Serial # was filed off - what do I do now?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Serial # was filed off - what do I do now?

    20+ years ago I bought a Cannondale road bike off a friend of a friend - nice one, 2.8 series. I rode this bike daily all thru college and for many years afterwards. Recently I had it up on a stand and someone pointed out that the serial # had been filed off the bottom bracket. I had noticed some paint was scraped off but had never really looked closely. It seems this would indicate it's a stolen bike. I was thinking of selling it but now that I know this I have sort of an ethical/practical issue. Can I, should I, sell this bike? Will anyone buy it with a filed-off serial? I guess I could keep it and just ride it... but now I feel weird about it. I don't want anyone to think I'm a thief. I don't even remember what the guy looked like who sold it to me, and there's no serial # for me to look up in a database to find the original owner... Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    It has been 20 years. You're not going to get much money for it anyway. Ride it or toss it.
    :wq

  3. #3
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    Take it to the grave.

  4. #4
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    Serial # was filed off - what do I do now?

    On the other hand, did you not buy it with a defiled serial number? Did you?

  5. #5
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    ya, a 20 y/o bike is not going to get much even w the SN intact. Keep it, or bin it.

    Another option is if there is someone that has given you particular amounts of trouble, plant the bike on their property, report it stolen to the police, and watch the fun.......

  6. #6
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    Turn yourself into the cops, get a good lawyer, hope the DA isn't a cyclist and try for a plea bargain, maybe you'll just get probation.

  7. #7
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    Re: Serial # was filed off - what do I do now?

    Seriously? 20 years and you're concerned? Just donate it to a worthy cause.

  8. #8
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    Ride it till it can't pedal anymore.
    I'm thinking about shreddin' it up right now!
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  9. #9
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    Serial # was filed off - what do I do now?

    I wouldn't sell it.

  10. #10
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    I would adopt an orphan and give it to them.
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  11. #11
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    Get a chisel and carve a new serial number. No one will ever know.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in southwest Utah

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by girlonbike View Post
    I wouldn't sell it.
    That was funny!! Seriously, the OP is just finding this 20 years later.

  13. #13
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    I would post a picture of it in the General section and see if anyone recognizes it.

  14. #14
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    ......
    Last edited by jugdish; 03-22-2013 at 05:44 AM.
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  15. #15
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    It is way pass the statue of limitation
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  16. #16
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    I do appreciate your ethical dilemma. As the other posters have stated, though, it is too far in the past to make any difference. Just tell your story to any prospective buyer, and expect some understanding. If not, so what?

    The cops will be along any minute now, now that you have alerted the Internet that you have a questionable bike. Insert smiley here.
    "Head injuries are pretty high-consequence" - AndrwSwitch

  17. #17
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    Don't trash it, that is just foolishness.

    There is no ethical issue with selling the bike.
    The ethical issue would have been when buying it if you were are that it was stolen.
    Any ethical issues are long past any legal statute of limitations and I am sure any moral ones.

    I see it your choices
    1) Ride it
    2) Sell it like planned and be honest about the serial #'s
    3) Donate to a worthy cause like Trips for Kids or something else.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  18. #18
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    Its a twenty year old ALUMINIUM bicycle frame... if it hasn't cracked yet, that in itself is a miracle. Trying to sell it to someone is just a form a robbery anyway, even if it wasn't serial#-less, the frame will die from fatigue soon anyway and then the buyer's not going to be very happy with you.

    If you're done riding it, take the parts off it, and hacksaw the frame so it cannot be ridden again and take it to a metal recycler, or just drop it into a bonfire (wood/paper fires get hot enough to melt aluminium).
    I don't post to generate business for myself or make like I'm better than sliced bread

  19. #19
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    ^That's simply not true. Al road frames can last a lot longer then 20 years. Sh!t, I have a 25 year old rigid Al MTB frame that has taken a serious pounding and it still going strong.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeeEight View Post
    Its a twenty year old ALUMINIUM bicycle frame... if it hasn't cracked yet, that in itself is a miracle. Trying to sell it to someone is just a form a robbery anyway, even if it wasn't serial#-less, the frame will die from fatigue soon anyway and then the buyer's not going to be very happy with you.

    If you're done riding it, take the parts off it, and hacksaw the frame so it cannot be ridden again and take it to a metal recycler, or just drop it into a bonfire (wood/paper fires get hot enough to melt aluminium).
    That is absurd.
    You have no idea how much the bike has been ridden or how hard it had been ridden.

    Plenty of good old frames out there and some of them are aluminum.

    If he sells it somebody for a fair price, it is not robbery unless he attempts to hide something.

    I have a 24 year old rigid frame that is still solid.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  21. #21
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    I have a 3.0 (a little older than the 2.8) and I recall the serial #'s being on one of the chainstays and not on the bottom bracket. I just went and looked but I can't see them. It's been repainted too many times and has probably been filled in.

    Serial # was filed off - what do I do now?-img_1828.jpg

  22. #22
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    My 20 yo alum. frame is still hot. Not the same kind of hot as the OP's but it's hot.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by girlonbike View Post
    My 20 yo alum. frame is still hot. Not the same kind of hot as the OP's but it's hot.
    lmao
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  24. #24
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    I happen to agree with the OP here.

    I personally wouldn't like owning anything that i found out later was stolen.
    A thief is one of the lowest forms of life and would hate to think I'm benefiting from his/her misbehavior.

  25. #25
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    First off OP, how can you never notice the serial number filed off your bike in 20 years, you must be takin the piss here.

    You cannot sell a bike that has been stolen no matter how old it is, lets face it the only reason a serial number is removed is because its a stolen bike, its that simple.

    Its a 20 year old bike, a 20 year old bike is worth nothing unless it is a collectors piece, so theres no point in selling it.

    Just give it to charity, or give it away and let the person know that the serial number has been removed and it has been a stolen bike at one point.

    And fair dinkum OP, the next bike you buy, please do what every other person does, the first thing you do is check the serial number whether its 2nd hand or new, the day you get it you copy the serial number down to use if it ever gets stolen
    Dont ever let the truth get in the way of a funny story....:cool:

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bird View Post
    I happen to agree with the OP here.

    I personally wouldn't like owning anything that i found out later was stolen.
    A thief is one of the lowest forms of life and would hate to think I'm benefiting from his/her misbehavior.
    The so called benefit unknowingly happened 20 years ago and not by the buyer but by the theif.
    If he would have known then that he was buying a stolen bike then there would be a moral dilemma.
    Today nobody benefits or gets hurt from the sale of the bike as long the OP is honest to the potential buyer.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tone's View Post
    First off OP, how can you never notice the serial number filed off your bike in 20 years, you must be takin the piss here.

    You cannot sell a bike that has been stolen no matter how old it is, lets face it the only reason a serial number is removed is because its a stolen bike, its that simple.

    Its a 20 year old bike, a 20 year old bike is worth nothing unless it is a collectors piece, so theres no point in selling it.

    Just give it to charity, or give it away and let the person know that the serial number has been removed and it has been a stolen bike at one point.

    And fair dinkum OP, the next bike you buy, please do what every other person does, the first thing you do is check the serial number whether its 2nd hand or new, the day you get it you copy the serial number down to use if it ever gets stolen
    Things were viewed a lot different 20 years.
    Bike theft was not as rampant and people often didn't think about checking things like that. Not to mention, 20 years ago he was quite a bit younger and a lot less wise to the ways of the world.

    As far as it not being worth much, this is true but lots of people like old road bikes and are looking to buying them. They really seem to fetch more then their value too as they are becoming pretty popular with the hipster community (at least here in the states). I myself have been thinking about getting one for hitting the bars and for when I go to the flat lands to visit friends an family.

    Vintage Cannondales (3.0 and 2.8) and other bikes of that time in decent shape are pulling a $200-$300 all day long on Craigslist and if you pull them up on ebay you will often see them starting at $300+
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    The so called benefit unknowingly happened 20 years ago and not by the buyer but by the theif.
    If he would have known then that he was buying a stolen bike then there would be a moral dilemma.
    Today nobody benefits or gets hurt from the sale of the bike as long the OP is honest to the potential buyer.




    Things were viewed a lot different 20 years.
    Bike theft was not as rampant and people often didn't think about checking things like that. Not to mention, 20 years ago he was quite a bit younger and a lot less wise to the ways of the world.

    As far as it not being worth much, this is true but lots of people like old road bikes and are looking to buying them. They really seem to fetch more then their value too as they are becoming pretty popular with the hipster community (at least here in the states). I myself have been thinking about getting one for hitting the bars and for when I go to the flat lands to visit friends an family.

    Vintage Cannondales (3.0 and 2.8) and other bikes of that time in decent shape are pulling a $200-$300 all day long on Craigslist and if you pull them up on ebay you will often see them starting at $300+
    20 years ago was 1993, everybody was checkin serial numbers back then and bike thieving was as rampant as it is now.

    If i was you OP, id really start checking your testies for lumps every day because by the sound of it you could have a lump the size of a watermelon and not notice it till 20 years later..
    Dont ever let the truth get in the way of a funny story....:cool:

  28. #28
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    Awe come on Tone, he doesn't deserve that. (although it is kinda funny lol)

    20 years ago he may have been a kid.
    I know 20 years ago when I was a 18, I probably would not have thought to check for serial numbers especially if the guy I was buying the bike from seemed honest (and the guy he bought it from may not have known either).


    Also, anyone consider that maybe the bike was stolen then recovered by the owner and sold?
    Although unlikely, we don't know and never will.
    Either way, statute of limitations are long over.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  29. #29
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    It's a bike. Bikes were made for riding. Humans like to ride bikes. It is fun and it's great exercise.

    You get the picture...
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    Either way, statute of limitations are long over.
    That's actually not true. You simply can't pass good title on a stolen item, ever. Stolen property never stops being stolen property. At any time, law enforcement determines and can prove that the property is stolen, law enforcement can take the property to return it to its legal owner. Also, in some states, the statute doesn't even begin to run until the true owner finds the item and knows against whom to assert his or her claim.

    All a long shot or a practical impossibility here but it is what it is. Again, I would not sell it.

  31. #31
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    If it were me, it get rid of the frame and put the parts on a different frame. Or you could do this: strip the frame, smooth over the area where the serial number was and repaint it. If anyone says anything, just say it was removed during the prepping process

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Cycle Shawn View Post
    strip the frame, smooth over the area where the serial number was and repaint it. If anyone says anything, just say it was removed during the prepping process
    dude.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by girlonbike View Post
    dude.
    Chick.

  34. #34
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    Spend the rest of your days trying to locate original owner. It'll be a sweet reunion.

  35. #35
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    Then the original owner has him arrested and he gets a$$ raped in jail.

  36. #36
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    However, while you are repainting it, don't "drop it like it's hot". Ha. Ha ha.


    Ha...

  37. #37
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    Omg 20 years ago on a dark and stormy night I went for a bike ride in a cannondale 2.8 just like the one mentioned in this thread. On my ride a pregnant lady driving a 1987 Honda crx pulled over because she was starting to deliver her baby I went go help her and not even 3 minutes later some scumbag took off with my bike. And that scumbag sold it to the o.p. who never knew it was stolen. That bike was stolen while a good act was being performed. I forgave that theif. And o.p. you have my permission to sell it it's ok.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by menusk View Post
    Omg 20 years ago on a dark and stormy night I went for a bike ride in a cannondale 2.8 just like the one mentioned in this thread. On my ride a pregnant lady driving a 1987 Honda crx pulled over because she was starting to deliver her baby I went go help her and not even 3 minutes later some scumbag took off with my bike. And that scumbag sold it to the o.p. who never knew it was stolen. That bike was stolen while a good act was being performed. I forgave that theif. And o.p. you have my permission to sell it it's ok.
    There you have it, god enough for me.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    There you have it, god enough for me.
    How did god get involved? Lol

  40. #40
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    Serial # was filed off - what do I do now?

    Oops. Now we have to delete the thread.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Cycle Shawn View Post
    How did god get involved? Lol
    I hit the O's like a ninja and they can't keep up.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  42. #42
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    I hate when that happens!

  43. #43
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    Id actually contact that TV show 'UNSOLVED MYSTERIES'' Maybe they could help find the original owner and maybe even the thief and have an on air reunion..
    Dont ever let the truth get in the way of a funny story....:cool:

  44. #44
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    I've seen this come up in the vintage BMX bike market. Where sellers disclose that they acquired it like that unknowingly or sometimes from places like scrap yards and already stripped.

    You've had it for 20 years right? If you have some proof of your ownership through the years, like an old photo, supply that with your explanation when selling it.

  45. #45
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    You cannot sell stolen property no matter how old it is especially if it has a filed away serial number.
    Dont ever let the truth get in the way of a funny story....:cool:

  46. #46
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  47. #47
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    The OP hasn't responded yet but I mentioned earlier that the serial #s might not be on the bottom bracket. My 3.0 had them on one of the chain stays. They were very lightly engraved with dots making up the numbers(not easy to find in the best case). Mine has been repainted 4 or 5 times and they are completely covered up. My later Cannondales (CAAD4 and newer) had them on the bb but are engraved much deeper. Could the bb just be gouged and he is missing the numbers on the chain stay?

    I just looked it up. 1986-92 serial #'s were on a chain stay. '92 was the first year for the 2.8. If it was a early 2.8 the #'s are on a chain stay. If it's a later model then they are on the bb. I don't remember how long they made the 2.8.

  48. #48
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    Again, we do not know for 100% sure it is stolen.
    We can assume it was stolen at one time.
    However, as far as we know the original owner recovered it, didn't know the serial numbers were filed off, sold the bike never disclosing that it was stolen at point because it is irrelevant in the sale.

    Sure, it is a stretch and is probably not the case but in all honesty we will never know.

    Even if it was stolen and never recovered, destroying it solves nothing.
    Donating it is a good deed but it doesn't pay for the bad karma of the people who stole nor does it put a bike in the hands of the victim. So in reality, it solves nothing.
    Also, in reality, a business even a charitable one may not be able to sell it.
    If you sell it and are honest to any would be buyers then there is no victim from the sale and therefore is not immoral. Same with if you keep it and ride it.

    The only way I can see it being immoral is if there was some way to find the original owner and no attempt was made. However, we know this is not possible at this point so do what you ant with the bike. There are a lot bigger and real moral issues to deal with in this world than a 20 year old bike that may or may not have been stolen and bought by another unknowing victim.

    And I am sure it goes without saying, but just be more careful next time you buy a used bike.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    Again, we do not know for 100% sure it is stolen.
    We can assume it was stolen at one time.
    However, as far as we know the original owner recovered it, didn't know the serial numbers were filed off, sold the bike never disclosing that it was stolen at point because it is irrelevant in the sale.

    Sure, it is a stretch and is probably not the case but in all honesty we will never know.

    Even if it was stolen and never recovered, destroying it solves nothing.
    Donating it is a good deed but it doesn't pay for the bad karma of the people who stole nor does it put a bike in the hands of the victim. So in reality, it solves nothing.
    Also, in reality, a business even a charitable one may not be able to sell it.
    If you sell it and are honest to any would be buyers then there is no victim from the sale and therefore is not immoral. Same with if you keep it and ride it.

    The only way I can see it being immoral is if there was some way to find the original owner and no attempt was made. However, we know this is not possible at this point so do what you ant with the bike. There are a lot bigger and real moral issues to deal with in this world than a 20 year old bike that may or may not have been stolen and bought by another unknowing victim.

    And I am sure it goes without saying, but just be more careful next time you buy a used bike.
    P-U-L-E-A-S-E, If the serial number is ground off anything, its stolen 110%, why else would somebody file a serial number off something ? because they have a serial number phobia ? lol
    Dont ever let the truth get in the way of a funny story....:cool:

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tone's View Post
    P-U-L-E-A-S-E, If the serial number is ground off anything, its stolen 110%, why else would somebody file a serial number off something ? because they have a serial number phobia ? lol
    P-U-L-E-A-S-E

    Go back and read the whole thing.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandyBoy View Post
    If the price in college when you bought was too good to be true, it probably was hotter than a two dollar Saturday Night special in a black neighborhood.

    Did you really just say that, or am I just having a bad flashback from the 70's?


    As for the OP, if he wasn't aware it was stolen when he bought it and paid real dollars then who cares? If Karma does have any say in the matter it has already punished the perpetrator, but that's not the way karma really works as I understand it anyway. Tossing it just adds to the landfill. Ride it, sell it, or donate it, just be straight up about it.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    Any ethical issues are long past any legal statute of limitations and I am sure any moral ones.

    ethics and morals don't have statues of limitations. Laws do. They aren't the same thing.

    I doubt the lawful owner of your bike cares at this point. If someone came to me today with my bike, which was stolen 10 years ago, I'd thank them for their honesty, but tell them to keep it.

    A 20 year old bike has no value for sale. I'd be shocked if you could get $20 for it; I wouldn't be surprised if your best offer is for the scrap value of the metal. For me at least, that would take care of the ethical question of selling it (i.e., you aren't going to be able to).

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    ethics and morals don't have statues of limitations. Laws do. They aren't the same thing.

    I doubt the lawful owner of your bike cares at this point. If someone came to me today with my bike, which was stolen 10 years ago, I'd thank them for their honesty, but tell them to keep it.

    A 20 year old bike has no value for sale. I'd be shocked if you could get $20 for it; I wouldn't be surprised if your best offer is for the scrap value of the metal. For me at least, that would take care of the ethical question of selling it (i.e., you aren't going to be able to).
    Spot on, best post of the thread Joules, well said mate.
    Dont ever let the truth get in the way of a funny story....:cool:

  54. #54
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    You are correct, ethics and morals do not have a statute of limitations.
    However, I do not think the OP did anything immoral or unethical. He may however be a little naive but that is not unethical or immoral. If there was a reasonably possible way to try and track down the original owner, I would say he had a moral obligation to do that no matter how old the bike had been in his possession. So I do stand corrected in my wording.

    That being said, I would down the value of that bike so drastically.
    I see bikes like that selling all day long in my area for $200-$300 because the hipster college kid commuters want them over the new bikes. Retro is hot in some areas and picking up quick in other areas. I would maybe subtract a little if the serial numbers are scratched off, but I would bet some kid here would still pay $150 to $200 for it if it is decent shape.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  55. #55
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    OP here, checking in years too late; I just came across this. Amusing thread and unfortunately, totally moot. @Bluechip nailed it: the serial number isn't on the BB shell, it's on the bottom of the chain-stay! I think it's a '92. Not sure why the paint was rubbed off the bottom of the BB ... maybe they were looking for the Serial#? All that guilt for nothing. Meanwhile it's been in my shed so it's time to dust it off and clean it up for another summer.

  56. #56
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    Wait. No one has said "Ride it like you stole it" yet? Seriously?

  57. #57
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    This thread was started 3 years ago.

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zomby Woof (MCM700) View Post
    This thread was started 3 years ago.
    And was revived by the ORIGINAL POSTER! When in the history of the entire internet has that EVER happened before?!?

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by treethumper View Post
    OP here, checking in years too late; I just came across this. Amusing thread and unfortunately, totally moot. @Bluechip nailed it: the serial number isn't on the BB shell, it's on the bottom of the chain-stay! I think it's a '92. Not sure why the paint was rubbed off the bottom of the BB ... maybe they were looking for the Serial#? All that guilt for nothing. Meanwhile it's been in my shed so it's time to dust it off and clean it up for another summer.
    What closure, a big "nevermind". Too funny. Only thing funnier would be if you let it sit there all this time due to guilt.

  60. #60
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    Back in the day a friend of mine was taping an album and he took a shower while it was recording. The album skipped for over 20 minutes, he took a very long shower. We listened to the tape in our car's 8 track and after 20 plus minutes you hear the little bump where he moved the needle with his finger and we all just carried-on.

  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by girlonbike View Post
    My 20 yo alum. frame is still hot. Not the same kind of hot as the OP's but it's hot.
    You say that, but none of us know that for sure. Take this simple test:
    Do you ride it carefully or with reckless abandon (Y/N)
    Do you carry at least 4 pounds of locks when you plan on leaving it outside (Y/N)
    If faced with a choice between losing your car or that bike, would you choose the bike (Y/N)
    If you said yes to at least two answer, it's stolen hot. Maybe you can sell it to the OP.

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitsBoy View Post
    And was revived by the ORIGINAL POSTER! When in the history of the entire internet has that EVER happened before?!?
    And the original poster only has 10 posts to his credit in 4 years of being a member. And the 3rd post in on this thread is the biggest sock account holder ever to be busted on this site.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    And the original poster only has 10 posts to his credit in 4 years of being a member. And the 3rd post in on this thread is the biggest sock account holder ever to be busted on this site.
    Not sure what a sock account is, but its pretty rare that a years old thread gets updated by the OP, no matter how much of a let down the resolution was. Just happy to see it happen at least once within my lifetime.

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitsBoy View Post
    Not sure what a sock account is, but its pretty rare that a years old thread gets updated by the OP, no matter how much of a let down the resolution was. Just happy to see it happen at least once within my lifetime.
    Okay, saying this with humorous tone: you may not know about sock account but have you heard the expression "something smells fishy" or to the Star Wars generation, "I got a bad feeling about this"

  65. #65
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    Sure. Dude got banned for doing what Kids on the internet are apt to do. I get that. But why the correlation with the OP? Lots of people register on forums only to post a couple specific questions, and then disappear back into the ether. Im guilty of it myself from time to time.

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