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I have been on the lookout for another bike to use as a spare, as well as to explore other geometries and uses, and have been looking for a decent 1970s to early 2000s steel bike. I prefer steel but am open to other options. I have searched the local Craigslist listings (Western Massachusetts, USA), but everybody on Craigslist seems to think their 1960s un-ridable rust bucket is a rare collectible worth $300-500 and above. I also have a minor nagging concern that I may be picking up a "hot" item. Ebay, which I have used fairly extensively for non-biking purchases, seems a bit iffy for buying a bike; moreover shipping does add to the cost of the bike. There are one or two LBSs that do some business in used bikes but they obviously add a premium to the bike, though ultimately they also ensure it is rideable?


So what tips, tricks or strategies do you use when on the lookout for a used bike? I realize that time is on my side, since I already have a primary ride, but even then one can get impatient waiting.


Any suggestions, ideas or tips welcome.
 

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gazing from the shadows
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Ask at bike shops for what they have used, or if they know anyone with a _______________ that they might want to sell. If you are willing to get older tech, they will have trouble selling it in general, and they will cut you a deal for the space and to get a new customer.

Drive by a lot of garage sales one weekend, look from the street for bikes, stop if you see something interesting. Bike are usually visible, not tucked away.

I've done both of those. Luck of the draw.
 

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I've bought two old steel bikes via Craigslist. I check the listing daily and the good ones can disappear very quickly.

One I bought last February when it was freezing cold. It is a 1984 Peugeot P8 mostly just needed cleaning, I paid $75 for it and $10 in new bar tape. Mostly original, it's heavy... but a French made beauty. I keep it in my home office and plan on putting it on a trainer this winter.

Most recently I picked up a Univega Chromoly Japanese made (in 1983) 12 speed with Suntour derailleurs and downtube shifters. I called about it minutes after it was listed and met the seller soon after he got home from work. The bikes picture looked bad and it didn't look any better in real life. I paid $20 (he was asking $25) for the bike. New tires, tubes, chain, shifter cables, brake pads, handlebar tape, new-used handlebar, and used crane brake levers. And I ordered [on-line] some new reflectors with the metal brackets. In total about $80 in parts.

A serious cleaning and polishing (I used aluminum and chrome polish plus a buffing wheel... re-greased everything, and trued both wheels.

She rides and shifts beautifully and is a pleasure ride and a joy just to own.
 
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