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Old 06-08-12, 08:37 AM   #1
Mercian Rider
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Folks, I blew it

As some of you know, I recently started 4 seperate threads discussing giving advice to a novice looking for a used bike on Craigslist. This is meant for people who just want a bike, not vintage enthusiasts, and I'm not sure I made that clear. Worse, I presented it as four seperate threads, which was confusing and prevented people from seeing the big picture. I'd close the threads if I could.

I spend a good deal of time helping people find used bikes, and I love doing it. So far they've all been happy, and they spread the word. But it's to the point I can't handle the volume of requests. So I thought I could give people something in writing so they could at least do more of the footwork themselves. Novices--keep that in mind.

It may or may not work, but I'm going to try it to find out. I now plan to create that document, or guide, using some of the suggestions I've seen here, and present it when it's done (at least the first version). Not sure if I should post it in a new thread, or seek a few volunteers to edit.

Sorry for the confusion I caused. Mea culpa.

Please give me your thoughts.
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Old 06-08-12, 08:43 AM   #2
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put the document together yourself, and then post it up here when it's fully baked and ready to share.
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Old 06-08-12, 08:48 AM   #3
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^ Good plan. Might want to wait a day or two after its finished, then look at it one more time to make sure you're really satisified with it.
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Old 06-08-12, 09:09 AM   #4
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I think you made it quite clear that the info was aimed at novices. Many of us, myself included, have a hard time remembering what it was like to be a novice and we find exceptions to every rule posted. Keep going with the project, keep the rules simple and clear, and don't let the exceptions cloud the useful guidance you are providing.
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Old 06-08-12, 09:17 AM   #5
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Perhaps How To Find Vintage Bicycles would be a help.

That article works for beginners and expert hunters, alike. I have had many people get back to me, thanking me for helping them find a bike.
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Old 06-08-12, 09:20 AM   #6
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I think you made it quite clear that the info was aimed at novices. Many of us, myself included, have a hard time remembering what it was like to be a novice and we find exceptions to every rule posted. Keep going with the project, keep the rules simple and clear, and don't let the exceptions cloud the useful guidance you are providing.
Thanks for the encouragement.

One thing I saw emphasized in the threads was fit, which I agree is paramount.

Nearly as important, IMO, is matching the intended use with the right type of bike. Most of my "clients" are looking for a simple, comfortable bike for relatively short rides. I don't steer them toward racing bikes, for example.
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Old 06-08-12, 09:23 AM   #7
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Perhaps How To Find Vintage Bicycles would be a help.

That article works for beginners and expert hunters, alike. I have had many people get back to me, thanking me for helping them find a bike.
I will certainly consult your excellent material (but will avoid plagerism!). I will also provide people the link.
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Old 06-08-12, 09:25 AM   #8
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Might want to wait a day or two after its finished, then look at it one more time to make sure you're really satisified with it.
And proofread it carefully to make sure you haven't a word out.
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Old 06-08-12, 11:15 AM   #9
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And proofread it carefully to make sure you haven't a word out.
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Old 06-08-12, 11:43 AM   #10
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I totally understood it was for novices to find a decent used bike. I do agree that one thread will be easier. I only ran across two of your previous posts, but mention of more.

I'd say you have a lot of good information now. Why don't you put something together and give it to a few people for review?
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Old 06-08-12, 11:46 AM   #11
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If you do make the completed document, I would suggest you make it a sticky. That way it will always be at the top, in case a noob has trouble finding it. Good idea, btw!
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Old 06-08-12, 11:48 AM   #12
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I would absolutely looove it were you to do this. I teach a class at the
bike coop here a couple of times yearly on just this subject. The last
was titled "Finding true love on the internet: using Craigslist to hook up
with the bicycle of your dreams."

I usually just wing it with a a few handouts. There is an appreciative
audience for this information. I know it from personal experience.

An added benefit is that a great many of them appear to be attractive
young women..................................................
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Old 06-08-12, 11:58 AM   #13
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An added benefit is that a great many of them appear to be attractive
young women..................................................
I thought fit women in lycra shorts was the main reason for riding a bike.
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Old 06-08-12, 12:04 PM   #14
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A lot of good suggestions here to make it your own. (A single knowledgeable author like yourself can assemble a much more coherent guide than a committee can .)

Apart from the disclaimer that these are necessarily generalizations for the novice, and that there are indeed exceptions to every rule, you ought to define the scope of the document in a few words, up-front, so that anyone approaching it will know immediately whether it deals with vintage road bikes, 3-speeds, BMX, MTB's, cruisers, ordinaries, etc. (In this forum tend to treat vintage road bikes as the alpha and the omega).
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Old 06-08-12, 12:06 PM   #15
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I wouldnt recommend somebody with no experience buying bikes to go to craigslist. There is just way too many crooks listing bikes,,the latest thing I saw was yesterday a guy listed a 30 to 50 dollar JC higgins 70's woman's bike for a 1000 dollars on Detroit craigslist,,and this kinda thing happens several times everyday on that list.

Best is to look for bikes at garage sales, flea markets and other venues such as those.
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Old 06-08-12, 03:24 PM   #16
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Randy's site is pretty awesome. A dedicated newb could spend a few hours there, and spend 30 minutes googling bike sizing, and be ready to go. Realize depending on the pricepoint, a mistake in buying a bike is no where near as troubling as a mistake buying a used car (or worse, a house).

BTW, I do not think you blew it. There was good give and take, sure a lot of us did not agree with every opinion, but thats part of it!
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Old 06-08-12, 03:48 PM   #17
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Randy does have an excellent site.

I was thinking a bike wiki would be a good idea. I mean, think of the combined knowledge of the people who frequent bikeforums.net. A wiki could/would cover all the types of bikes that are covered in the subforums.

Just a thought.
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Old 06-08-12, 03:51 PM   #18
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How about negative reinforcement - you know, a few case studies on what can go wrong when acquiring a [vintage] bike with inadequate knowledge! Of course none of us have had that happen...
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Old 06-08-12, 04:36 PM   #19
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A buyer's guide to steel bicycles from the 1980s is an ambitious project, would make a great website, and you have a terrific start already.
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Old 06-08-12, 05:33 PM   #20
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Buy at a low enough price, and even a "mistake" can be break even. I picked up a Miyata frameset that I thought I could build up. Wrong, frame had major problems, that I had missed. But it came with a Miyata stem, nice bars, brake calipers, and a set of wheels. So even though my plan failed, the financial transaction worked out.
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Old 06-08-12, 05:52 PM   #21
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I agree with the list of things that indicate a lesser quality bike. There are always exceptions, and sticking strictly to the list will omit some decent bikes. I contend It will still lead to a better choice.

Here is one rule of thumb -- 30+ lbs bad, 25 - 30 lbs ok, sub 25 lbs good. I know that omits some Peugeots and a few "lightweight" Schwinns - but for a quick evaluation it's a great criteria.
Another is - cloth bar tape or bar end shifters = good.
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Old 06-08-12, 06:18 PM   #22
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Buy at a low enough price, and even a "mistake" can be break even. I picked up a Miyata frameset that I thought I could build up. Wrong, frame had major problems, that I had missed. But it came with a Miyata stem, nice bars, brake calipers, and a set of wheels. So even though my plan failed, the financial transaction worked out.
+1 I've gotten scammed a couple times, but a bit of creative marketing and persistence and I broke even.

I like the idea of a guide, but I can't help but think a number of the bikes that us C&V snobs (guilty myself) might shun are still decent bikes just need a bit of "understanding"...
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Old 06-08-12, 07:20 PM   #23
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+1 I've gotten scammed a couple times, but a bit of creative marketing and persistence and I broke even.

I like the idea of a guide, but I can't help but think a number of the bikes that us C&V snobs (guilty myself) might shun are still decent bikes just need a bit of "understanding"...
There is a huge difference between bikes I buy to flip and ones that end up in my stable. I always lose money on bikes I sell out of my stable. They are also much nicer with better components etc.
The standards I hold for my rides are much higher than that needed for an acceptable steed for a new rider. Even my beater type bikes are acceptable riders - though they may be heavier with steel wheels.
I have also acquired / bought bikes with hidden (or unnoticed) defects that took more effort and funds to correct. In almost all cases, given enough source material, I'm able to at least recoup my costs on even the worst cases. Of course that doesnt' account for labor hours.
The newbie won't be proficient at most basic repairs so it behooves them to learn how to evaluate the general condition of a used bike. Bringing along a knowledgeable friend is a good idea.
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Old 06-08-12, 07:58 PM   #24
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On the notebook forums we posted a questionnaire in the stickies to handle the volume (nearly 80% of the posts) of "I want to buy a new laptop" I'm not sure similar would help here or not. Users would just paste our questions with their answers in a new thread and we would make recommendations based on their responses.
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