Buying a Garage Sale Bicycle

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Buying a bike at a garage sale bike can be a great bargain. However, in order for it to be a true bargain, you need to know what to look for. We asked Curt Warner, owner of Bike Fix, Inc., for his expertise. He offered the following tips for purchasing a bicycle off your neighbor.

  • Avoid department store bicycles: magnaThere are telltale signs even to the untrained eye–look for price stickers on the headtube. Look for 800 telephone service numbers on the lower part of the downtube, right next to the bottom bracket. (Some examples of department store brands are Murray, Magna, Next, Huffy, Motiv, Timberland, Mongoose, Columbia, some Schwinns, Free Spirit, and some Diamondbacks.)
  • Avoid any and all bikes with any type of suspension: These are hallmarks of cheap bikes: suspension forks, suspension seat posts, and shock suspensions or coil springs within the frame. According to Curt, “Although many excellent high quality mountain bikes use suspension, on cheap bikes likely to be found in the mass market and at garage sales, they are little more than malfunctioning boat anchors.”
  • Take it to a bike shop: Once you’ve purchased a bike, make sure your bike is ready to ride by taking it to a local bike shop for a tune-up. Bike Fix, Inc., located just west of Chicago in Oak Park, offers a basic tune-up specifically designed for garage sale purchases. Look for a bike shop that understands you’re not fine-tuning a speed machine, but that you want to make sure your bike will get you from A to B safely.

For those that have gone the garage sale route – what advice would you add?