Currently, we are seeing a trend toward the purchase of used and low-end bikes for missionaries. No doubt the present economic climate is causing this, but we are also observing some sad results.
We had a call, for example, from a missionary who had spent $300 for a used bike that ended up out of service within 4 weeks of purchase. Another mother called and lamented her decision to buy a used missionary bike that was represented as being in good condition. When her son took it to a shop to determine repair costs, everything it needed added up to over $150 in addition to what she paid for it. Another missionary opted for a discount department store bike that literally fell apart after less than 30 days of use.
The point is, saving money up front without really knowing what you're getting, and then subjecting the bike to the rigorous use a missionary puts it through is a formula for failure.
It may sound like we just want to sell bikes. But, it's more than that. A high quality new bike, properly sized and suited for the missionary, with a full warranty and theft protection is a far better investment than the unknown circumstances of a used or cheap new bike, and ultimately is going to save you the most money.
What many people don't realize is that a visible appraisal of a used bike is not a good gauge on which to make a buying decision. Whether the bike has been used a lot, or has been left sitting without proper protection and lubrication are unknown factors to a buyer. The front and back hubs, headset, and bottom bracket are all areas where lack of lubrication, excessive use or even lack of use will take their toll, and the buyer won't observe the potential problems until it's too late.
Discount bikes are not safe and are definitely not designed for the extreme use missionaries will give them. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for, and in the case of the examples given here, every buyer had to spend between half and double what they should have paid for bikes. We encourage you to find the right quality bike with the right warranty for your missionary. And, be very, very cautious of what appears to be a bargain - it is likely a liability instead.