Any way to make a cheap bike easier to ride?

So i got a bike when i was littler, and it was just a $25 cheapie bike from Walmart. Well I didn't like riding bikes much, and it was left to stay in the garage forever.

Until recently. I've started getting back into riding my bike, and i'm wanting to use it to ride around town.
However, this bike, being cheap, is hard to ride. Probably harder than it would be if I got a full-price one.

However, being 17 and only being able to get part-time jobs, I certainly don't have the money for a full-price one yet.
Is there anything I can do to this bike to make it easier to ride, or more efficient? Thanks!

sort by: active | newest | oldest
PKM6 years ago
If you mean hard to ride because your riding position feels odd, your seat is probably too low. Raise it until it's at least as high as the handlebars, and when your leg is in the "down" position on a pedal your knee should be almost straight. If you can't raise the seat this high, get a bigger bike frame that will fit you :)

If by "hard to ride" you mean "feels like lots of effort to pedal", in order from easiest to hardest:

  • Pump up your tyres
  • Check the brakes aren't rubbing
  • Oil everything
  • Put some smoother tyres on
  • True your wheels
  • Repack your wheel bearings
A bit more detail on those: the easiest thing to do, which often has a startlingly big impact, is pumping up your tyres to 40PSI.  If they gradually leak and lose air, replace the inner tubes.  You can probably borrow a good quality pump from a bike shop if you go when they aren't busy and sweet-talk the most friendly member of staff- I find promising to come back for inner tubes if I get punctures helps :)

If your brakes rub on the wheels while you aren't pulling the levers, adjust them outwards slightly until they don't rub (but make sure you can still stop the bike if you pull the levers).

Oiling your chain, wheel bearings and crank bearings could smooth things out on an old bike.  Technically you shouldn't oil wheel bearings, but repacking them is a pain and on a cheap bike it won't make that much difference.  If you do this, make sure you keep everything oiled, especially riding in wet or dusty conditions.  If your wheels will turn for several rotations if you pick the bike up and spin them, they should be fine.

Smoother, road-style tyres have much less rolling resistance than the knobblies on cheap mountain bikes and are fine for grip- you only need knobbles on loose gravel, dirt or mud.

Wobbly wheels tend to rub on your brakes and make riding an effort.  Truing them will make it easier to adjust your brakes properly- it isn't particularly difficult, just quite time-consuming.  There are plenty of guides on the internet (or this site).

If your wheels are old, the grease may have dried up and got dusty.  Repacking wheel bearings (taking all the balls out, cleaning out the old crusty grease and putting in new squidgy grease) will make them spin like new but is fiddly and requires tools and the right kind of grease.

SneaselKat (author)  PKM6 years ago
Thanks! I checked, and both my rear and front tires had a brake that was up against the tire, and I went and greased up everything. I'll take a ride in a little bit and see how it works.
SneaselKat (author)  PKM6 years ago
Thank you! I'll try some of this when I can bring my bike back home. I know the wheels used to have a problem with de-inflating, so I'll check and make sure there are no holes. We greased up the chain and such when I got the bike out, and I'll check and see if anything needs oil.

Thank you again!
Could you upload a picture of it? Is it too small? Or does it just take a lot of torque to get going?
SneaselKat (author)  Juggling Knives6 years ago
It's the right size for me as far as I know (I sit fine on it), but it does take a lot to get going. I'll see if I can get a picture up
Have you tried playing around with the dials on the handle bars
SneaselKat (author)  Juggling Knives6 years ago
I havent, because when I used to, the chains would fall off. It's on 3, out of 5
SneaselKat (author)  Juggling Knives6 years ago
Well I can't find the cable needed to upload a picture, but this is the same bike:
ItsTheHobbs6 years ago
A good oiling would probably help. Inflating the tires would be a good idea too.