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Need some advice before buying a used mountain bike

Old 10-26-17, 10:23 AM
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frogger42
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Need some advice before buying a used mountain bike

Today, I was in my local bike shop and saw a used mountain bike that I am considering. It is a Cannondale Jekyll 900SL. From what I can tell from my brief research so far, it was only made from 2000 - 2002 and was pretty high end at the time. They are asking $250. The frame fits me well so that part is not an issue. It has some cosmetic damage, and the shop owner mentioned that the frame shock had no air when it came it, but he pumped it up and it seems to be holding air so far (only about 24 hours so far). He is going to put it up on the rack today or tomorrow and give it a close inspection and repair anything he finds that needs it. I'd be using this for some light mountain biking trails near my house just as a change of pace from my road riding, and as a winter beater or something to ride if the road bike is in the shop. What do you guys think of this bike and the price? I'm a complete novice when it comes to mountain bikes so any info is appreciated.





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Old 10-26-17, 10:39 AM
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My only concern would be that front shock, which looks proprietary to Cannondale. How difficult would it be to replace or repair it? I am thinking it may be pricey, but IDK for sure.
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Old 10-26-17, 11:36 AM
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Looks like an early Headshok front. My '07 F4 has a later revision HeadShok and it's been perfect, no issues over thousands of miles. Sadly that means I can't comment as to how much it would cost to service, as I've never needed it serviced besides adding some high pressure air to it once.
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Old 10-26-17, 11:58 AM
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One thing I was considering asking is for him to let me buy it, but with the agreement that if I found a major problem, I could return it for a refund within a short period of time (maybe a few days or a week). Then, take it to my cousin's shop that is about an hour away and have his mechanic give it a thorough inspection to make sure I didn't miss anything. Not sure if he'll agree, but I figure it can't hurt to ask.
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Old 10-26-17, 12:00 PM
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My first concern with used MTBs is always the suspension.

If I were you I would research the cost of rebuilding the Headshock and the rear shock. I would also look at replacement costs for modern versions ... might be worth it if the shocks are done.

I bought a 2007 Cannondale Rize 4 and love it---Love it. The first thing I did was research rebuilding the shock and fork, because on a used MTB, that's where the money will go. Everything else costs whatever parts cost--reasonable if you buy off EBay or buy a donor bike or whatever. But the shocks and fork---can't ride without them and maybe can't fix them yourself.

Do the research, understand what you are risking, and make an informed decision. I did and I am very glad.

The fact that the guy at the shop seems honest is a big plus.
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Old 10-26-17, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by General Geoff View Post
Looks like an early Headshok front. My '07 F4 has a later revision HeadShok and it's been perfect, no issues over thousands of miles. Sadly that means I can't comment as to how much it would cost to service, as I've never needed it serviced besides adding some high pressure air to it once.
My concern would be that because the shock is proprietary, repairing or sourcing a NOS or rebuilt shock could easily push the price of this bike up into the range where OP could buy a new mountain bike.
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Old 10-26-17, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by frogger42 View Post
One thing I was considering asking is for him to let me buy it, but with the agreement that if I found a major problem, I could return it for a refund within a short period of time (maybe a few days or a week). Then, take it to my cousin's shop that is about an hour away and have his mechanic give it a thorough inspection to make sure I didn't miss anything. Not sure if he'll agree, but I figure it can't hurt to ask.
I don't think $250 is a huge risk to take even if it does have a few issues. Test ride it for a mile or two, if it feels good, shocks don't bind or bottom out, and it rides straight on its own, buy it.
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Old 10-26-17, 12:05 PM
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Christ, for $250... that looks fantastic. For the historical value alone! I'd have that in a heartbeat.

For me, the "cool factor" is a variable that always raises something's value. How many of these do you see out there? Probably not many.

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Old 10-26-17, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
My concern would be that because the shock is proprietary, repairing or sourcing a NOS or rebuilt shock could easily push the price of this bike up into the range where OP could buy a new mountain bike.
Cannondale Super Fatty M Headshok Suspension Fork Service/Overhaul Instructions Headshock

Looks like it can be done DIY.
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Old 10-26-17, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by frogger42 View Post
One thing I was considering asking is for him to let me buy it, but with the agreement that if I found a major problem, I could return it for a refund within a short period of time (maybe a few days or a week). Then, take it to my cousin's shop that is about an hour away and have his mechanic give it a thorough inspection to make sure I didn't miss anything. Not sure if he'll agree, but I figure it can't hurt to ask.
Why not have your cousin check the bike out before buying it? Unless you have a established relationship with the seller, I doubt he will agree to let you buy the bike with an agreement that you can return it for a few refund in a few weeks. I have done business with several bike shops that have sold me used bikes. I have had shops say they will repair any problem for 90 to 120 days (actually on a used mountain bike I bought for my kid in late spring, the seller guaranteed it for "the summer" which is how I came up with 90 to 120 days. The seller did put a caveat in, stating that the fork while he expected it not to fail, also not to expect the kind of performance out of it you would expect out of a new mid priced mountain bike, either. I agreed and the bike was fine for not one, but two years before we sold it.)
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Old 10-26-17, 12:12 PM
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Hell, I bet if you walk in w/$200 cash, you'll ride out on that bike.
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Old 10-26-17, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by General Geoff View Post
Way beyond my bike repair skills, but worth taking note of.
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Old 10-26-17, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
Why not have your cousin check the bike out before buying it? Unless you have a established relationship with the seller, I doubt he will agree to let you buy the bike with an agreement that you can return it for a few refund in a few weeks. I have done business with several bike shops that have sold me used bikes. I have had shops say they will repair any problem for 90 to 120 days (actually on a used mountain bike I bought for my kid in late spring, the seller guaranteed it for "the summer" which is how I came up with 90 to 120 days. The seller did put a caveat in, stating that the fork while he expected it not to fail, also not to expect the kind of performance out of it you would expect out of a new mid priced mountain bike, either. I agreed and the bike was fine for not one, but two years before we sold it.)
My cousin is an hour away and runs his own bike shop so during the time this one is open, so is his. As a favor to me, he'd look it over if I bring it to him, but asking him to get someone to work his shop for him while he drives 2 hours round trip plus the time to inspect it is not something I'd ask of him, and not something I'd expect him to agree to if I did.
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Old 10-26-17, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by frogger42 View Post
My cousin is an hour away and runs his own bike shop so during the time this one is open, so is his. As a favor to me, he'd look it over if I bring it to him, but asking him to get someone to work his shop for him while he drives 2 hours round trip plus the time to inspect it is not something I'd ask of him, and not something I'd expect him to agree to if I did.
Ask to borrow the bike for a few hours and take it to your cousin's shop.
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Old 10-26-17, 01:56 PM
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One bad thing about old dual suspension bikes is that it can be hard to find replacement parts like suspension bearings, ect. But Cannondale isn't a problem, see one link below. The Headshok is one of my all time favorite suspension forks. I'd buy the Jekyll in a heartbeat for $250.

Jekyll (first generation)
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Old 10-26-17, 01:57 PM
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" He is going to put it up on the rack today or tomorrow and give it a close inspection and repair anything he finds that needs it. "
I would say, ask what repairs he says it needs. The bike looks pretty good. Good heavens, he is only asking $250, about 10% of the original price. The rear shock is a pretty standard item. The headshock is proprietary to Cannondale. I always thought that it was a very good idea that didn't happen to catch on. The only doubt I would have about the bike is the front suspension, ask about it. Ask the shop owner if he knows anything about these setups, if he nows how to service them. If he does I wouldn't hesitate to buy the bike
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Old 10-26-17, 02:22 PM
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It is $250. Don't spend a lot of money on keeping it going but if you can get a year or two out of it it is worth it. Old full suspension bikes are kind of crap. Besides finding replacement parts as has already been pointed out they generally pedal like crap, lots of pedal bob. New full suspension bikes are so much better it is crazy but you aren't going to get one for $250, hard to find a decent used hardtail for $250. As for the headshock you can convert the frame with the right headset to run a regular fork if it comes down to it but that would be spending more money on it than I would want. Ride it as is and if you find out you really like mtn biking start saving up for a new bike.
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Old 10-27-17, 08:53 AM
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RE: the Headshok

An easy way to check the condition of the shock, is to push up and down on the bars and listen near the headset cap.
First, it's an air sprung, oil damped shock, so as long as the air spring holds good pressure, it's good. There's a Schrader valve under the fork crown, that's where you check and add air.
The damper cartridge is on top, when you compress the shock, it should make little to no noise. If you can hear a 'squishing' sound, there's some air in the damper cartridge. This happens to ALL air shocks, and it's not the end of the world. The cartridge can be bled / oil changed, but it does take some tools and knowledge that are specific to the Headshok.

One of the beefs people have with older suspension bikes is the 'pedal bob' or 'jacking' That comes down to two things, the geometry, with high pivots, like the old Super V, and shock preload. Most of it is shock preload. Typical owners don't run enough air pressure for weight, and don't check it often enough. If the bike sits for a while, it will bleed down. It's no big deal to top it off before your ride, and it makes the bike handle much better.
Get a shock pump, it's a small volume, high pressure pump, with a hose and a good gage. $20-$30, and a good tool to have.
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Old 10-28-17, 02:38 AM
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Yup. Unless the shop owner finds something major wrong with it, you could have $250 worth of fun in a few weekends, and the next couple years of fun would be free.
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Old 10-29-17, 11:42 AM
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I appreciate all the advice. I do think it is good bike and a good deal, but I have decided to spend my money on an indoor trainer instead of a second bike. This gives me the ability to ride more often, regardless of weather of if I have time to travel to the trails I like to ride. Found a great deal on a lightly used fluid trainer on ebay and it should be here next week.
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Old 10-29-17, 12:03 PM
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For type of riding you are describing I would be looking at a used hardtail.
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Old 10-29-17, 02:51 PM
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If it still has the Coda brakes, they will be bigger hassle to find pads for than dealing with the shocks.
The rear shock is a proprietary body only used on Gen 1 and 2 Jekylls. The guts are all Fox though and easily overhauled.
The Headshock takes a couple special tools to rebuild, but can be done. Vintage Cannondale sells the rebuild kits, or Mendon cycles can rebuild them.
Bushing for the suspension are sill readily available also.
I have the same frame and paid twice that much for the frame, fork, and shock six or seven years ago.
For $250 you can't go wrong.
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