How to Safely Buy New & Used Bicycles on Craigslist Local Classifieds For Great Deals

Author: | Posted in Buying Tips No comments

Every day, a steady stream of bikes sails past on Craigslist. How do you pick the one that is right for you from out of the pile? Use our five step bike-buying guide.

Begin any bike-buying exercise by asking yourself, what am I buying this for and how often do I plan to use it? The answer to that question will dictate how much you should be willing to spend on it.

Here is a Rough Price Guide for Buying Bicycles on Craigslist

$80 – $150, this price range will get you something that is basic but functional, probably department store but possibly vintage. Either way, it will probably be quite heavy.

$200 – $400, this is the price point at which you can get good bang for your buck. Some very decent vintage road bikes, as well as modern hybrids or mountain bikes, can be had at this price.

$500+ this price range will land you something that is new-ish, trendy, specialized, or fully accessorized, made from

lighter, quality materials such as high-end steel, aluminum, titanium, or even carbon fiber.

Start your browsing with these price ranges in mind. Look farther out for deals that present higher opportunity costs (time, gas, etc.) for others to check out.

Big Value on Vintage or Older Bikes

Also, consider something that isn’t “cool.” Late 80s and early 90s mountain bikes are currently out of fashion, and under-appreciated, and make a good value buy—for now.

How to Size a Bike

When I worked at the bike shop, my old boss used to say that a bike that does not fit you isn’t worth a nickel. I agree, so here are some techniques to help you quickly identify if a bike fits you or not.

One important measure is: can you stand over the bike comfortably? Ideally, you want about an inch of clearance. You can measure this by straddling the top tube of the bike with your feet flat on the ground.

Grab the seat with one hand and with the other grab the stem (the part that holds the handlebars) and gently lift the bike underneath you. Look down or have a friend look down to see how much clearance is under the tires.

If you have an inch or less, that’s a good sign. If there is more than an inch, the bike may be too small. If you can’t lift the bike or worse, if standing over the bike hurts, it may be too big.

How to Quickly Check Some Key Components

Some of the most important things to check when buying a used bike are the wheels and the brakes. The wheels are important because if you buy a bike (that you expect to actually ride) you want the wheels to be in good shape, or they could be expensive to repair or replace.

The brakes are important for safety reasons. Even if the bike shifts poorly or not at all, if the wheels roll and the brakes work you should be able to make it home okay. Here are some quick tips on how to check these two components out.

How to Avoid Buying a Stolen Bike

Bike thieves suck, they can ruin more than an afternoon. Here are my tips on avoiding buying a stolen bike. You have to be the judge of these factors, if something seems fishy, it probably is. The seller should know things about the bike. When they bought it, how long they owned it, problems the bike gave them, how much they liked riding it, why they are selling it, ect. Ask some questions. Most of the time, the seller will probably be happy to answer, and willing to engage in a conversation about bikes, and why they are awesome.

The Bike Should fit the Seller

It does happen that someone is selling a bike they legally own that does not fit them, but most of the time people sell their old bike. So, if a short person is selling a tall bike or vice versa, maybe ask who used to ride the bike. It will probably be another family member, but it’s an innocent question to ask in order to determine the vintage / usage of the bike.