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  1. #1
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    Looking for help buying a used bike

    My bike was stolen! Oh well, moving on, time to get a new bike.

    Despite my love of cycling, I just don't know details on what parts make a great bike. I am considering buying a new one from my favorite local dealer, and considering a new Surly Pacer for $1000 and free service. But I'm aware that I can get way more bang for my buck buying a used bike, if I know what I'm looking for. I'm seeking help from an individual or from the group to help me find good deals on Craigslist or possibly eBay.

    I would like to do more than just ask for free help. In exchange, I'll gladly pay a gratuity, amount negotiable. If instead I'm allowed to seek the help of the group, I'll gladly donate the gratuity to a good cause of the group's choice, and will happily provide confirmation of the deed. So long as I don't violate the rules of the forum in doing so.

    If you can help me scan for good deals, or even suggest what I should counter-offer, I'll go and look at the bikes and take them to an LBS for evaluation (and in doing so, support the LBS economy!)

    My intended use: heavy San Francisco and Bay Area commuting, and training for charity rides like AIDS Lifecycle (and again your assistance is ultimately doing good works!). I considered cyclocross but was advised to stick with the hybrids, so I'm posting here. My last bike was a Specialized Sirrus Comp, which worked for 5 years, but had flaws that drove me insane, namely gears that could never be properly turned, and a carbon fork that wasn't true, therefore guaranteeing a frequent scraping of breaks against front wheel. So, in a sense, I'm relieved that I'm finally forced to replace it.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
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    If you liked the geometry of the Sirrus than I'd stick to something with the same geometry and within +/- 1 inch of the frame size. Make sure the head tube on bikes you are considering is around the same size (smaller head tubes make for more aggressive/leaned over riding positions.) For better shifting I would go with a minimum of Shimano Deore or Tiagra. My Trek 7.5FX uses Deore shifters and a Deore LX rear derailleur and it shifts really nice and doesn't require much adjustment. For heavy commuting I would skip the carbon fork and stick to steel (better) or aluminum forks (OK.)

    As long as you know what frame size you ride feel free to post Craigslist ads in this thread and posters here can chime in and let you know if it's a good deal.

  3. #3
    S'Cruzer pierce's Avatar
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    My hybrid is a 2010 Globe Vienna, which is pretty much the same thing as the base model Sirrus, came with the cheapest of tourney+altus gearing.... I had to readjust it a couple times over the first 100 miles as it settled in, but it now shifts sweetly in all usable gears, and there's no problems with the (steel) fork, the bike rides true and straight. I'm relaying this so you don't take your experience with your Sirrus as a mark against the whole line. now, admittedly, I've let my GAS get the better of me ("Gear Acquisition Syndrome") and have upgraded the derailleur, and crankset on this bike, but it was working just fine with the cheap stock stuff.

    scraping brakes is usually a sign of an out-of-tune WHEEL not bent forks.

    for SF commuting, you definitely want something with sturdy wheels, but light enough to climb, and with a wide range gearing as that city has some GNARLY hills. I like 700c wheels, for SF commuting, I believe I'd be sticking with the fatter hybrid sizes like 700x35, 700x38, using good grade high threadcount tires like Schwalbe Marathon Hypers, Vittoria Hyper Randonneurs, but these are expensive (like $50 each). I really really recommend tires with reflective sidewalls for riding in heavily traffic areas.

    for SF commuting, there's a LOT to be said about having a funky /looking/ older rat bike, and using as many old looking used parts on it as possible (if you have to repair/upgrade) so its not a theft magnet). even nice-new tires (sigh like the ones I suggested above) can attract sticky-fingers. (Bike thieves should be shot like horse thieves of old).

    MOST important on /any/ bike is that its a good fit to your body and riding style.

    If you buy that new Surly, I know this is heresy, but if I was living/commuting in SF, I'd strongly consider stripping it down and painting it flat black or something.

  4. #4
    Senior Member a1penguin's Avatar
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    The Surly Pacer is a road bike, and not a bad choice if you want drop bar bike. It's a sturdy bike, steel, Tiagra components which should perform flawlessly and last for years. It should be a good bike for dealing with curbs and city riding. It has 28mm tires. You might want to consider 32mm tires for smoother ride on bumpy roads.

    There are lots of bikes on Craigslist in the bay area, but I think many bikes are overpriced. You need to be patient to find a good bike at the right price.

    If you buy the Surly from LBS, it will probably come with some "free service for X years" deal. That might be helpful if you ride a lot and want annual tuneups.

    Are you looking at CL to get a better bike at the $1000 price or to get a bike at a lower price? Many people come here seeking advice; it's free :-) In return, it's helpful if you share back to the bikeforums community with a review of your new bike.
    2012 Cannondale Synapse 3, 2012 Trek 7.5 FX Disc, 2003 Trek 2200 WSD, 1997 Specialized Rockhopper Al Comp

  5. #5
    Senior Member curbtender's Avatar
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    What size do you ride?

  6. #6
    S'Cruzer pierce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a1penguin View Post
    ...There are lots of bikes on Craigslist in the bay area, but I think many bikes are overpriced. You need to be patient to find a good bike at the right price..
    sadly, there's also a lot of STOLEN bikes on CL.

    recent case in newspaper down here in santa cruz. local dude's high end mountain bike was stolen. he finds it on CL a few weeks later (STOOOPID thieves!), so has his friend respond to ad. thief arranges meet to show bike at friends house. bike is indeed the stolen one, owner+buddy jump the thief who tries to run and gets a concrete sandwich for his efforts and is sat on til police arrive. police report was amusing ('suspect sustained injuries while trying to escape').

  7. #7
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    Thanks all.

    curbbender, I think 52-54cm or 17-19".

    A1Penguin, the trend here lately is to put different handlebars on a bike to make it more urban-friendly, so I may make that and a couple of other mods, including tires. To answer your question regarding CL, I was thinking I might get a lot more bike for the same money, but I'm thinking now I'll just play it safe, get this deeply discounted bike, then take it to my favorite LBS for them to customize and upgrade a bit.

    pierce I hear you, but according to two different shops it was the fork. That bike was just plagued with lemony issues that no shop nor mechanic could fix. So honestly, I'm relieved to be starting fresh, now that I"ve been forced to part with it. I couldn't do it in the name of higher priorities for years, and now I must.

    Re: stolen, my last bike was pretty scratched up and was before the latest computer re-designed styles, so maybe that helped. I actually apply some good sense to locking it up and will be even more careful with a newer and better bike. sadly, I believe I got distracted and failed to lock it, since I found the lock completely intact on the sidewalk. Pilot error.

    Thanks guys. Going to donate to SF Bike Coalition in your honor.

    Will report back after my test rides tomorrow.

  8. #8
    Senior Member curbtender's Avatar
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    In the Mission, you could go flatbar 7 speed pretty easy and sell off the STI for some money. Other wise not bad as it is...

    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/3511911098.html


    Good luck, Happy New Year!

  9. #9
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    1) I wouldn't buy a bike that sold for less than $500.00 new at a LBS and I wouldn't pay more then half of the new price for a used bike.

    2) I only buy used bikes that looks like new or very very close to it.

    3) I look for some one selling a bike that lives at a top of a very steep hill. Most of the time they buy a new bike then ride it only one time down the hill then that is it. Then they are ready to sell it cheap!
    Last edited by tim24k; 12-31-12 at 07:33 AM.
    Life is good O^o

  10. #10
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    Well, I put money down on the Surly Pacer. The mechanics there are honest and do excellent work, and I could tell I was buying a quality bike, at $350 off, with a year of free service. I'm going to try the drop bars. Not sure about that. I've always been a flat bar kind of rider. Maybe I'll get used to it. If not, I'll have a different bar and shifters put on there. Hopefully I'll be able to pay it off in a couple of days.

    Thanks for helping me decide!

  11. #11
    Senior Member a1penguin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AtariBaby View Post
    Well, I put money down on the Surly Pacer. The mechanics there are honest and do excellent work, and I could tell I was buying a quality bike, at $350 off, with a year of free service. I'm going to try the drop bars. Not sure about that. I've always been a flat bar kind of rider. Maybe I'll get used to it. If not, I'll have a different bar and shifters put on there. Hopefully I'll be able to pay it off in a couple of days.

    Thanks for helping me decide!
    Heh. I have my flat bar bike; we could trade :-) I recommend riding it in safe, easy area while getting used to shifting/drop bars. It took me a good 500+ miles before I felt comfortable riding in the drops. I spent a lot of time riding on the top of the bars and the hoods. You might feel that the bike is twitchy since your hands rest closer to the point of rotation of the front wheel. You'll probably get used to it.
    2012 Cannondale Synapse 3, 2012 Trek 7.5 FX Disc, 2003 Trek 2200 WSD, 1997 Specialized Rockhopper Al Comp

  12. #12
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    @a1penguin: I was very tempted to get a Trek FX!

    I bought the Pacer today, and I'm already warming to it. I may be happy with drop bars now, we'll see. It is such a nice upgrade from my old Sirrus, with all its weird problems that mechanics could never seem to fix. I was feeling quite comfortable on the new bike after only a test ride and the ride home from the shop tonight. Already I'm loving the smooth ride, the superior gears and breaks, and even the color!

    As promised, in addition to charity rides, I'm going to make a donation to the SF Bike Coalition next week, one of the most effective and honorable organizations I've encountered. I do it in gratitude for all the friendly guidance here. I'll post here when that's done, and probably start a new thread with a review of the bike, as requested.

    And High Trails Cyclery in SF may not be the hippest or the sexiest bike shop, but they are definitely one of the nicest, most honest, and most knowledgeable shops I've done business with. Based on previous experience with my repairs to my last bike, and their extreme attention to setting up the new bike, I'm looking forward to the upcoming year of free service. Between that and the price I got, I really did well here. And that's thanks in part to the nods and advice from you guys.

    Thank you!
    Last edited by AtariBaby; 01-03-13 at 11:16 PM.

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