Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Cambridge, Mass.
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I know what you're talking about. I was going through this process two weeks ago, buying a cheap road bike as a commuter. I ended up spending $100 for a Raleigh Record in very good shape, and while it was more than I wanted to spend on the bike, I paid it....
One or two notes: I think that the bikes in the Cambridge/Somerville areas tend to go for more than they're worth, maybe because of demand from students returning to school or things like that. Maybe the same is true for JP, too. I feel like I paid a premium for being able to buy a bike in a place that I could reasonably get to (I live car-free).
Conversely, it seemed like there were often good deals for road bikes in the $50-100 range out in the suburbs. If you have the ability to get to Dedham, Framingham, Acton, etc., consider yourself lucky -- I saw a lot of bikes that I would have liked to have seen, but wasn't willing to rent a car/cajole a friend to get out there without being sure about it. Here's an example listed today: http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/bik/396656548.html
Out of curiosity, docbrown, with a username like that, you wouldn't happen to be located at a large engineering institution in Cambridge, would you?