Sometimes, It Hurts Just To Look

One of my weird hobbies is a compulsion to cruise through Craigslist looking for interesting bikes and models I've never heard of. Over the years, I've had many instances of involuntary cringing and leg crossing, sympathetic back pain and downright amazement at some of the bike setups. In may cases, you can tell exactly why the person "didn't end up riding" a given bike. The phrase "eggregious examples of poor bicycle fit" comes to mind. So, for some odd reason, I've started collecting them. If the ad listing text isa thing of partcularly sublime beauty, I've included it in quotes.

(I don't like to pick on the postings for long-neglected or forgotten Schwinn Varsitys, or the Magna that someone bought a couple months back over at Tar-zhey. The ones which particularly crack me up are the listings aksing top dollar for "enthusiast" bikes which contain horrible photos, or minimal and cryptic listings.)

There's a theory that you can learn good design by looking at bad design. I think the same can be said for bike setup. You can look at most of these and see in an instant why the soon-to-be-ex-owner is selling it. "Never got comfortable"...

Some of the others are just funny.

Oh, and if one of these is yours, and you don't think it's funny, email me and I'll take 'em down.

The "Quick Guide" below is based upon comparing descriptions with photos, and in some cases, the actual item for sale.

A Quick Guide to Craigslist Bicycles For Sale Ad Terminology:
Stated = Reality

Classic = Rusted
Retro = Dirty and Rusted
Vintage = Dirty, Rusted, Missing Parts - Found in Parents' Storage Unit
Unique = I found lots of extra parts in my parents' garage and made this bike
Racing Bike = Stem shifters, brakes with "safety" levers, huge pie-plate steel spoke protector.
Italian Race Bike = 70's Bike Boom model from Taiwan with a low-end Campy derailleur
Classic French Design = No shop within 800 miles of you will have compatibly sized or threaded parts
Super Light Race Bike = 10 year old Cannondale road frame with a closeout mail-order carbon fork swaged into the headset
80's Vintage Race Bike = It will feature the most amazing combination of incompatibly hued paint you have ever seen
Tall Road Bike = Wow, this must be for someone who's, like almost 6 feet tall!
Old-School Track Bike = Schwinn Varsity with a sprocket force-threaded onto the rear hub
Hardcore Pista, used twice = Email responses only, my jaw is still wired

Cross Bike with Classic Parts = Three season old Cross Bike (which age in dog-years) with all the worn-out parts left from the last upgrade
Never Raced = Last number still zip-tied to top tube
Works = I mean, I haven't actually looked at it, but I remember someone rode it once
Race-Ready = Rattles like hell
Serviceable = Chain is rusted solid

Needs New Tires
= Tires need air
Recently Tuned = Used half a can of 3in1 Oil on the chain
A few nicks = dents deep enough to hold water
A few scratches = Major Chainsuck bites that have been wrapped with duct tape
Needs some TLC = Major Resto Project that will bleed you dry
Project Bike = Run Away, Run Away!
Need to Sell = Don't want to sell, so I'm asking $50 under original retail
MUST SEE!!! = No Photos (submitted by alan f.)
Well Maintained Hardtail = Ridden within an inch of its life, but I just bought a new full suspension

Break = Brake - noun - a means of slowing a bicycle
Wheel = Tire - noun - the rubber thing that needs air
Wheel = Tube - noun - the rubber thing inside the tire that needs air
Wheel = Rim - noun - the metal thing that keeps rubbing the brake pad when you ride it

Chopper Style - "I can't see my front wheel, but damn, I look good!"

Nose Down Landing - "Why are my arms so tired?"
Now, That Just Can't Fit Anyone... -
"Was built in 1995, one owner (now with a back problem)"

You do want to be nice to the person who has that kind of reach...
"Exercise in Design 101 - Defining the Subject" or "Why isn't my bike selling?"

Cool bike, does it come with two sets of wheels?

This is just a classic - the seller was trying to get around a grand for this "fast TT bike", and I guess you can tell from the airplane wing downtube that it must be "aero"... But the sheer invisibility of any component, highlighted by the non-driveside photo angle, makes this a poster child for CL listings gone wrong... you people look at your photos before you upload them? Or is the movement supposed to suggest how fast this bicycle is?

"Can you see me now?"

It was bound to happen - combine a cheap/free camera phone with the need to pay the cell bill and there you have it...

"Put down the paint gun and step away from the acid!"
Special "Spinal Tap" Award Of Merit
These were the only three photos posted with an ad for a Cannondale mtb. Took me a while to figure out what the seller was trying to get across in these photos.


Then, I realized - it goes up to "11"...
"Cashing in on the Wheelsize Conversion Craze" Award of Merit

I'm still sort of puzzling this one out... It is a Bridgestone MB-3 which has had it's wheels converted to 700C. Perhaps they'd read about the whole 650B thing (or even the 603 dream to be) and wanted to show folks how easy it was.

Or perhaps this is a project gone horribly, horribly wrong...

Your guess is as good as mine.

Uniquely Bizarre

This one just struck me as one of those moody European or art-school films. Pensive, pondering, looking out the window of a shabby apartment...the insoucient non-drive-side positioning...

... whoops, now it's a theme. "Please take me for a ride..."

The ad was for the bike, not the dog...

...spends its days barking at all the other bikes as they get to go on rides...

...I guess it likes hanging out at the playground, doing chin-ups.
Words Cannot Suffice -


"$80 - Professionally Assembled!"

pro job

Better Fender coverage?

true road heritage

Top tube Detail



updated: August 10, 2007


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