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Old 05-10-14, 12:04 PM   #1
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1987 Cannondale SM400?? A worthwhile first commuter bike?

I am interested in getting a cheap but quality bike, and found this 1987 Cannondale SM400 on Craigslist: 1987 Cannondale SM400 Mountain Bike

Is this a reasonable bike, in reasonable condition, for a reasonable price?

I am sold on the idea of buying an older high-quality bike over a new walmart bike, but I feel like such a newbie and don't want to make a stupid purchase.

Thanks for any advice/opinions.
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Old 05-11-14, 07:34 PM   #2
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I have a 1991 Cannondale SM400, whose frame is similar to that one. If it fits you, and is in good mechanical shape (which can only be checked in person), it would make a solid commuter. As a commuter, it's also nice that the frame and fork have eyelets for fenders and/or racks. Rigid frame and fork are good for commuters, too. I'd definitely grab it, no second thoughts, for the listed price of $99.

One possible catch: In the ad, the bike is listed as 18", which would fit someone around 5'9", give or take a few inches. To my eye, that bike looks an awful lot like the 16" SM400 I have, although the 16" bike in the 1987 catalog looks even smaller. Personally, I'd just check out the size in person. When looking at Craigslist ads in general, it's healthy to doubt the listed size (if there is one). They're often wrong. Just confirm it in person.
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Old 05-11-14, 08:02 PM   #3
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If you like the ride it looks good for $100...
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Old 05-11-14, 08:08 PM   #4
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I have a similar bike from about that year. It has taken a LOT of abuse, and still going strong, with just minimal upkeep.
Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike.

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Old 05-12-14, 09:07 AM   #5
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This is light years ahead of what you could buy at a mass merchandiser store for $100. Don't be afraid of buying an older bike. I own an old Cannondale SM800 which I happened to ride this past Saturday in the mountains west of town. I bought it a few years ago for $20 from a thrift store. They had no idea how good the bike was. It is very light and has quality components (better than the SM400 though). The tires were flat and it was dirty from having been stored indoors for years. The only thing I replaced after buying it were tires and then not until after owning it a few years. Check the wheels for being true by spinning them. Expect you may need to replace the brake pads. They get hard after that many years if they haven't already been replace. Ditto for the tires. I always lubricate the bearings and check to make sure everything is properly adjusted. The most common problem I come across is that the axle cones are either too tight or too loose. It only take a minute to check them and to adjust them if you own a set of cone wrenches - a worthwhile long-term investment in any case.
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