It has been a while since I got a new bike. The mountain bike I have been riding is a 1997 custom titanium frame shredder that was gifted to me by a friend a few years ago. Before that it had been at least 5 years since I bought a bike.
The titanium bike is a great bike and I have been riding it everywhere. On the roads and trails around our home in Colorado and on our 5 day tour of southern Arizona this last March. My main gripe is that it has large knobby mountain bike tires that are slow and wear out faster on asphalt.
For at least a year I have considered buying a road bike. Buying new right now is very difficult as global supplies are still constrained due to the shut down last year, and demand has been through the roof as people turned to cycling while their gyms closed.
I would peruse Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace somewhat regularly. The issue with buying used is a 3 fold problem:
- Is the price in my budget?
- Is the bike the right size for me?
- Is it close enough for me to go and test it out?
Again and again I would find 1 or 2 matches but never all 3.
Then this ad came up on Craigslist:
The price was close to my $1000 budget. The size is in my range at 58cm. The location is within an hour drive of my home. Oh and this Trek Damone is like a $5000 bike brand new!
I contacted the seller and it was a retired gentleman who had not ridden the bike in about 5 years. It had been stored in his garage. Also he was willing to meet me halfway to test it out.
The key to testing a bike is knowing what to look for. If you don’t know how to repair and maintain a bike I recommend either bringing someone knowledgable with you, or arranging to meet near a local bike shop and having a mechanic take a look.
The key things to look for are cracks in the frame. Specifically at the high stress points: bottom bracket, headtube, seattube, and rear and front dropouts. If there are any cracks you should be concerned and probably pass on the bike.
After that you should get on the bike and ride it around. A parking lot is great for this. Make sure to adjust the seat so you are at least comfortable. Then shift through all the gears a number of times. You want to see if there are any issues with the drivetrain.
Again this is where knowing what to look for or having someone who knows what to look for will be critical. There are a lot of components to consider: chain, crank, bottom bracket, freewheel, cassette, and front and rear derailleurs. Some issues can be easy to correct like deralliure adjustments. Others will be costly like replacing the bottom bracket.
Test the brakes, don’t skid the tires but practice how effective the brakes are. Take a look at the tires as they spin. Are they straight and true?
In the end this bike passed all tests with flying colors. I made an offer lower than his asking price and he agreed. He also threw in the original set of wheels and a number of other things that made it an even better deal. The wheels that I am running on it now are pretty major upgrades and make the bike even lighter and faster!
Damone is a cool name but since I am gonna be jammin on this bike it has been named Jamone. Silly I know but I also ride with flat pedals which should tell everyone I am not taking things too seriously.
When you buy a used bike you should plan on replacing the tires right away. In this case the tires were cracked and that can be a serious health hazard if one decides to blow out at 30MPH. So I bought some new tires and also replaced the bar tape and pedals.
So far I have put 150 miles on the bike and its like riding on a cloud. We have a bike challenge happening at work at the moment and it is a perfect match for trying to put as many miles/kms on the board as possible.