Good Day to Buy a Bike

(note: this is a dated article that referred to a sale so the links stopped working. I updated them in April 2012, but they’ll surely change again someday)

Hello there.

I don’t really have an article for you today, but I stumbled across an interesting-looking sale at one of my preferred bike stores, Nashbar.com. They’ve got a free shipping deal on orders over $50, and some pretty sweet discounts on the end-of-summer ‘stash of bicycles. Looks like the sale only goes for about 2 days from the date of this article.

Here’s a link to their commuter bikes page, sorted from price low to high, in case you’re in the market.

Or if you want even easier advice, for a first-time bike owner who wants “just a good solid reliable bike for getting around the city and suburbs”, I’d recommend something like the GT Transeo.

I’ve bought 2 bikes from Nashbar in the past. They were both great – the only slight hitch is that they come to your house in a big box, and you have to put on the handlebars, wheels, and pedals to have it in riding shape. I found all the gears and brakes were already adjusted and working well.

I’ve also bought bikes from Craigslist – it is the more sociable and environmentally friendly way to go, and the bike will already be assembled. It just depends on your area. Here in the Boulder, Colorado area, high quality bikes and careful bicycle owners are very common – so the experience of buying used is very positive. In an area or state where biking is less popular, it might be frustrating to find a good used bike, or you might have to drive many miles to pick it up. In that case, ordering online and having it show up on your porch can be very nice.

Plus, with a new bike of reasonable quality, you generally get at least 2000 miles of luxurious trouble-free riding before anything even needs adjustment. My 2008 city bike from Nashbar (a K2 Astral 3.0 which cost me $299 during a similar sale) is still going strong and is in perfect shape, coming up on 2000 miles of city errands.


  • Dwight August 24, 2011, 3:05 pm

    20 years ago, Nasbar had a bike called the city/tour. It was a cheap, rugged mountain bike with drop handlebars. I toured and commuted many miles on that bike. It’s still in the family. A very practical bike!

    Sadly, the City/Tour is no longer made. I don’t see anything quite this versitile for sale today. The rugged bikes all seem to have upright bars. They’re OK if your not going very far, but I like the drop bars.

    Nasbar is a good company. I’ve always been happy with their service.

    • MMM August 24, 2011, 3:54 pm

      That is a happy bike tale. I actually like a flat handlebar better than a drop one for in-city riding or close inter-city trips (15 miles or less). Just because the braking and tight-quarters steering is better. Luckily it is easy to change out bars on a bike. On my K2, I flipped over the handlebar stem so it became level rather than upward-sloping, which lowered my bars about 2″, making me more streamlined and speedy without going to full road bike drop bars. It is nice that bikes can be fully modified and maintained with just a few hand tools, rather than a giant hydraulic garage staffed with $75/hour mechanics!

    • Benjamin S. June 1, 2016, 11:10 pm

      Ex-bike mechanic here who has more than dabbled in cheap reliable bikes. Dwight, what you’re talking about is now called a cyclocross bike. Cyclocross bikes are essentially road bikes with knobby tires and slightly relaxed geometry. There’s not a whole lot of sense in riding one of those in town. You lose so much energy due to contact friction.

      In reference to drop bars, most experienced riders don’t actually spend that much time in the drops unless they’re racing, going into a strong wind, or on a long straight. In town, it’s much more important to be able to navigate efficiently, avoid obstacles, start and stop, and to keep your back from cramping! Riding in drops every day does not make a happy rider’s back make!

      If you’re unconvinced, that’s fine. Sometimes a man (or woman!) just wants what he (she) wants. Just go on craigslist/ebay and buy a cyclocross bike with drop bars, or Frankenstein one from road/commuter/hybrid bikes.

      I know MMM thinks he’s cheap, but I never pay more than $100 for a commuter bike and then up-sell them if I get tired of the geometry, so don’t feel bad if you don’t like it. Buy cheap and resell. MMM’s advice on selling on craigslist is really similar to my experience. Take lots of pictures in a nice place, clean up the bike, and you’ll sell the first day.


  • Jason August 26, 2011, 4:46 pm

    I highly recommend Nashbar as well as their parent company Performance Bike. I’ve ordered several bikes between the two and have always been very satisfied with their pricing. Last bike I got was an ’09 Diamondback Insight last year. It was around $500 to start with, but I caught an end of summer sale like this and got the bike and about $25 in accessories for $260 shipped.

  • Tanner October 12, 2011, 3:36 pm

    I actually bought Nashbar Commuter Panniers and a rear rack during this sale. Before that I stored my clothes in my desk. This added a whole new dimension of bringing things to and from work. Its on my 1989 Trek 1200 I picked up at a Salvation Army in Dallas for $85. Sweet Deal! All it needed was a new chain and handle bar tape and I was ready to go. I made a few additional changes for cheap but still came way ahead of buying a new Trek Road bike. Plus it has Downtube shifters which don’t have the issues of brifters. Craigslist here in Phx is a great place to find a used bike!

  • Wes April 17, 2012, 4:10 pm

    The links to your recommended bicycles are broken. Could you repair them, or give them their own write up?

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 18, 2012, 6:33 am

      Thanks Wes! I fixed the links for now and added a note at the top. I think it would be wise to write a new article on bike shopping soon as well, since it’s spring and all.

  • Anthon September 17, 2013, 5:16 pm

    Sale is up again today and tomorrow! Just bought myself the Nashbar Trekking Bike and the matching Nashbar Women’s Trekking Bike for my wife.

    • Chitownsox March 30, 2015, 9:27 am

      Anthon, how much did you end up spending on the Trekking Bike and how do you like it? I was looking at getting the same bike for my commute (<15 miles). Would you recommend? Thanks!

  • Pablo March 2, 2015, 7:02 am

    Question for MMM and/or savvy bikers:
    I am in the process on buying two bikes for my wife and I. For myself, I am thinking about the following bike from Walmart.

    My reasoning: great price, good reviews from users. I would like to know whether this bike is reliable given its price.
    Any recommendations for both me and my wife are appreciated!

  • Randall Roberts November 7, 2015, 12:43 pm

    My girlfriend and I actually share a bike since mine got stolen. It’s rare both of us need it to get somewhere at the same time, and if we do, we take transit.

    I’m curious about buying on Craigslist though – do you find they’re well-maintained? And how do you know they aren’t stolen?

  • TimK November 17, 2015, 5:05 am

    Pablo no, savvy riders don’t recommend Wal-mart bikes. The cheapness WILL lead to buyer’s remorse and then you’ll be unhappy with it for 20 years. What you want instead, is a score-price on a slightly more expensive ($500 range) model. And then you can gloat about it here in the comments and that will make you feel good TWICE.

    You can do it, here is your plan.
    1. Keep an eye to CraigsList where you’ll occasionally see pawn shop listings for bikes, and/or
    2. find a local pawn shop that sells bikes and stalk them in the late fall NOW when it’s out of season. They have a vested interest to NOT sell you a stolen bike, and you can score a deal and talk them down.
    3. No matter which, TALK THEM DOWN. Why are you paying the price they offer? Go with cash, threaten to walk away without buying, it’s off season, ISNT THAT A TINY SCRATCH and etc. Pretend you’re buying a used car and don’t pay asking price. Pretend you’re from New York. Talk them down!

    Using either method 1 or 2 above can be a win for you. For my example just last week I just got a 2015 “Giant Escape 3” which is a $350.oo bike this way and I talked them down to $120 because it had a flat tire, which I repaired with my bare hands (no tools needed it was so simple) and a $4 tube. It’s in like-new condition it has zero problems. I just rode it to work today (8 miles) and it was pretty sweet. I only added lights as it’s dark at 6am here in Boston. If you’re not in a super-hurry you can do similar!

    Other tips:
    When surfing CL, know a few brands. Cannondale, Nashbard, Performance, Giant make good bike frames with Schimino gears of good quality.

    BUT; stay out of Wal-Mart okay? I mean Raleigh, Schwinn and GT used to have good names but now, unfortunately a very wide range so you’ll see great bikes and el-cheap-o bikes too in them. I’ve been in there a few times they were heavy and not great quality. I don’t recommend these. The buying experience was horrible too in nearby Saugus MA store there were no prices on 90% of the bikes, wrong bikes behind the labels on front of racks, and zero employee help, the ones I found knew nothing about bikes. Sorry Wal-mart if you’re reading this, it’s the truth.

    Stick with CL, and pawn-shops instead.
    Try to get something new-ish. I scored an almost-new model. Don’t buy any 10 year old bike it won’t work like-new.
    GOOGLE the bike’s make and MODEL name to try to determine year it was made and the full-price, you want at least less than 1/3 of that if it’s on CL.
    DO NOT buy in the spring / early summer that’s the “in-season” time for bikes and the prices are higher then.

    So I think if you do a tiny bit of legwork, and then go visit CL or pawn shops/ used bikes hops, you may get get a decent, $500 bike on the cheap around $100 or 150 this way and you’ll be HAPPY with the higher-quality for 10-20 years.

    Pursue happiness!

    Pretty certain the Founding Fathers were cycling enthusiasts.
    Life, Liberty and pursuing happiness., sincerely —TimK

  • Vito July 20, 2017, 1:05 pm

    I’ve been enjoying reading the articles about biking. 30 years ago I, along with 3 friends, biked from California to Rhode Island. It took us 65 days and we also raised money for children with cancer. Now I am an urban commuter. I ride 20 miles round trip to work. Reading your site has helped keep me motivated. Thanks.

  • Vel March 3, 2018, 10:58 pm

    “it might be frustrating to find a good used bike, or you might have to drive many miles to pick it up”

    Very true. Got the bike in my head last two weeks and finally found a nice road bike from a thrift store and bought a hybrid for my wife. Both bianchi, 30 year old bikes but wad taken care by their owners. I invested $110 today and may need another 100 for getting them to life.

    Any Michigan folks here? I am having hard time finding a bike mechanic. The shop I see in my locality(novi) doesn’t seem really good. I live in apartment, so I like the initial tune up and then maintain myself.

    Do you do all bike stuff yourself or get professional help?


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