17 July 2006

I like to ride bicycles. I think it's fun to tool around like a seven year old, jumping the curb and whatnot. I want to tool my way to work, jumping curbs, riding on the grass, and scattering hill staffers like so many pigeons. However, buying a bike in DC has turned out to not be child's play. I have been to three bike shops and several pawn shops, and before you start writing me to ask in petulant voices “Haven't you tried craigslist?”, yes, I have tried craigslist. And craigslist sucks for buying a bike in DC. Bike shops are great, but they only sell the new, shiny bikes and I have no money.

Where I come from, the square states, used bicycles are plentiful and cheap, roaming the prairies in packs just waiting to be tamed. Here, however, used bicycles are a rare commodity, indeed. They fall into three categories: crazytalk expensive professional bikes being sold by wannabe pro cyclers to other wannabe pro cyclers, crappy crappy bikes sold by people who bought bikes from Target then left them in the rain for three years, and the normal bike. Craigslist is flush with the bounty of the first two categories, the third must be panned for carefully. I do not need a bicycle frame made of carbonized carbon polyurapoly that was welded in space and then frozen in the depths of the Arctic to ensure a lightweight yet durable structure that floats in air and costs eight thousand dollars. It's a bike. It should always cost less than a car. And my car costs 700 dollars, so that's my rational limit for the price of bicycles. I also don't want your son's 1995 Huffy with “some major scratching- needs new tires, chain. seat missing.” So, if it needs tires, a chain, and a seat it's no longer a bike, it's parts.

I thought I had found a normal bike to buy on Sunday. The ad on craigslist said it was just what I wanted- regular road tires, lightweight, normal handlebars that don't make me hunch over like Quasimodo, with all the bike essentials, such as seat and chain and breaks. After a bizzare volley of emails, I was on my way up Georgia Ave to find my iron steed. Well, aluminum or steel or whatever they use these days. Let me pause here to say that I moved to the East Coast because I didn't think I could live on the Prairies anymore after having lived abroad for so long. Not to be judgemental, but I was fleeing the stupid. There are a lot of them out there wandering around. I am coming to learn that the East coast has a proportional share, and one of them lives in Glenmont, MD. After having to drag the directions out of this mouth-breathing-carbon asshat (she wanted me to drive to some address and then call her for more directions...for security reasons....riiiiiight), I arrive to look at the bike that she has posted on craigslist.

Every single thing she had listed in the ad was a non-truth. I won't say a lie, because she was a wiley one: Shimano deraileur with hand-grip shifters? Yeeeeessss, but they were 12 years old and had never been cleaned. Selle Royale Gel Seat? Yes, but it was broken and falling off. Samid Saminox Hubs? Yes, I guess, except I've never heard of them and neither has the internets. Altenburger Synchron brake components? Yes, I suppose. They were so mangled from some distant wreck that they provided no braking action. They would need to be replaced. Completely replaced, madam, not 'bent back a little. The frame? The heart of the bicycle you ask? Oh yes, it is a Sears vintage. Manufactured in 1982. You said, and I quote verbatim “Well, it says Sears, but I am sure it is a Tiawanese frame. It's vintage! Worth the price of the bike alone!”. WWWWWWWWWWHHHAHAHAHHA- I'm sorry crazy old lady! I didn't hear that last part because I was laughing so very very hard at what you just said- you think that a 23 year old Sears bike frame is worth $125! WWWWWWWWWWHHHAHAHAHA!!! You are great.

No seriously, I'll give you 40 dollars for this bike: I will have to buy new brake calipers, pads, a back tire, and have the chain replaced and the shifters cleaned. No no, you don't understand. “Meeting me half way” would be 80 dollars. And no, this pile of crap is not worth $110, I'll give you $45. No? Well, how about you reimburse me for my gas money for driving all the way up here to look at your smoke and mirror show of a bicycle?

And that's why I have decided I will just steal a bike from the Metro like everyone else.


MB said...

You should try paying for your bike like I did - winning big at the slots in Vegas. And if you don't win, oh well, at least you went to Vegas.

y said...

Try chain reaction:

Mari said...

Try Chain Reaction on the 1400 block of North Cap St NW. It is run by the non-profit Shaw Eco-Village and I have gotten both of my bikes from there. The bikes are used and have been repaired by the kids who work in the shop. Most of the prices are in the $100s range, like $130.

Freewheel said...

Hilarious... although I'm sure the experience was not so amusing at the time.

I've had luck finding decent bikes at yard sales. Also good for finding toaster ovens.

Anonymous said...

After much searching I found an early 80's miyata 1200 for $50, which needed a little over $100 worth of work. I'm sure you will find a bike that is worth the wait. Don't give up on craigslist.


katastrophe said...

i could ride on your pegs home from work. You know it'd be fun. I could wear unfortunate goggles and yell at people driving SUVs. You know, like I did today. Only on feet.