For every clump of Florida beach cruisers, at times lovingly and delightfully decorated with baskets and bells, a quietly spiffy Peugeot, an ostentatious Look or a vintage Schwinn struts around. The secret behind the concentration of fancy frames: Craigslist. In large part through the Facebook group “Craigslist bike classifieds,” Sarasota area bike buying options are disseminated to the student body.
While buying a high quality bike typically demands hefty investment, Craigslist–and the Facebook page dedicated to it–enables folks to acquire those bikes on the cheap. Some of the bikes purchased are vintage bikes that require some work to bring to their full potential, while others come nearly new.
James Montgomery (‘13) a former Bike Shoppe TA, created the group “Craigslist bike classifieds” to redirect people away from places like Walmart and Goodwill, which often lack selection, affordability and quality, to Craigslist.
“I would always send people links to stuff on Craigslist, so instead of just doing that individually, I posted them to the Facebook page; it seemed to streamline the process… and actually, I think every bike that’s ‘nice’ that I’ve seen on campus has come from Craigslist,” Montgomery said. “I got hooked on Craigslist cause I’d just go on Craigslist all the time, and I’d procrastinate from homework by looking at Craigslist. It’s kind of a hippie kind of way to get a bike. We don’t have swap meets and shit, so this [fills that need]. It also allows you to get way higher quality bikes, so it sort of promotes the pretentious bike culture.”
The page itself both links prospective buyers to available bikes and provides information and guidance on buying those bikes.
“I put on the page a lot of the things you should know for buying a bike, like measurements, how to look at the bike–to check the frame for cracks and stuff like that–but beyond that you wanna do some research on the bike, the brand especially… There’s a Kelly Blue Book for bikes. That’s always good so you know you’re not getting completely ripped off. And then ask Bike Shoppe TAs, people who know about bikes, they can come look at it with you, haggle on the price.”
Yasmeen Wilson (‘16) bought a bike off Craigslist to replace an old bike that had been stolen. She got a newer model of the bike she had had, plus add ons, for a bargain price.
“My bike is currently a 2015 Giant Escape II, it retails for like $460, I got it for $350. And they included a little pouch, kickstand and bottle cage, which you have to buy when you buy it from a bike shop […] so I got a really good deal,” Wilson said.
But for Wilson, the new swanky ride–named Bikerson Tiller–meant more than just expedited and bedecked mobility. It also carried her into the exclusive community of fancy bike owners.
“Not gonna lie, as soon as I got it I rode it around in front of all the bike nerds on campus,” Wilson said. “I didn’t have anything to do outside of my room—I should have been in my room, but I was just riding around like ‘I just came out here to stunt on y’all,’ cause it’s a nice ass bike. It’s just a nice bike, so I do feel like I’m part of the upper echelon of non-cruiser riders.”
While that upper echelon of bike owners does exist, bikes give more than just status. On top of the convenience, exercise and mobility they offer, they can provide a relationship, at time difficult to describe, but easy to recognize.
Harrison Reid (‘17) is a former proud owner of a beautiful orange road bike that was stolen out of second court last year. He bought his bike from a shop in Orlando, not off Craigslist, but during its tenure as an NCF bike, his bike earned him membership in the upper echelon as well. Asked about his relationship with his bike, he conceded that he had a distinct attachment to it and that losing it had been painful.
“It was a special machine that helped me work out a lot of stuff,” Reid recalled. “Whether it was a couple hours spent fixing it up or a ride to Indian Beach for sunset, it was a good bike […] I don’t know about companionship, but I definitely had a relationship with it. I named it Giorgio, so I must have attributed some kind of character to the bike.”
Over a year out from the robbery that lost him his bike, Reid has yet to replace it.