Woah! I feel like my dad saying this… but do you have any idea how expensive bikes have gotten? For the last two days I have been shopping Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Letgo, and the like (read: super shady online black market) for a halfway decent used bike. I have yet to find anything priced less than what I paid for my first car. Granted, at $500, my ’85 Escort was a real steal. But I don’t think I have found a legit bike with non-flat tires and younger than me for under $700. That got me thinking… ‘If I’m spending THAT much money, maybe I should just buy a new bike’. Wrong. I’m pretty sure that in order to buy a sweet new bike, I will have to sell organs on the dark web. But again, that’s where Jason comes in. I’m pretty sure he knows just how much I want to bail on this whole ordeal. Almost daily, Jason texts me a couple of bikes that he has found online. They are usually in super nice parts of town and have the serial numbers scratched off, but he compares the selling price with what a new one would cost.
Unfortunately, all of these have been sold by the time I contact the seller.
I figured if Jason could find these bikes, so could I. So I set off on Craigslist. Then Facebook Marketplace. I even set up an account on Letgo. I figured I would just search “road bike”. I found quite a few and then realized something important. I know NOTHING about road bikes. So when I see cool specs and details about a bike, I have no idea if they are even good or not. Luckily, I have a few friends who seem to be into this whole “biking” phenomenon. I have been messaging my friend, Nancy, pretty much any time I find a bike to ask if it is any good and whether the price sounds right. Each time, she mentions something new that I have never heard of. I try to play it cool, then immediately google to find out what the heck she was talking about. Her best advice? Be sure to test ride the bike, no matter what. That’s a problem.
Apparently, with road bikes, one of the coolest accessories you can buy is a super-sweet set of pedals. Pedals are so rad, and user-specific apparently, that many new bikes don’t even include pedals. They know you are just going to go out and get your own. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the industry wanting to make money off one more sale before you can cycle off into your own spandex-clad dreams. Nonetheless, a few used bikes I have seen for sale mention that the pedals are not included. So, uh… How am I supposed to test-ride? Honestly, I know so little about the bikes, that it is probably pointless for me to even waste everybody’s time by showing up and pedaling around the cul-de-sac of some shady neighborhood pretending like I know what I am looking for while wearing Gap dad-jeans and a pair of hiking boots. Besides, I don’t think shady neighborhoods even have cul-de-sacs. I would probably get schmucked on the side of a busy 5 lane road while the erstwhile seller strips the accessories from my truck. All while I pretend to test drive a piece of equipment I know little about in hopes of a sweet deal. My point is this: actually, I forget the point. But what comes first the bike or the pedals? Do I buy a bike then go out and find pedals I want? Or do I need to go out NOW and buy pedals so that I can test-ride the next two-wheeled dream I find online?
But it isn’t just pedals. Because pedals are specific not just to the rider. They are specific to the shoe. So if I am buying pedals, I need to buy the right kind of shoes that clip into my new pedals. As my past mountain bike riding was about 20+ years ago, technology has changed. Mark “shoes” down as something else I know nothing about. And let’s be honest. If I am buying shoes, they should probably match the bike, right? Or at least my riding clothes? So do I buy a whole riding outfit now? And do they make stuff for riding bikes that ISN’T spandex? Because, while I am confident in my abilities on two wheels, I do not intend to try out for the Olympics or Le Tour de France. I’m quite sure that I can wear something which leaves a cloud of mystery about the loins while also being able to be comfortable and efficient. Do they make such clothing?
All of this has me thinking two things. The first is to just quit. But since Jason knows where I live, this isn’t the best option. The other is that maybe I should just buy a new bike. However, the goal here is the charity. As much as I would love to get sucked into a new expensive hobby, now might not be the time. So back to the used market we go. And this is where irony sets in. Finally, after all my exploits in selling my worldly possessions online, I get to be the one haggling and bothering people with stupid questions. I have found that the used market is just as annoying on the buying end as it is on the selling side.
There are a lot of bikes out there. But as soon as I find something totally awesome, it turns out that there is some detail which makes it a no-go. Specifically, sizing. Let me tell you this: if you are a little person, NOW is the time to buy a bike. All of the decent bikes I have found seem perfectly sized for smurfs and people employed by Keebler. Apparently, at least from my internet reading, sizing is a thing. And a mildly important one. It would seem as though once people in the 6’00” height bracket find their bike, they are not want to sell it. So the occasional bike I HAVE found has been sold out from under me.
Then there are the sellers. They are just as annoying as the buyers. I have tried to be as nice and patient and friendly when contacting sellers, but seriously. If you sold the thing three weeks ago, why don’t you take down the listing? Or if you listed it yesterday, could you maybe please respond to my inquiry? There have been at least three bikes in the last two days where I knew almost nothing about them, yet was willing to drive an hour with cash in hand. But the seller never responded. Now that I think about it, perhaps I should rethink my impulsive shopping habits.
In the meantime, I have learned of a whole new thing. Cyclocross. I don’t honestly know exactly what it is. But it seems to be the idea of a road bike that you can take on trails. So they have the wheels and handlebars of that old 10-speed from the 80’s, with that frame from the low-priced hybrids of the mid-90’s. And the price of a new car in the early 2000’s. I think this is the bike for me. Mostly because it encompasses all of the eras from which my favorite music was made. But also because I like the idea of justifying a ridiculous expense with the notion that “it’s good for more than just one thing”. The real lesson here is that if you know somebody selling a road or cyclocross bike which would fit a six-foot-tall guy with a dad-bod, I am your sucker.
If you don’t have a bike, I would be more than willing to hear your advice on what you think I should get. I’d be even more grateful if you wanted to come with me while I check out a bike. It might be helpful to have somebody come along who knows what they are looking for. Even more helpful if you bring along a set of pedals… Aside from that, the MOST helpful thing you can do is to help me raise money for children suffering from critical illness. PLEASE donate to my charity ride to help Make-A-Wish Michigan. You can donate here. Thanks!