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  1. #1
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    Very first bicycle with a limited budget?

    I'm planning on buying a bicycle to go around a somewhat hilly college campus/commute to work (well, I don't know if it's worth calling it a commute - it's roughly 2 miles away), but I'm having a really difficult time deciding on a bike. My budget runs anywhere from $300-400, but I'm really iffy about spending $400. Like, really iffy.

    Saw a 1984 Lotus Unique for $300 on Craigslist. Seller won't budge on the price (well, I offered $200 initially - maybe I'll keep trying haha), but he says it's in brand new condition. It would require me taking a 40 minute bus ride to get where he is, where I'll most likely end up biking back.

    But I'm not sure. The bike retailed for about $350-450 back in 1984, but then again, inflation and whatnot so it might be worth it.

    Otherwise, my options are:

    1. Take buses to LBSs and pray that they'll have some good stuff on clearance
    2. Buy from Bikesdirect and try to learn assembly/etc. myself (I have no experience, but am decent in general mechanically).
    3. Keep being patient on Craigslist (but again, I have no car, it's a pain trying to think of how I'll get to some neighborhoods/how long it'll take, etc.)

    Bikes I was looking at on Bikesdirect were the Mercier Galaxy Tour, Motobecane Super Mirage, Motobecane Mirage, and a few others.

    Suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Go to www.performancebike.com and order the Fuji Absolute 2.3 "City Bike" @ $370

    Call customer service for sizing advice...

    Good Luck!

  3. #3
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    It's definitely possible to get good bikes fairly cheap on CL. My first 'real' bike was a 1988 Centurion Le Mans RS I paid $200 for off CL, it lasted me 7 years until it was stolen last year. I would keep looking if I were you. Just make sure whatever you're looking at is the right size for you, otherwise riding will be difficult and really uncomfortable. There are a lot of good resources online for checking bike size, you should be able to get a decent idea of a size range, and if something's out of that range, you can save yourself a trip!

  4. #4
    Senior Member moochems's Avatar
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    I especially like my lotus bikes (bike now,sold the other one).

    i would be hesitant to offer 300 for it though, unless the tires/tubes were recently replaced and unworn, the cables and housings were in fine working and cosmetic shape, and the wheels were overall in good shape/true and the rims showed little to no wear from the brakes. If it had ratty bar tape I would not be interested at that price. Rust, wheels or a crank that wre not smooth and free rotating would have me looking elsewhere also.


    If it was in great shape, and most importantly fit me, 300 seems reasonable, especially if tires/tubes and bar tape were modern and unworn.

    Unique

  5. #5
    Senior Member longbeachgary's Avatar
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    My advice to you would be to get some good locks - not the cheap cable locks but U-locks that will keep your bike your bike.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscight View Post
    The bike retailed for about $350-450 back in 1984, but then again, inflation and whatnot so it might be worth it.
    Unless you're a "classic and vintage" sort of guy, I'd keep looking too. $300 for a 30 year old bike is just plain too much, IMHO. Unless you're looking for wall art. And bikes don't get better (or more expensive) with age like wine or scotch.

    Sounds to me like you're looking for cheap transportation, not wall art, and not "classic and vintage".

    Remember too to leave enough leftover in the budget for a good lock. Not a cheap lock, but a good lock. College campuses are hotspots for thieves. $40-$50 gets you in the neighborhood.

    You'll need a tire pump for at home, and spare tubes too. And some basic tools to change the tire.

    Pretty soon your $400 bike budget becomes a $200 bike, and $200 accessories and spare parts budget.

    EDIT: Don't despair. It can be done, BTW. I started out with a $500 budget for the whole kit and kaboodle. That got me into the low end of new LBS bikes. The bike was $370, and with a helmet, lock, some spares, tools, and tax, it came in at just over $500. I put just shy of 3,000 miles on that bike before I'd saved enough for its replacement--a $100 fixer-upper craigslist special that I fixed up and rode for the next seven years.
    Last edited by tsl; 05-05-14 at 09:46 PM.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  7. #7
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    Used prices depend a lot on where you live. Used bikes sell for a lot more on CL in SF than in many other places for example.



    But $300 seems steep to me. I got a much nicer and newer bike (1997 MSRP of $2000) for just $500 recently in nice condition.

  8. #8
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Buy a 1990s rigid (no suspension) mountain bike on Craigslist for $100. Make sure it is a good brand, not a Huffy or other Walmart type bike.

    It will be rugged, cheap, and have low gears for your hilly ride. Rigid mountain bikes are excellent commuters.

    Get a helmet $30 and lights $40-ish. Also get a quality U lock $50 and learn how to best use it.

    Later you can add street tires, fenders, etc.
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  9. #9
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    What is with this old bike fad. I was talking to another shop mechanic about it today downtown. Seems like everyone is over paying for 30+ yr old scrap metal. Fixie fad over scrap fad begin.

    Find a couple yr old bike on craigslist or look at sales and discount online dealers you can get something decent for 300-400 that doeant need a classic plate so to speak.

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    Quote Originally Posted by beerbaron2002 View Post
    What is with this old bike fad. I was talking to another shop mechanic about it today downtown. Seems like everyone is over paying for 30+ yr old scrap metal. Fixie fad over scrap fad begin.

    Find a couple yr old bike on craigslist or look at sales and discount online dealers you can get something decent for 300-400 that doeant need a classic plate so to speak.
    There's nothing generically wrong with older bikes. What's the major improvement with newer ones? Fancier steels that shave a few ounces of weight and maybe got a little more stiff at the expense of reliability? A more modern groupset that gives 20 speeds instead of 10 with more convenient but less reliable brifters. You can pick up nice, vintage 531 frames made by good welders at cheap prices, nicely kitted out with old Record stuff that isn't the fanciest these days but won't quit. And they're only gonna run you a couple hundred bucks. At the same time a lot of junk from around the same vintage will sell for about as much. It helps to know what you're looking at.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saving Hawaii View Post
    There's nothing generically wrong with older bikes. What's the major improvement with newer ones? Fancier steels that shave a few ounces of weight and maybe got a little more stiff at the expense of reliability? A more modern groupset that gives 20 speeds instead of 10 with more convenient but less reliable brifters. You can pick up nice, vintage 531 frames made by good welders at cheap prices, nicely kitted out with old Record stuff that isn't the fanciest these days but won't quit. And they're only gonna run you a couple hundred bucks. At the same time a lot of junk from around the same vintage will sell for about as much. It helps to know what you're looking at.
    If you can find something with original parts with very little wear fine. My mother has a bike feom 82 that was ridden 3 times and never touched again it could pass as brand new.

    The op is new to biking so I'm betting not an expert on vintage bike so why take 30 years of wear and unoriginal components when yoh can buy new or a few years old?

    The fad part was in reference to what shop owners and mechanics are seeing more and more of and that's over priced junk selling for top dollar to young people its a fad just like fixies were.

  12. #12
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    I agree with jyl- get a '90's steel mountain bike with no suspension from Craigslist for $100. Get a helmet, lights, lock, pump, spare tube, patch kit for another $200.

    The crummy Walmart bikes (Next, Pacific, Mongoose) are no good. Brands to look for are Specialized, Trek, GT. Look for 21 speeds or more; then it's likely you'll get a freehub (stronger) in the back rather than a freewheel (weaker). Check for no looseness or funny grinding feeling when you spin the wheels, cranks and turn the handlebars. Check for easy shifting, smooth riding, good braking. Find a friend that likes bikes and learn some mechanics or join the local co-op for mechanic-ing pointers and cheap parts.

  13. #13
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    The Lotus could very well be worth $300 if in good condition, and it doesn't need new tires, cables, brake pads, etc. It also needs to fit. Not a bargain if it doesn't fit you well because you will never be comfortable, even after replacing stem, fork, etc.

  14. #14
    Lotus Monomaniac Snydermann's Avatar
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    The 1984 Lotus Unique is a great bike. It's a sportier version of the Excelle.

    The 1984 Unique has great vintage details, lots of chrome and some cool Lotus pantographing/engraving on the fork crown and seat stay caps. The Unique was one model above the best-selling and highly rated Lotus Excelle. The Unique took the Excelle up a step or two and Lotus added all the features they couldn't afford on the Excelle and still keep it at the under $300.00 price point.

    While I feel $300.00 is top dollar for the average Unique, a minty example with original equipment in a popular color and size could easily be worth that . . . or more.

    The Lotus is also a popular brand that is still on the upswing in popularity and price, so you'd be buying a stable, if not appreciating, asset.

    Except for missing brake hoods and add-on extension levers, the 1984 Unique in the photo below shows a rare original example of the model. Important original details that can add value to the bike are the original saddle, complete correct reflector set, original bottle cage, and gumwall tires, just to name a few.

    00U0U_3KJm7i4n216_600x450.jpg
    Always searching for Lotus literature and memorabilia for use at www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com, can you help?

  15. #15
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Oscight,where are you located? Might want to see if there are any co-ops/bike kitchens in your area.

    Bicycle Collective and Co-op Links

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  16. #16
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    If it's 2 miles and around campus, i wouldn't think you need such speedy road looking bikes, but a hybrid or town bike? I ride between 2-12 miles one way & i did this on a cruiser stuck in 1st gear for a few years & now i have a commuter specific model....

    I would also call around bike shops for scratch/dent or other such bikes that you may get a discount on. You'd be surprised what you might find in your preferred price range.

    - Andy
    I can't wait for the next pint of good chocolate milk after a long ride.

  17. #17
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    No bike co-ops near me at the moment. If I waited until the end of the academic year, I'd be able to visit my hometown's co-op for one day, but otherwise, that isn't much of an option. I'm currently located in La Jolla (San Diego).

    Still confused on whether the Unique would be a good deal or not. The seller describes it as having the original seat, and I see a reflector set like the one in the picture there, but I see no bottle cage and there are new Bianchi handlebar tapes. Otherwise, the bike looks to be in pristine condition.

    Called a couple of LBSs. PerformanceBikes is basically offering what they have on their site, and another shop closer to my school basically has list price Raleighs around the $550-2000 range.

    I've mainly been looking at Craigslist and considering the Mercier Galaxy Tour on Bikesdirect. Saw a Miyata Six-Ten for $360 that's actually located in La Jolla, but it's apparently a 52cm frame (and I'm 5'10.5"-ish, soooo). Darn.

    So these were the bikes I've taken note of on Craigslist (that fit into my price range, anyways):

    Lotus Unique


    Centurion Accord

    Schwinn Super Sport (but this looks to be in mediocre condition)

    All of these require me to take like, 50 minute bus rides though, so it'd be a bit annoying.

  18. #18
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    My suggestion:

    Fuji Bikes | LIFESTYLE | PAVEMENT - CITY COMFORT | CROSSTOWN 2.5

    I have test ridden this model in the last 3 model years, and they are ideal for what you're looking to do.

    Good luck!

    - Andy
    I can't wait for the next pint of good chocolate milk after a long ride.

  19. #19
    Senior Member puckett129's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscight View Post
    That Centurion looks to be in good shape. Otherwise I'd have to agree with Pablo on the Performance recommendation. I see there's 3 (WTF?!) Performance Bike stores in San Diego and their return policy can't be beat.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by puckett129 View Post
    That Centurion looks to be in good shape. Otherwise I'd have to agree with Pablo on the Performance recommendation. I see there's 3 (WTF?!) Performance Bike stores in San Diego and their return policy can't be beat.
    +1 on that centurion, but I am a bit biased. Looks like it's in great shape though.

  21. #21
    Lotus Monomaniac Snydermann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscight View Post
    Still confused on whether the Unique would be a good deal or not. The seller describes it as having the original seat, and I see a reflector set like the one in the picture there, but I see no bottle cage and there are new Bianchi handlebar tapes. Otherwise, the bike looks to be in pristine condition.
    I wish the photos were larger, but that Lotus Unique looks like a beautiful bike for $300.00.

    Lotus called that color Violet-Blue, it does appear to change color depending on the light. It looks particularly stunning in person, the photos just can't capture the depth of the color. Most of the Japanese Lotus bikes have outstanding paint quality, even after 30 years. The Italian and Taiwanese Lotus bikes can have variable paint quality.

    The saddle on the Lotus is original, it's a Kashimax model with a reflective Lotus nameplate that was only used on the 1984 models. The reflector set on that bike is original, which to me can be indicative of a seldom-used or well-kept bike. The pedals are missing the original toe clips, straps, and reflectors. The bottle cage is missing, but that's usually just a bonus if it is there anyway. I don't recommend using the plastic-mount original cages, except for collector and display purposes. The brake hoods are also missing but easily replaced with aftermarket hoods.

    Some of the mid-level Lotus bikes used foam grips in 1983-1984, some had bar tape, even on the same model in the same year.

    As vintage Lotus bikes go, they don't get much nicer than that one. It also wouldn't take much to bring it back to 99% original.

    If I was looking for a cool sport-commuter in that price range the Lotus would be a no-brainer. I could wax-on even more about this bike, if anyone was interested .

    01414_eiIsdl4DsWQ_600x450.jpg
    Last edited by Snydermann; 05-06-14 at 08:21 PM.
    Always searching for Lotus literature and memorabilia for use at www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com, can you help?

  22. #22
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    How concerned should I be regarding the durability of vintage bike parts, even if they are in the original condition?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscight View Post
    How concerned should I be regarding the durability of vintage bike parts, even if they are in the original condition?
    Just buy something off bikesdirect or citygrounds you're a student not an old guy reliving the days when him and mary sue road the ten speed to lovers point in the 60s.

    An old bike isn't something cool like a classic muscle car.

  24. #24
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    The Dutch commute on vintage bikes.

    I like vintage bikes; to me, they're practical- it's great if other people don't think they're "cool" because then they won't want to steal them. Where I live, thieves steal childrens' and college students' newer bikes, ones that retail for around $600.

    As uncomfortable as my ill-fitted Huffy mountain bike was (I should've ridden my girl's bike, but I didn't because it looked to feminine to me; I preferred riding a bike for boys), it wasn't stolen when I rode it to middle school in Colorado, locking it with only a cable lock.
    Last edited by anon06; 05-06-14 at 10:53 PM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscight View Post
    How concerned should I be regarding the durability of vintage bike parts, even if they are in the original condition?
    In most cases, vintage bike frames are going to be made of chromoly steel. If these frames have no issues with rust, then they will continue to last for many more decades, if rust does not become an issue. The only thing then to worry about would be the components of these vintage bikes. For most brands of vintage bikes there are enough spare and aftermarket parts that you shouldn't have to worry about replacing these components for many years to come. The only exception to this general rule would be the Peugeot brand. Therefore, I would suggest you think twice before purchasing a Peugeot of any kind. Peugeot parts are scarce!

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