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Barely Used Bikes for Sale

June 12th, 2010 [print] Go to comments

The following ad is a perfect example of what I see on Craigslist just about everyday..

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As an avid cyclist, and someone who has been very active my whole life, it bothers me to see so many of these sorts of ads.  Everyday, millions (I’d assume) of people decide to get in better shape, and one of the quick answers to that is to buy a bicycle.  Chances are, their doctors suggested it as a low-impact form of exercise, and it’s easy to envision oneself pedaling around outdoors, enjoying nature and feeling like a kid again.

What happens next is, they go out and buy bicycles.  Chances are high that they’ll buy a 40lb. chromoly steel bike from a department store like Wal-Mart, without doing even five minutes worth of research.  In fact, their "research" consists of looking at price tags, paint colors, and how difficult the particular bike may be to get down from the display rack by themself.  With the bike paid for, they take it home, with illusions of grandeur in their heads…

"I’m going to ride this baby everyday after work!"
"I’ll get back into shape like I was in college!"
"I’ll finally have a chance to ride around the park, look at nature, and enjoy the outdoors!"

 In reality, however, they do little or none of those things.  They might raise the seat up to an improper height, maybe check the brakes, then set out on a ride.  With the seat too low, the frame improperly sized, and sub-par components, the ride is basically disastrous (even if they don’t realize it fully).  Lack of exercise for the last ____ years means they weren’t ready for the ride; their ass hurts (seat too low, too much of their weight on it, and it’s probably too padded), knees hurt (seat too low), back is stiff (bad frame size, saddle position), and the overall feel of the bike was crap.

So, what happens?  They quit.  A combination of the same "don’t give a shit about my health" mentality that they’ve been working on for years–if not decades–plus a lousy bicycle, and too many other things to conveniently keep themselves busy, and they easily talk themselves out of ever riding again.  Or, perhaps the tires were too low from the day they bought it, and they haven’t "gotten around" to filling them up yet; perhaps the cars are parked in the way, and it’s difficult to get the bikes out of the garage; perhaps they left it in the rain for a week and the chain is already rusty.

The reasons are many, but in the end, they just never ride again.  Sure, it’s good for the bicycle industry, selling millions of shit-bikes every year, but it does nothing for the individuals who buy them, other than emptying out their wallets.  Eventually, the bike winds up in a garage sale or on Craigslist, selling at a loss–and not merely a financial loss.

If you’re one of these people, kill yourself please don’t continue doing it wrong.  Go to a real bike shop, even if you have to travel out of town to find one.  Talk to experienced sales people, explain to them why you want a bike, and what sort of riding you’ll be doing.  Then, go home with a list of bikes, and begin your research online.  Ask in forums, do Google searches for reviews, and read anything you can find to better educate yourself about bikes and the activity of riding.  Once you’ve picked out the bike you want, get a properly sized frame with the help of a bike shop salesman.

Later, if you feel sore after the first few rides, look into getting a less padded seat (it seems logical that more padding would be more comfortable, but it’s truly not the case), maybe get the seat adjusted more to your liking, get a shorter or longer stem, and see if you begin to feel better during the ride.  In short, get the bike to fit your body just right.  Yes, you’ll spend twice the money (at least) that you would have at a department store, but you’ll wind up with a better product.  Eventually, the bike will feel like an extension of your body, and it’ll make you want to get out and ride.

Then, well… get out and ride.

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