Bit of sandpaper, some paint. Paint left over from my motorcycling days.
  • Adjust and grease bearings. Free, just time.
  • Two new tyres fitted, quality ones as well. New? Well, little used for £3 each from another local rider.
The bike didn't start off as a dog, and neither has it been bodged for sale. I fixed it to ride myself, so no shortcuts. It was done properly, hence the tyres and wheel. Had my fun, so now I'm moving it on. It'll sell for more than I paid, so I'll take something out of it - it'll pay for a new bottom bracket on my other bike is all.

Again, financially not worth giving the day job up for. However, I've turned an unloved, age degraded bike into something better than you can buy new from Halfords for £400. It'll sell for less than 20% of that, call it £80 or so. My descriptions to sell are flowery but honest. Too honest sometimes. Why lie?

I'm quite proud of the bikes, and enjoy the work that goes into them. Financially it'll never pay the bills, yet it funds my rides. I also get to live my own personal memory lanes. Always wanted a Kona, always wanted a GT. These days I can buy those 1990's bikes for pennies. Many have less miles on than you or I will put in on an average weekend. I bought a hardtail Peugeot, with STX bits, for £8. It rode great and was a bit of fun.

That's £8 for a functional bike. That bike ended up being worth more as parts than as a bike. The Kona I used for rides with my boy. It was fantastic. A little heavy, but it all worked really well. Ride old school and it was fun. We rode miles. Indeed it forced me out. We ended up out most nights. Wouldn't do that on my normal bikes.

Buy a bike you like, buy into something you'll use. Fix it up, use it, move it on. It's not rocket science, and it's not new. Bikes, however, will always be there, so why not buy and sell the odd fixer upper? It's a salve to your consumerist conscience after all.

I don't buy stuff very often; it's just something I do to fund repairs to my bikes when needed.