Where do people get used parts from besides ebay or get good deals?
I live in Chicago and am thinking about upgrading to some Shimano gruppo. Where would be the cheapest place to look?
I have a Miyata 310.
Call around to all the bike shops in your area, and ask: "do you sell used parts?" Just don't waste anybody's time unless you're quite prepared to drop some money. Shops that deal in used stuff often have to spend a lot of time digging.
Rans Enduro Sport, Hase Kettweisel Tandem, Merin Bear Valley beater bike
Where do you ride?
If you do some group rides, start asking everybody you see about the kind of parts that you're looking for. Many bicycle people have a box of parts that they've upgraded over the years. When I can I prefer to trade for other parts rather than try to negotiate a price.
I'd also have to think that a city the size of Chicago would have a bicycle garage sale someplace in the spring. Generally some organization sells table space for people to sell their old bikes and components. Group rides are a good place to find out about events like this too.
Colnago Altain, Klein Pulse II, Stumpjumper FSR, GT Zaskar LE, Pedalforce RS2
Local groups will often have people who like to do their own mechanics. Amongst my friends parts bins, we've oftentimes assembled complete bikes just from old spare parts lying around in our collective garages.
However, in recent years, I've started selling most of my spare parts on eBay.
I gotta believe every major city has one or more similar businesses.
Some of them are open to part swaps, others won't be.
Another source: THE TRASH! Night before garbage day (in the summer at least), I'll cruise around scoping the curb. To date, I've found a dozen bikes. Many get donated to my local bike dump - in exchange, they've given me certain "picking rights" to their parts bins. (I've scored sets of gull-wing and moustache bars from them and even been paid for a few things)
Finally, there's your local "FreeCycle" groups. I scored a very nice 1970's Sekine 10-speed which I donated - not before I took the near-mint-condition Brooks Competition saddle off first! Do a Yahoo-groups search for "freecycle" + your city name. The website(s) will explain all you need to know.
The only thing money buys you is "nowness." You can go to a bike shop and throw money around and have what you want "now." If you bide your time, look in the right places and let people know what you're after, that you don't have a budget but have some things to trade, your patience will pay off - eventually.
Also: folks here on bikeforums.net might do the swap thing. I hadn't thought about that...