So, my son got his bike stolen from school and I gave him my Hard Rock. Then he got work delivering food downtown and uses it every day. Result: he's destroying the bike, and wants to use some christmas funds to buy a new bike for delivery. It's his cash, but I maintain that he's not going to get much more use out of a new rig than he's got outta mine, and that he should invest in a beatable beater if he wants to continue. Since he's a junior in college and not so mechanically inclined, I don't expect he's up for maintaining his bike, but what do you Chaineys think? You Linkeys can also weigh in!
Maintaining your bike is a must. Buying "a beater" will only speed it's demise and make it harder on him.
Now if he's worried about theft then a beater will give a deterrent factor as it's not all shiny, new and hip.
Parts are parts and need replacing, get a good used or new bike and maintain it...ie wash the salt off, oil it, adjust the chain etc. and if he doesn't maintain it take it to a bike shop in Feb. and get a winter discount on a tune up.
He needs to maintain the bike, period no matter what he has.
I would get a used bike from craigslist (be sure it's not a stolen one though). Road bikes from the 80's tend to be cheap and awesome based on what I've experienced. I once had a Fuji Del Rey but it was stolen too :(
If it were me..I would buy and older bike (but not too old) that has been completely overhauled the right way (ask for receipts and ask a lot of questions), have a trusted mechanic evaluate and advise before purchasing. Riding a bike downtown everyday will beat it up a lot...and if it were me; I would not enjoy seeing a brand new bike that I spent 'christmas funds' on get beaten up little by little.
just my $.02
I recommend a fixed gear/single speed (just built my own and am infatuated with it). It takes less maintenance and Chicago is an easy city to get around in one. They can be built out of those old 80s frames if you find one for cheap.
Also, ditto to what others said here, there is no getting around maintenance. Learn your ABCs and buy a few basic tools. I have one hex wrench/screwdriver multitool that goes everywhere with me and can fix most of my road problems.
Where is a decent bike servicer near 17th and Ashland?