Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thrifting for the Perfect Bike: Top Bicycle Thrifting Tips From CB

I'm prowling for a decent second-hand bike, but I don't know how to pick a winner from a dud. I reached out to avid biker CB of Citybird's Nest and she's kindly shared some tips:

Hi Thrift Core readers! I'm CB from the Citybird's Nest and I wanted to share with your some tips on what to look for when searching for a bike at the thrift store. As a frequent thrifter and an avid biker, there have been many times I have come across a few bikes that I have wanted to purchase but as it is we have sooo many bikes and limited storage in our little casa I had to pass.

Here are some helpful tips for you when searching for a second-hand bike that suits your bike riding fancy!

1. Beware of Department Store Bikes:

Here is a little list of some department store bikes to steer-clear of. They may be pretty but they are not made to last. The parts are hard to find and they are going to be super heavy:

Free spirit, Magna, Huffy, Next, any bike named after a car (Honda, VW, Lamborghini, Hummer...), Roadmaster, Pacific, Kent, Motiv, Murray, Mongoose, Breeze

These department store bikes are sometimes called BSO's or Bike Shaped Objects...they appear to be bikes from a distance but should never be used for actual riding! When something does go wrong most bike shops won't work on them because there is really no way to fix them. They are broken out of the box.

 If you do fall in love with one (the bikes from the 60's & 70's are not so bad) then go simple: single speed & no suspension, the less moving parts on these things the better.

2. Watch for Rust:

Be prepared because if there is any kind of rust on the bike you'll have to replace that part. Rust on a frame is particularly bad, but if you want a project bike then be my guest and have loads of fun! Putting together a bike is super fun and watching it take form into your perfect bike is the best feeling besides riding it! Most bikes can be tuned up at any bike store as long as parts for it are available.

3. Wheels of Steel:

Old bikes and cheap bikes have steel wheels. steel wheels are heavy and brake badly all the time as in they make a high pitched squeaking noise and don't brake at all in the rain. Bring a magnet, if it sticks, its steel.

4. Dents in The Frame: 

Don't buy it. It can be unsafe and not worth fixing.

All things considered you probably won't find a super great bike at the thrift store, but sometimes it is nice to have a bike for trips to the store or bar that you don't care about locking up outside or scratching up while in a bike rack. Bike riding is bike riding and the more people out there on two wheels the merrier! Have fun searching!

Van speaking again, got any bicycle thrifting questions? Let us know in the comments. And please share your bike knowledge with me. It's so pretty outside and I'd love a bike to go outside and enjoy it. Oh yeh, and get to those wonderful yard sales...
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  1. Sometimes vintage bikes are harder to pedal. Good for your legs but if you are going very far or taking kids it will wear you out quickly.

  2. Deana: Thanks for the tip! Between steel wheels and being harder to pedal, vintage bikes are not looking like a good idea for me right now.

  3. dang, my bike is first on the don't buy list :)

  4. Maranda: Mine -was- too. I took it back to Target a couple of weeks after I bought it (over a year ago now) because it was busted from the start.

    Aaand...I've been sadly bikeless since.

  5. thank you for the hints! i'm going to try these out.

  6. Great tips!! i didn't know about the rust or dents.

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