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How to Approach Questionable Deals
#1
Hi all!
Meeting a craigslist seller for a bike test/possible purchase and have a few first time used bike buying questions.

Technical Stuff:
I was wondering if you guys know anything about this bike/ what in particular to look for in Felt bikes aside for normal stuff like chain wear, frame warping, carbon cracks, true wheels shifring health, etc.
Specifically is there a demonstrable way to check warping in the frame on site with some kind of tool without a rack?
What are the most important indicators that a bike has been crashed?

Bargaining/Situational Stuff:
So, this bike is in the middle of a district where it would be pretty hard to comfortably test a shiny bike. The TL area is not a great place to flash bills, haggle, etc so I suggested a local park but the seller seems to be hesitant to meet in an open space during daytime. There's a baseball field there to [poorly] simulate gravel and its out of traffic so I can properly inspect everything. The park is close to his place. He sells other bikes on Craigslist and seems to flip them judging from the regularity of his posting. How do you appraoch deals like this? Are there leading questions you ask to eek out the origins of bike, the maintenance, whether the seller rides which you can impute to the probable quality of the bike?
Here's the bike:
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/d/san-francisco-felt-racing-roadbike/7313022904.html

Thanks All!
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#2
everyone has their own thing when it comes to buying a used bike. I try to meet in the parking lot of a larger police building, they usually couldn't care less anyway. You can give the wheels a spin while holding it, if you put a finger against the frame to keep it in place, it close to the rim to check if it's true without putting it in a stand. You can lean on the seat a little bit to listen for noises in the seat post or you can just take it out of the bike. the seller should not care unless they are trying to hide a crack. unfortunately, I don't know of a way to check if the frame is aligned without putting it in a stand. Then we get to the "has it been crashed" you can usually tell by the scratches on the frame. I noticed he did not include any pictures of the drive side (gear side) of the bike. you might want to get some pictures from that side, or at the very least the derailleurs.
"Steel is real."
- IDK, some guy.
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#3
i responded to a Craigslist ad for a Litespeed Vortex. I met the guy at his house. He had removed decals on all of his titanium bikes. I took down the serial number and called Litespeed the next day.

They identified it as another Litespeed model. It was not a Vortex, he was misrepresenting the bike.

I bought a Seven from a NY dealer on Ebay, at a great price. But they were very straightforward, and accepted returns. Unfortunately, Seven won't give out info on serial numbers, so you are on your own.

Other less expensive vintage Treks and Bridgestones have copious amounts of info on the web. eg. vintage-trek.com.
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#4
@ARMacDonald, I guess either you bought the bike or someone else did since I was unable to view it. I would be very careful of carbon frames (I don't buy them used); it should look near to being new, and if any components appear aesthetically damaged (still functional though) I would balk on the deal since it may very well have been in an accident or even taken a fall that could have affected the integrity of the frame, Bad scrapes on brake levers, bar ends, hub ends/QR's, derailleurs, pedals, etc. could be an indication that the bike took a spill even if the frame itself looks okay. It's always a caveat emptor kind of thing when buying used regardless of frame type. I have bought many frames and bikes off of craigslist and as yet I have not been disappointed because I could always properly inspect the frame/bike. My only problem was on an ebay purchase where the frame (steel) was imperceptively bent and it wasn't until I put a straight edge on it that I could tell there was a problem. It was repairable, but made the overall cost not worth the initial purchase cost and I would have to be open and honest, and let the next owner know that it had been repaired due to minor frame damage. Chase is correct about choosing a police station to conduct a transaction. I would be very hesitant if the seller did not want to do that unless it was a fair distance for the seller to travel. At least transact in a public area (do not be afraid to ask for identification, also write down the car's tag number just in case), and provide no money until you have inspected and/or tested the bike. Most honest sellers will converse with you and readily be able to provide some history and knowledge of the bike. If a seller cannot readily give you some basic answers then it might be a hot bike (whether directly stolen, or someone trying to sell an ex's property without their knowledge). Given that you know the seller "flips" bikes regularly, I would certainly haggle on the price both before you see it physically and afterwards. It can't hurt! I will say that when I check hub bearings I like to remove the wheel and hold the hub spindle ends and give it a spin. You will be able to feel any issues much easier than with the wheel on the frame since the frame absorbs much of the "grinding" if there is any. That being said, I have found hubs that felt bad, but were just not properly adjusted (serviced, but too tight!, doesn't apply to sealed bearing hubs) so you need to know what good, bad, and misadjusted hub bearings feel like. Rims can be checked easily on the frame for being true or not.
Also, be advised that just because you were the first to show interest and even set up a meeting to see it; most sellers don't care about the "first right of refusal", it more comes down to first come first serve on cash deals. I just had a seller contact me about a bike I made a query on trying to meet with him. I gave him a flexible time and location, but he didn't get back to me for awhile, and I thought the bike was sold even though still listed (sellers regularly leave an ad listing online even after a sale; very irritating!). I ended up receiving a message after a couple days because he said he was out of town. When I responded back immediately to reconfirm the schedule, I received no reply. I waited a day and sent another message; bike was sold because someone was coming to look at it even though I had already made arrangements with the seller prior to that buyer. I was pissed, he was sorry; but what can you do. Craigslist is nutty! Another seller didn't even know if they had sold a bike yet that was still listed; yes weird, but true!

Good luck in the crazy world of buying a used bike.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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