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Vintage Bike Options

Old 05-27-19, 02:08 PM
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cook.gwc
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Vintage Bike Options

Hello all,

I am new to road bikes and I am looking for something cheap and durable, but not weighing in at a billion pounds. I think vintage bikes would be a good option for me because they seem solidly built, they don't cost too much so I won't have to worry about tossing it around, and I won't lose a huge investment if it gets stolen. I'd like to still be able to update the bikes with new parts (most likely newer parts on drivetrain, handlebars, saddle, etc.). My father has all the tools I would need to do most fixes or updates, but neither of us are very well versed in vintage road bikes, so I thought I'd take advantage of the wisdom of the internet rather than spending a lot of time researching the technical specifics of each one. Here is a list of all the models in good condition that I've seen on craigslist that seem like they might fit my criteria:


Schwinn Traveler

Schwinn Le Tour

Schwinn World Sport

Batavus Champion


And two a bit above what I want to spend but if they are clearly better I might go for them:


Giant Perigee

Trek Tri Series


What would you say is my best bet out of these options in terms of compatibility with newer parts, as well as durability and weight? I'm pretty set on spending a low amount of money on a vintage bike rather than saving up for a new one, just in case anybody was going to recommend that.
Thanks!
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Old 05-27-19, 05:01 PM
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Hi, and welcome to C&V. If you tell us your height/inseam and what size bike you think you need, we can scour CL for you and pick out the best options if you want to go vintage. Making armchair recommendations is what we do best. Of those you listed, I'd recommend the Trek as a great entry into the C&V world - well built machines that don't cost an arm and a leg.
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Old 05-27-19, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by friendofpugs View Post
Hi, and welcome to C&V. If you tell us your height/inseam and what size bike you think you need, we can scour CL for you and pick out the best options if you want to go vintage. Making armchair recommendations is what we do best. Of those you listed, I'd recommend the Trek as a great entry into the C&V world - well built machines that don't cost an arm and a leg.
I am 5'11", with a 35" inseam. I live in the chicago area, and my original budget was around $100 and then another $50 to spend fixing it up/tricking it out, but that seems to be a little bit too low for anything decent around here. I found a LeTour that I like for $125, so I will still have a bit of money to modify it if I go for that one. There is also a nice traveler from the same seller which is also 125, but I much prefer the look of the LeTour they are selling over the traveler. The Trek Tri (it seems you are a bit biased in choosing that looking at the bike history) is $155, so it will be a bit of a stretch, which is why I am a bit iffy on that choice.
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Old 05-27-19, 05:38 PM
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I'm with @friendofpugs. Your best bet is to list a few bikes on the C&V appraisal forum and ask for advice as to whether those bikes are worth the asking price on craigslist. If you list your city and height, people will tell you which bikes will fit and they'll scour the ads for you. Nothing like free labor, right?

In terms of working on bikes, that's easy and they're are a ton of really good youtube videos on this.

Also what are you planning on doing with your bike? A commuter or all around bike is different than a racer and some of the bikes you've listed are really racing bikes.
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Old 05-27-19, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
I'm with @friendofpugs. Your best bet is to list a few bikes on the C&V appraisal forum and ask for advice as to whether those bikes are worth the asking price on craigslist. If you list your city and height, people will tell you which bikes will fit and they'll scour the ads for you. Nothing like free labor, right?

In terms of working on bikes, that's easy and they're are a ton of really good youtube videos on this.

Also what are you planning on doing with your bike? A commuter or all around bike is different than a racer and some of the bikes you've listed are really racing bikes.
I am planning on using it to commute 10 miles to and 10 miles back from somewhere every day this summer. Just need something durable and not too heavy that won't break the bank, and that I will still have the option to modify a bit which is something I always enjoy doing. I listed my inseam/height/city as well as my total budget in an earlier reply. Thanks for the help!
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Old 05-27-19, 05:46 PM
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For a 10 mile commute, it's tough to beat a vintage mountain bike (one with a rigid fork). The wheels tend to be in decent shape on them (it's easier to wreck a road bike wheel) and upright bars are a good choice for commuting. They tend to be decent in price. Here are two (a Haro and a KHS) each for a $100. They might be a bit small since you're five eleven but mountain bikes have long seatposts:

https://chicago.craigslist.org/wcl/b...893121493.html

https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/b...898696051.html

also this Trek Antelope also at $100

https://chicago.craigslist.org/nwc/b...898525621.html
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Old 05-27-19, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by friendofpugs View Post
Hi, and welcome to C&V. If you tell us your height/inseam and what size bike you think you need, we can scour CL for you and pick out the best options if you want to go vintage. Making armchair recommendations is what we do best. Of those you listed, I'd recommend the Trek as a great entry into the C&V world - well built machines that don't cost an arm and a leg.
+1 The Trek is the best one of the bikes you listed. If you are looking at upgrading parts in the future, you want to focus on a quality frame, which in this case means full chromoly. Of the Schwinns you listed, all of them may have a chromoly main tubes, (True Temper), but lesser quality hi-tensile steel seat/chain stays and fork. If you went up to the Schwinn Tempo, you would have a quality, full chromoly, upgradeable frame and fork. You should be able to find an original, clean example for under $300 The same goes for Trek, some of their models will advertise Reynolds 531 or Ishiwata main tubes, but have "gaspipe" stays and forks. Two resources in your search should be vintage-trek.com and trfindley.com. You will be able to view every Trek and Schwinn catalog from the early 80s to the mid 90s, pinpoint which model year you are looking at, and see complete specs on that bike. If you are looking to modernize, another resource will be RJ the Bike Guy on youtube. He will show you how to convert a 6 speed drivetrain to a 10 speed, as well as bottom bracket and headset conversions. Above all, ride as many as you can and make sure you get a bike that fits. Good luck!
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Old 05-27-19, 05:55 PM
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If you worry about theft, buy the ugliest looking one. With Schwinn, those models varied year to year. It would help to know the years of each?
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Old 05-27-19, 06:01 PM
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If the Trek is from the guy from Streamwood, you may very well need to upgrade the bike. He always pieces things together that are not always done right. Nice looking frame if it is not dented. He will let you talk him down a bit if you are willing to walk away.
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Old 05-27-19, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Whitlatch View Post
If the Trek is from the guy from Streamwood, you may very well need to upgrade the bike. He always pieces things together that are not always done right. Nice looking frame if it is not dented. He will let you talk him down a bit if you are willing to walk away.
It is from the streamwood guy! I just emailed him, asked him if he would be able negotiate a bit. We'll see what happens. What should I look out for in terms of incorrect parts?
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Old 05-27-19, 06:20 PM
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Buy a bike complete and ready to go. "Fixing it up" generally costs a whole lot more than original purchase price. Control your urge for modern parts. If you need whatever modern is to you just start with a 90s bike or a 2000s bike.
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Old 05-27-19, 06:22 PM
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If you want something you can upgrade...

https://chicago.craigslist.org/nwc/b...893223364.html

And is less of a theft risk.

Vintage bikes.Quasar Giant. Schwinn. Chicago bicycle co - $125 (Huntley) hide this posting

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Old 05-27-19, 06:54 PM
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Just a word of advice to add in. If tires are yucky, that is a $50.00 expenditure for decent ones to replace. Tires and wheels make the difference with older bikes.

You might want to increase your budget by the $50 for "tricking out" and see if $175-200 gets you something ready to go.

I notice there is a vintage 60cm Bottechia for sale on there.

And a larger Trek
https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/b...884862212.html

And my choice for your height/inseam - 58cm, brifters. $175
https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/b...898449210.html

Lots of choices down here in Charleston...
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Old 05-27-19, 06:57 PM
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Old 05-27-19, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by cook.gwc View Post
It is from the streamwood guy! I just emailed him, asked him if he would be able negotiate a bit. We'll see what happens. What should I look out for in terms of incorrect parts?
Everything. One wheel is usually unusable, with hops. The bike will not be able to be test rode for one reason or another. He does not overhaul his bikes, he just tweaks them a bit and pushes them out the door. Even if you are lucky enough that it is in decent enough condition to ride, it will need a full overhaul.

I have only purchased two bikes from him, all I was after was the frames. Neither bike was in road worthy condition.
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Old 05-27-19, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by cook.gwc View Post
Hello all,

I am new to road bikes and I am looking for something cheap and durable, but not weighing in at a billion pounds. I think vintage bikes would be a good option for me because they seem solidly built, they don't cost too much so I won't have to worry about tossing it around, and I won't lose a huge investment if it gets stolen. I'd like to still be able to update the bikes with new parts (most likely newer parts on drivetrain, handlebars, saddle, etc.). My father has all the tools I would need to do most fixes or updates, but neither of us are very well versed in vintage road bikes, so I thought I'd take advantage of the wisdom of the internet rather than spending a lot of time researching the technical specifics of each one. Here is a list of all the models in good condition that I've seen on craigslist that seem like they might fit my criteria:


Schwinn Traveler

Schwinn Le Tour

Schwinn World Sport

Batavus Champion


And two a bit above what I want to spend but if they are clearly better I might go for them:


Giant Perigee

Trek Tri Series


What would you say is my best bet out of these options in terms of compatibility with newer parts, as well as durability and weight? I'm pretty set on spending a low amount of money on a vintage bike rather than saving up for a new one, just in case anybody was going to recommend that.
Thanks!
Ok, welcome to the world of vintage bikes. This is an area that I once dipped a toe in, and I still like the idea of vintage. But before we go on a few thoughts.

There is s saying in the world of road bikes. Cheap, light durable. Pick two. Simply put, a decent basic new road bike will run you $800 to $1,000. Maybe something a few years old in clean condition will run you half that, so maybe $400 to $500 in ready to ride condition. And, of course, the older or more beat up a bike is, the more money goes into repairs, so, say, you get a deal on a used bike five to ten years old for $250, but it is s little beat up and needs some new tires, tubes, bar tape, chain, cassette, and bottom bracket, even if you do all the work yourself, you are still talking about putting another $150 or so into parts, and that is just the consummables that you would expect to wear out over time. If you need a new set of wheels, then your budget is blown, and you might as well have bought yourself a cleaner bike to begin with.

So you have that issue, and then there is the issue of vintage. I would say if you go vintage, buy it for what it is, and don't bother trying to update it to modern unless you really know what you are doing. So that means, if you buy a bike with 5 or 6 speed freewheel, and downtube shifters, make sure you are ok with that as updating to modern shifters can get expensive pretty quick, and tricky, too, since modern wheels 8 speed or higher won't fit on a vintage frame.

That said, I did have success buying a vintage bike for my son, with a whole lot of mismatched parts, and somehow it all worked out. The bike is a complete Frankenbike. A vintage Gitane frame from the early 80s, but I recognized from the decals these bikes were very high quality back in the day. But someone updated to modern style shifters, albeit older Shimano 105 8 speed shifters. Mismatched, rims, but Ultegra hubs. Old 105 front derailleur. And an 8 speed Shimano 2300 rear derailleur. It shouldn't all work together, but somehow it does. And I bought it out of season in a complicated trade with the seller, where I traded him an old mountain bike, plus $100 cash for this bike, which has not needed so much as a tuneup in the 3 years my son has ridden it. When my son suggested upgrading parts, I told him not to, but rather just enjoy the bike for what it is, which is a fine vintage steel frame with mostly mid to late 90s drivetrain, and some mismatched wheels.
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Old 05-27-19, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
Ok, welcome to the world of vintage bikes. This is an area that I once dipped a toe in, and I still like the idea of vintage. But before we go on a few thoughts.

There is s saying in the world of road bikes. Cheap, light durable. Pick two. Simply put, a decent basic new road bike will run you $800 to $1,000. Maybe something a few years old in clean condition will run you half that, so maybe $400 to $500 in ready to ride condition. And, of course, the older or more beat up a bike is, the more money goes into repairs, so, say, you get a deal on a used bike five to ten years old for $250, but it is s little beat up and needs some new tires, tubes, bar tape, chain, cassette, and bottom bracket, even if you do all the work yourself, you are still talking about putting another $150 or so into parts, and that is just the consummables that you would expect to wear out over time. If you need a new set of wheels, then your budget is blown, and you might as well have bought yourself a cleaner bike to begin with.

So you have that issue, and then there is the issue of vintage. I would say if you go vintage, buy it for what it is, and don't bother trying to update it to modern unless you really know what you are doing. So that means, if you buy a bike with 5 or 6 speed freewheel, and downtube shifters, make sure you are ok with that as updating to modern shifters can get expensive pretty quick, and tricky, too, since modern wheels 8 speed or higher won't fit on a vintage frame.

That said, I did have success buying a vintage bike for my son, with a whole lot of mismatched parts, and somehow it all worked out. The bike is a complete Frankenbike. A vintage Gitane frame from the early 80s, but I recognized from the decals these bikes were very high quality back in the day. But someone updated to modern style shifters, albeit older Shimano 105 8 speed shifters. Mismatched, rims, but Ultegra hubs. Old 105 front derailleur. And an 8 speed Shimano 2300 rear derailleur. It shouldn't all work together, but somehow it does. And I bought it out of season in a complicated trade with the seller, where I traded him an old mountain bike, plus $100 cash for this bike, which has not needed so much as a tuneup in the 3 years my son has ridden it. When my son suggested upgrading parts, I told him not to, but rather just enjoy the bike for what it is, which is a fine vintage steel frame with mostly mid to late 90s drivetrain, and some mismatched wheels.
I honestly think a frankenbike is pretty cool. I connected with the trek guy and asked him about potential problems and he said it needs a new front brake cable (not bad), but he also said "you can ride IT...no problem...". Kind of a weird way to phrase it, should that be cause for concern? I don't mind getting maybe a new wheel or something (I'm sure I'll be able to source one cheap from a friend) but what would be the most concerning issue in your opinion? Obviously damage to the frame would be a deal breaker, but are there any parts that are a pain to replace otherwise? Also, not concerned with the downtube shifters, I have a buddy who has some extra indexed bar end shifters and he's happy to help me install them.
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Old 05-27-19, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by cook.gwc View Post
I honestly think a frankenbike is pretty cool. I connected with the trek guy and asked him about potential problems and he said it needs a new front brake cable (not bad), but he also said "you can ride IT...no problem...". Kind of a weird way to phrase it, should that be cause for concern? I don't mind getting maybe a new wheel or something (I'm sure I'll be able to source one cheap from a friend) but what would be the most concerning issue in your opinion? Obviously damage to the frame would be a deal breaker, but are there any parts that are a pain to replace otherwise? Also, not concerned with the downtube shifters, I have a buddy who has some extra indexed bar end shifters and he's happy to help me install them.
He did not overhaul the bike then. See. If one cable is broken then they are all probably old and bad, or the brake lever or the caliper is bad and so he broke the cable so you will not notice that either. You will need to do a full overhaul. New cables and housing, pull the crankset and clean and lube the bearings, a new chain most likely, clean and lube the bearings in the headset and wheels and maybe replace the brake shoes. Most likely need to replace rim strips tires and tubes. Its your rear end driving that bike through traffic, not his. Do not take his word on anything.
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Old 05-27-19, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by cook.gwc View Post
I honestly think a frankenbike is pretty cool. I connected with the trek guy and asked him about potential problems and he said it needs a new front brake cable (not bad), but he also said "you can ride IT...no problem...". Kind of a weird way to phrase it, should that be cause for concern? I don't mind getting maybe a new wheel or something (I'm sure I'll be able to source one cheap from a friend) but what would be the most concerning issue in your opinion? Obviously damage to the frame would be a deal breaker, but are there any parts that are a pain to replace otherwise? Also, not concerned with the downtube shifters, I have a buddy who has some extra indexed bar end shifters and he's happy to help me install them.
Even so, you still need a new back wheel, cassette, and chain, and someone who is confident spreading the rear dropouts from 126 to 130 mm so the new rear wheel can fit. It can be done, but I would suggest that maybe you are just better off looking for a used bike from the 90s, 00s, or 10s, that already has indexed shifting.

One of the reasons I felt comfortable buying the Frankenbike Gitane was, I knew the seller. He owned a bike shop and I was a regular customer. I knew from experience he wouldn't let a bike out the door in poor condition or unsafe to ride.
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Old 05-27-19, 10:42 PM
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I think I'm a bit late to the party, but in answer to the original question:

One option would be a late-1980's Trek Elance 400. Renyolds 531, decent Shimano drivetrain, and overall not that valuable a bike to begin with, so sometimes can be had within $75-125 if bought right.

There's no incentive for most sellers to swap components on these, as they're usually halfway decent to begin with - which will also work for you.

-Kurt
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Old 05-27-19, 10:45 PM
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The Shwinn traveler was a decent bike in some years. The Giant Perigee is a sleeper too. Find a bike with 700cm wheels and aero levers in decent shape. Throw in one with decent tires and your a winner.

Not sure about Chicago but the SoCal market always has someone clearing out their garage with a decent early 90's bike that lists it at $125. (That means $100). I'd stay away from flippers. Beat them to a garage sale bike and do a complete relube and maybe new tires on a $100 find. Good luck. Keep us posted.
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Old 05-28-19, 04:08 AM
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Id vote for the Giant as well. Bought one for a daughter and have had no problems with it.

Question is, does it fit? Have you been sized for a frame?
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Old 05-28-19, 07:17 AM
  #23  
cooperryder
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Also some decent looking Raleigh's
in your price range.



https://chicago.craigslist.org/searc...&query=Raleigh
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Old 05-28-19, 08:06 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by cook.gwc View Post
I honestly think a frankenbike is pretty cool. I connected with the trek guy and asked him about potential problems and he said it needs a new front brake cable (not bad), but he also said "you can ride IT...no problem...". Kind of a weird way to phrase it, should that be cause for concern? I don't mind getting maybe a new wheel or something (I'm sure I'll be able to source one cheap from a friend) but what would be the most concerning issue in your opinion? Obviously damage to the frame would be a deal breaker, but are there any parts that are a pain to replace otherwise? Also, not concerned with the downtube shifters, I have a buddy who has some extra indexed bar end shifters and he's happy to help me install them.
If it was an easy fix, the guy would have fixed it. And no, a bike without a front brake is not safe to ride, "no problem". The front brake provides close to 90% of your braking. So if it might take 50 feet to stop, it could take you 500 feet to stop. Since you are looking for a commuter, STOPPING is the most important aspect!

Anyone who presents a bike in that manner = run away, as fast as you can. He is looking for a sucker. Don't be one.

An experienced bike seller surely knows how to fix a brake. Not fixed = more complicated.

We have a seller in my area like this, I do occasionally buy bikes from him. But I can do all the repairs myself, I have piles of parts, I know values well (better than he does). So sometimes he will have a diamond in the rough. I try to get a bike before he "works" on them, as his work is terrible. Stuck seat posts and stems, rusty cables, wonky wheels, those are normal for the guy in my area.

Frankenbike might seem "cool" but more likely its a mess. In the vintage era, not all the brands were compatible with each other. As a minimum, both derailleurs and shift levers need to be the same brand.

Trust the experienced, knowledgeable, local guy (Steve above).

And IMHO, no better short distance commuter than the good old rigid frame MTB. Just aim high, get a good one. The difference in used pricing between a MTB that originally sold for $900 and one that originally sold for $250 is often $25 or less. Better MTBs will have better wheels, better components, better frame, better everything.

Last edited by wrk101; 05-28-19 at 08:12 AM.
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Old 05-28-19, 08:17 AM
  #25  
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Most valuable part of any used bike is the stickers. See all posts above suggesting name brands. Stickers are just stickers. They do sell bikes. Second most valuable part is paint. Skeptical as I might sound I will buy a bike for paint. Most anyone will.

Unless you already know everything Everything! buy a bike that can be test ridden. One that scores as perfect on test ride. Sellers who say no test ride can be forgotten real quick.

One possible exception is garage queens that plainly have never been ridden. Or did 50 miles only many years ago. Now I'll tell you the secret of those. Many of them, probably the majority of them, have one great big original assembly error. Which is why they were never ridden. If you can analyze and identify that error quickly, and before you risk any of your own skin, and if you can repair that error for free with scavenged parts, if you can do all that then unused garage queens are great buys.

Clean looking bikes with desirable stickers that are going to be a nightmare sell for just about same price as exact same bike in perfect operating condition.
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