How to Buy a Bike off Craigslist

My bike-buying travels came to end last night. After going to Performance Bike, B&L Bike, California Bicycle, Bicycle Warehouse, REI, and several others, I actually found an ad on Craigslist listing a Specialized Crosstrail Comp in my size, XL.

I called the gentlemen, who sounded very young on the phone. He lived one town over from me and told me that he was selling because he wanted a road bike, more specifically, the Specialized Roubaix. And he had only ridden the Crosstrail twice. I smelled blood, because the Roubaix is a 7K ride which he could afford to buy and sell at will. (I like the art of the deal and blood is akin to me getting a good deal.) He also ended the rather long conversation with: if you don’t buy the bike, we will leave the best of friends. Not something you would tell someone you are looking to play hardball with.

Specialized Crosstrail Comp
Specialized Crosstrail Comp

I did not let on how interested I was in the Crosstrail Comp. I did tell him it was more bike than I was looking for and I quoted another Specialized I had seen (the Sirrus Sport) which was considerably cheaper. Still, he was advertising the bike at $900 and it lists for $1200. Plus, he had put in a 100 bucks of extras into it.

I showed up early and he was not at home yet. He drives a bus for a living, up and down the 101, from Oceanside to La Jolla, twice per shift. And his house looked run down. I was having second thoughts on separating him from his bike at a cutthroat price. I do have a heart, and despite what he told me about wanting to buy a carbon fiber Roubaix, I was reconsidering my tactics.

He arrived on time and then let me into his garage. The bike sat there, waiting for a rider, and it was perfect. The frame fit. The specs matched or exceeding what I was looking for:

Built for efficient recreation, exploration and fitness, the Crosstrail is an all-purpose bicycle for the rider who wants to stay in shape while enjoying the outdoors. The Crosstrail Comp Disc features dependable components like the 50mm-travel SR Suntour fork, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and SRAM X7 10-speed drivetrain.
  • Smooth-welded M4 Premium Aluminum disc frame plus custom Suntour NCXi 50mm-travel fork with Mag lowers and lockout for lightweight confidence on any surface, with fender/rack braze-ons for versatility
  • High profile, double-walled, sleeved 700c rims are durable and low maintenance
  • SRAM 2×10 crankset with 48/32 rings for the latest in lightweight, wide-range gearing and spot-on shifting every time
  • Body Geometry locking XTC grips are anatomically designed to keep hands pain-free and comfortable on long rides
  • Shimano hydraulic disc brakes/levers assure solid, worry-free braking performance under any conditions
  • SRAM 2×10 with X710-speed rear derailleur offer crisp shifting and reliable performance
  • Sporty yet comfortable BG Targa Sport fitness saddle

We talked at length, he was truly a nice guy. I’ve heard that the first person to talk price always loses, but I don’t agree with that theory. I threw out my number. It is a little more bike than I was looking for, but I’d give you $760 for it. He thought about it and replied with: I could not take less than $800. I forced myself to pause and breathe: I’d give you $800. He seemed surprised. I thought he wasn’t going to accept the offer, but he did. Finally. We chatted about me going to Japan and riding the bike and about him buying his carbon fiber dream.

And we left with the best of both worlds. I thought I got a deal and he thought he got a fair price. With tax and extras, the bike was 1.5K. And I paid just more than half that. I am happy. I may just have to tear it up on Sunday. . .

8 thoughts on “How to Buy a Bike off Craigslist”

  1. Good luck with your new acquisition, Navy One…I know nothing about bikes as I have said earlier..,I’d probably hurt myself in serious ways if I ever took up biking as a pastime for exercise and fun….it wouldn’t be anything but aches, pain and heartache….k

  2. Cool! There is something very satisfying about getting a good deal on something you really, really want. Have fun with your new toy!

  3. Kris: Thanks. It is a fun hobby and practical way to get around.
    Lauren: I agree and thanks!
    mark: Sizzling! I insisted on the receipt.

    1. NavyOne… hot wheels mate, looking good, just watch that ‘tiny’ seat when you hit a heavy bump; do you know of any good proctologists?


  4. Congrats on the new bike! My husband got his Cannondale on Craig’s list. He loves it, but seems to love his 29’er more. This morning we rode our bikes to church. OK weather has been so crazy this spring, I have only ridden once. Being a fair-weather biker, it was the first big outing for me – about 18 miles – and the weather was perfect. Next week, it will probably get way hot, and I will only ride in the early morning hours.

  5. EB: Ah good thing the old owner exchanged out the seat for a more padded one. No need to visit the rear-door doc!
    Lou: Good for your husband, I love Cannondales. Great bikes. I almost bought one, but it was puke green and had all sorts of weird stickers on it.

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