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What bike do I need?

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What bike do I need?

Old 07-09-19, 03:43 PM
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RH Clark
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What bike do I need?

I would really appreciate some help identifying exactly what kind of bike I'm looking for and what models might be suitable. I'm a very fit 51 year old who has just got into biking. I bought a Trek 820 and have put about 50 miles on it but I think it doesn't fit me really well. I'm 6'1" with a 32" inseam and weigh 180lbs. My 820 is a 18.5 inch but I have a 5" riser on the handle bars to be level with my seat and I am still getting numb hands after a longer ride.

I also somehow get the front wheel against my foot in tight turns quite often. Foot is on the peddle, just probably forward too much.

I want to learn some really cool mountain bike tricks like jumping onto a park bench and bunny hopping stuff. I won't be doing any extreme jumping type things that I could really hurt my 51 year old self, just fun stuff where you might get skinned up at the worst. I ride some fairly steep hills and dirt roads. I might be riding in mud, gravel or grass and a paved road all on the same trip most often. I do know I want a fork shock in front but would like to be able to lock it out.

I won't be spending $3K on a new bike but might be looking at higher end used stuff if ya'll can suggest some models to look for.
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Old 07-09-19, 10:41 PM
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For Treks I'm riding the same sized frame as you but I'm only 5'9". Pretty sure you're too squished in the cockpit. You should be at least on a large or the next size up. As for numbness it could be the bike size or something else. Post a pick of the bike some time.
Other than some tricks, what type of riding are you planning to do and where are your home parks? Info like this will yield best suggestions.
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Old 07-09-19, 11:21 PM
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Yep, that bike is like two sizes too small for you.
And not to be mean or anything, but are you really sure you want to embark on mountain biking now? You’ve got more’n a few years on me and I think I might be getting too old for it lol. This coming from a guy owns something like twelve or fifteen mountain bikes. And spends way more time and money on them than my road bikes.
Just saying, I love mountain biking. But, some days after a long ride, I feel beat all to heck.
That said, you can’t go wrong with a good used Specialized hard tail. Maybe a good condition older stump jumper or rock hopper.

Last edited by Rage; 07-10-19 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 07-09-19, 11:26 PM
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As a general rule, you are going to want to avoid aluminum in a used mtb.
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Old 07-10-19, 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Rage View Post
Yep, that bike is like two sizes too small for you.
And not to be mean or anything, but are you really sure you want to embark on mountain biking now? You’ve got more’n a few years on me and I think I might be getting too old for it lol. This coming from a guy owns something like twelve or fifteen mountain bikes. And spends way more time and money on them than my road bikes.
Just saying, I love mountain biking. But, some days after a long ride, I feel beat all to heck.
That said, you can’t go wrong with a good used Specialized hard tail. Maybe a good condition, older stump jumper or rock hopper.
I thought I wanted a mountain bike when I wanted to get into biking because I'm doing it with my 10 year old son and while we don't have any close parks, we do have a National forest within 5 miles with many miles of closed to motorized vehicle dirt roads and wilderness trails. We also have an area within 3 miles of road biking that puts us on old dirt roads and logging roads and skid trails for lots of miles as well. I thought we needed mountain bikes just for the dirt and gravel when I bought us two used bikes. Mine an older 820 and him a 3700 Trek in 13" size.

As I mentioned, I won't be doing any real extreme stuff . I rode a Trek Marlin without the lockout on the fork suspension and it was softer than I wanted. Took too much of my peddle energy on pavement. I also rode a Trek DS2 the same day and liked it much better. The shock was stiffer so that I didn't even need the lock out as much.

I thought I wanted a hybrid and may still but I also want something that can do the real cool stuff I see on the YouTube mountain bike shows. Not going to jump 20 feet off a cliff but would like to do some of the less dangerous cool stuff.

I don't even know if I want a hard tail or full suspension bike.

Do you prefer Specialized to Trek or giant?

I would have thought to avoid carbon rather than aluminum. Can aluminum be damaged where it isn't apparent?



Please allow me to better qualify what I want. I want a light and nimble bike for some easy riding. That's why I liked being able to have a stiff front suspension or lock it out, but I also know I need suspension because I play by hopping it over an 8" log and various rocks on my home trail. I would like to be able to do cool tricks like jumping up on a pick nick table or a low wall and stuff like that.

I will not however be going down hill wide open flying far enough through the air to kill my 51 year old self. I am a very fit and muscular 185lbs and 6'1,but I've trained religiously to get here and don't want to break anything at my age.

I want to be able to climb steep hills because I live in the Appalachian foot hills, but I don't want my geometry with seat so high and bars so low that I am uncomfortable for the major portion of the ride which may be pretty good dirt roads with a few steep hills thrown in.

I thought I wanted a cross country bike but I won't be racing and I want to trade some speed for comfort. I think I want a hard tail just because I don't want to give up my momentum on hard flat trails, that don't need the rear suspension, but those tricks are about as cool to me as riding fast on rough terrain down hill, more so really because I don't want to crash at speed.

I suppose I have the same dilemma as every beginner and I do tend to over analyze so any advice would be helpful.

Last edited by RH Clark; 07-10-19 at 08:17 AM. Reason: more info
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Old 07-10-19, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Rage View Post
As a general rule, you are going to want to avoid aluminum in a used mtb.
WTF are you talking about?
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Old 07-10-19, 08:12 AM
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Okay, that sounds like you are living right near a mountain bikeís idea of paradise.
If it were me, I would try to find a good used condition mid to late nineties chromoly hardtail. I have a fondness for specialized and pre-trek buyout Gary Fisher but most any big manufacturer from that time period going forward is going to be just fine.
Look for stx-rc and better level parts/components.

Aluminum frames are subject to fatigue. A lotta people pooh-pooh the idea but I have seen some pretty catastrophic frame failures on older/cheap bikes. Carbon too. I once saw a carbon fiber frame split itself into two pieces. While somebody was riding it! Incredibly, the rider insisted she was unhurt afterwards.
Both materials are probably going to be fine, but who needs the added anxiety?

Proper fit is pretty important too.
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Old 07-10-19, 08:33 AM
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In response to the wtf am I talking about question, I am talking about being careful when buying used mountain bikes.
I love aluminum mountain bike frames. My two favorite mountain bikes are aluminum. I advocate buying aluminum.
But, maybe a guy just getting into mountain biking and buying used entry level bikes should avoid buying a used aluminum mtb. You might not believe what the guys in my circle of riders will try and get away with when itís time to offload a badly abused bike.
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Old 07-10-19, 08:47 AM
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I kind of doubt I will have to be concerned about aluminum here. Most of the used bikes I am looking at were bought by somebody thinking they were going to get in shape. I've found several nice bikes in the local face book trader that were over $1000 new and still like new in the $400 range. I am just trying to better quantify what I want before buying.
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Old 07-10-19, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
I kind of doubt I will have to be concerned about aluminum here. Most of the used bikes I am looking at were bought by somebody thinking they were going to get in shape. I've found several nice bikes in the local face book trader that were over $1000 new and still like new in the $400 range. I am just trying to better quantify what I want before buying.
I'm about your age and got into the sport about 5 years ago, after being a roadie most of my life. In reality with distracted drivers and the potential for high speed crashes, the woods are probably safer in terms of catastrophic injuries than on asphalt. A few common inaccuracies I'd like to put out there:
1) Today's aluminum is great. The stuff from the late 80's which was glued to lugs were not.
2) Aluminum is more brittle than steel, I've broken one steel bike and 2-3 aluminum. In all cases, they were gradual and found during bike cleaning/maintenance. It's rare that a bike breaks into two pieces. And if you're riding includes a lots of air time, you must inspect your bike regularly. My DH bike is the only bike I wash after every ride.
3) Today's carbon is great. No it's not ferrous durable, but damn it's light and new molds are making pretty bikes. Carbon is what you pay for, I have a Pivot 429 and it's the most expensive bike I own for that reason.
4) Bike fit is paramount, period. A 10K bike in the wrong size or setup will ride like poop.
5) Many shops are making great bikes now, nothing wrong with the 3 you mentioned but also don't get stuck to a brand.
6) Lastly, 26rs are dead. If your budget was under $200, I'd steer you to an older 26r, but at $1000 get a newer bike with with 29" or 27.5+ wheels. I still have three 26rs, down from close to 8. Luckly sold most before the bottom fell out in the market.

Next, let's go over your requirements:
1) relaxed fit (this can be corrected as needed, though bikes in the Trail/All Mountain category will generally be more relaxed than XC race geometries)
2) avoid toe lap (the Trek 820 has a steep headtube angle and is possibly causing toe lap along with poor foot position or big feet)
3) lock out fork (most newer forks have a lock out feature, also better forks will be more progressive with lesser bobbing)
4) full vs front suspension vs hybrid (not a hybrid if you want to hop logs and do tricks, hybrids tend to have lower-end components)
5) capable of trials skills (trials bikes tend to have a reinforced frame as they take a frame, some don't even have a seat, I've ridden with Jeff Lenosky so know the demands on the bikes)
6) various terrain (for me this more about the tires, less tread for lower tech, there's a reason I have amassed about 40 tires)
7) better climber than descender (hardtail with a mid-slack headtube is what you want, about 68-70ish degrees)
8) light and nimble (aluminum bikes are usually lighter than steel, last year I built up two single speed hardtails, the steel frame was but a full pound and change heavier. Want nimble, you want a short chain stay and not so steep headtube)
9) under $1000 (not sure of your budget, $1000 new doesn't buy much anymore, $1000 used is what I usually suggest to someone wanting to get more serious, also $1000 won't get you a good used FS unless you get lucky)

Here's a few I've come across which might meet your needs:
https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...?colorCode=red

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/fathom-29-2

https://www.gtbicycles.com/int_en/zaskar-comp

https://www.konaworld.com/mahuna.cfm
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Old 07-10-19, 02:23 PM
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IMHO I would look at a full suspension trail bike within the last 2-3 years. The technology and geometry of these newer bikes will suit your needs very well.
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Old 07-10-19, 02:27 PM
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Thank you, qclabrat! Very concise and informative.
And, yeah, the problem is the budget for a good rig. Which is why I was trying to steer the OP to the kind of bikes I cut my teeth on. Can probably find a good chromoly 90s era hardtail for relatively little money. And they are easily converted to gravel grinder, singlespeed, or whatever you like when you are ready to upgrade bikes.
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Old 07-10-19, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Rage View Post
Thank you, qclabrat! Very concise and informative.
And, yeah, the problem is the budget for a good rig. Which is why I was trying to steer the OP to the kind of bikes I cut my teeth on. Can probably find a good chromoly 90s era hardtail for relatively little money. And they are easily converted to gravel grinder, singlespeed, or whatever you like when you are ready to upgrade bikes.
What are the mtbs you currently own? I love the older bikes and wish I had more room. Been spending more time riding last few years so newer bikes have been more practical.
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Old 07-10-19, 05:26 PM
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Hi qclabrat, oboy, I’ve got a ton. But it seems I’m on the opposite trajectory. I’m gravitating more towards road cycling now. I live in NYC and it just keeps getting harder to get out of the city. But I have got a ton of mountain bikes lol.
Still own the first stump jumper I ever got, a 1989. Have two other early 90s iterations, all three chromoly. A 1994 or ‘95 rockhopper ultra. A late nineties stumpy, aluminum. Two S-works, a 2003 and 2005/2006? A lot of 90s Gary Fishers. The hoo koo e koo, marlin and two big surs, one pre-genesis geometry and one after. A late nineties jamis Komodo. GT Zaskar, idrive race. Probably another six or seven other bikes incomplete.
Last mtb purchase was a jamis dragon pro 29er. Again, I just have this thing for steel. Think that might be it.
Wait! Marin Hawk Hill. My cold-weather commuter.
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Old 07-10-19, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Rage View Post
Hi qclabrat, oboy, Iíve got a ton. But it seems Iím on the opposite trajectory. Iím gravitating more towards road cycling now. I live in NYC and it just keeps getting harder to get out of the city. But I have got a ton of mountain bikes lol.
Still own the first stump jumper I ever got, a 1989. Have two other early 90s iterations, all three chromoly. A 1994 or Ď95 rockhopper ultra. A late nineties stumpy, aluminum. Two S-works, a 2003 and 2005/2006? A lot of 90s Gary Fishers. The hoo koo e koo, marlin and two big surs, one pre-genesis geometry and one after. A late nineties jamis Komodo. GT Zaskar, idrive race. Probably another six or seven other bikes incomplete.
Last mtb purchase was a jamis dragon pro 29er. Again, I just have this thing for steel. Think that might be it.
Wait! Marin Hawk Hill. My cold-weather commuter.
Very cool, I'm on the other side of the river and occasionally ride over to Coney Island, Cunningham Park or Westchester from the GWB. The 26rs I have left are a Klein, Ibis and Ellsworth. Sorry OP, no more off topics discussion.
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Old 07-10-19, 08:59 PM
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No problem guys. I'm trying to learn all I can. I haven't even learned all the different levels of components and what is good and what is crap. I just basically know not to buy a big department store bike and I was looking at the bigger names I know like Trek Giant,Specialized and Cannondale.

I just wanted enough info to be able to go to a good bike store and know what to try out.
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Old 07-10-19, 10:41 PM
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Itís a tough question, RH. I think thatís actually why there are so few posts to this thread.
If youíre going budget, Iím gonna have to say an older, quality steel hardtail with a good component spec might be the ticket. Iíd go that route over a used entry level bike every time.
What is it youíre actually looking to spend? It might help to have a number so we know what weíre working with.
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Old 07-10-19, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by qclabrat View Post
Very cool, I'm on the other side of the river and occasionally ride over to Coney Island, Cunningham Park or Westchester from the GWB. The 26rs I have left are a Klein, Ibis and Ellsworth. Sorry OP, no more off topics discussion.
Sorry, RH, one last off topic post.
We really are on opposite trajectories, qclabrat. I try to head over the GWB every two or three weeks soís I can ride 9w. When I was younger and sassier, a bunch of us would head over, ride up bear mountain and feast at that all you can eat buffet that was up top there lol.
I ride out to Coney Island all the time in the summer. In fact, Friday nightís 5bbc ride is grand army plaza to Coney Island. You should come.
Iím hoping to make it but saturdayís perimeter ride of queens might take precedence. I need to do it for the perimeter patch, which I covet greatly haha.

And which klein? I had the mantra long, long ago. Wish I still had it. Wish I had an Ellsworth too. Lusted after an Ellsworth truth for the longest time...
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Old 07-11-19, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Rage View Post
Itís a tough question, RH. I think thatís actually why there are so few posts to this thread.
If youíre going budget, Iím gonna have to say an older, quality steel hardtail with a good component spec might be the ticket. Iíd go that route over a used entry level bike every time.
What is it youíre actually looking to spend? It might help to have a number so we know what weíre working with.
I only paid $100 for my 820,and bought it from a guy who maintained it, even got new tires with it. I bought it though to learn what I want more than any other reason. I knew I would have to get to riding and then see what I needed.

I want to wait a while and try out some bikes on this next purchase. I might spend anywhere from $400-$800. I know that's a huge gap but not so much in the used market just depending . I will likely buy used. I will however already be looking for a specific type bike by then, having already tested similar bikes.

Basically right now I'm searching for a more specific type bike to be looking to test.
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Old 07-11-19, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Rage View Post
Sorry, RH, one last off topic post.
We really are on opposite trajectories, qclabrat. I try to head over the GWB every two or three weeks soís I can ride 9w. When I was younger and sassier, a bunch of us would head over, ride up bear mountain and feast at that all you can eat buffet that was up top there lol.
I ride out to Coney Island all the time in the summer. In fact, Friday nightís 5bbc ride is grand army plaza to Coney Island. You should come.
Iím hoping to make it but saturdayís perimeter ride of queens might take precedence. I need to do it for the perimeter patch, which I covet greatly haha.

And which klein? I had the mantra long, long ago. Wish I still had it. Wish I had an Ellsworth too. Lusted after an Ellsworth truth for the longest time...
we still do the Bear Mt ride a few times a year, lots of fun
No clue about the 5bbc ride, but my ride schedule is 95% early mornings due to family obligations, though will check it out some time
Do you do the airport crits? That's above my pay grade but looks like a blast.
Klein Rascal cause SS, the Mantra just to be holy grails, now I see them for sale regularly. The Ellsworth is a DJ, I don't do big air much so it services as a pump track bike
The Ibis is a Mojo with the handjob (lol, funny Ibis folklore for those who follow)
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Old 07-11-19, 07:39 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
I only paid $100 for my 820,and bought it from a guy who maintained it, even got new tires with it. I bought it though to learn what I want more than any other reason. I knew I would have to get to riding and then see what I needed.

I want to wait a while and try out some bikes on this next purchase. I might spend anywhere from $400-$800. I know that's a huge gap but not so much in the used market just depending . I will likely buy used. I will however already be looking for a specific type bike by then, having already tested similar bikes.

Basically right now I'm searching for a more specific type bike to be looking to test.
I kinda figured the budget was right around there. To be honest, that’s the biggest hurdle right there. You’re really not going to be able to find much better than the kind of bikes I’m suggesting. Not in that price range.
To go much better, you might have to bump up the budget.
But, I think even the thousand qclabrat suggested as a budget might be a little low.
Why not head over to the lbs and tell them you want to test a few trail bikes? That way you can try out a few bikes in different price ranges.
I’d hit every bike shop in town lol.

Last edited by Rage; 07-11-19 at 08:56 AM.
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Old 07-11-19, 07:52 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
I only paid $100 for my 820,and bought it from a guy who maintained it, even got new tires with it. I bought it though to learn what I want more than any other reason. I knew I would have to get to riding and then see what I needed.

I want to wait a while and try out some bikes on this next purchase. I might spend anywhere from $400-$800. I know that's a huge gap but not so much in the used market just depending . I will likely buy used. I will however already be looking for a specific type bike by then, having already tested similar bikes.

Basically right now I'm searching for a more specific type bike to be looking to test.
Seems like the best place to buy on the secondary market is either Pinkbike or FB.
I've never bought on FB, but lots of my friends have found good condition bike at fair prices. Here are a few large HTs I found on PB for your perusal

https://www.pinkbike.com/buysell/2601627/

https://www.pinkbike.com/buysell/2598485/

https://www.pinkbike.com/buysell/2590696/

Try to find something in with thru axles (TA) front and rear. It's pretty much the standard now. There's lots of standards for rear spacing, but the better bikes now rarely have quick release (QR) and have moved to Boost 148 or superBoost 157. I personally like the 142 thru axle widths, but not many bikes are 142TA. Also don't dismiss a bike just because it has a Suntour fork, the XCT and XCM models aren't great but the higher end ones are better than the entry level Fox and RockShox out there.
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Old 07-11-19, 09:07 AM
  #23  
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Wow, qclabrat really does his homework...
Are those bikes local to RH, though? As leery as I am of certain bike frame materials, I am even leerier of buying a used bike sight unseen. I have seen people ship out some hinky stuff, blown forks, toasted wheelsets, the list goes on. Then they claim the damage happened in transit and it turns into a whole thing.
But I am going to defer to qclabrat. He gives good post.
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Old 07-11-19, 09:12 AM
  #24  
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@qclabrat, I haven’t done a crit in years. Last one was an utter disaster lol. Long story.
You should definitely check out the 5bbc website. A good portion of the rides are in jersey or jersey-bound.
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Old 07-11-19, 10:50 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Rage View Post
Wow, qclabrat really does his homework...
Are those bikes local to RH, though? As leery as I am of certain bike frame materials, I am even leerier of buying a used bike sight unseen. I have seen people ship out some hinky stuff, blown forks, toasted wheelsets, the list goes on. Then they claim the damage happened in transit and it turns into a whole thing.
But I am going to defer to qclabrat. He gives good post.
I've never come across a complete lemon having purchased about 20 items including full bikes on Pinkbike. Can't say the same about eBay though, lots of garbage, key is to ask lots of questions and request more pictures. Most importantly, buy with PayPal and pay the extra fees for Goods so it's covered if it's not as expected. Also on PB there's no seller fees so the bikes are less and you can as a buyer send offers and see if they bite. Can't do that on eBay. I've found product specific classifieds generally have more honest sellers, but that's just my own observations.
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