It’s pretty much a no-brainer. One person thinks, “I have a bike for sale.” Another person thinks, “I need a bike.” A website connects the two and the deal is done. That’s the essence of the bicycle section of Craigslist. In reality it’s not quite that easy.
First you have to know what you’re looking for. Next you have to hope someone is selling what you’re looking for and uses the same words that you would to describe this bike. Finally you both have to agree on a price.
On top of all the normal issues Craigslist has a few special things you need to look out for:
Stolen Bikes – They’re all over the place. If it sounds too good to be true, it may be. Of course there really are people who are selling bikes way below their value just because they don’t use them anymore. Of course, those bike usually have rust and flat tires.
Scammers – If someone gives a check for too much money, it’s a scam. In fact anything beyond a straight-forward cash transaction is probably a scam.
Strangers – At some point in the transaction you are going to have to meet a stranger in person. Will you to to their house? Will they come to yours? If you’re smart you’ll meet in a crowded public place. If you pay attention you’ll see lots of such transactions happening in the parking lot at the Haight Street McDonalds.
Bad Posters – One of my favorite things about Craigslist is the ability to save a search as an RSS feed. That way you don’t have to do the same searches everyday and new posts show up in your inbox. The problem is that many people trying to get their stuff sold relist it every day. One of my current searches has the same 8 posts from the same person every day. Very annoying. Then there are people who add dozens on inappropriate keywords at the bottom of their posts in order to attract more views. Also very annoying.
All those issues do not overwhelm the good parts of Craigslist. I’ve gotten several bikes and lots of parts over the years. Just watch what you’re doing