1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    new low end bike or old high end?

    Hi all, I'd like to get a second back up bike but don't want, to spend too much. I've been looking at craigslist and see some older bikes that retailed new up to $1000 more or less, (bikepedia source).

    Are the lower end new bikes, (300-500 bucks) comparable to say, a 10 year old bike that retailed at 1000ish with Shimano xt components? Assuming the bike is in good to excellent condition?

    Let's say for example a 2008 trek 820 listed at $330 vs a gt bravado(mid 90's?) listed at $245. What do I need to worry about, if anything about buying old?

    What's a better bang for the buck, old or new?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated!

  2. #2
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    I would definitely check out the used high end bikes. Probably not more than 5 years old thought, especially with suspension.

  3. #3
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    Usually you get a better deal on used bikes. It is amazing how fast a bike loses value. Depreciation starts right at the store front and accelerates with every trail you ride.

    What you need to check on used bikes is obviously wear and tear. Very visible and easy to check are drive train, frame (for dents & cracks), tires, ... Difficult to check are suspension components such as fork bushings, seals, oil level, ... All you can do here is check for a sticky feel, play and then take a risk.

    The older the bike, the bigger the risk.
    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit." - And I agree.

  4. #4
    Ride the dream
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    10 years is a long time for a frame, even if it was a good one in the first place.


    To be honest, anything more than 5 years old aint worth touching.

  5. #5
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    Usually you get a better deal on used bikes. It is amazing how fast a bike loses value. Depreciation starts right at the store front and accelerates with every trail you ride.

    What you need to check on used bikes is obviously wear and tear. Very visible and easy to check are drive train, frame (for dents & cracks), tires, ... Difficult to check are suspension components such as fork bushings, seals, oil level, ... All you can do here is check for a sticky feel, play and then take a risk.

    The older the bike, the bigger the risk.
    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit." - And I agree.

  6. #6
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    suspension quality and technology has improved so much even in 5 years, so i would be skeptical to ride anything older than 5 or 6 years old even if it was top of the line in its day, a good mid range ht 6-700 bucks will out perform even a 1500 dollar bike thats 10 years old...discs, new suspension technologies and lighter parts even on a mid range bike will outperform even the super high end of yesterday

  7. #7
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    Don't forget there are a lot of bikes that get bought and then not ridden very much. Often these bikes get sold for less than ones that people have ridden and enjoyed because the person has no interest in them. A friend of mine got a very slightly used Trek 650c triathlon bike for $200 at a garage sale! The hard part is telling the good bikes from the junk. Go to some bike shops and pick up a few catalogs, and study the parts used on the different price levels of bikes. They all use pretty much the same componenets at the various price levels. Ask the sales person what's the difference between the $300 bike and the $700 bike that looks the same.Things like butted spokes, butted frame tubing (read the decals),threadless stem, and eyelets on the rims are signs of something worth buying. Also learn what you don't want, even the name brand fork companies make entry level products that can indicate that corners were probably cut everywhere else on the bike too. Shimano and SRAM both make $7 deraillers, and $200 deraillers. Do check for obsolete specs like 6 or 7 speed cassettes that would be hard to fix or upgrade. You're on the right track, a bike with XT components is likey to have other good parts too, and to have been fairly expensive at one time.

  8. #8
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    I agree that at $6-700 I'd be looking at a new bike, but at $2-300 you don't get much new, and if you know what you're looking at the older (5 years or less) bike would make sense. Especially if you need a certain level of components for the riding you intend to do.

  9. #9
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    Another thing to be aware of is that sometimes technology that was XT 5 years ago, was LX 3 years ago ,and is Deore today. Like Hollowtech cranks with Octalink splines, first they were new XTstuff. When XT went to external bottom bkt they were LX, then LX went external and now Deore has the same features as older XT. Look beyond the label to see whats actually there.

  10. #10
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    Haha, ask the guys in the Vintage, Retro, and Classic forum and see what they say.

    Honestly, technology doesn't make you a better rider. I recently held the wheel of a guy riding a fairly new Scalpel while I rode my '90 KHS full rigid Suntour XCD-equipped bike (not even terribly nice stuff when new).

    My vote would be for an older nice bike in good condition. Yes, when you buy used be prepare to do at least some work so check the bike over really well before purchasing so the stuff you have to work on isn't hyper expensive. Besides, working on bikes is fun and you'll learn alot along the way!

  11. #11
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    Be sure to know what size frame you need, and be aware that with XT, or XTR you may encounter things like 180mm cranks (they're stamped behind the pedals) that could make the bike unrideable for some people.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the advice everyone, lots of good info. I'll try to keep it no more than 5 years old.

    Actually I see a used 2005 Novara Ponderosa for 250.00, might check that one out.

    I'm definitely trying to learn a lot more about frames, forks, components, etc. I just found out there's a DIY shop just a few miles away from me called Bikerowave I want to check out and learn how to do my own maintenance.

    ~cheers~
    Last edited by sabala; 08-01-2008 at 02:47 PM.

  13. #13
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    I would definately look into a used bike, I got my 06 Mongooose Teocali Comp for $500 on ebay and it was practically brand new, guy buys it for wife and she rides it a few times and didnt like it so it sat in the garage for a year, happens all the time. I was gonna buy an 07 or 08 for $900 on sale and the components are better on the 06 anyway and so I had leftover cash for some upgrades .

  14. #14
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    Ok, does anyone have any thoughts on these older bikes on Craigslist?

    2002 Barracuda (All caps and lots o' exclamation marks make me nervous though.

    2001 Cannondale f600

    Early/mid 90's? Cannondale Super v2000

    Early/mid 90's?GT Bravado

    Also wondering what a polite way to negotiate price. I'm thinking of just asking if the listed price is "firm" at first.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabala
    Also wondering what a polite way to negotiate price. I'm thinking of just asking if the listed price is "firm" at first.
    Exactly, ask if there price is firm. No harm in that. Or simply ask "What's the lowest you'll accept?". Don't just show up and ask for a lower price (that happens to me all the time).

  16. #16
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    2002 Barracuda --> No way that bike is a 2002 model. More like 1996. Avoid
    2001 Cannondale f600 --> Could be a decent choice, but the picture shows a rusty chain, so how bad is the rest of the bike
    Cannondale Super v2000 --> Fully rigid, not for $380. maybe $150.
    GT Bravado --> Could be ok for the price, but that suspension fork will be crap. Those old Rock Shox used rubber elastomers instead of springs and after 10 years they become hard. So that fork will probably be super stiff.

  17. #17
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    I agree with oldskoolbiker, i did some quik researce for you.

    First it seems that Barricuda model hasnt been made since 1998, and the fork is one of those odd designs that nobaodies made in a long time to my knowledge.

    The Cannondale seems like a good hardtail to upgrade but Id worry how well it was maintained, though you could probably get it cheaper if you offer him $250 or so.

    The green Cannondale seems to be a mid-early 90's Delta and a lower end moder as its got no headshock, way to much cash and to old in my opinion.

    The GT seems to be a 1993-94 to old also. also In my opinion a brand new Zoom / Element fork would be better than an old used 93 rockshock

    Anyhow If those are what your gonna chose from the 2001 Cannondale is the best choice. But I wouldnt spend more than $250 on it.
    06 Mongoose Teocali

  18. #18
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    Well put (Vivisect).

    The only thing I would ask you guys/OP to consider (and I do have my own opinion) - is whether spending $300, youre gonna get a better deal new online.


    Ok, I would normally advise people to the LBS, but there are situations when online is good, and value is certainly one of those.

    In this case - the OP wants value above all, LBS services are full price on a secondhand or online bike, so you can kinda call them equals in that respect.
    *Online bikes would have no history - so you know the only person that abused it was you.
    *The parts (whether they look it or not) have to be new, you cant get sold into a bike that needs new chain/cassette/chainrings instantly.
    *New lowend parts are often technologically equal/superior to very old mid-highend parts.


    For example - that cannondale (as the best of the bunch)... Thats $325 if you cant get him down.
    For that money you could get a Forge Sawback 5xx, Ironhorse Maverick 3.0 - among others.

    Is the spec on bikes like this good enough (in comparison) to justify considering them?
    In my opinion, yes. Purely because you know what youre getting, you know the history of it (it has none), and you know the state of all parts (though cheap, all are new). It provides peace of mind, and saves potential for having to replace parts thats have been used/abused and are near the end of their useful lives - its also good to remember that just because you cant SEE that somethings been used alot, or abused alot, doesnt mean that it hasnt.

    Im not saying that Cannondale isnt/wasnt a good bike - but its hard to know what TLC/new parts it needs. And there is no way of knowing how much use and abuse its seen.

  19. #19
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    Well the Cannandale F600 is $325 OBO so it could be gotten way cheaper, and for $250-$300 even it got a good mix of Deore LX-XT components, Its 9 Speed, decent rims and the rest is seems good also, except mabee a chain. And as a bonus I think that model has front and rear has disk brake mounts.
    06 Mongoose Teocali

  20. #20
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    Im not denying its a good bike, or that it wouldnt make a good companion for OP.

    What im trying to question, is whether the risk of needing replacements fast is worth that difference in component levels between that (or any other SH) bike and something which represents good online value new.

  21. #21
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    I would say get that Cannondale if you could get it for $250. You'll be getting a sweet USA made lightweight frame, as opposed to a heavy Chinese made frame on a new low end bike.

    I've got an old 1993 Cannondale M300 frame build up with older (late 90's) mid-high level components for my wife and the whole bike only weighs 24 pounds.

    A new low end hardtail will weigh 30-32 pounds.

    You'd be in under $350 even if you threw in a new chain, cassette, new brake pads, riser bars.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnglishT
    10 years is a long time for a frame, even if it was a good one in the first place.


    To be honest, anything more than 5 years old aint worth touching.
    Depends! If you're talking a 10 year old aluminum frame that's been thrashed, yeah.
    But I got a 725 Reynolds steel frame 01 Rocky Mtn Blizzard that probably is none the worse for the wear, 7 years later. For the price of an entry level chromoly SS with cheapo parts, I've got a bike built up with all really nice parts.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doggity
    Depends! If you're talking a 10 year old aluminum frame that's been thrashed, yeah.
    But I got a 725 Reynolds steel frame 01 Rocky Mtn Blizzard that probably is none the worse for the wear, 7 years later. For the price of an entry level chromoly SS with cheapo parts, I've got a bike built up with all really nice parts.
    Good point - that said, everything has a fail point. If a steel frame has been thrashed enough - 10 years is still a long time.

    Also, the older it is, the more likely it is to have had multiple owners.

    Buying a bike from a guy you know (that had it from new) its easy to know whether it will have been looked after or not. If its had 4 or 5 owners (as a 10+ year old bike can have had) there is no way to tell.



    I stand by the comment though - steel can live longer if cared for.. But its nigh on impossible to know whether or not it has been - and its more than possible that rust has gotten in somewhere or other if it hasnt.

    I guess it depends alot on whether you have had the frame yourself, or know the person that has, since it was new. At the end of the day a 10yr+ old frame is gonna carry alot of potential risks - fine if it comes off, but it wont neccessarily.

  24. #24
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    On buying used, I've been tring to research each bike I look at, usually through bikepedia, this site or simple google search to see what I can find.

    I also found no 02 Barracuda, (only 90's) and I also found a recall on those forks. Also that isn't a super V2000 it's a killer V Cannondale,(1994) or a 1995 killer V500, I think super v was full suspension.

    Well, this is for a second back up bike, maybe to be used as a commuter so I'm not in a real hurry. Maybe I'll just put up a WTB ad and list my requirements, I wonder how that would go - make them come to me!

    I'll see if i can check out that red f600 too.


    *New lowend parts are often technologically equal/superior to very old mid-highend parts.
    That was pretty much exactly what I was wondering. It sounds great to have xt components but would a 2007/08 acera/altus/x3 be just as good as a 98/97 xt/lx...or take as much as what the older xt/lx was designed to take, (if that makes sense).

    .

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabala
    Ok, does anyone have any thoughts on these older bikes on Craigslist?

    2002 Barracuda (All caps and lots o' exclamation marks make me nervous though.
    Its not a 2002, its more like a 1995-97. But $300 isn't unreasonable for a Barracuda... they are nice frames. Especially if you like short chainstays and long toptubes (think Fisher Genesis geometry... GF stole the idea from Barracuda).
    I don't post to generate business for myself or make like I'm better than sliced bread

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