Join Date: Mar 2012
Bikes: '09 Trek 2.1 * '75 Sekine * 2010 Raleigh Talus 8.0 * '90 Giant Mtb * Raleigh M20 * Fuji Nevada mtb
I have done ok on Craigslist, keeping a constant eye out for sub-$100 mtb in such good condition I can resell to break even if I don't like it. You just have to be very patient. Key is 26 inch, and to avoid anything that is rusty and needs obvious parts replacements. Tires can be found for $10 in such good condition that you can buy different ones just to try out, then give to a charity. Lastly, minimal maintenance and repair skills are necessary because the 1st trip to the LBS blows the deal.
If you want to spend $400, you can do very very well, but again be super patient, scan the ads daily, and of course be careful of stolen bikes.
FB4K - Every October we wrench on donated bikes. Every December, a few thousand kids get bikes for Christmas. For many, it is their first bike, ever. Every bike, new and used, was donated, built, cleaned and repaired. Check us out on FaceBook: FB4K.
Disclaimer: 99% of what I know about cycling I learned on BF. That would make, ummm, 1% experience. And a lot of posts.