I used to ride to my local bike park just to watch the dirt jumpers in action. I loved how they flew through the air with minimal effort and maximum steeze. As a new mountain biker, I wanted to learn their ways, but I couldn’t justify spending hundreds of dollars on a niche dirt jumper. Luckily, the universe sometimes gives you exactly what you’re looking for, free of charge.
For this week’s question, I want to know: What's the best bike or bike part that you’ve gotten for free? It might be something small — a nifty component or accessory — or it can be big, like an entire bike. Maybe it was a thoughtful gift. Maybe you won a raffle. Or maybe you found it dumpster diving.
Whatever it is, leave us a comment below with the story behind your best freebie. Next Monday, we'll pick a winner at noon, randomly chosen from the commenters. This week’s grand prize is once again a limited-edition TPC x Lead Out handlebar bag!
This week's winner is Knight H., who bought something I didn't know existed —an aero recumbent — that had been converted into something I also didn't know existed: an off-road recumbent. What was the freebie? Well, the original owner surprised Knight by sending all the original aero road components so he can swap between the two set-ups. Sounds like Knight got two bikes for the price of one!
"When I bought my Bacchetta Aero recumbent, the previous owner had set it up with a shockster rear suspension system and mtb fork for full-suspension off-road riding. In addition to the complete bike I negotiated for, he sent me all the parts to turn it back into a road bike, so I got a second set-up from him. It was like getting a second bike for free! One parts swap at the start and one at the end of road season, and I have two different bikes for the different riding disciplines. Admittedly, I do not ride my recumbent much compared to my uprights, but it feels good to have the option, especially when recovering after a long trip riding in the drops… =)" - Knight H.
I’ve gotten some awesome free gear over the years. Most recently, our Senior Editor, Spencer Powlison, gave me a lightly used SRAM X01 derailleur so I could finish my latest MTB build (Thanks, Spencer!). But the best bike-related thing I’ve ever received for free actually came from a complete stranger.
The year was 2016. The Pro’s Closet was a young business headquartered in the cycling hub of Boulder, Colorado. We didn’t have a website yet. So, rather than using our Sell // Trade portal as they do today, customers actually brought in their bikes to get an offer and maybe sell to TPC.
One morning, a teenager came in trying to sell a 26” dirt jumper. Immediately, I knew we couldn’t buy it. The alloy frame was unbranded, unidentifiable, and beat to hell. The ancient Marzocchi fork barely moved and the 3-piece BMX crankset and bottom bracket had rusted into a single, immobile hunk of metal. When I turned the bike down, the boy just shrugged and left the dirt jumper by the dumpster. When he didn’t return for it by the end of the day, I considered the bike abandoned and brought it inside.
One of our pro mechanics helped me out.
To pretty much anyone, this bike was complete trash, but to me, it was a fun project. To fix the seized cranks, we used an angle grinder to cut through the spindle. With one side cut off, I was able to smash the other half of the crank out with a hammer and drift. I replaced it all with a random mountain bike bottom bracket and crankset I had lying around. Then, I freshened up the dilapidated frame by covering all the dents and scratches with stickers (including a cheeky “Yeti” sticker on the down tube).
The end result was a horribly ugly, mildly sketchy, but incredibly fun dirt jumper. On this bike, I progressed from the small to the XL dirt jumps at my local park. It helped shape me into the jump-loving mountain biker I am today. This little dumpster bike ended up being the best $0 I ever spent. Eventually, I gifted it to one of my co-workers, and I think he’d probably say that it’s the best free bike he’s ever received too!
Now it’s your turn. Tell me about the best bike or bike part you got for free in the comments below. Include photos if you have them!