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A New (Used) Set of Wheels

Where to get a used bicycle in San Francisco

For those who don't know a Huffy from a headset, buying a used bike can be as daunting as buying a used car. You have your choice of road, cross, cruiser, mountain or hybrid bike. Do you want flat, Maes, or mustache handlebars? Center pull, side pull or V-brakes? Knobby, slick, racing, or touring tires in size 18, 23, 28 or 32? And more importantly, what size frame do you need - 18" or 57 cm? And is that frame measurement center-to-center or center-to-top?

Most people who want to buy a bicycle aren't interested in the lingo, but they know what kind of bike they want and what they plan to use it for. That's about all you need to know if you aren't trying to buy a bike on craigslist, where you need to know about all that stuff if you want a good (and not stolen) bike for a fair price.

Fortunately, there are a number of small, used bike shops in San Francisco that specialize in selling reconditioned bikes at reasonable prices to people who aren't gearheads. Before looking at three of the best used bike shops, check out a few pointers on what you should think about before trying to pick out a new steed.

1. Think about where you want to go on your bike. Is it short flat trips to local bars, grocery shopping, a 8-mile roundtrip daily commute, weekend jaunts, touring, hardcore off-road riding, racing, or fire roads in the East Bay Hills?

2. Look at bikes parked on the street. Notice the style, the make, and the kind of seat and handlebars you like and be prepared to describe it to a mechanic at the shop.

3. Have a reasonable budget in mind. Expect to spend from $125 to $350 for a solid bike that will last for years. Higher prices usually mean higher quality with name-brand components that will break down less often and save you money in the long run.

Now that you have an idea of what your needs are, browse three of the best used bike shops in SF:

1. The eclectic Bike Hut specializes in selling bikes built up for commuters by youths in their training and mentoring program. The tiny shop also does on-the-spot repairs and rents bikes for $20 a day. Since the Bike Hut is non-profit, they rely on donations and bikes saved from the dump. Their variety of bikes range from $99 to $175 and up.

2. Salon Des Biciclettes is another small bike shop, though this one is in the Lower Haight. They stock a variety of used bikes and currently have about 30 on display ranging from vintage Schwinns to streamlined messenger specials, with average prices of $150 to $300.

3. The Pedal Revolution, a non-profit, full-service bike shop, sells both used and new bikes. A typical rebuilt bike at Pedal Revolution runs $150 to $225. The store sells cruisers, hybrids, custom built one-speeds, track bikes, and mountain bikes and typically have 30 to 40 used bikes on the floor.

Bike Hut
Pier 40
(Embarcadero @ Townsend)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: 415.543.4335
Hours: Monday - Saturday (10 am - 6 pm, depending on rain)
thebikehut.com

Salon Des Biciclettes
218 Fillmore Street
(Fillmore @ Haight)
San Francisco, CA 94117
Phone: 415.863.7404
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday (12 noon - 7 pm)

Pedal Revolution
3085 21st Street
(21st @ South Van Ness)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: 415.641.1264
Hours: Monday - Wednesday, (10 am - 6 pm), Thursday (11 am - 7 pm), Sunday (11 am to 5 pm)
pedalrevolution.com