I’m going to be real honest here- our Bikegound Check didn’t come out of nowhere. And, the fact that we launched it at exactly the same time as our weekly Craigslist Round Ups was not an accident. Between you, me and the lamppost, we’ve gotten screwed on Craigslist. Oh boy, have we gotten screwed. And this is not a ‘screw me once, shame on you’ situation. How many times is neither here nor there and, really, who likes dredging up the past. Let’s just say, if we had a nickel for every time we've been screwed, we’d have a lot of nickels (which we could use to recoup some of the money we lost in those bad deals).
And ok, yes, I know you’re extremely wise and savvy and this would never happen to you, but we’ve put together a list of our best tips and learned lessons for your less savvy friends.
MEET IN PUBLIC OR BRING A FRIEND Fire stations, police stations, grocery stores, libraries, or your local bike shop are all good spots that increase the safety of the transaction. If cash is being exchanged, be discrete. Consider options like Venmo or Paypal for more security. If you’re meeting at a private residence, bring a friend. It's always nice to have some support when you go somewhere new.
KNOW THE FACTS BEFORE YOU MAKE THE DRIVE If you found a beautiful bicycle that seems like the perfect match for you but it's an hour drive away, ask for detailed pictures and measurements if the listing doesn't include them.
SET A PRICE BEFOREHAND Ideally every Craigslist transaction should be done in 10 minutes or less because you've done all the legwork beforehand. If you see the bike in person and there are some noticeable faults or blemishes that weren't visible or mentioned in the post, bring it up and renegotiate if you're still interested.
IF IT DOESN'T FIT LET IT GO Even if you come up on a once-in-a-lifetime deal on your dream bike, but it's too big or too small for you, let it go. When a bike fits, it disappears under you and you start to float when you ride it. When it doesn't fit, you get chronic injuries and you stop riding.
HAVE IT CHECKED BY SOMEONE WHO KNOWS Bring a knowledgeable pal with you or meet the seller at a local bike shop and have the mechanics check the bike for repairs or issues so you know what you’re getting into. If you come to The Wheelhouse, ask for The Bikeground Check. If you can’t bring it to a shop, we’ve created a checklist you can bring with you. Disclaimer: This doesn’t cover everything, but it should help you avoid some of the most expensive pitfalls. DOWNLOAD OUR CRAIGSLIST CHECKLIST HERE
"Ideally every Craigslist transaction should be done in 10 minutes or less because you've done all the legwork beforehand."
DON'T BE AFRAID TO WALK AWAY Sometimes, the bicycle in person looks different than it did in those pictures you obsessed over. Sometimes, there are a dings and dents and details that are deal breakers. Sometimes, though uncommon, the seller rubs you the wrong way or changes the price that you agreed upon. If this happens, just politely decline and leave. There are new bikes on Craigslist every day, there's no pressure to buy any particular one. If you drove far and are going home empty-handed, buy ice cream. Ice cream helps.
REMEMBER THE 80's AND 90's The late 80s and early 90s is a sweet spot for used bikes. For the most part, avoid bikes from the 70s- modern standards for components hadn’t been introduced yet, so finding parts can be more difficult. Also, avoid 90s mountain bikes with suspension- the early stuff was not great and only gets worse with age.
BUY STEEL Steel bikes hold up for an incredibly long time and maintain excellent ride quality. Aluminum bikes from the 90s are generally less comfortable to ride.
MAKE IT AN ADVENTURE If your purchase takes you toward the west side, stop by the beach and enjoy the sun. If it's in a neighborhood you're unfamiliar with, find your new favorite restaurant in the area. If you're going out of your way, go out of your way to have a fun experience.
"If you drove far and are going home empty-handed, buy ice cream. Ice cream helps."
A special thank you to Alex Miller, our co-author for today's post.