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New bike, or fix the old one.
I had a Trek 1000 until a couple months ago when it was stolen. Since then I've been riding this old Kuwahara mountain bike that is in really bad shape. It barely shifts at all, the chain makes all this noise, the tires are shot and it really feels like I'm losing half my power before it gets to the back wheel. I've tried basic adjustments before, but it's been really neglected. I know it at least needs a new chain, and most likely a whole new drive train plus shifters. I'd rather buy a new bike (a U-District or similar) than spend half that (or more) on paying a shop to rebuild this one, but if I could do it myself for a reasonable amount, it could possibly be worth it. Do you guys think that's a reasonable project for someone who has never really worked on bikes before, or should I just get a new bike?
Hm. If it is really in bad shape: a complete drivetrain will be expensive (of course depending on the quality of the components). More likely than not, the hub bearings will be shot, too -> new hubs (or wheels). Most of the stuff is not difficult to do, though I'd get the local bike shop to replace the bottom bracket if you don't have the tools. You might be able to score a last year groupset online for a bargain price, so check out different shops.
Main question: do you want to keep the frame or not? ;-)
Of course, the big question is how much work the Kuwahara really needs. New chain and tires won't cost you much. But if it needs more parts or internal overhaul, you're going to spend a lot more money or time. Maybe you could bring it into a shop and ask them to give it a quick check to see what is critical to be repaired. I'd make clear to them that you intend to fix it yourself just so they give you a more honest answer. It may just needs some quick clean up and adjusting. A little lubing can cure a lot of problems on a bike that's been sitting for years.

Paying a shop to do anything beyond real basic stuff - probably not worth it. Just buy a U District. They're great bikes (as long as it isn't too hilly in your area). But if you want to learn a little about repair, the Kuwahara would be a great project to learn on. Look at it as investing in education that will pay you back over many years. Or buy the U District AND rebuild the Kuwahara completely. Best of both worlds.
Thanks for the advice, guys. I like the idea of doing both. I think I may try doing some of the simple things to this bike (new chain, rear sprockets, and tires) and just see what that does. In the end though, I'll probably end up buying a single-speed for riding around town, but it would be really nice to know how to take care of a bike myself instead of spending 50 bucks a year having someone else do it for me.
Oh, don't worry, once you start fixing your own bikes you'll get special tools, nifty stuff, new components (if I install it myself it's not that expensive...). You'll end up spending more than before but the bikes will be better and it can be fun, also the results are rewarding ;-)

One of my friends bought a new Stevens hardtail and fixed his old rigid, got a new groupset etc. This is now his utility bike for commuting and hauling his kids around town. I bought a new road bike and bought some new stuff for my old Peugeot road bike (rear hub, cassette, chain... )
I know exactly what you're talking about I had the same decision a month back. I sourced all my parts from Chain Reaction Cycles and replaced the entire drive train for less than £50. I now also know a lot more about my bike and how it works and how to fix it when the sh*t hits the fan.
It rides perfectly well and I'd really recommend it to anyone else.
If you want to know exactly what parts I got give me a shout I'd be happy to list them.

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