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Dumpster diving

Old 07-12-17, 12:34 PM
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Dumpster diving

I feel a little weird posting this because I'm not in a situation where I need to do this. But I see people posting their dumpster/neighborhood trash bike finds from time to time - some nice ones, some not so nice.

I'm the kind of person that would try anything once either to learn from the experience or maybe just for the thrill of it. If I were to give it a try and happen to find something nice then it would satisfy both. I don't have a lot of free time outside of my day job, so this is probably more hypothetical than something I would actually do.

Questions for those who have done it: How do you know where to look? What's your secret on targeting potential good finds? Rich neighborhoods? Places close to scrap yards? How do you not embarrass yourself while searching?
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Old 07-12-17, 12:50 PM
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It's pretty simple. You just keep your eyes open, look at every large pile of trash that's been put out on the curb, and focus on every dumpster you see. Some dumpsters have construction debris; you will learn to recognize them and move along. Others have the contents of a house, or a garage, or other storage area; those are the ones you want to take a look at.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, then look in every dumpster you see. You'll learn quickly, I promise.

If you'd be ashamed of being seen crawling out of a dumpster, maybe it's not for you. I'm proud of my dumpster finds, and make no apology about it.
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Old 07-12-17, 12:55 PM
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If your area has a designated annual/periodic bulk pick up day, that's a good time to go roaming. My city doesn't do this, but rather each household is individually allowed to schedule one day annually, so this doesn't really work where I live.

For mine, I just happened upon my neighbor's trash pile as he was prepping it for the bulk pick up -- just lucky timing. I fixed it up and it's now my main commuter.
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Old 07-12-17, 01:03 PM
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Rule #1 - if it's on the ROW lawn extension on trash day, it's fair game.
Rule #2 - ask if in doubt.

Recommendation - best done if your are driving a beater or clunker.
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Old 07-12-17, 01:11 PM
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found a bike once near a college in the spring when all the kids were moving out. just right on top of a giant pile of black garbage bags

stay out of actual dumpsters
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Old 07-12-17, 01:26 PM
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The town I lived in used to have a bulk pickup day. That's how I got my Super Course, one of my most beloved bikes. A couple of years later, a neighbor recognized it. He had trash picked it and fixed it up for the woman who left it out for me to find, so it's been trash-picked twice.
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Old 07-12-17, 01:44 PM
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I found a nice old Raleigh back in the day that someone put to be tossed in the compactor. All it really needed was a refresh.

I posted it on here and a member wanted to buy it. He wanted it super bad because it was just like the one he had YEARS ago when he was younger, and this one was the perfect size. I told him I would let him have it for free if he promised to keep it and not just turn it around for a profit.

He ended up stripping it down, repainting it, had all the parts cleaned up and polished.. new tape, new tires, new frame decals.. everything. The bike looked brand new. He rode it every day.

Then it got stolen.
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Old 07-12-17, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind
I found a nice old Raleigh back in the day that someone put to be tossed in the compactor. All it really needed was a refresh.

I posted it on here and a member wanted to buy it. He wanted it super bad because it was just like the one he had YEARS ago when he was younger, and this one was the perfect size. I told him I would let him have it for free if he promised to keep it and not just turn it around for a profit.

He ended up stripping it down, repainting it, had all the parts cleaned up and polished.. new tape, new tires, new frame decals.. everything. The bike looked brand new. He rode it every day.

Then it got stolen.
It can be worse when you put a lot of time into a bike, and very little money, compared to a lot of money in it.
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Old 07-12-17, 01:51 PM
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I get a lot... and i mean a lot of dumpster bikes. So many that i started a co-op just to handle them.

Mostly because i work at a school...but plenty from off the street as well.

Most common: people moving out and they dump a bunch of stuff outside including bikes.

Best bikes i have trash dived:

Look kg 96
Univega alpine pro
Specialized rock hopper
Specialized hardrock..with caradice bag! Bag worth more than bike.
Schwinn prelude
Centurion elite rs
Fuji s12
Cannondale caad 1 fsomething
And lots more...

Tons of parts as well.. mostly racks.
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Old 07-12-17, 02:00 PM
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So far anything I've seen out in the trash definitely deserved to be there... I'm still optimistic, though!
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Old 07-12-17, 02:21 PM
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Not worth the effort, IMHO. The dumpster part, I've taken 2 off the curb on garbage day, when I saw them but not 'hunting' for them.

But I'm not a tinkerer, either.
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Old 07-12-17, 02:59 PM
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Only once did I have a great trash score - it was what I believe to have been an early Raleigh Competition or Gran Sport, with rapid-taper stays, Nervex Pro lugs, Huret ends, TDC headset, Stronglight BB and mod. 93 cranks with a single drilled 42T ring ... took a 27.2 seatpost and had absolutely no chrome anywhere. It was covered in several layers of Krylon and brushed on house paint, but there were still traces of white and lagoon blue under all that. It was my size, and I got it when I was driving past a trashheap and the setting sun picked out the curve of an alloy handlebar as I passed.

I rode it for a couple of years as a beater, and I foolishly, foolishly sold it because I didn't "need" it. As if need has anything to do with it!

I've owned lots of expensive bikes, a custom Rivendell, all sorts of semi-collectible stuff - but the trash heap Raleigh is the only one I really, truly miss.
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Old 07-12-17, 03:33 PM
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I have rescued one frame/fork from an actual dumpster. I was working on the property as tenants were moving out, and I made sure it was ok if I took it. (currently my town cruiser).

Another time, there was a bike curbside, clearly left for trash, and once I snagged it, I was chased down by some gutter punks that said it was theirs so I said F-it and gave it to them. Not worth it.

The grill in my backyard came from the dumpster/curbside. So did my vacuum, my dining room chairs, a lamp, my tea kettle, ect, ect. It's good stuff and I don't think twice.
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Old 07-12-17, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind

I posted it on here and a member wanted to buy it. He wanted it super bad because it was just like the one he had YEARS ago when he was younger, and this one was the perfect size. I told him I would let him have it for free if he promised to keep it and not just turn it around for a profit.

He ended up stripping it down, repainting it, had all the parts cleaned up and polished.. new tape, new tires, new frame decals.. everything. The bike looked brand new. He rode it every day.

Then it got stolen.
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Old 07-12-17, 09:34 PM
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I honestly did not think there would be so much interest in you guy sharing about your dumpster finds - I appreciate all. The bulk pickup is something I've never thought about before, so I'll look that up in my city. Wish me luck.
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Old 07-12-17, 11:56 PM
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In 1985 I found my Gitane TdF in a dumpster, only because it was partly visible from outside. Bought a chrome fork and some nice wheels (thanks juvela!) to try it out, liked it, then had Mikkelsen replace the head tube and add some braze ons. Painted Imron purple and built up with mostly Campy NR.
Still one of my favorite bikes, and the one I have owned the longest.
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Old 07-13-17, 01:40 AM
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Twice a year my neighborhood puts out those long, large dumpsters on the main streets (2-3 of them) for people to get rid of larger items. The stuff some people throw out is amazing lol. I haven't found any bikes yet though.

I don't feel embarrassed looking through such things. My mom was very poor when I was growing up, so it's how we got most of our things. Dumpsters, trash days, the dumps sale lot, yard sales, thrift stores...where ever. And a lot of people do it too.
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Old 07-13-17, 08:50 AM
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I've found some amazing furniture by the side of the road, mostly mid-century modern type stuff that I love - a solid maple dining table, a Heywood-Wakefield style solid wood end table, several great shaped-plywood chairs, a couple of Eames fiberglass chairs, a Poulsen PH5 lamp, and some other things. This was mostly while living in Los Angeles, where the weather and the population density (and my need to drive a lot) helped out. Sadly, I wasn't looking for bikes then. On bulky trash days, there were always beat-up pickup trucks cruising the streets in the early morning, picking over everything worth taking, so that was a poor strategy there, unless you were willing to put in a lot of effort. All my finds were pure luck, just happening by as someone put something by the side of the road.

My only bike find was recent - I saw a neighbor wheeling a beat mountain bike over to the dumpster by the school next door. I asked him about it and he gave it to me, along with a cruiser. I salvaged the rear rack/baskets off the cruiser and donated the rest to a local Co-op. In NOLA, lots of people ride vintage beaters as primary transportation, and anything ridable is scooped up pretty quickly. In Shreveport there just isn't enough of a bike culture, so I've never seen a bike that wasn't absolute trash out in the trash.

My sense is that CL and Offerup have made this a very low-yield strategy in recent years, but I'm just guessing.
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Old 07-13-17, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by jetboy
I get a lot... and i mean a lot of dumpster bikes. So many that i started a co-op just to handle them.

Mostly because i work at a school...but plenty from off the street as well.

Most common: people moving out and they dump a bunch of stuff outside including bikes.

Best bikes i have trash dived:

Look kg 96
Univega alpine pro
Specialized rock hopper
Specialized hardrock..with caradice bag! Bag worth more than bike.
Schwinn prelude
Centurion elite rs
Fuji s12
Cannondale caad 1 fsomething
And lots more...

Tons of parts as well.. mostly racks.
Look kg 96?! Damn

Best thing I've found thrown to a curb was a Miele and a bianchi. Both upper range bikes and complete. Needed a clean up and bearing repack and cables but both sold well on my website.
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Old 07-13-17, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Hardrock23
Twice a year my neighborhood puts out those long, large dumpsters on the main streets (2-3 of them) for people to get rid of larger items. The stuff some people throw out is amazing lol. I haven't found any bikes yet though.

I don't feel embarrassed looking through such things. My mom was very poor when I was growing up, so it's how we got most of our things. Dumpsters, trash days, the dumps sale lot, yard sales, thrift stores...where ever. And a lot of people do it too.
Nothing wrong with it at all. I've owned really nice expensive items in my life but I've never felt that I was too good or embarrassed to take anything of good use from the trash. I have a "the save the earth" philosophy, I'm sure whomever is throwing it out would rather see a good item made use of rather than going to land fill. I actually respect someone that can take something thrown out on garbage day and use it it shows they are confident and just don't give a...
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Old 07-13-17, 09:31 AM
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I too like to see things being repurposed, especially if it keeps stuff out of landfills. I used to live in a neighborhood where curbside "treasures" were a more common occurrence so I'd pick what I can - mostly useable furniture and garden tools. I was able to salvage a pair of speakers from a nice but broken big screen tv and repurposed it as my garage sound system - probably my most useful find today.
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Old 07-13-17, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by mapleleafs-13
Nothing wrong with it at all. I've owned really nice expensive items in my life but I've never felt that I was too good or embarrassed to take anything of good use from the trash. I have a "the save the earth" philosophy, I'm sure whomever is throwing it out would rather see a good item made use of rather than going to land fill. I actually respect someone that can take something thrown out on garbage day and use it it shows they are confident and just don't give a...
Exactly



Oh, more so to the topic, my dad found a bike in the dumpster a few months ago and brought it home! I semi-recently (within the past 2 years) have convinced him it's nothing to be embarrassed about, somehow...but anyway, he checks the dumpsters behind his station every day now and brings things home a lot. The bike was a new Schwinn MTB (adult/26" wheels), but an older model that Amazon used to sell. The rear brake cable noodle thing was pulled out and it was covered in dust, but otherwise fine. Seems someone bought it & never used it. He gave it to my son...who is 5 lol It'll be awhile before he can use it.
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Old 07-13-17, 09:49 AM
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A few weeks ago, I was testing riding a bike in the alleys near my home. It was a Sunday, trash day is Thursday. I see a bike leaning up against a garage where the trash cans are usually set out. I'm thinking...is this bike being thrown out, or did the owner just leave it there for whatever reason?

So I go around to the front of the house. Front door is wide open, I ring the bell and knock, but no answer. Hmmmm.

Go back home, tell the missus that I didn't just want to take the bike and get accused of theft. So I go back to where the bike was leaning up against the garage. Start looking around (it was a windy day) and a few feet away, somewhat obscured by a bush, there is a sheet of paper with a handwritten note: "Needs work -- free to good home." I saw the remnant of a tiny piece of tape which had obviously blown off in the wind.

Took the bike home, installed a new chain, cleaned it up and tuned it, sold it a few days later for cheap. New owner was very happy. I could have sold that bike several times over, I got such a response for it.
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Old 07-13-17, 10:15 AM
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I got my wife's bike out of the dumpster. (Actually, it was next to the dumpster)

Nothing really special, just a 15-speed Magna MTB. It still had the fuzzies on the tires, but looked like it'd been sat behind someone's garage for 4-5 years.

A good cleaning, a new chain from the spares, and some touch-up paint on the mechs, and it's a decent little bike.

(She just doesn't know where I found it)
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Old 07-13-17, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Kevindale
I've found some amazing furniture by the side of the road, mostly mid-century modern type stuff that I love - a solid maple dining table, a Heywood-Wakefield style solid wood end table, several great shaped-plywood chairs, a couple of Eames fiberglass chairs, a Poulsen PH5 lamp, and some other things. This was mostly while living in Los Angeles, where the weather and the population density (and my need to drive a lot) helped out. Sadly, I wasn't looking for bikes then. On bulky trash days, there were always beat-up pickup trucks cruising the streets in the early morning, picking over everything worth taking, so that was a poor strategy there, unless you were willing to put in a lot of effort. All my finds were pure luck, just happening by as someone put something by the side of the road.
Originally Posted by mapleleafs-13
Nothing wrong with it at all. I've owned really nice expensive items in my life but I've never felt that I was too good or embarrassed to take anything of good use from the trash. I have a "the save the earth" philosophy, I'm sure whomever is throwing it out would rather see a good item made use of rather than going to land fill. I actually respect someone that can take something thrown out on garbage day and use it it shows they are confident and just don't give a...


My wife is so crazy funny about picking stuff up from the road- and we've had fights about getting stuff out of dumpsters.


I don't think my wife or her family have ever been "poor." But I think she's got some goofy pride thing that revolves around it. When I first met my wife- I'd cook up tons of food, and have leftovers for days. She didn't own ANY resealable food containers. One day, I spent a lot of money and time cooking up a bunch of chicken legs and all kinds of stuff- my wife took the leftovers, put them on a plate, took a strip of saran wrap and draped it over the top and stuck it in the fridge. I thought for sure it'll be dry and inedible by morning... but she knows what she's doing, she's got 2 kids... Sure as ****- that stuff was dried out the next day. She had ZERO intent of ever touching that food again except to throw it out. Leftovers are for poor people.


We go to "antique malls" and spend money getting old stuff... but she refuses to pick up anything off the side of the road... and she has such difficulty when you ask her 'where do you think the antique mall people got this stuff?'


We live by a college- I've been wanting a little fridge- I wanted to comb the big dumpster at the end of the year, knowing full well that there's kids leaving the dorms tossing a dozen or so of those out in perfectly good shape. **** got REAL.
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