If we were to get used bikes, how old is too old. I have seen a ton of bikes from the 80s and early 90s on ebay and craigslist for $200-400. At what point would we have to upgrade too many parts/components that it would no longer be worth it. I guess I'm asking would an older bike's components work well or would we basically have to build a new bike?
I looked more into hybrids(thanks zzzz for the link) and they seem like they could work. If we were to go that route would the wheels work? I noticed that they have 32 spokes whereas most touring bikes have 36+ spokes. I don't want to be constantly changing spokes along the ride. Also would the upright seating position make it that much more difficult because of the wind? Are there any other pros/cons about hybrids?
It looks like I would have to change the gearing of a cyclocross bike whereas a hybrid should be ok where it is at. How much would it cost to make that change?
Early 90s bike would be OK. It will have a 7 speed cassette. These are still common. I rode around Europe on a 1991 Trek 520. And rode it many years later. Bikes don't wear out. The parts more or less last forever. But all of the consumables, chains, cassette, cables, handlebar tape need replacing. Adds up. Then to get the bike to fit with new bars, new stem, saddle, tires, tubes. Adds up. Labor cost to do the servicing and parts change. Adds up. Buying a used bike may or may not save you money. Unless you get really lucky (perfect fit, perfect maintenance) it will not save you very much. Working under the assumption that a used bike will be 50% of new price. Then add 25% of new price for new parts to make it fit and get it in working order. So you are looking at a $1200 new bike or $900 used bike for ones that are pretty similar in the end. Unless you are really lucky, used won't save you much money. Used allows you to get an old bike that you always wanted and now you can.
I'm not a fan of hybrid or mountain bikes because of the seating position. Upright. And straight bars with no other hand positions. Uncomfortable over long distances. Drop handlebars have been used on road bikes for about 100 years now. There is a good reason for that.
Changing gearing on a cyclocross bike? Maybe long cage rear derailleur to handle the bigger cassette. $50-80. Bigger cassette. 11-34 or 11-32 teeth. $30. New chain. $20. Tools to break the chain and take the cassette off. $30.