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Old 12-13-09, 06:08 PM   #1
slcbob
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Tips on finding an old clunker / cruiser to love?

I'm looking for an around-town clunker to buy, fix up (a little), and use as an around-town cruiser / utility bike.

I've surfed Craigslist a bit and stuck my head in a few places, haven't found the motherlode of used bikes. I'd like to make sure I'm looking smart and not just hard. I've got more money than time but in reality don't have a lot of either -- your advice on how to maximize my hunting time will be most appreciated.

I'm in DC / Montgomery County, so tips specific to this area are great, but anything actionable in general is welcome.

In my case, I'm handy enough with a wrench, find working on my bike therapeutic, don't particularly enjoy the shopping / hunting part. And I'm an XL so when I find great small and medium bikes it just rubs salt in the wound.
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Old 12-13-09, 10:12 PM   #2
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Have you tried posting a "Want To Buy" ad on CL? If not, it's worth a try. Let the sellers call you!

Also, you didn't say how much of a hurry you are in. If you're waiting for that deal of a century on a specific type of bike, that may take a while.
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Old 12-13-09, 10:35 PM   #3
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Thrift shops, like Salvation Army or Goodwill. Our club did a bike drive last spring, fixing up 25 old bikes for local casino workers, who can't afford cars and use bikes for transportation. Some of the ones i remember were a bunch of decent mountain bikes (Specialized Hard Rock or equivalent) for around $25 apiece, a Centurion Le Mans for $10, Bridgestone MB3 for $45, and a Trek 620 (Reynolds 531 tourer from the '80s) for $35. Most of them needed very little work, some of them nothing but lube and adjustment. I put fenders on the Trek, converted it to singlespeed with a BMX freewheel and ride it a few times a week. Bonus: I found a Brooks B17, new in the box, for $4.50.
You may have to look around a few times until something cool comes in, but it's worth looking.
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Old 12-14-09, 05:31 AM   #4
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Velo Dog - I've looked in a couple of Goodwills around here. Nothing. Primary genesis behind my frustration and post. Someone else suggested the Salvation Army is less bike averse, too. I need to find one and see.

AlmostTrick - no deal of the century and no specific type of bike. No real hurry either to be done, just not to waste too much time I don't have. I'm a little worried that the Want to Buy route either gets you crickets chirping or swarmed by profiteers and may not be so "worth a try." Have you had any personal experience with that?
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Old 12-14-09, 03:47 PM   #5
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Yard Sales, Estate Sales, take a drive around town on trash day or night before get there early. Long Shots, but never know. Antique stores sometimes work out too.
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Old 12-14-09, 05:52 PM   #6
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Yard sales often have old English 3 spds, by far the best clunker cruiser for around town. Fenders and chainguard keep you clean, 3 speeds is all you need. Essentially no maintenance free except for a squirt of oil a couple of times a year and they are very low on the hierarchy of bikes most stolen.
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Old 12-14-09, 10:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slcbob View Post
AlmostTrick - no deal of the century and no specific type of bike. No real hurry either to be done, just not to waste too much time I don't have. I'm a little worried that the Want to Buy route either gets you crickets chirping or swarmed by profiteers and may not be so "worth a try." Have you had any personal experience with that?
Write up a specific WTB ad with words like "MUST BE such and such" and "LESS THAN *enter dollar amount*" to help eliminate needless replies. I don't believe even the busiest CL locations would have you spending more than 20 minutes or so a day to relpy "Thanks, but no thanks" or to ask the proper questions to figure out if the bike in question is worth looking at. Certainly you could spend much more time going around to yard sales, where you will often come up empty.

Look for local police auctions too. These often are held in the spring. I've gotten several decent bikes for 5 to 10 dollars a peice (or less!). At the last auction I went to, bidding was so low they started selling them in sets of 3, starting at $5. Get there early and figure out which one(s) you want.

Last edited by AlmostTrick; 12-14-09 at 11:04 PM.
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Old 12-15-09, 05:26 AM   #8
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Fair enough. Thanks AlmostTrick.

I don't see yard sales and "maximize my hunting time" on the same page. At least given the small sample of yard sales I have looked in on.
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