I know someone who wants to get into riding fixed on the cheap, and has been watching eBay.
eBay seems to be infested with a bunch of lousy conversion with suicide hubs, which even at a measly $115 bucks or so, look like a rip off to me. (Here's one she was recently looking at: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...MEWA%3AIT&rd=1
(Are we allowed to post links to closed eBay auctions outside the eBay sticky thread?)
I dunno exactly what her budget is, but would I be steering her wrong to advise against most of the crappy looking bum-bikes that seem to be showing up on eBay in favor of a Mercier TT?
Someone's selling those on eBay right now for slightly over $300, which looks to me like a killer deal. It's got a 48x16 so she'd probably want a different cog to run a little easier gear, and she'd want put a brake on it, plus shipping from the gulf coast to SoCal would probably run another $40-$50, so the total cost is going to come out probably closer to $400.
OTOH, as soon as she learns to skip/skid she's probably going to want to replace the rear wheel on the bum-bike with something with an actual track-hub, which means, at the very least, $60 or so for spokes and a hub to rebuild the wheel, or $100 or more to replace it entirely. Not to mention who knows what else could be wrong with the thing, and it doesn't even have pedals.
So I guess what it boils down to is, would I be doing a disservice to a friend by steering her away from eBay conversions in favor of a new, bargain-basement track-bike?