Top 5 tips for buying a bike on CraigsList
Craigslist is an amazing place to find great deals on bike of every size shape and type possible…….IF you know what to look for. If you’re not somebody that understands what to watch out for and ultimately what you need, then Craigslist can be a terrible place to purchase a bike. Like buying anything used, you often get what you pay for and how well something will hold up has a great deal to do with how it was taken care of since new. There’s also a couple of cost that you should factor in and plan on once your purchase is made. Here’s our top 5 tips for buying a bike on Craigslist.
1- Make sure you ride a bike that’s the right size:
2- Focus on newer bikes, even if they cost a little bit more:
One of the downsides of Craigslist is that the pricing and descriptions of bikes can often times blur the lines of what’s a good deal and what’s not. You’ll often see things like “Barely ridden or Like New” written about bikes that may be 10 years old or more. What these ads won’t tell you is that bike mechanics and geometry have changed a lot of the years. As manufactures design bikes that are safer to ride, more comfortable to be on and require less maintenance, the spread between older and newer bikes becomes wider. I’m not saying you need the latest and greatest by any means, but a mint condition road bike made 15 years ago will ride FAR differently from one made 3 years ago. The older bike may have better components or gone through a tune up recently, but the technological advancements inherent on the newer model simply cannot be matched by the older bike. Plus, should you want to upgrade parts (As well all do every now and then) the newer bike will give you a stronger base to build off of. Think of it in the sense of cars. Even a mint condition 15 year old car is not going to look, feel or drive as good as a car with some more miles on it but only a couple years old.
3- Plan to buy some newer parts:
Here’s the deal folks. Most people do not put new tires, hand grips, chains and brakes on a bike, then turn around and sell it shortly thereafter. Usually the story goes something like this. Somebody has a bike that at one point they used to ride. They MAY have put something new on it when it wore out, but then they stopped riding it. It sat in the garage for X number of months or years until they decided to sell it. Then it went for sale on Craigslist with “New tires”. The issue is, those tire were put on 3 years ago and have been baking in somebody’s garage with no air in them. Now you come along, buy the bike and are riding around town on tires that may look alright, but are going to need to be replaced soon. Again, I’m not saying by any means that you should be worried, BUT you do need to understand that replacing these things will add up in cost. Here’s a brief breakdown of the average cost to replace common items on a bike.
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Now granted, for $165 you’ve got a bike with some new parts on it that should last you a good while. However, if you could have spent the extra $165 on buying a new bike, it would have been a far better route for you to go being that all the other components like chains, shocks, rims and such would also have been brought to new. Not to mention you would have saved yourself the headache of replacing them and the cost that comes along with that.
4- Avoid the costly stuff
Damaged Frames, stripped threads and broken shocks can cost you BIG money. On a higher end bike, these types of repairs can easy add up to hundreds of bucks. On a lower end bike, you’ll probably be throwing it away and starting over. Here’s a couple things to look out for.
Frame damage- If the frame has multiple materials, check the joint where these materials meet to ensure a clean connection. For example, if your looking at a road bike with carbon and aluminum frames, carefully look at those joints to ensure there is no cracking, flaking or separations taking place. On carbon frames, you should see no cracking of any kind. Tapping the frame lightly with a ring on your finger or screwdriver will help bring out the sounds of cracks in the frame as well. Also, look at the welds on the bike. Are they uniform and professional looking? Does the paint look damaged in the welds?
Stripped threads- get on the bike and ride it. Does anything wobble or seem lose? Do the pedals rotate in a consistent way or does one feel off? Does the crank wobble back and forth if you push in on it? If you answered yes to any of these, you should be digging a little bit deeper.
Everything else- the best way to see that a bikes in good condition is to ride it. Chain rub is very normal and can usually be fixed with a minor adjustment. Wheel spokes that are loose normally can be hard to fix. Just use your head to determine if the bike looks, rides and sounds like it has been well taken care of. If you have any doubts, continue on.
5- Buy what you can see and enjoy it for what it is.