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Old 11-23-13, 05:02 PM   #1
CompleteStreets
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Tips for finding a bike on craigslist

I'm looking for tips on how to minimize the amount of time spent on shopping for a bike on craigslist.

Currently I have a filter with my price min/max. From there I usually just browse in the bike section. Thanks.
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Old 11-23-13, 05:34 PM   #2
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95% of the bikes on craigslist are being listed by flippers,,some of them are honest and fair but many hurry to beat everyone to a decent deal,,then put it right back on craigslist for 2 to 4 times of what they paid for it,,,and many misrepresent what they are selling.

Unless you are very versed on prices and bicycle mechanics,,,I would stay away from craigslist
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Old 11-23-13, 06:02 PM   #3
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95% of the bikes on craigslist are being listed by flippers,,some of them are honest and fair but many hurry to beat everyone to a decent deal,,then put it right back on craigslist for 2 to 4 times of what they paid for it,,,and many misrepresent what they are selling.

Unless you are very versed on prices and bicycle mechanics,,,I would stay away from craigslist
^^ Most of that ain't true in my area.

Know your size and what else you think you want on a bike.

Find an Ad you like and need help...come back and ask for help here.
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Old 11-23-13, 06:29 PM   #4
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^^ Most of that ain't true in my area.

Know your size and what else you think you want on a bike.

Find an Ad you like and need help...come back and ask for help here.
yea I down played how bad the list is here in the Detroit area,,,there are some real crooks, one guy has almost single handidly wrecked the intergrity of the entire bicycle category.

But I still contend no matter what city you are in, if you are not very well versed on bicycle pricing and mechanics,,you need to stay away from craigslist

By the way I have sold hundreds of bikes on craigslist
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Old 11-23-13, 06:33 PM   #5
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New Haven area is decent. Plenty of flippers, but they tend to ask sane prices, and people will talk price without being jerks. If you get a bad vibe, skip it.

If you're happy with basic nice riding older road bikes, I think CL is great. MTB technology has changed quite a bit and older bikes seem overpriced to me, but that may be my tastes.

The C&V section of this forum is a cool resource.
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Old 11-23-13, 06:35 PM   #6
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yea I down played how bad the list is here in the Detroit area,,,there are some real crooks, one guy has almost single handidly wrecked the intergrity of the entire bicycle category.

But I still contend no matter what city you are in, if you are not very well versed on bicycle pricing and mechanics,,you need to stay away from craigslist

By the way I have sold hundreds of bikes on craigslist
This area has many one time new sellers that actually don't know prices and sizes.
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Old 11-23-13, 08:34 PM   #7
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At the bottom of any CL search page there's a link to create an RSS feed. D/L a feed reader, or add an RSS extension to your browser. Refine the parameters of your search and direct the hits to your email. Say no to scrolling!
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Old 11-24-13, 05:46 AM   #8
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I never pay more 1/2 of what the bike cost new.

I love to find a bike from some rich person that lives on a very steep hill that over looks the city. Many times they ride it once down the hill then they have to walk up the hill only one time then they sell it to me for cheap.
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Old 11-24-13, 08:29 AM   #9
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I was going to say be patient. but you want speed. then increase your geographical search area and be willing to drive a couple hours (in each direction) for the right bike. but try to be patient.
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Old 11-24-13, 11:03 AM   #10
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^^ Most of that ain't true in my area.

Know your size and what else you think you want on a bike.

Find an Ad you like and need help...come back and ask for help here.
There's my question on buying from Craigslist. Not that there are a lot of bikes in my area, pretty much I see 1 maybe 2 every time I search, I have no idea what size I need. All I have is a junk Walmart bike now and I'm looking at picking something up next spring to continue with my exercise of choice.

I've been on 3 bikes in my life. My current Mongoose full suspension, a Murry 18 speed back in the early 90's, and my department store BMX style bike when I was a kid. How do I know what size I need without going into a shop and taking their time up but then not buying from them?
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Old 11-25-13, 12:28 AM   #11
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There's my question on buying from Craigslist. Not that there are a lot of bikes in my area, pretty much I see 1 maybe 2 every time I search, I have no idea what size I need. All I have is a junk Walmart bike now and I'm looking at picking something up next spring to continue with my exercise of choice.

I've been on 3 bikes in my life. My current Mongoose full suspension, a Murry 18 speed back in the early 90's, and my department store BMX style bike when I was a kid. How do I know what size I need without going into a shop and taking their time up but then not buying from them?
http://www.competitivecyclist.com/St...ulatorBike.jsp

This calculator would be a good place to start. If you shop by any number, you shop by the horizontal or effective top tube measurement which, unfortunately, is not how bicycles are typically sized. Different bicycle manufacturers measure frames differently and frames styles vary so the sizing could be way off. Know the range of sizes that might fit you and then see if you can find the geometry diagrams for that specific bike and go from there or have the seller measure it for you.

For example depending on the bike, how it's sized and the frame style, my road bike size ranges from 50cm all the way up to 56cm; but 53-55cm is typical for me on a road bike. My road bike is 54cm, but I've tried 56cm bikes and I don't find that they are uncomfortable either. I feel a bit stretch, very slightly, but probably a shorter stem would fix it.

According to the manufacturer of my hybrid, I should be on a 17, but I found myself more comfortable on a 19. Though I think I'm actually in between sizes at 5'8".

Don't take my height and bike sizes as correct for you though. My friend is about 0.25" taller and finds himself more comfortable on bikes one size smaller than mine.

Last edited by jsdavis; 11-25-13 at 12:32 AM.
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Old 11-25-13, 03:43 AM   #12
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cruise ebay first. you will get an idea of what bikes are actually selling for not what people are asking.

I agree that having some knowledge of bicycles and the components is a necessary skill to avoid paying too much.

decide what type of bicycle you want, road, mtn, hybred, beach cruiser, ss/fg.

research it as much as possible. the more money, you plan on spending the better versed you should be.

If your willing to spend 4-500 bucks, dont forget about the brand new option available to you.
www.bikesdirect.com
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Old 11-28-13, 02:31 PM   #13
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Craigslist is a gamble. There are many overpriced bicycles, in particular with any bike that is a well known brand. A four year old Surly LHT is not worth $1,000, for example. Hence, the same bike will be reposted several times over the course of months. My best scores from CL happened when I agreed to meet the person to look at the bike. I always try and lowball the price, but never over email or phone. That is too easy for them to be dismissive of my offer. Lowballing the price is easy to do if, in person, you mention that you have seen the bike posted for the past several months. Tell them their price is unfair, and that nobody will buy it. If they do not agree to the lowballed price in person, I have been successful at getting a friend to take a look at the bike (the seller doesn't know the connection) who purposely lowballs the price in person by 10% lower than my price. The seller doesn't sell to my friend, but instead calls me back to see if I am still interested in the bike...
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Old 11-28-13, 02:37 PM   #14
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Ya I had a guy from Springfield buy a bike from me off craigslist. Next thing I know it's all parted out for sale on eBay. So come to find out he beats people up on price then sells them on eBay. Always says in ad was in storage for years like new. Dude is a tool!
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Old 11-28-13, 02:41 PM   #15
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Physically go look at it, in person, as CL recommends.
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Old 11-28-13, 02:44 PM   #16
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Overall it is best to avoid CL in my experience. There are also many bike thieves who sell complete bikes for cheap (saw a LHT '12 for a $300 OBO a few weeks ago), and untraceable components. I would feel awful knowingly buying a suspect bike, yet clearly many people do not because the CL market for stolen goods is popular and growing.
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Old 11-29-13, 06:39 PM   #17
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http://www.mytenspeeds.com/My_TenSpeeds_1/

While geared to classic & vintage, much of the advice rings true for any era,
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Old 11-29-13, 07:57 PM   #18
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Tips for finding a bike on craigslist

I guess I'd have to say my hobby is buying and selling bikes on Craigslist. I buy and sell a couple dozen a year. Some bikes I keep and ride a while, others I fix up and sell. I harvest parts from some, sell the goodstuff on ebay . Its fun and I get to try out a lot of bikes.
I pretty much look for Bike Boom era bikes. And I look for low priced ones. I rarely buy any new parts or tires. Just keep recycling and repurposing what I have.
As long as the bikes frame and fork are straight you really can't go wrong. And wheels. Wheels should be round. Anything else is just cables, chain, bar tape, etc.
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Old 11-30-13, 08:50 AM   #19
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Depending on your location, www.searchtempest.com can be a real help. It allows you to search multiple CL /areas, and filter a number of ways.

I would also search on all of the for-sale sections of CL (with some appropriate keywords). Often someone will post a bargain in the General section (or Sporting Goods).

That said though, I would have to say that when dealing with Craigslist, patience is the key. It takes awhile to wait for the right size/condition/price bike to show up. And when it does, you have to be ready to move quickly and decisively.
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Old 11-30-13, 08:55 AM   #20
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I think the best teacher is an old 12 speed. Get one that was once a mid-level decent bike, and spend a year or two overhauling it and learning what is what.

Then when you venture back to Craigslist, you will be an expert and will find many sweet bikes.
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Old 12-01-13, 02:56 PM   #21
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Also do a local search with ebay. I bought two nice bikes.. that I picked up, and saved on the shipping. You can have a $100 advantage compared to other bidders.
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Old 12-01-13, 03:00 PM   #22
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I've bought some really great bike off CL over the years. Some of this depends on where you live. My local CL is just awful with a few wannabe flippers trying the recycle the same junk over and over again. But if you are patient, you'll find a real person who is selling a bike and the prices tend to be reasonable in my experience. In the past year, I picked up two nice bikes for my daughter at very reasonable prices (a 1983 Trek 600 and a vintage specialized rockhopper).
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Old 12-01-13, 04:54 PM   #23
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Quote:
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95% of the bikes on craigslist are being listed by flippers,,some of them are honest and fair but many hurry to beat everyone to a decent deal,,then put it right back on craigslist for 2 to 4 times of what they paid for it,,,and many misrepresent what they are selling.

Unless you are very versed on prices and bicycle mechanics,,,I would stay away from craigslist
This is what I have seen too. The people here will constantly sing about the great deals on Craigslist; but, I seldom see them. Unless shopping Craigslist happens to be your hobby it has never seemed to be a good source for bikes.

If you already have a bike and are just looking for an odd extra, or you are planning to resale, it might be good. However, for a person who needs to get a bike to get to work, or get riding immediately, it seems that people who shop Craigslist end up cheated.

Shopping Craigslist requires significantly more knowledge than the typical new bike shopper has. Too many people start with the assumption that a Craigslist bike will be a good deal when the opposite is generally true. A new bike shopper who needs to save money would be best to avoid Craigslist. Better deals can be had at the Big Box stores, yes, the bikes are terrible; but, it is better then buying a Big Box bike for more than it costs at the store. At the very least a potential buyer should be familiar with the Big Box offerings so they can identify when a Bog Box bike is being sold for an inflated price.

Yes, the experienced bike expert with a lot of free time can find good deals; but, for the person who just needs a bike, stay away from Craigslist.

Last edited by Robert C; 12-01-13 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 12-02-13, 02:06 PM   #24
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Learning all you can is the key to any used bicycle purchase. Spend time here and elsewhere reading as others have suggested.

Learn which brands are junk. (This can be hard because some brands cover the spectrum from boat anchor to relatively useful).

Know which components are junk. Typically (at least for Shimano) if the derailleur (front or rear) just has a number and no name, it is because the component is below the level to "earn" a name.

Typical CL sellers won't list the size of a bike, so the best bet is to estimate based on the picture... Even if they say things like, I am 6' tall and it fits me perfectly, it means nothing. I see people 6' tall that obviously like their road bike to fit like a bmx.

Also, don't limit yourself to CL. A few local bike shops sell used bikes (it doesn't hurt to ask). Thrift stores can occassionally be the source of a good find, as can garage sales. Also, if you want an online experience, there is always Ebay (sort by distance) and then ask if you can see/test the bike before bidding.

I agree with the earlier comments that sometimes people (regardless of venue) are going to ask for high prices. They will also throw around terms like "rare" "high end" "light weight" "fast" and various others that they think will get them the best price. So, as a buyer you should... beware.

Good luck!
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Last edited by Little Darwin; 12-02-13 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 12-02-13, 02:33 PM   #25
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I'd check garage sales in wealthy neighborhoods. My brother-in-law does this and has found some fantastic deals. I think tim24K's post is pretty much spot on.
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