Originally Posted by rawrsomesausage
I guess my question would have been better phrased asking for what to look for in a decent bike. ...
What would be some features to look for? Or is that down to preference?
Does it fit?
Is the frame straight with no visible sign of damage? Minor scratches are okay and can be considered part of a bike's history. A replaced fork may indicate that the bike was wrecked hard at least once.
Do all the parts work and are they clean, not rusted? Most parts are replaceable but it costs more money.
Has it been serviced regularly (as opposed to the seller merely saying it has)? "New tires" does not increase its value other than your cost to get new ones. "Tires still hold air" is not a good thing to read at all.
Do the wheels spin freely? If it has QR hubs, remove the front wheel from the bike and check the bearings by hand.
Does the headset (the steering) has any roughness or looseness?
Do the wheels wobble or are they straight with no dings that disrupt the braking surface?
Are the rims alloy? Avoid steel.
Once it has passed those tests and you want something better than "merely a bike", look for clean lug work. Look for a brand name on the tubing, for example Reynolds, Columbus, Tange, Ishiwata, but don't let the lack a tubing decal be a sticking point.
Lift it, see how heavy it is.
Compare chainstay length to other bikes, longer usually means it rides softer, shorter generally means it is more responsive.
Check component brands and models. Campy is good, usually expensive. Shimano is good. Suntour derailleurs are great. Do you care that they are a complete group, err, excuse me, gruppo? Probably want to skip and Simplex front derailleurs made with Delrin plastic.
Are the brakes sidepull, centerpull, double pivot? Do you care? Tektro double pivot brakes are superb. Some people complain about all the vintage centerpull brakes, but it really depends on the pad material.
Before you meet a seller look up the brand and model. That will give you some idea of where it sat in that brands price hierarchy.
Is it French? Plenty of great French bikes out there but until the early 80's (roughly) the French industry had its own thread standards.
Take it for a spin. If it feels good and seems robust, then it probably is. There are lots of good bikes out there.
You probably know all this already. Someone will surely chime in and tell me what I left out or got wrong.