You’re ready for that huge cross-country cycling tour you’ve always wanted to go on, minus one important detail. You’ve gotten all the camping supplies you’ll need, told your boss not to call you for a bit, saved up money burning the midnight oil overtime, and planned your route out with the utmost precision and care. The only thing is, you’re not too sure about the safety of your faithful steed anymore. The bike worked like a charm for a good long while, but after a time, the shifters didn’t respond as fluidly, and the brakes seem to take a bit longer to slow you down nowadays. You’ve been maintaining your ride regularly, so you’re sure there’s nothing wrong with how you’ve been treating it, it’s just that after so many adventures, even the best high-quality parts will have to cash in their chips.
When you’re looking for new parts, because face it, you love that old frame to death, as long as it doesn’t end up killing you, you can find great deals searching online. Social sites like Facebook and Myspace advertise people selling parts they no longer have a use for, and other user-generated content venues like Craigslist constantly advertise every bike part you can think of.
The internet is a great place to get bike parts, but, of course, there’s a catch. Online sellers at sell-it-yourself sites may not be entirely truthful about the condition and prior history of parts, just like used car salespeople. As a general rule, ask to see the part before you agree to pay for it, and check it out in detail. If it has been used, expect to see some scratches and material issues, but if it’s supposed to be new crankshaft, and it doesn’t look, feel or smell like a new crankshaft, chances are pretty good that it isn’t one. Be smart with your money, because your life is going to be riding on that impulse purchase later.
The other online alternative to user-populated sites is to check for parts at an online bike vendor. Many bike stores have moved a great deal of their sales and service to the internet in an attempt to keep up with the times, meaning that the things that they don’t keep on the showroom floor may very well end up online. This is great when you’re trying to find some used parts, because they may be discounted. If that shop no longer carries that item, and it matches your current hardware, you’ll end up saving a few bucks.
If you buy from an online vendor, you should be able to receive some sort of parts guarantee or agreement, especially if you purchase something new. Manufacturers warranties are also good, because they let you replace something if you like it and destroy it in one of those wrecks that really wasn’t your fault.
Although we did say it’s best to stay away from some of the listings on sites like Craigslist, they actually represent a good way to find professional online vendors. Some local vendors use social media to list their upcoming trade shows, part-swap meet ups and overstock sales, allowing you to find the best opportunity to meet up with them and haggle over the what they’ve got with them in person. Happy riding!