The Mountain Bike Life

Saying that someone is frugal often carries a negative connotation of being a cheapskate. In the case of mountain biking, many think that being a frugal mountain bike rider means always riding around with a piece of junk bike that is always falling apart, that has inferior components, and that is always old and worn out. This is so very far from the truth!

Merriam-Webster defines “Frugal” as follows:
fru·gal, – adjective ‘frü-gel
: careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to
: using money or supplies in a very careful way
: characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources

It is all about being careful of what you spend your money and resources on, being smart about it, and being picky.

One of the best places for buying and selling bikes and components, both new and used.

Shop Wisely: When I was shopping around for a bike bell this past week, I did some google searches and read a bunch of reviews. I looked through Ebay, Amazon,,, most of the big online bike shops, my list of MTB website forums, etc., before finally settling on the one that I wanted to buy. I did the same thing when I chose a good floor pump, a replacement rear shock, tires, a short 40mm stem, a zero offset seat post, helmet, hydration pack, and just about most of my components and gear. Always make sure that you also look at the shipping cost. Sometimes an item might look cheaper somewhere but the shipping completely kills the deal because it is sent mailed from UK, Japan, Singapore, or China.

Yes you can buy and sell on Amazon. Setting up a seller’s account is very easy to do.

Sell Wisely: Some of the components that I replaced or upgraded were still in fairly newish condition, so I sold them on Ebay, Amazon, and at a local bike shop. It sure is better than having the parts sitting on a bin unused for years. For Ebay and Amazon used goods, I highly recommend getting a PayPal account. If for some reason the buyer skips town without paying, or the item gets lost in the mail or damaged, then you can dispute the transaction and get your money back without getting a blemish on your seller’s rating. This also applies if you are buying something. I learned this years ago when I was buying and selling photography equipment for my business. Some of that photography gear was worth $800 – $3000 each, so this kind of insurance is very wise to have.

I am also very fortunate to have several bike shops that are near a big university with a big bike community culture. If you drive bye, you can see large bike racks all over the place that are almost full of bikes most of the year. The local bike shops cater to this community and specialize on used bike rebuilds. I have sold several of my commuter bikes and some of my components to them for top dollar.

My 3/8″ Craftsman torque wrench was getting lonely, so I got a 1/4″ Husky sweet little honey that will keep it happy.

Maintain Wisely: Maintaining your bike in good condition makes all of your components last longer, makes it all work more smoothly and effortlessly, and you end up spending less money and time at the bike shop or working on your own bike. That directly translates to more time having fun out on the trails riding. Having a good set of basic tools is perfect for this. If I find that I am very frequently using a particular set of tools, then I do not mind looking at upgrading to a better set and then relegating the original tool to back-up duty. For bikes, I very often use Allen wrenches, various pliers, screw drivers, and my ratchet socket set. I have done some disc brake and fork rebuild work recently so I also bought a ¼” drive torque wrench for that. The only things that I do not like to work on is truing wheels, lacing spokes, and bottom brackets. That kind of work usually requires specialty tools and skills, so I just have my local bike shops do that work for me.

So how long does it take you to shop around for your bike stuff? Stay tuned for the next write-up in this series of “The Frugal  Mountain Biker”.

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