I have been dreaming of this day for weeks now! Fantasizing, hoping, and agonizing when other attempts haven’t worked out.
That right, I bought a bicycle.
Exciting stuff, right?
When I got the idea for this blog’s mission, one thing I knew I wanted to do was to reduce how often I use my car to go places, as well as get myself (and my family) outdoors more. My community is quite bike-friendly, with bike lanes on most roads as well as long bike paths connecting major points. I started the hunt for a used bike immediately. It took over a month, but I finally found one that met nearly all the criteria I’d had in mind!
What I hoped to find in a used bike:
1. I wanted to find one for less than $100. Originally I’d hoped to find one around maybe even $50, but most of the bikes in that price range were a little more beat up, and while I am willing to do some repairs, I know I don’t have much patience to do many, and I didn’t want to be surprised by how much additional repairs cost.
2. Ideally, I wanted to find a bike with a child seat attached. Crucial to my biking dreams is having a way to schlep my toddler around with me. Since not many bikes already have those attached, I also did some searches for “bike seat.” This brought up some additional results, like replacements seats for an actual bike, but it was more efficient than searching for child seats by brand name.
3. Style wasn’t important to me. I wasn’t picky about color, and I was fine with a road bike or a cruiser. But I knew a mountain bike wouldn’t meet my needs, so I skipped over those when I came across them. (Plus, those were usually more expensive.)
That’s pretty much it! I wanted a solid, child-friendly, not too expensive bike.
The search did take about a month, and before I found The One, I was doing searches every couple of days (as the mood struck), sent out several messages for bikes that, it turned out, had already been sold, and went to see one bike that (in person) would have required a lot more cleanup than I was ready to take on.
Finally, I heard back on a bicycle that looked like it was in good shape, and it had a child seat attached on the back already! It was far enough that I had to drive to get there, so my husband and kids went with me when I went to check it out. It was fortunate that they did, because we did end up buying the bike (hooray!) but it didn’t fit in back of our minivan (oops). Since we don’t have a bike rack either, I ended up riding it home. More on that in a minute.
Checking out the bike itself was initially a letdown. When messaging the owner about it, I asked what kind of shape it was in because the basket on the front had numerous rusty spots visible. She said that the basket was rusty but the rest of the bike was fine, so I moved forward with checking it out.
When we arrived the bike was locked up on a tree outside of the house, and had clearly been there for a while. There were spiderwebs all over it, some bird droppings on the seat, there were a few rusty spots on the handlebars (and some smaller spots on the body itself), and the chain was completely red. The last bike I had looked at had been extensively rusted, which is why I passed on it, but this wasn’t as bad so I didn’t let it kill my interest immediately. But the wheels and body were otherwise in great shape, so I took a test ride. And it was very nice indeed.
The child seat seemed almost brand new, save for the bit of leaves stuck in spiderwebs in a few spots and a little tarnishing on some of the metal pieces. I felt like I could probably deal with the scattered rusty bits, so I negotiated with the seller. She had asked $100 for the bike and seat, which I was originally happy to meet. However, due to the rust on the body and chain, I offered $80, which the seller accepted.
Time to head home! I had already cleaned off the webs before my test ride (I didn’t want any spiders crawling up my back!) so my husband went ahead with the kids. I hadn’t gotten a helmet yet, so I was nervous to ride on the roads and stuck to the sidewalk as much as possible. Soon the road opened up to have a bike lane, which was great because I had to pass through a busy pedestrian area. But the ride also made me realize I didn’t really know the rules for bikers very well. Do I signal turns with my right or left hand? Is it actually okay for me to switch between sidewalks and road sometimes? If I have to turn left, should I move to the left turn area to be easily seen, or stick right? Man, I wished I had worn something neon. Or something with pockets, because I had my phone with me since I wasn’t sure how to get through the first part of the ride, but the basket wires were too far apart to hold the phone safely. I ended up riding home clasping it to my left handlebar.
Though the uncertainty about these concerns never went fully away, soon the excitement of moving so freely with the wind in my face set me giggling. I don’t think I’ve ridden a bike for nearly a decade, and finally doing so again made me feel so free! I was still grinning when I got home, which only took maybe 15 minutes. I have started some work on the bike to get it tidied up, so I’ll share some before and after pictures soon.
What resources do you use for locating specific items you need, but want to find used?
I most often use Facebook Marketplace, but also Craigslist, Freecycle, and my local thrift store.
Have you ever given a name to a vehicle before (car, bike, other)? How did you choose a name?
I’m considering naming the bike something, but I don’t have any ideas yet. A name would make it a little easier to refer to, rather that calling it “the bike” all the time. e.g. “Time to go for a ride on old Bessie!” That won’t cause any confusion, will it?