Is it possible to get 2 bikes for under $500 and not look like complete tools?


New Member
Sep 4, 2012
My girlfriend and I would like to start cycling, but we know nothing about it. (I've never even been on a non-toystore bike.) We would like to get used bikes that are good for general-purpose, city riding. We haven't been to a LBS yet because we don't yet know if it's even possible to get such things on a budget of $500 ($250 each).

Should we bother going to an LBS on this budget, or will they just laugh at our ineptitude?
The only ones who look like tools are the tools who think others look like tools because of the tools they're using to cycle.

You might find something at the LBS, doesn't hurt to check. It will possibly also give you an idea whether you want to use that store in the future.

Ebay, Craigslist, local auctions can all work, too. There are a lot of people who buy $1000 bikes with every intention of riding, ride twice, then the bike sits in the garage for 10 years while they pack away the Big Macs.
yeah I agree with Jason. You should go check the LBS first or you could find them through Internet.
Congratulations for having the discipline to set priorities and manage your finances. That's smart, not "tool-iish"

$500 for two bikes in good condition is doable, but not easy depending on what type of bike and the riding you want to do. General purpose bikes come in different flavors - geared and non-geared. Single-speed (no gears) will be less expensive (generally) and work just fine if you want to cruise around park paths and local streets. Geared bikes help make hills and faster riding easier, but the extra components and maintenance can increase the expense.

Local garage sales and/or Craigslist is probably your best option for finding bicycles in your price range, but the caveat is finding ones that are in good condition and don't need service/replacement parts. If you need tires, tubes, a more comfortable seat, bearing adjustment, wheels trued, etc. and aren't mechanically inclined the cost of the bike immediately goes up. The more mechanically inclined you are, the more likely it is you'll recognize needed repair/parts before you purchase. Bearings that bind slightly, or have side-to-side play, cracked rubber sidewalls (tires) and other indicators are signs that some additional money may need to be invested. Either negotiate that into your purchase price, or move on to another bike.

If you aren't mechanically inclined or have little experience with bicycles, some LBS - not all - will be willing to perform a basic inspection for you before purchase. They obviously want your business once you become a bike owner and also will want to service the bike if it needs repair. The key is finding a reputable shop that understands your budget objectives, so you are advised about repairs that are critical and those that are "nice to do". Again, the less knowledge you have about bicycles, the more you will be relying on the shop for their experience. If they give you good advice, they are earning their money. Bike shops that offer pre-purchase inspections often sell bikes they take in trade. More likely than not, any used bikes you find in an LBS will be tuned up and ready to ride.

eBay is an option, but unless the bikes are near you, you'll lose the option to inspect them before purchase. Shipping a bike can easily cost $50-$100+, which eats into your $250/bike objective. Some assembly/adjustment is needed for bikes that are shipped, so again mechanical aptitude comes into play. The more knowledge you have of bikes, the more you will be able to inspect (zoom in) attached pictures for signs of service/parts that are needed.

Helmets are a good idea, so plan accordingly $$ wise. Depending on the riding you do, water bottles/cages and other small accessories are important or even necessary. Here's hoping you find two great bikes and are out ridding soon!!
I recently sold this bike for $700 through a shop on consignment. Even though it was going to be advertised on Craig's List someone visiting the shop saw it and bought it immediately. The orginal price of the bike was $2400 in 2004 and is equipped with Dura Ace and Ultegra. The shop said the guy was extremely happy with the purchase. I got my use out of it and now someone else will hopefully add a lot more miles.

I had new cables and housings installed with a general tune up so it was in great shape. The wheels were like new because I only used them a couple of times when my other wheels were being serviced.

This picture was taken a day before it sold. It is a pretty decent bike for less than $1K. There are plenty of deals like this, but my suggestion before purchasing online if you don't know much about bikes is to buy one locally through local advertising or consignment so you find out if you fit the bike correctly. This bike was sold by a professional fitter and asked the guy to make sure the buyer was fitted properly.

.......oops, I did not see purchasing 2 bikes for less than $500 /img/vbsmilies/smilies/redface.gif

I blame it on having the early morning glaze still over my eyes

I bet there are still some good deals out there for older high bikes if you are patient enough to shop around.
I think $250 is a bit on the low end - if you could add $200 to your budget ($100 per bike), I think you could find some good options on clearance models, craigslist or Ebay. $350 is still pretty low for a really nice bike, but with time and dilligence they can be found.

I was able to get a nice steel framed, carbon fork, velomax wheel, 105 equipped machine with less than 30 miles for $350; I was watching craigslist for months before I found it. There is an element of luck in finding a good new or used machine at a bargain price.
Originally Posted by maydog .

I think $250 is a bit on the low end -...
+1, it's possible in the used market if you know what you're looking for and spend some time looking, but I suspect it will be very difficult for two new riders just figuring out the game to find a pair of decent bikes that fit reasonably well and are in good mechanical shape for that price.

I'd go to some shops, ride some bikes and at least get used to what a decent fitting bike feels like and how it rides. That may be enough to convince you to extend your budget or save a bit longer but at least it may help you figure out what you do and do not want in a bike. FWIW if there's a Performance Bikes nearby I'd start there as they have some very good sales going nationally right now and they lean a bit towards entry and medium level bikes.

Whatever you do, I strongly urge both of you to actually ride any bikes before you purchase them. This is a good idea for anyone but especially for someone just getting started as the most important thing is a good fit and an appropriate bike for the type of riding you plan to do. An inexpensive bike that doesn't fit or is no fun to ride and sits in the garage is not a good deal.

Good luck,
If you can up you budget by 150 dollars you could get two Trek 820's which are great bikes for people just getting into cycling. You may be able to get a decent deal if you are buying two bikes at once.
Let me re-word your question for you. Is it possible to get two bikes for under $500 that we will enjoy riding after we've ridden them for a year or two? That won't elicit groans from the mechanic when we bring it in for service?

I vote with davereo. Raise the budget to $650 and get a couple of Trek 820s. They are a reliable, fun, and confidence-inspiring ride. And properly maintained, they could give you 20 years of service.
I have to agree with davereo on this also. Not only will you be getting good quality bicycles but you will also be getting the experience of your local Trek store to back you up. They are going to want to keep you riding after the sale so they will get you bikes that fit which might be difficult for you to do if you are inexperienced and trying to buy online.

Similar threads