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  1. #1
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    Is this normal? (when looking for a vintage/classic)

    Trying to find an inexpensive vintage or classic for my son; not really collectable, magical, or high end. He's only 12 and a little short so I have to get something around 52/53CM. I got lucky last week and found a 1989 Trek 1200 Aluminum at a good price but its just a tad too high for him so I am hoping to keep it for myself. Anyway - that gave me the bug to go look for something else.

    We hit 25 garage sales today. Only one had even a flat bar mountain bike. Nothing else. Yes, Twenty Five.

    Went to 4 thrift stores this week (TEAM, 2 Goodwills, and Salvation Army.) Was shocked that Salvation Army wants $50 for a ragged looking Next type mountain bike when I think thats about what they cost new. the TEAM store had the rattiest upright bar cruiser thing, with wheel hard rusted. Goodwill had nothing

    Went to three pawn shops in the area. One had some crappy cheap mountain bike for $58, one had no bikes, and the other only had the same old walmart mountain bikes.

    I've been scouring Craigslist too all week and haven't really seen anything that looked promising.

    I've read here where you really have to look, but I get jealous when I see all the finds. I know I'm a noob at this - but is it normal to come up with a zero like this? I figured I would see maybe 3-5 bikes, and they would either be too expensive, wrong size, or even too worn out but this was depressing.

    FWIW I live in Houston and we hit the Tomball-Magnolia-Spring area. I am willing to drive as far as Waco and Austin but Austin has hipster fixie fever. I figured maybe since Houston has never been a big cycling mecca it isnt the best place to find deals - but when I look at the prices in Austin I also get discouraged.
    I was thinking maybe some of the smaller towns would be good, or even hitting the big flea market tomorrow. I figure the police auctions might be good, but could also be filled with flippers or noobs like me.

    Pricewise I'm looking for $100 or less, and really wanting indexed (but realize brifters are out at this price)

    Any tips on where to lcoate something rideable? I know cables, tires, and tubes will be needed. I have decent wrenching skills and have built up two bikes since getting into the hobby in March, although those were mainly just bolting up already good parts and adjusting as opposed to restoring.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Oscuro's Avatar
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    I think part of it comes down to plain old luck. There are going to be times when there is just nothing on the market (possibly aggravated right now due to the new year of school starting shortly).
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  3. #3
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    The fact that you live in a big cycling mecca means there are more olf bikes out there hanging in people's garages waiting to be uncovered. You just have to be persistent.

    Although I would stay away from thrift stores, you don't really find good bikes there anymore since vintage bikes became so popular.

    The fact that you got lucky last weeks means you can get lucky again. You won't have good finds every week

  4. #4
    Senior Member redvespablur's Avatar
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    Post a WTB ad on craiglist. Have them come to you. I did and got a sweet 87 Specialized Allez I am building up. Lots of people have this stuff and don't know people are looking for it.

  5. #5
    Steel is real, baby! frpax's Avatar
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    Luck is a large part of the sweet finds.

    Even though I'm not "in the market" for another bike, I still check CL every day, several times a day. There may be a bargain come up that I just could not pass up on.

    I stay away from thrift stores & pawn shops in my area. THe thrift stores never have anything even halfway decent. Just junk. The pawn shops around here have mediocre stuff for WAY too much money.

    Networking is another way to score. Once all your friends know you're on the hunt, they may hear of something and let you know.

    The key is to BE PATIENT! If you're hot to trot to get something, then you'll spend too much or get something that ain't right (junky/broken/etc.)

    The WTB on CL is also a good idea. It's free to post, so why not?

    Good luck, and let us know what you score!

  6. #6
    Senior Member cyclotoine's Avatar
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    It's called a bike boom.
    1 Super Record bike, 1 Nuovo Record bike, 1 Pista, 1 Road, 1 Cyclocross/Allrounder, 1 MTB, 1 Touring, 1 Fixed gear

  7. #7
    Senior Member sunburst's Avatar
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    It's hard finding good deals, because of the competition for bikes, but cl is still the best source I know. I think winter it better. Less bikes, but less people chasing them, and lower prices. I've found four good bikes the last couple of years on cl.

  8. #8
    Senior Member cycleheimer's Avatar
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    Be careful of garage sales, you can wind up accumulating alot of clutter and not that many bikes if you're not careful. You can also waste alot of time and gas on a nice sunny weekend when you could be out cycling. Of course, if you just happen to stumble on a great deal as you're driving down the street, you can post it in the "saved from the dump" thread.

    Keep an eye out on bulk pick-up day. People still toss out bikes, especially if they have flat tires and other issues.

    Church rummage sales are also good sources. If you know a church is going to have a sale, see if you can buy the bikes prior to the sale. You can also donate unwanted items as a "thank you". It helps the church, recycles unwanted items, and can provide you with a possible tax deduction.

    As far as Craig's List is concerned, you may catch a nice Reynolds 531 Raleigh Super Course (as an example) for $20, but you need to be lightning quick with a reply to the posting. If the person calls you back, you need to be "politely" at the door with the $20 and a smile before they are done hanging up the phone. Things not to ask in this situation (but that do get asked): "Can you hold for a week or two?", "I want my Uncle Louie to look at it first...when I can find him, OK?", "I am busy, can you bring it over to me three counties over to look at?", "are you negotiable on the $20?", "If I don't like it, or if it is broken, can I return it?"

    If you have any old bikes lying around that you don't want or need, now is the time to clean them up and sell them on Craig's List. They sell fast.

  9. #9
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    Going to yard sales is a crap shoot, but it's the best crap shoot around here. Thrift stores rarely have vintage bikes and CL has become a joke with inflated prices that are absurd.
    I've gone on the hunt to yard sales and found 5 bikes, all LBS quality road bikes and MTBs on one Saturday morning. Then I'll go for two weeks without seeing so much as a used department store bike.
    Earlier this year, just before I went on a club ride, I toured a local community sale. I made one last turn to check out the last sale before I left for my ride. There at the last sale was a 92 Trek 8000 MTB with operating air ride Rock Shox and original XT shifters for $25. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
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  10. #10
    I drank the Kool-Aid! Johnny Alien's Avatar
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    I go to yard sales all the time but I think only one or two times out of countless trips did I ever find anything really worthwhile.

    Craigslist is the best bet but you have to look frequently and be quick.

  11. #11
    Senior Member gtownviking's Avatar
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    Just found Tsunami Cycles on South Congress in Austin yesterday. It's a little hole-in-the-wall place but he had about ten or twelve roadies and all were in the 75 to 300 with most hovering around the 150 range. Schwinn, Raleigh, Peugot and no namers...you might give them a call. Heard him tell a customer that they are always getting "stock" in, meaning trade-ins and used bikes people are wanting to sell. The whole fixie thing is tapering off a bit...morons (here in Austin) who ride those things are realizing that downtown traffic and the hills mixed with a bike with no brakes is not a fun ride...several people have been taken to the hospitals because of crashing. Amazing to see a a guy on his fixie riding like hell with his arm in a sling...but hey, he's cool like that.

  12. #12
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clarkgriswold View Post
    We hit 25 garage sales today. Only one had even a flat bar mountain bike. Nothing else. Yes, Twenty Five.
    Only 25? Amateur!

    Yes it's normal. It probably is more rational to pay a bit more on craislist or ebay, and save gas and time. However, for some, it's the thrill of the hunt that motivates us. We obviously have nothing better to do. But when you find a steal, boy it all seems worth it! Your problem is that you want instant gratification and to actually get on the road with yor son. What's wrong with you?

    I'll +1 cycleheimer on the luck thing. I go to far too many garage sales, on planned routes, but it's always the unplanned stray sale that turns up the goods. Oh, and 9 times out of 10, the sales that advertise bikes are selling department store garbage!

    I lucked into a decent Centurion road bike yesterday that would meet your requirements. I'd let you have it at cost but I think 63cm is probably too large.

  13. #13
    Raleigh Superbe miles.lowry's Avatar
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    Another thing that most don't think of is metal scrap yards. I took some scrap metal in the other day and they had about 20 bikes at the gate that they were willing to sell for $10 - $20.

  14. #14
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miles.lowry View Post
    Another thing that most don't think of is metal scrap yards. I took some scrap metal in the other day and they had about 20 bikes at the gate that they were willing to sell for $10 - $20.
    Good deal. That reminds me: I saw a pickup truck yesterday, loaded full of junk, with a bike thrown precariously at the top of the pile. It looked like it had white Bluemels fenders, so it was likely a decent English touring bike. I considered flagging the guy down, but but thought better of it.

  15. #15
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    Thanks guys - I need to look up the recyclers around here. and I'll keep watching CL.
    I might make a trip up to Austin too. I've always wanted to see Mellow Johnnies but didn't want to make the trip for only that reason.

    Definately there is a thrill to the score, and damn it's almost as addictive as this whole bike thing in the first place.

  16. #16
    Raleigh Superbe miles.lowry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clarkgriswold View Post
    Thanks guys - I need to look up the recyclers around here. and I'll keep watching CL.
    I might make a trip up to Austin too. I've always wanted to see Mellow Johnnies but didn't want to make the trip for only that reason.

    Definately there is a thrill to the score, and damn it's almost as addictive as this whole bike thing in the first place.
    It is addictive. I haven't even finished my first rebuild yet and I'm already jonseing for a mountan bike rebuild. We have some good off road trails in my area.

  17. #17
    avid wearer of flip-flops lucky53s's Avatar
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    It is addictive. I'm just starting my first build and already scheming for another Peugeot to build. Just gotta get a new fork for the second frame.
    War: Where foolish men kill other foolish men for foolish reasons.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Grim's Avatar
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    Just always have to watch. there was a $25 Bridgestone that showed up on CL yesterday. Ad had been up a couple hours and I couldn't chase after it. Most of my CL bargains have been sheer luck and when the ad is vague to drop mails and ask the right questions.
    Thrift stores like Goodwill and SA are hit and miss. Many of them if the bike is not in ridable condition they are throwing them in the trash One GW I walked around back and found 4 pallets of bikes stacked 15 or so deep each. The rideable bikes are often over priced box store bikes. I always look for the places that accept drop offs and I ask the people that take the drop off's if they have any bikes in the back. Found a few decent ones that way.

    My best place has been a local thrift. I live in a better area and have a lot of 500k and up homes nearby. I hit that store every day on the way home from work and a couple times on Saturday. They got wise and have been raising the prices feeling the flippers out recently.
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  19. #19
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    Unless you really enjoy going to garage sales and thrift stores all the time, you might want to consider the time and gas money you're spending while looking for a $100 "good deal" on an entry level bike for a 12 year old. I'd recommend the small, mom & pop bike shops in your area. Support them, not Exxon. You won't have to fix anything. The shop owner will probably try to make you happy to get the return business as your son progresses through bikes as he grows. Look for the very local "good deal" on CL or in your local newspapers but don't drive very far to get it. When you eventually find one, you're son will probably be ready for the upgrade. Then, buy all the parts for it from the local bike shop guy. Don't pay shipping and throw away a new box to save $1.00 on a brake cable. No offense meant, just my recommendations.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Chicago Al's Avatar
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    Watch out--I got started early this summer looking for a bike for my daughter, and now both daughters have 'new' vintage mixtes and I'm looking for vintage road bikes for son and myself! A flip or two to make it 'cash neutral' would be nice too.

    Last weekend I checked local CL at about 8AM. At 7AM someone had posted about a Raleigh they were putting in their garage sale--for $20. And there was a dim photo, showing it to be a ladies Sports. Unfortunately there was no phone # and the place was out in the suburbs, a good long drive from me. So I sent an email saying I would buy it, for sure. I heard back later that someone was coming for the bike, which may have meant that if I'd just hustled out there with cash in hand I could have had it. Or maybe the buyer had just emailed before me. It reappeared on CL the next day on CL at $180, mint condition, with owners' manual! Oh well--my first vintage buy was a nice score and I'm sure there will be another one.
    Last edited by Chicago Al; 08-16-09 at 09:53 AM.

  21. #21
    Curmudgeon in Training 20grit's Avatar
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    i've never tried it on bikes, but i know whenever i'm looking for a musical instrument, the time frame before and during christmas is great. people are always trying to sell guitars/amps/etc before christmas to get money to buy other things. but then there are also a lot of people looking for them for gifts. ebay is awesome if you have time to check it christmas day. it seems like no one else ever checks it on christmas. i've gotten some awesome stuff that way.

  22. #22
    Senior Member gtownviking's Avatar
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    This wil either infuriate you or rekindle your eal for garage sales...

    I was NOT in the market for a bike and we stumbled onto a garage sale that was not even advertised on the streets....drove up, do as others, stared at everything from behind the wheel. Saw this ratty looking 10 speed...wife said get out and go look...so I did. I had no idea what I was looking at, I know nothing about C&V bikes. I debated on the bike even after she told me the price....I didn't want the bike to just end up sitting in my garage taking up space even for the price she gave me. IWfe encouraged me to buy it and so I did.... you can read more about it here...

    Miyata 710...bought for $5 today

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    Sometimes people won't put a bike out at a garage sale if there is a mechanical issue or it needs cleaned up. If the rest of their stuff is clean and good condition, a dusty old bike with flat tires detracts from the other stuff. So you have to ask if they have any old bikes they would like to sell. They may have just thought no one would want that ratty old thing so they didn't bother to put it out.

  24. #24
    Senior Member due ruote's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redvespablur View Post
    Post a WTB ad on craiglist. Have them come to you. I did and got a sweet 87 Specialized Allez I am building up. Lots of people have this stuff and don't know people are looking for it.
    I've gotten parts this way, but I'd expect that most people sitting on vintage bikes with no clue about value aren't reading wtb ads on the CL bike page.

    My LBS sells used bikes that I guess they take as trade-ins. They are willing to negotiate, and the prices seem pretty much in line with what I see on CL. You might check around for something like that.

  25. #25
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    I wouldn't be too jealous about the great finds - remember there are literally 100's if not 1000's of folks who post to this forum and many of them are doing things similar to you. Somebody is bound to get lucky. Law of averages and all that stuff.

    I would imagine it can be frustrating. Personally I've never looked for a bike like that. I have a stored search running on eBay that will email me anything Bottecchia related that comes up and two of my bikes are from that. The rest either found me (twice guys at work just came up and asked if I wanted an old bike they had) or I just happened across them by chance.

    My Panasonic was my best "find" like that - I was on my way to the plumbing supply house one Saturday morning and there are several pawn shops on that street. As I rode by I noticed a bike with drop handlebars. As I'm sure you've already discovered that is fairly unusual so I turned around and stopped. I ended up with a Panasonic PT-3500 for $30 and I use it to commute to work everyday.
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