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Where/How do you Acquire your "Cheap" Used Bikes?

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Where/How do you Acquire your "Cheap" Used Bikes?

Old 10-08-14, 07:37 AM
  #26  
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I don't have a car, so a lot of the better methods (garage sales, scrap heaps, etc) aren't options for me because I don't have any way to get to them. I check Craigslist and thrift stores every day, I've made one good deal, but most of them I'd rather lie about the price or fudge it. I've had a couple 'almosts' this year, they all involved contacting the CL poster after 2-5 people already had and someone else getting it. Some people even offering more than the asking price.
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Old 10-08-14, 07:59 AM
  #27  
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A friend of mine had a guy in an older beat up van show up at his shop and wanted to know if my buddy wanted to buy a few old bikes. The guys brother died and left all his stuff to him. My friend picked up a NOS never built 74-75 Cinelli frame/fork, a repainted unknown bike w/ some nice Campy bits and boxes of NOS Avocet, Campy and other cool stuff for the monsterous sum of $100.... That's what the guy asked for the stuff and my friend said, "SURE!". I'm slightly jealous....
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Old 10-08-14, 08:15 AM
  #28  
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I had a hook up with a scrap yard, I'd give the guys at the yard a few bucks for a bike that was dropped off to be scrapped. I must have saved a couple of hundred bikes from being crushed over the years. Practically everyone I know has one of my rescued bikes, the rest ended up on Craigslist.

You'd be amazed at what people consider junk, this is my mom's bike which I paid $20 for, basket and bell included:

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Old 10-08-14, 08:24 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by Chuckk View Post
Craig's List, big trash pickup and garage sales
"The harder you work, the luckier you get."
and
"Any good hobby needs to pay for itself."
+1 also, you can find the occasional good deal at a thrift store like Salvation Army. I haven't been into a pawn shop yet where I could get a good bike deal. They are trying to make a dollar like we are. Diligence is your friend in this matter. I have a real job that pays my bills, so I only get to look occasionally. It can become a consuming addiction.
Also, start buying common parts in bulk, it will save you time and money.
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Old 10-08-14, 12:57 PM
  #30  
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Thanks for everyone's replies. I didn't expect so many folks to chime in.

So it seems that there isn't some secret cache of ultra cheap bikes that everyone is in on, except for me! I agree that we are more likely to hear about the steals, than the mundane purchases, so that's why there may be a perception that there are loads of nice bikes out there available for next to nothing. I just wanted to make clear, I didn't feel entitled to getting cheap bikes, but it just seemed that everyone else was, LOL. So basically, we're all playing the same game with the same rules. I guess it comes down to what Konaaron said, If you want quality, be prepared to pay for it or wait to get lucky.

Thanks for the pointer to TenSpeeds. Incredible site with a wealth of information. Slowly going through it.

Q for Randyjawa: In your "post a bulletin board ad" method - I notice you only leave telephone number rather than number and/or email. Is there a reason for this? Any reasoning you know why one shouldn't leave an email as a contact method?

I will definitely try out some of the techniques. I like the flyer and bulletin board methods.
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Old 10-08-14, 01:33 PM
  #31  
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Warning - looking at others beautiful bikes is CONTAGIOUS!

Test your patience and instead, let interesting bikes find you. Also, the word 'cheap' means different things between others. Various means of acquiring have been by Goodwill, throw-aways by the curbside, gifted, estate auctions (where the buyers main interest is furniture and other articles), shared knowledge or talking of cycling while in other hobby / interest groups and yes, even LBS's. Many LBS don't bother with an old bike, nor want to re-sell or service. Have fun!
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Old 10-08-14, 04:10 PM
  #32  
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I've gotten all my bargain bikes off CraigsList so far this year in the past five or six months.

Four Trek road bikes (2300, 1400, 1100, 1000) and three Trek mountain bikes (8000, 6000, 930).

The deals are out there, but it takes works to find and buy them. You have to read every ad, and try to contact the Seller when the description is too short. Often times Potential Buyers bypass bikes with poor descriptions. If you have the mechanical ability, you can often get a deal on a bike that's sound, but missing parts, or that needs some TLC.

I got a 1988 Trek 1000 back in May for $30. Found on CL. It was a bike a kid owned that he was going to restore with his Dad. He lost interest when he got a ATV. Paid $30, and it needed tires, tubes, seat, brake cables, a brake lever, and a couple of small parts for the brake calipers. Had the brake parts in the spare parts box, ordered new cable housing from eBay. New tires were $17 for the pair from CL ad. Sending this bike to my oldest son as a Birthday Gift.

Traded for the 1994 Trek 2300 Composite a couple of months back. found on ad on CL. The 2nd owner only had it for a couple of weeks when the wheels got stolen when he didn't secure the bike properly when at work. LBS wanted more for replacement wheels than the bike was worth. I traded the Seller my Alpine Grand Record 14-speed Japanese made Tange Infinity steel bike with Shimano 105), threw in some bike shoes and a set of Speedplay pedals and the Seller gave me the Trek 2300 and $100. I was hoping to sell the Alpine for $300, so I calculate my cost at $200. This bike is really, really clean, almost like new, except for a split hood on the left side STI brifter (and the missing wheels, tires, and cassette). So purty, I want to hang this bike on the wall and admire it instead of riding. Got a pair of Vuelta Airline wheels with Shimano RSX wheelhubs off CraigList for $20 for this bike off CL. Still need a 8-speed cassette need to decide on what tires to buy.

Got the 1997 Trek 1400 for $100. The rear wheel was taco'ed, handlebars were bent, and the front wheel was a replacement. Came with a Bontrager wireless computer, three sets of used tires, and Speedplay pedals. Paid $50 for a pair of Trek Matrix wheels with Shimano RSX wheel hubs off CL, for this bike (very similar to what it would have come originally from Trek with). New Bontrager handlebars off eBay for $20. I may sell this bike after I ride the Trek 1100 a bit, depending on how the 1100 rides. This 1400 is a 56cm, and the 1100 is a 54cm.

Just got the 1990 Trek 1100 this past weekend for $40. The asking price was $75, and the lady who was selling it said that nothing was wrong with it, and it didn't have any rust when I asked, before I drive down to look at it. There is a little surface rust on the steel parts (mostly the handlebar stem which is steel/aluminum composite and the headset), the tires are shot (expected), and the rear wheel is taco'ed (unpleasant surprise). Has a Avocet Comfort Gel Saddle and Cateye wired computer. Got home, found an ad on CraigsList advertising two pairs of new Nashbar 700C wheels (THAT IS TWO PAIRS OF NEW WHEELS), and two inner tubes for a Total of $20. Jumped in the car, ran down, and grabbed the stuff. I didn't even ask for a break when I saw what was included. Only drawback? The bike has Suntour Edge components, and a 7-speed freewheel, while the CL wheels have 8/9 Shimano 2200 wheelhubs. Now I have to decide between buying a spacer and using a 7-speed HG-70 12-29 cassette that I already have in the parts box, or buying a 8-speed cassette and shifters and using some new Shimano 2300 front and rear derailleurs from the parts box.

Got the 2006 Trek 8000 for $35, to part out as the frame was cracked. Got the frame stripped down, and was amazed by how light is was/is for an aluminum bike, No wonder that it cracked.

Got the 2000 Trek 6000 mountain bike for $75 found on CL. In good shape, after jumping for a street test ride after bringing it home, I decided that the frame was a size too large to ride comfortably off-road. Sold it recently for more than I paid for it.

Got a 1994 Trek 930 SHX mountain bike for $30 off CL. It's exactly the same model year and size, as the Trek 930 that I've been riding since about 1997, except the frame is in better condition. The first one I got has been slowly rusting from the inside of the frame out since I got it, and the paint is in bad shape because of abuse by the original Owner. I upgraded almost everything on the bike since I bought it, including the front suspension fork. The 930 SHX I bought has a frame that's in good condition, but the components are worn (pedals are worn-out, and the right side shifter doesn't). I bought this bike to swap frames with my first bike.

I located a 1995 Trek 1220 frameset that the Seller was asking $50 for (I was looking for a Trek road bike with a triple crank, before I bought the Trek 1100 this past weekend). But the Seller is a bit strange, and must have taken offense when I was asking a bunch of questions before asking for his location to come/go see the bike (he's about 40 miles away, one way). The Seller got the bike whole, but he says he stripped it to turn it into a Fixie, and ran out of time. I was trying to get him to make a deal with the brake calipers and crankset (would have been nice to get the brifters too), when he stopped answering my email. I know he still has the bike because he keeps renewing the CL ad.

The best deals have come from CL advertisers who were hard to contact and/or had CL ads with poorly written titles or descriptions. Persistence pays off. Be prepared to encounter/kiss lots of frogs before finding the jewels.
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Old 10-08-14, 04:22 PM
  #33  
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The craigslist title for my Trek was "blue bike"
The title for my Univega was "road touring bike"

The lesson? Don't overlook any ad.
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Old 10-08-14, 04:46 PM
  #34  
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For several years, I lived in a suburban town in New Jersey where most people go everywhere by car. I became known as the go-to bike guy, so when word got out that I reconditioned and sold or gave away bikes, people would even drop them off and let me have them for free. I gave them my word that I would find them good homes. I sold some at a very small profit, and I gave some away to needy people. It helped that the town has a busy message forum so people knew me from that. Then a friend and I formed a non-profit advocacy group for bicycling, which spread the word a bit further.

Find the wealthy areas near you where people give away their old stuff for free or sell it cheap. There are millions of bikes in garages not being used. Look in garage sales and estate sales. Put the word out that you collect bikes and pass them on. People will warm to that and send bikes your way.
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Old 10-08-14, 04:46 PM
  #35  
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Actually some of the best deals I've seen in the past year were posted here in the C&V classifieds. Not steals like $30 for a vintage Trek, but very nice, well put together, well taken care of bikes for less than $300 that I would have loved to own if I had more money and space. I consider those the best bargains around. The only downside is you might have to pay $70-100 to get the bike shipped to you.
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Old 10-08-14, 04:52 PM
  #36  
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In my experience if you want to hit the garage sales and estate stuff you have to get there extremely early and you are very unlikely to find great deals (at least in my area). If you count the amount of time spent searching those sales, and calculate your driving costs, you'll probably find that it's not worth your time - you'd do better working a little extra with that time and paying retail. The only real way to do well at those sales is to have more than one area - you have to know toys, furniture, clothes...and the completion is heavy.
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Old 10-08-14, 05:02 PM
  #37  
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First you have to know the handshake.

Spread the word that you are on the lookout.

Be nice to strangers.

Never not be vigilant.
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Old 10-08-14, 06:13 PM
  #38  
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When I lived in Olympia, WA the Westside Goodwill store used to produce a gem every so often. They used to price any bike that was dirty, with flat tires, at $9.95, so I picked up Centurion, Fuji, Motobecane, Raleigh, Miyata and Specialized bikes over the years. They were also a good source for bike related items like a pair of Carnac shoes for $4 and heavy wool sweaters for $5-$15. We left the area in 2007 and they had already begun to mark things up to more realistic levels though. In Olympia, word had spread enough that people gave me good bikes which I usually cleaned, lubed and passed on.

When we moved, I sold or gave away all but a few of my bikes and only the very best went for premium prices. Any bike that hadn't sold by the last 2 weeks, I put on CL priced from $30 to $75 and by offering buy 1 get 1 free, I managed to unload them all.

Down here in the Salem area, I have yet to see a decent bike at the Goodwill and prices on CL seem optimistic at best. Our church operates a "NW HUB" bike ministry where low income/homeless can "learn & earn" a bike by working an agreed number of hours at the HUB to earn a donated bike that's been renovated. They have a huge back log of donated bikes that are renovated as needed and they sell some high quality donated bikes to help fund the ministry. These bikes usually sell in the $75-$150 range, so not "cheap" but well worth it and $$ are for a good cause. If there is a "HUB" type ministry in your area, see if they have any C&V bikes for sale. Don
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Old 10-08-14, 06:19 PM
  #39  
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A B C

Always Be Craigslisting

But more seriously, it takes a lot of time, a lot of scouring, sending emails that get no response, bikes that turn out to be crap, etc etc, and you may well find it not a productive use of your time. I dabbled in CL-hunting for a while, and did fairly well, as well as catching a few lucky garage sale finds (in a big annual sale in my own neighborhood) but I am an 'enjoy the chase as well as the catch' kind of guy. Having sated that appetite, I only casually look now.


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Old 10-08-14, 06:25 PM
  #40  
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Old 10-08-14, 08:17 PM
  #41  
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Living in a rural area on a family budget there aren't a lot of options. However, I am two hours away from Seattle, 1 hour away from two other large towns with more options so I scan Craigslist a lot but usually don't find the great deals there. I don't usually yard sale because I don't see much - have bought one Novara mtb with a decent suspension fork from a yard sale. I have scored a good deal from a Pawn Shop on a 50% off weekend sale. I have purchased a bike cheap from a customer who just wanted to get rid of it. And, I got my Trek 950 from the local college surplus sale this summer. It just takes a little more creativity.
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Old 10-08-14, 09:02 PM
  #42  
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Lots of good ideas in this thread, but unless I missed it, I'm surprised no one mentioned craigslist multiple-bike ads. Every so often ads appear that say something like "Five bikes for sale-- must take all." This already thins the buying market since not everyone can or would buy a group lot.

In fact this is the way I found my first-mini-grail bike that got me hooked on C-V. One of my first posts to these forums was for buying advice for a vintage touring bike, and after surfing all the posts, I fell in loved with the look of the mid 80s burgundy and brown Raleigh Alyeskas. I thought, no way, not gonna get the hopes up in waiting around to find one (and many posts said basically the same idea). So I figured I'd go for the first good touring bike I could find at a decent price. Well, about two weeks later, while surfing CL, there was an ad for "Four Bikes: Two Schwinn, Raleigh, and a Redline, ." The pic was horrible. It was just one mass shot of all the bikes lined up, from the front. Basically a whole lot of handle bars. But none had turkey-wing levers, so I asked the seller to send me a pic of the bikes from the side if he could, not really expecting anything. But then, when the pics came, there it was, a dirty but very barely ridden 85 Alyeska in my size. Weird. Maybe sometimes there are cosmic forces at work too!

Needless to say, I raced there, bought the lot. Sold the other three individually ll total for a good bit more than I paid for the lot and so I ended up getting paid to buy the exact bike I had been hoping to find. To me, the fun of having finds like that is worth way more than the bargain bike prices.

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Old 10-08-14, 09:53 PM
  #43  
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I like riding the bike paths.... but I have to ride 8 miles through mostly residential areas to get to the paths. So my average summer bicycle ride on a Friday or Saturday puts my riding by several yard sales. And I make sure I carry a few extra bucks when bicycle yard sale shopping. The really nice part is it restricts impulse buys... as I have to return later to pick-up any purchases. I know I've stopped at over 100 yard/garage sales in the last 3 years. I've seen a LOT of BSO's and rusty old 10 speeds.

Total number of yard sale bicycles purchased: One



I paid $20 for this nice old Fuji ('92). A LOT of scrubbing and cleaning, two new tires, and one new tube. I rode it for one winter and then practically gave it away for little more than what I had in it. But still.... a nice bike bought cheap.

I realized afterwards.... that a dumpster find 26" BSO could have donated tires for free. Live and learn. And that is also when I realized that repairs are the best way to increase a bicycles value. Bicycles that can't be ridden can sell cheap.

The Univega below was a recent Craigslist find.



I think the seller was happy to be rid of the frustration of trying to keep this bicycle on the road. And I paid the full $25 asking price without question. Thanks to some part harvesting and direct orders from China.... 20 more dollars invested and I have a nice little bicycle. Too small for me but it should sell quick and profitability come spring. A true Cr-Mo, lightweight, lugged framed, steel bicycle.

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Old 10-08-14, 10:06 PM
  #44  
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I've really only gotten an exceptionally good deal on one of my bikes - the Fuji Professional. Very crappy Craigslist photos paired with a minimalist description. It was a frame and fork, which helped. Joe Average just wasn't interested. I just happened to be the first to recognize the color and the blurs that corresponded with the decals, and put two and two together. (All the others were just garden variety good deals, which basically just came from having the money in hand and shopping CL during the offseason.) I don't even bother with the local garage sales, unless they specifically mention bike stuff (I've had decent luck with components that way). If I see garage sale signs on my way to work, I might detour, but the odds that there will even be anything other than a beaten up full suspension mountain bike are so slim that it's just generally not worth my time.
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Old 10-09-14, 03:53 AM
  #45  
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Facebook! I had a local friend I'd not seen for several years that knew I collected bikes and an avid cyclist. He PMed me about an old Nishiki he wanted to give me. That's how it happens. Granted, it was a bottom of the barrel Custom Sport from the 80's (27" wheels) it was in good shape and will provide a few good parts and hardware.
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Old 10-09-14, 03:56 AM
  #46  
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Thanks for everyone's replies. I didn't expect so many folks to chime in.

So it seems that there isn't some secret cache of ultra cheap bikes that everyone is in on, except for me! I agree that we are more likely to hear about the steals, than the mundane purchases, so that's why there may be a perception that there are loads of nice bikes out there available for next to nothing. I just wanted to make clear, I didn't feel entitled to getting cheap bikes, but it just seemed that everyone else was, LOL. So basically, we're all playing the same game with the same rules. I guess it comes down to what Konaaron said, If you want quality, be prepared to pay for it or wait to get lucky.

Thanks for the pointer to TenSpeeds. Incredible site with a wealth of information. Slowly going through it.

Q for Randyjawa: In your "post a bulletin board ad" method - I notice you only leave telephone number rather than number and/or email. Is there a reason for this? Any reasoning you know why one shouldn't leave an email as a contact method?

I will definitely try out some of the techniques. I like the flyer and bulletin board methods.
First of all, waiting to get lucky is not the way to go. First, you must know what a quality bike looks like. Next, you need to actually get up, get out, and hunt, if you want success. The more time you spend hunting, the more bikes you will get - and some will be for free.

Your primary search method you should start to cultivate right now. Word of Mouth - let eveyone you know and meet that you are looking for an old road bicycle. This works incredibly well for your first bike or two. After that, go to Yard Sales, bulletin boards, flyers, etc and you WILL get a nice bike, or two or hundreds.

This is almost guaranteed, if you put the time in. If, however, you want to compete only in the "Click Arena" (Craigslist and the like), you will have to be extremely dilligent and move at the speed of light, when something nice comes available. Otherwise, I WILL get there first.

Hope that is a help and, sure, put an email on your poster or flyer. Phone numbers are just easier, faster and more positive to use.
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Old 10-09-14, 04:31 AM
  #47  
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I don't buy many bikes compared to many of the forum members... but for the past few summers i have picked up nice bikes via ebay using the local search. This is especially true for nicer bikes. Many ebayers will gladly do a local pick up.. because packing and shipping a bike can be a pain. Compared to other bidders, since you are not paying for postage, you have $100 - $150 advantage.
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Old 10-09-14, 05:20 AM
  #48  
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One piece of yard sale advice that I think Randy had in My Ten Speeds was " If you don't see bikes for sale, ask". A lot of people don't consider putting a bike out at a yard sale because they think they are going to get out and ride it some day. But if you show up, with cash in hand, asking it they have an old ten speed, that may nudge them in your direction, so they think that old bike just isn't worth the effort.
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Old 10-09-14, 07:42 AM
  #49  
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I've had some luck on Craigslist but both scores were accidental scores.

I had the thought one day to see if anyone was selling zeus components and up popped a centurion I bought - this one didn't somehow show when searching for bicycles or road bicycles.

Another time I was pondering dia-compe brakes and search yielded another centurion that ended up leading to a trek I scored.

Lesson to me is that searching for road bicycles, or vintage bicycles won't yield all that CL has to give.

Some other search options relating to components somehow leads to the hidden gems.

Good luck searching!

(isn't it all about the trip anyway?)
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Old 10-09-14, 08:47 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by gomango View Post
I tell very few people what I really pay.

When pressed, I can cough up the real numbers, but I'd rather not.
The problem is if you decide to sell the bike, and you mentioned it recently on here you can create problems selling it.
I never mention what I spend on anything anymore.
Somebody sent me a message on Ebay saying I should state what I paid for something that I was selling, non bike related, because I mentioned what I paid for it on another site.

The most I ever spent on a bike was a Perfect Motobecane 1990ish Road Bike. $90. 25" Frame, and it amazingly took a month to sell it for $180, I was asking $200, and the guy offered $150, I put the bike on my shoulder and started to walk away. he offered $180 real quick. I should have kept walking.

Somebody got a Specialized Hybrid last week that was not very old. Still mad I missed that one.
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