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80's Schwinn Mountain Bike

Old 02-03-20, 10:09 AM
  #1  
dirtman
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80's Schwinn Mountain Bike

I got an older neighbor with a minty clean, house kept 80's Schwinn Mesa Runner MTB.
Its a tall frame, which fits me well and its been all gone over just recently. The thing is super clean.
I took it for a ride up the block and back the other day when we were talking. I wasn't looking to buy a bike
but It rode great. I sort of stopped riding when I started blowing a lot of road bike tires.
In my old age I've gotten bigger, at 6ft 4in tall and just over 400lbs my vintage road bikes weren't doing well.
I rolled a tire and tore up a few sets of crank axle bearings so I hung them all up in the attic a few years ago.
I'm thinking that the bigger tires and heavier spokes of the MTB may be a good option.
The local shop didn't have anything but Chinese bikes, and nothing with wider tires.
(I didn't realize mountain bikes had come and gone). All they had was low end single speed beach cruisers and
narrow tire 'comfort' bikes.

My neighbor wants $200, he's not negotiable. I did take a walk through the flea market here a few times but there's no bikes, there
rarely ever is. I also like the fact this don't have suspension or any fancy shifters on it.
I also thought about even maybe finding an old three speed hub for it and losing all the gears.

I'd post a pic but it won't let me?
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Old 02-03-20, 11:25 AM
  #2  
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In my market, $200 is VERY HIGH for a Mesa Runner. It was at the lower end build wise. Since the bike has been sitting for a long time, you can count on old dried out grease, old tires and brake pads, etc. You will need all of this stuff carefully lubricated with fresh bearings. Any bike shop can do this work for you.


Bottom brackets need to be maintained. Regardless of size, you don't tear up crank axle bearings. But you need to maintain them. Dried out grease does not protect bearings or wear parts. Assume any used bike has not been maintained. People tend to ride bikes to failure (something breaks) instead of maintaining them.

Rather than look at what the bike is WORTH (less than $200 for sure), look at what it could be worth to you as part of a lifestyle/fitness investment (could be worth $1000 to you or more!)

In looking for bikes, make sure you are looking at Facebook Marketplace. Also, if there are any bike co-ops in your area, check there FIRST! Sometimes decent bikes will pop up at thrift stores. On ANY thrift store or flea market find, you WILL need to do maintenance and repairs. In my experience, the LAST place I would look for a bike is a flea market. Flea marketeers tend to find stuff at garage sales or thrift stores, then wash them off, and triple the price. So you tend to find clean, over-priced bikes that desperately need maintenance. Maybe flea markets are better in your area. And occasionally, you will find someone at a flea market that repairs and resells bikes. But those sellers are rare. Again, maybe your market is different.

On a private sale (FB or C/L) sometimes you will find bikes ready to ride. Most co-ops sell bikes that are ready to ride, at attractive prices. Realize in the case of the Mesa Runner you mention above, you are talking a 35 year old bike. I bet it has never had any maintenance. A "tune up" is not maintenance. Bike maintenance on an older bike is all about disassembly, fresh grease and bearings, flushing freewheels, lubing everything, fresh tires and brake pads. I've never seen anyone do this on a bike they haven't been riding. Not riding = ignored and neglected. There are also bike "flippers" out there. The good ones are hobbyists that enjoy working on bikes. There you can find a bike that has been thoroughly serviced for less than the cost of the service alone. But there are also flippers in the DKO category. They will knock the dirt off, do NO meaningful maintenance, and sell the bike as ready to ride (its not). A conversation and careful inspection will tell you which variety of flipper you have found.

But while you are searching for the best deal, you are missing out on the exercise. So in your case, I'd overpay and get started. If you get into riding, continue watching C/L, FB marketplace, and co-ops for a second one. After I retired, I bought a bottom end Trek 800, rigid frame MTB. I probably paid too much for it. But it got me riding. In a couple of months, I found a much better MTB, bought it and the rest is history.

And don't overlook local bike shops (not chain stores). They often will get trade ins, and can go through them first so they are ready to ride. Sure, you pay for this work, but it can be worth it.


Last year I met a guy with a $750,000 motorhome. He told me it was an "investment". Investment, really? Motorhome values drop like a rock. He explained: "it was an investment in LIFESTYLE!" Made a lot of sense to me. So if you look at the $200 as an investment in FITNESS, this bike is CHEAP!

Last edited by wrk101; 02-03-20 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 02-03-20, 12:17 PM
  #3  
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I've picked up 4 Schwinns in that style. None were over $60. All were in decent to very good condition. $200 is extremely high, at least in my area..
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Old 02-03-20, 03:07 PM
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^^^^^ +1; indeed, the Mesa Runner is near the bottom of the pack. You sometimes see them fetch close to $100 here, but you can usually find better bikes for less. Just for reference, there are two Trek MTBs on my local CL ATM, an 820 for $75 and a 930 (close to the top end) for $100.

Shoot, there was a Waterford custom-made SUPER tall MTB on the local CL for stoopid cheap, like, $130. Hand-made frame, components close to the top end. Must've sold within the last few days.
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Old 02-03-20, 04:10 PM
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Concur with the others. $200 is too high for that bike. Post your city and what you are looking for in the valuation forum. Posters will help you select a bike. A vintage MTB is a good choice for the kind of riding you want to do.
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Old 02-03-20, 04:38 PM
  #6  
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Photo Assist

I'd echo what others are saying, $200 is too much.
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Old 02-03-20, 05:11 PM
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Definitely not a $200 bike. Haggle him down.
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Old 02-03-20, 05:41 PM
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^^^^^ Waaay down. Or just walk away. I'm guessing that bike is an '84 or early '85. They were introduced in '84. The two best-known Schwinn catalog sites (trfindley and bikehistory.org) actually have two different entries for the '85. One shows old-school caliper brakes, like your neighbor's, but the other shows cantilever brakes. And the photo context is completely different from the other ATBs in the '85 catalog. That suggests that there was a mid-year change from calipers to cantis. Bike _may_ have some "rarity/oddball" value as an early ATB with caliper brakes, but not exactly preferable for this style of bike. Catalog does mention maroon as a color option for the '85.

The neighbor's bike also sports a different crankset from either of the above; looks a bit like a Sugino or SR road crank.

Cool alarm clock.
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Old 02-06-20, 09:40 AM
  #9  
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If the divan and alarm clock comes with it -- may be worth it
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Old 02-06-20, 11:31 AM
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Price is maybe a hundred high but like WRK said could be worth it to just get the bike and start riding. the size seems good for you.

Or you could let people here know where you live and some will likely scan craigslist and fb in your area to find a better alternative

Originally Posted by dirtman View Post
I got an older neighbor with a minty clean, house kept 80's Schwinn Mesa Runner MTB.
Its a tall frame, which fits me well and its been all gone over just recently. The thing is super clean.
I took it for a ride up the block and back the other day when we were talking. I wasn't looking to buy a bike
but It rode great. I sort of stopped riding when I started blowing a lot of road bike tires.
In my old age I've gotten bigger, at 6ft 4in tall and just over 400lbs my vintage road bikes weren't doing well.
I rolled a tire and tore up a few sets of crank axle bearings so I hung them all up in the attic a few years ago.
I'm thinking that the bigger tires and heavier spokes of the MTB may be a good option.
The local shop didn't have anything but Chinese bikes, and nothing with wider tires.
(I didn't realize mountain bikes had come and gone). All they had was low end single speed beach cruisers and
narrow tire 'comfort' bikes.

My neighbor wants $200, he's not negotiable. I did take a walk through the flea market here a few times but there's no bikes, there
rarely ever is. I also like the fact this don't have suspension or any fancy shifters on it.
I also thought about even maybe finding an old three speed hub for it and losing all the gears.

I'd post a pic but it won't let me?
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Old 02-06-20, 11:35 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
If the divan and alarm clock comes with it -- may be worth it
C&V prop set for a period play/movie.
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Old 02-15-20, 07:39 PM
  #12  
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The way I see it is that the bike is basically new, the tires, bearings are all fine, it rides like a new bike. I thought the price was pretty fair considering that I can't even buy a cheap Walmart bike for that amount. If I did it would likely be made in China with plastic shifters and skinny tires.

The level or model of the bike don't matter much to me, I really never could never justify the extra money for the higher end models for someone like me who at best is an occasional rider. A few pounds here and there makes little difference with a rider over 300 lbs.
Its not that I wouldn't like to find a bike like this for $100 or less but all those I've seen were either newer, or in rough shape and far from being ridable.
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Old 02-15-20, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by dirtman View Post
The way I see it is that the bike is basically new, the tires, bearings are all fine, it rides like a new bike. I thought the price was pretty fair considering that I can't even buy a cheap Walmart bike for that amount. If I did it would likely be made in China with plastic shifters and skinny tires.

The level or model of the bike don't matter much to me, I really never could never justify the extra money for the higher end models for someone like me who at best is an occasional rider. A few pounds here and there makes little difference with a rider over 300 lbs.
Its not that I wouldn't like to find a bike like this for $100 or less but all those I've seen were either newer, or in rough shape and far from being ridable.
yes, if it is worth it to you it is worth it. If the tires aren't new I wouldn't ride on them. I think Schwalbe Big Apples would be great.

Make sure the bottom bracket, headset and wheel bearings are greased.

You might want to look for a second set of wheels. Maybe with rhyno-lite rims and straight gauge 2.0 spokes. Something like these, but preferably with 36 spokes.
https://www.velomine.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=122_363&products_id=4060&zenid=jefgk67dg1nj3qja7gbmlquqm0

Finally, at your weight if the bottom bracket starts to creak, have the pedals checked. Cheap pedals with heavy riders don't last long and often sound like bottom bracket problems.

Good luck & congrats for getting back into riding!

Last edited by ups; 02-15-20 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 02-16-20, 01:26 AM
  #14  
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The tires are likely original but they look and feel brand new. I'll run them till they give out. Its not like I'll be doing any serious speed on it.
The guy said he had it fully serviced a year ago thinking he was going to give it a try again but health issues put a stop to that.
The wheels look like they have straight gauge spokes now. I sort of doubt the bike has more than a couple miles on it, the tires still have their little black nibs on them, even on the tread.
The sprockets show no wear, and there's no sign of dirt on it anywhere. If it was ridden, it must have been indoors.
I rode it up the street and back, and it fit me great, its one of those bikes that just rolls well if you know what I mean.
In comparison, I hopped on an old Rollfast I had in the basement and it felt like I was going up hill all the time, a complete regrease of that did nothing to improve it. I used a set of new old stock Araya steel wheels on that bike laced to a new red stripe Bendix hub in the rear and a new old stock Crown in the front with two new tires but the highest pressure 26x1 3/8" tires I could find maxed out at 60psi and the bike had a ton of rolling resistance. The tires look flat with me on the bike.
The wider tires on the Schwinn seemed to handle me a lot better.
I've never been lighter than 260 lbs, even in school, at 6ft3in tall with a 36" inseam, I'll never be light. Loosing about 40 lbs would get me down to where I should be. Back in the day my two biggest issues on most bikes were the crankarms and the smaller front sprocket teeth. I realized early on to stay away from the cheap steel one piece crank bikes, I bent those all the time, usually the right side bent, or I tore up the teeth that were up top when the rigtht crank arm was around 1 o'clock. I avoided alloy front sprockets, at least on the smaller ring. I stopped riding after I broke a set of carbon fiber arms and had a bottom bracket separate from the lower tube on a road bike on an aluminum frame.
Riding style wise I'm most comfortable on an old three speed like a Raleigh sports, but I think an old MTB is the right answer now, even if I change it to a three speed rear hub later. If I have to build a set of wheels, I might as well just build a bike. I do have an old Schwinn Sidewinder frame hanging in the garage from years ago, but it takes the old one piece cranks that I used to bend so often. It also needs a repaint, a set of calipers, and wheels. I trash picked it without its wheels about 20 years ago as a bare frame with only its cables and cranks still attached. Those were super heavy, but very strong. I thought about just making a single speed out of it sort of like a giant BMX bike, The good thing is its also a tall frame. either 23 or 24 inch. I think the tall head tube was what kept me from building it before, I couldn't find an wide mtb fork suitable for it. There aren't any hills around here so caliper brakes are fine if I can find suitable calipers.
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Old 02-16-20, 05:34 AM
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I got to look at one of these unfortunately after the frame had been mangled. It had sort of a 26" road bike feel to it, so while $200 is over market value it might be a good frame to build a rugged vintage 3 speed style bike.
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Old 02-16-20, 08:34 AM
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Don't worry about a few bucks and procure it. So what if it's $50 over real value; get riding for your health which is priceless. Probably don't plan on an IGH hub since it looks like the dropouts are vertical which doesn't preclude that, but means some kind of tensioner (usually).
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Old 02-16-20, 11:19 AM
  #17  
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If you love the bike, then it's worth it to you.
Originally Posted by dirtman View Post
The guy said he had it fully serviced a year ago thinking he was going to give it a try again but health issues put a stop to that.
A full service can mean many different things. See if you can get a break down of what was done.
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Old 02-16-20, 12:21 PM
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[QUOTE=bark_eater;21329649]I got to look at one of these unfortunately after the frame had been mangled. It had sort of a 26" road bike feel to it, .........../QUOTE]

This is what i like about the older mountain bikes, I have zero interest in the newer style frames. I have long legs and its hard to get proper leg extension on a bike with the cranks set so high like on the newer bikes.
Its the one thing that's really making me think about the old Sidewinder frame, its basically a Varsity frame with more tire clearance.

I found the 1984 catalog online, the specs match 1984 the best, even down to the tires with one exception, the tires on the bike are 26x1.95 not 2.125 as listed. They are old school gumwall Chen Shin tires with the center bead down the middle of the tread.
Other than the chromoly frame and canti brakes, there isn't any real difference between the three models that year. (Mesa Runner, Sierra, and High Sierra). I owned a High Sierra back in the day and it didn't last, it was one of those black chrome models and the bottom bracket let go of the down tube and the chrome was peeling off all over the place in only a year or two. The dealer traded me out of it for a road bike back then that I sold soon after.

The weight difference is likely minor between those models. The cranks one the Mesa are Sakae CR, the derailleurs are Mount Tech with Suntour Micro Lite click type thumb levers. The calipers say Dia Compe are are huge. The bike looks like it could also accept fenders if I found a set and maybe even a rear rack.
The bars, stem, and seat post are alloy, the saddle says Schwinn on it. Other than some flaking decals the bike looks almost brand new. There is no rust, no dirt, no dents. Every last bit of it is clean. Even the chain looks brand new. Looking at the specs for the bike, I'm thinking someone upgraded it a bit back in the day, maybe at the dealer, or the catalog specs didn't match the actual models. Most of the Mesa runner's I find on Google pics have a Suntour 7 GT rear derailleur, and steel bars and seat post.
Its not a heavy bike, it actually felt pretty light for a big tire bike. I'd guess maybe 30-32 lbs or so. Not back for a big frame mtb with a 34" standover height.
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Old 02-23-20, 01:39 AM
  #19  
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I figured I'd give an update here, I went yesterday morning to try and make a deal on the Schwinn Mesa Runner but he sold it some time during the week.
There's another one listed not too far away but its got slightly different equipment on it. Its got the Suntour 7 GT rear derailleur, and Weinmann rims vs. the Araya rims the first one had. Its just as clean otherwise, the same color, and with what is likely original tires.
The bars, shifters, and the rest of the bike is the same but its got a replacement Avenir branded saddle.
The same seller also has a bike called a Hunter Cherokee for a bit less money, its a bit newer but equipped a lot like the Schwinn.
It's also made in Taiwan, the wheels are Araya, the hubs are unbranded, the cranks are SR, the stem and bars are painted, I think the bars are steel.
The seat post is alloy, the seat is scripted 'Hunter'. The bike has a higher center of gravity vs. the Schwinn, more like a BMX bike. Its got Dia Compe Canti brakes and
The rear derailleur is marked Eagle GT. The front just says Shimano. Its got two Shimano click type thumb shifters. The frame is smaller but it sits tall and fits me as well as the Schwinn.
Its a lot lighter than the Schwinn, by a good 10lbs or so. . The wheels are perfectly true, the brakes pads are new, and he says it was all stripped down and re-lubed a couple of years ago.
The bike has as dealer decal on it from a former local Schwinn dealer. I'm thinking that by the equipment on it its late 80's at best.
The frame reads 'Designed & Engineered in the USA, Hunter Cycles Inc. The tires are newer, and in great shape but they're a meaty looking tread, not likely the best for pavement.
Its not a high end bike, its on par with the Mesa Runner, but a bit newer and still a solid frame. He's asking $140 firm for the bike. Its definitely a shop grade bike, it has too many name brand parts to be from a department store.

He's also got a Trek, but its a bit different type of bike, with 700c wheels and straight bars. Somewhere between a comfort bike and a road bike I suppose but its in as found condition needing complete disassembly.
I couldn't see a model name or number on it. Its friction shift, with 700c-35 tires, the paint is dark green with white spatter throughout. The forks are more like road bike forks. The bars are straight but with an MTB type stem.
The brakes are cantilevers. It was mostly all Shimano components, but wasn't able to pull it from the pile to really get a good look. It was a taller steel frame bike with wide street tires,
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Old 02-24-20, 10:05 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by dirtman View Post
I figured I'd give an update here, I went yesterday morning to try and make a deal on the Schwinn Mesa Runner but he sold it some time during the week.
There's another one listed not too far away but its got slightly different equipment on it. Its got the Suntour 7 GT rear derailleur, and Weinmann rims vs. the Araya rims the first one had. Its just as clean otherwise, the same color, and with what is likely original tires.
The bars, shifters, and the rest of the bike is the same but its got a replacement Avenir branded saddle.
The same seller also has a bike called a Hunter Cherokee for a bit less money, its a bit newer but equipped a lot like the Schwinn.
It's also made in Taiwan, the wheels are Araya, the hubs are unbranded, the cranks are SR, the stem and bars are painted, I think the bars are steel.
The seat post is alloy, the seat is scripted 'Hunter'. The bike has a higher center of gravity vs. the Schwinn, more like a BMX bike. Its got Dia Compe Canti brakes and
The rear derailleur is marked Eagle GT. The front just says Shimano. Its got two Shimano click type thumb shifters. The frame is smaller but it sits tall and fits me as well as the Schwinn.
Its a lot lighter than the Schwinn, by a good 10lbs or so. . The wheels are perfectly true, the brakes pads are new, and he says it was all stripped down and re-lubed a couple of years ago.
The bike has as dealer decal on it from a former local Schwinn dealer. I'm thinking that by the equipment on it its late 80's at best.
The frame reads 'Designed & Engineered in the USA, Hunter Cycles Inc. The tires are newer, and in great shape but they're a meaty looking tread, not likely the best for pavement.
Its not a high end bike, its on par with the Mesa Runner, but a bit newer and still a solid frame. He's asking $140 firm for the bike. Its definitely a shop grade bike, it has too many name brand parts to be from a department store.

He's also got a Trek, but its a bit different type of bike, with 700c wheels and straight bars. Somewhere between a comfort bike and a road bike I suppose but its in as found condition needing complete disassembly.
I couldn't see a model name or number on it. Its friction shift, with 700c-35 tires, the paint is dark green with white spatter throughout. The forks are more like road bike forks. The bars are straight but with an MTB type stem.
The brakes are cantilevers. It was mostly all Shimano components, but wasn't able to pull it from the pile to really get a good look. It was a taller steel frame bike with wide street tires,
I'd definitely ride each bike to see which fits you now, and going forward with riding.

Not sure where in NJ/PA you are, but I would imagine there are a bunch of bikes out there that would fit your needs. Plenty of 80s brands to peruse. Some more boutique than others, but if you can find an 80s/early 90s Specialized Hard Rock, they are awesome.
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Old 02-24-20, 10:19 AM
  #21  
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You should start a new thread entitlted something like looking for a bike. You can give some of the particulars (height, need for a sturdy bike, etc.) and a location. The posters will go thru facebook/craigslist and post some likely bikes. Given where you live (east coast), you will be able to do better than that Schwinn for $200.
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Old 02-24-20, 12:20 PM
  #22  
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200$ looks expansive...
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Old 02-26-20, 03:32 AM
  #23  
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I've looked at CL and FB here quite a bit, I've not seen anything else that's either not trashed, too small, or way too much money. It seems that $200 - $300 is what a decent bike goes for.
I looked at an ad for a newer Trek but they wanted $320 for it and it had a sprung seat post and forks. The ad was up for a day or two and gone.
I looked at both sites earlier today within a 50 mile radius and found nothing. One big problem is I need a tall frame bike, or at least something that works for my 36" inseam measurement.
There was a late 80's Schwinn Sierra on FB but I emailed three times and never got a reply, the ad went up, spent four weeks there and went away. I see a lot of ads like that on both sites.
I'm in south jersey, a good hour south of Philly, I've not even seen anything on Philly CL, just newer bikes or converted road bikes.
There are a few bikes that look like they may be okay but they're two hours away or more. I consider anything more than a 40 minute ride too far these days. With a truck that gets 11 mpg, any further really ads to the cost of the bike. I suppose I should have just bought the Mesa Runner.
There's a Raleigh Grand Mesa listed right now, its a tall frame, probably a 24" frame but it needs new wheels. The rear wheel is flat spotted pretty bad, the chrome on the wheels is peeling, and the tires are bubbled up and falling apart. It looks like its sat outside for a while. The bars, stem, wheels, seat post, and frame area all steel. They want $80 for it and won't budge on the price. Its also got the oddball 650B wheel size. Paint wise its decent, but it needs a total tear down and rebuild, all new rims, tires, cables, bearings, chrome bits, likely most of the hardware is shot from rust, and a new saddle. (its got one of those giant sprung gell saddles on it off a beach cruiser.
By the time I rebuild something like that I'll have far more than $200 in it just in parts, not to mention hours of labor just cleaning the thing up.

What I'm seeing is that most people don't keep bikes indoors, nearly every bike I've looked at has had rust on it somewhere from being left out in the rain. Rusty spokes, rusty chains, freewheels, bolts etc are the norm.
Then there's dented tubes, I've looked at a few dozen bikes, about half of them have had dented tubes or some sort of butcher job install that either drilled holes in the frame or such. I looked at a Schwinn Cimmaron from the late 80's that had a 'too small' seat post installed with a galvanized carriage bolt drilled right through the frame and seat post, they wrapped the seat post with duct tape before hammering it down into the frame and bolting it in place.
The same bike had a rear caliper mounted right above the cantilever brake arms that were hanging there upside down. The guy wanted $300 and wouldn't budge off his price saying it was a classic, he read all about it online. The bike was faded, rusted, abused, and jury rigged beyond repair. I'd have probably given him a few bucks with the hopes that I could find a frame to use the parts on but I gladly walked away.

I don't want to deal with rust, if its been outdoors in the rain, I'm not interested unless its darn near free.

There was a bike at a church sale two weeks ago, but it was missing its wheels, cranks, and handle bars. It looked like it was likely a 5 speed as there was no sign of a front derailleur. The frame was red Nishiki, at least 24" c-t, likely for 26" wheels. They wanted $50 for it though. It looked like a cross between a beach cruiser and road bike style frame. (One piece cranks and steel chainguard). It was clean, it looked almost new but I figured by the time I find it wheels and all the parts I'd have a few hundred more into it plus my time putting it together and my time hunting parts.
There are no local sources for parts, no dealers that keep parts in stock at all, not even tires. I drove all over trying to find a set of 27x1 1/4" tires for a Varsity I found two years ago, I ended up ordering them online. and paying way too much for them with shipping.
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Old 02-26-20, 08:57 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by dirtman View Post
I looked at a Schwinn Cimmaron from the late 80's that had a 'too small' seat post installed with a galvanized carriage bolt drilled right through the frame and seat post, they wrapped the seat post with duct tape before hammering it down into the frame and bolting it in place.
The same bike had a rear caliper mounted right above the cantilever brake arms that were hanging there upside down. The guy wanted $300 and wouldn't budge off his price saying it was a classic, he read all about it online.
Oh man, I just had breakfast, and then to read this.... Guy was right, those Cimarrons are highly sought after. Too bad he doesn't understand that means nothing when the bike's been hacked like that. Then again, some poor unsuspecting "collector" might just pay the ask price, thinking it will go up in value.

If you can get the serial number for the Trek mentioned above, we could probably track it down to the year and possibly model. But are you specifically looking for an MTB / hybrid?
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Old 02-26-20, 06:03 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by dirtman View Post
I looked at both sites earlier today within a 50 mile radius and found nothing. One big problem is I need a tall frame bike, or at least something that works for my 36" inseam measurement.
....
I'm in south jersey, a good hour south of Philly, I've not even seen anything on Philly CL, just newer bikes or converted road bikes.
I searched your local CL and these this one caught my eye:

Miyata One Thousand - Flat Bar - $375
- This is a grail bike and it has a really nice frame. It comes with the original drop bars / brakes so you'll have a choice on how you want to use it. I'd try to negotiate a bit to get it closer to $300 since it's a large size (but should fit you).

Anther option is picking up this cheap bike and using it until you find something nicer. It's 1 size too small for you, but it will get you riding now.
Schwinn Frontier - $50

Those are only 2 that caught my eye, but I only checked craigslist before I ran out of time.
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