Am I crazy? A few weeks ago I sold my four-year-old, spotlessly clean, perfectly good, department store mountain bike for $30, and on Sunday I bought this 36-year-old, dusty, dented, scratched, slightly rusty Raleigh LTD-3 with two flat tires for $15.
craigslist seem to be snapped up in minutes, while the lesser quality vintage bikes keep showing up like unclaimed luggage on the baggage carousel. I decided to look a little further outside the big city, thinking there might be less competition from the "bike flippers" who buy and sell for a profit. A few days ago, I spotted an ad for a "Women's Classic Bike - $15". It contained a very brief description, stating that the bike was in good condition with very little rust and had been stored in a basement. Here's the photo that accompanied the ad:
It looked like a Raleigh to me, but I'm certainly no expert. At $15, I was sure it would be gone in a flash if it was a Raleigh, and since it was located quite a distance away, I hardly had a chance at beating anyone to the prize anyway. To my surprise, the ad was still active on Saturday, so I sent an email inquiring about the make and model. The reply was Raleigh, and after debating whether it was worth the drive, I decided to call and get more details. The owner agreed to hold it for me until Sunday, and actually took a half hour off my drive by meeting me at a closer location where she had an appointment that morning.
The exchange was made, and as soon as the seller departed, my daughter (who had accompanied me on my little adventure) jumped out of the car to examine the bike we had come so far to buy. Right away she spotted the beautiful chainring, which I explained was a heron's head, the symbol of Raleigh. She begged me to go for a test ride around the parking lot, but the flat tires made it impossible. I was surprised how small the bike seemed, especially the wheels, compared to the giant 700s on my other bike. I'm really looking forward to the feel of curvy handlebars again (though it may be a while!).
After a morning spent driving through the beautiful countryside of eastern Pennsylvania, I arrived home with my prize. I dreaded the reaction from my husband, thinking he wouldn't be able to see past the scratches and dents, but once again he surprised me. He couldn't wait to get it down from my car's bike rack and have a look at it. "I used to have a Raleigh," he said. I hastened to acknowledge its flaws before he said anything negative about the bike, but when I pointed out the dents, he replied, "I can take care of them." At that point, I knew the bike had passed muster. It was worth $15.
Then he said, "So how much could you sell it for?"