Monday, September 17, 2007

Q&A: Finding an affordable bike

I bought a bike a month ago off a guy on craigslist and the frame turned out to be bent. Now I need a bike to get to school and I am looking for a good used road bike. Do you know someone trustworthy to buy one from?


Hi Katie,
I'm sorry to hear that the bike you got on craigslist turned out to be bent. Sometimes you can straighten bent bikes good enough to get them at least rideable, but if it's really bad that's probably not an option. I'd be happy to take a look if you were ever down here.

If the bike can't be fixed maybe you could sell it again on craigslist but just for parts. You might get lucky and find someone who will buy it to use it to build another bike. You can tell people it's bent and that you're just selling it for parts.

And, on finding an affordable road bike for getting around, I don't know the Oakland/Berkeley area that well, but I would think that there's a large used bike market there. You might call some bike shops and ask if they carry used bikes or can recommend a place to get them. Shops are trustworthy and should know good sources, too. For example, we have the Bike Church here in Santa Cruz where you can go and work on bikes to earn a used bike. Maybe in Berkeley or Oakland there's a charitable bike organization like this. Or, maybe you can find a bike shop with used bikes.

You might try Goodwill stores, too. It's amazing what you can find in them if you get lucky. Fleamarkets, swap meets and yard sales are good sources, too. You just need to get out there on a Sat or Sun and hunt a bit. You might get lucky. Another way people find bikes is to ask everyone they know. Sometimes the perfect bike is sitting there collecting dust in a garage or house somewhere. To find it ask everyone you know if they have an old 10-speed you can have. Ask friends, your relatives, people you meet when you're out and about, ask your friends to ask, etc. Lots of people find bikes like this because there are lot of bikes like this out there. The people don't think they're worth anything and would be happy to get rid of them. You just have to remember to ask everyone and be a little creative to get the word out.

I hope one of these ideas pans out for you and you find a nice bike and I hope that person who sold you that bent bike gets the stomach flu ;-)

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