Friday, August 1, 2008

Worst of NYC Craigslist SPECIAL EDITION: Whither Salesmanship?

Watching your favorite TV show, reading your favorite magazine, listening to your favorite radio station (do they still have those?) or visiting your favorite website can be tedious business. Fortunately, there are often little stand-alone bits of info-tainment called "advertisments" there to break up the monotony of your entertainment. Oftentimes, they're delightfully creative, and even the method in which they're deployed can be enjoyable in itself. I mean, who doesn't love a good pop-up ad? It's like falling victim to the old snake-in-a-can prank, or like opening a carbonated beverage only to have it explode in your face, or like peering into a hole only to have a frightened ferret scratch violently at your cornea. And that's fun!

Unfortunately, cycling ads aren't as creative as ads for more mainstream products. Sure, there is the odd stand-out, like that CamelBak bottle ad, or the Cannondale poaching ad, or the Look panther ad. But oftentimes they're just boring. Take this Carmichael Training Systems ad, for example:

Sure, it's pretty obvious that very little creative energy went into this ad. But when you combine low energy with inattentiveness, that's when the real magic fails to happen, as one reader learned when he made this rather interesting discovery. Alas, I'd have expected more than simple cutouts from the likes of CTS. Hopefully they'll have a booth at Interbike this year and will display a bunch of shoebox dioramas.

The truth is that when you want real, honest, and innovative entertainment sometimes you have to go underground. This is often the case with music, film, literature, and art, and it's the case with cycling advertising as well. Forget the "big boys" like Specialized and The Great Trek Bicycle-Making Company. Their ads are safe and boring. Pro rider, close-up of a grossly-oversized bottom-bracket junction, self-satisfied little tag line, and that's it. Meanwhile, the true underground artists are putting their full creative energy into selling their own bicycles on Craigslist. Here are just a few examples:

Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-07-31, 6:53PM EDT

Designed by the French Vietnamese architect/ civil-engineer Quasar Khanh. All bicycle components (largely but NOT fully bamboo) are produced by family groups as cottage industry in Vietnam and the parts are then assembled in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Mr. Khanh says, "Bamboo is not only incredibly strong and sensual, it's a renewable resource, which makes it environmentally friendly." And it's so CHIC!
The mudguards and other sculpted parts (the seat is gorgeous!) are steam treated, making them fluid in appearance. The corner-connections are bound in RATTAN and the pedals are made of ROSEWOOD. There is also a rattan BASKET and a cool old-school HORN. 15 SPEED. Plenty of air in tires. Not what I would call light. WORKS perfectly. Excellent but not perfect cosmetic condition. (Handles bound (over rattan/bamboo) in clear tape, for example.) Wheel radius: 26", bike 35" high, 68" long, handlebars 24" across.
"Every bamboo cycle is as unique and personal as your signature. Two well-known bamboo-cycle-riders are Johnny Depp and Kate Moss." (The New York Times) Very RARE to find one in the USA!
$1000.00 new! Asking BEST OFFER.
Pick-Up only. Please call 212 431 [deleted] to set up an appointment/ purchase. THANKS.

We all know by now that bamboo is the stuff of which dream bikes are made. Craig Calfee knows it, Ivy League students know it, and hungry pandas and African mountain gorillas definitely know it. But this ad does more than just state the obvious. It also reaches deep into the reader and tickles that desire to be simultaneously unique and exactly like celebrities such as Johnny Depp and Kate Moss. (Kate Moss especially loves to straddle wood.) It also uses ALL CAPS to EMPHASIZE certain WORDS, and it even has "plenty of air in tires," so you know that by buying this you're saving time and money (what with air prices these days being so high and all). Madone ads don't say anything about air in the tires. I bet they don't even come with it, like they don't come with pedals. Ripoff! Also, it's tough to tell, but I think the bike may have a pie plate. And if that pie plate is made out of what I think it is, I just may have to buy this myself. (My only concern is that a bamboo and rattan bike might get creaky after awhile, but I suppose if that happens all you have to do is soak it in olive oil or something.)

1964 Dossche Sport Track Bike Frame Campagnolo chris king Fixie - $800 (East Village) [original URL:]
Reply to:
Date: 2008-07-31, 10:25AM EDT

This is a 1964 Dossche Track frame 56cm square.
One of ~200-400 ever made. The builder was Belgian and died of an unknown cause shortly after.
Beautiful undrilled double crowned fork. Includes Chris King Gripnut Head Set
Campagnolo dropouts and fork tips
Super tight track geometry
Uses 3 different lugs on HT, BB, and seat cluster. Paint is original, decals in good condition considering its age.
Asking 800 OBO.
This is for Frame/Fork/Headset only
The fork and frame ARE NOT drilled for brakes

This ad has something irresistible, and that something is mystery. Apparently the builder died "of an unknown cause" shortly after crafting this. To me this suggests the bike is somehow cursed, and that some misfortune has befallen each of its owners ever since. (Note also the dog's trepidation--they see things we don't.) Sure, common sense might tell you to avoid a cursed bike, but human nature doesn't abide by common sense. It's like that story, "The Monkey's Paw." We all think we'll be the one person who manages to get away with it. The current owner doubtless thought he would, but now he's just trying to get rid of it--in fact he's probably the dog in the picture. So go ahead, purchase the Belgian Death Bike--you know you want it.

One of a kind track/fixed bike for sale (West Village) [original URL:]
Reply to: see below
Date: 2008-07-31, 1:29PM EDT

I enjoy the continous flagging, that still makes me smile. so keep it up, I am at a computer all day. Thanks for the entertainment. Copy and paste all day long.
For sale, amazing track bike. too small for me though.

Frame: Cayne Uno (steel) 53cm (fixed gear / track bike) Fork: unknown carbon fiber track (was spray painted green when i got it.)

Cranks: FSA Carbon Pro (165cm) ISIS Drive

Bottom Bracket: FSA Platinum ISIS

Stem: FSA Vision

Handlebars: ITM Road Drops

Front Wheel: Velocity Deep-V Machined (optional front brake, never had one on it) radial laced to Dura Ace Track Hub, Soma Everwear Whitewalls

Rear Wheel: Velocity Deep-V Non Machined, 3x Pattern Laced, Dura Ace Track Hub, Phil Wood 15t Cog, Dura Ace Lock Ring, Soma Everwear Whitewalls

Seatpost: Bontrager Carbon fiber

Saddle: Felt Racing

Chain: KMC

Top Tube Pad is also Felt Racing.

Here is the list of the prices not including the small things like tubes, trueing, top tube pad, and work done. along with shipping.

300 Frame and fork
40 Stem
25 Bars
175 Cranks
45 Bottom Bracket
13 Chain
60 Seat post
60 Front Rim
85 Front Hub
60 Rear Rim
105 Rear Hub
45 Track Cog
15 Lock Ring
65 Tires

1093 Total

Best Offer...

Many more pictures at or email me at [deleted] . thanks for looking.

This ad grabbed me almost immediately because the seller was antagonistic, and I love to do business with antagonistic people. Not only does nobody want to buy this bike, but people are actively flagging the ad and trying to keep him from selling it. But he's going to keep posting it anyway, and it's that unwavering dedication to being irritating that makes me want to give him money. I'd love to see a company like Felt take this marketing approach. They could use it for their Curbside (from which the seat and top tube pad of this bike were taken, by the way): "Everybody thinks this bike is stupid and phony and makes fun of it, but we don't care! We've got a bunch of money from our overpriced race bikes and we're going to copy and paste all day long like we copied and pasted the design for the Curbside from Fixedgeargallery." Plus, as the owner of both an ironic orange julius bike and a Diet Dr. Pepper mountain bike I have a soft spot for soft drink tribute bikes and this would round out my stable nicely.

awesoime single speed 52cm bad ass looking 16.5 pounds bad ass looking - $950 (Chelsea) [original URL:]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-07-31, 12:19AM EDT

this bike is sick. it's a single speed with freewheel set up ( can be flipped to be a fixy. ---when stripped down to one break and light weight pedals and no trimmings ( and cutting the handlebars if you want...the bike could get down to under 15 pounds easily. ) .

So, I am selling one of my single speeds I call “Vader”---it's all black and looks baddass. i already have gotten compliments on this bike after owning and riding a strida folding bike for 4 years. Super lightweight, black anodized Giant TCR. Great ratio between front ring & freewheel. I am 5’6” and I ride it…it's a PERFECT FIT.

Again, super light, passes the “Pinky Test”. it's 16.5 pounds as it looks in the pictures. below. i added another carbon fiber bottle cage, a pump holder, time attack clipless yellow pedals, and i switched the single brake from the front to the back instead of front so i wouldn't flip over, you can change this back easily if you don't like it ( or just buy another break and put it on ----otherwise the bike looks exactly like it does in the pic.'s 16.5 in that pic, the alteration i made ( mostly adding heavy old clipless pedals added about a pound. I have the original pedals though...the bike will come with both sets of pedals if you want so it's 17.4 exactly now ( i weighed it on a bike shop scale). this is super light. gets excellent acceleration from a red light---which is very important to me as a long time urban commuter, and a reckless ride through red light biker.

the bike can be lifted with only your pinky finger. this bike rides vey very smooth. i bought it off a bike mechanic who knew exactly what he was doing. i just decided i want a road bike with speeds. i thought about putting dérailleurs on this road frame ( the dropouts are not horizontal and even though it is a single speed there is still a chain tensioner on there if you look in the pics), but i feel it's easier just to buy a new bike with everything new. if you already have the right derailers and shifters, slap them on and you have a 2000 dollar road bike ( really light weight....just google the frame--it's like 2.1 pounds. )

this bike rides smooth. i've taken it for 3 , 30 mile rides in the few days i've owned it, and it's sick. real sick.

FRAME: 2001 Giant TCR Team Frame, Compact, Anodized ( frame doesn't scratch) Black (European Version), 16.5” / 52cm frame. ideal for 5'2 -5'6 .

FORK: Cannondale Slice ( carbon fiber)

FRONT WHEEL: A Class ALX220 700c w/ A Class Hub 20spk Aero Rim (black)--quick release. (super light--keep it locked up! or better yet, never lock it outside.)

REAR WHEEL: Mavic MA3 700c w/ Surly 32spk Flip Flop Hub (black)---quick release.

TIRES: Hutchinson Tech + Reflex 700 x 23 ( high pressure awesome)

CRANKSET: Dura-Ace w/ 42t Chain Ring & 17t Freewheel

BRAKES: 105 Front w/ Salsa Top Lever ( black ) & Dura-Ace Cable Housing

HANDLEBARS: Deda Newton w/ Black Bar Tape & Stoker Levers

STEM: Deda Newton 31 PEDALS: Dimension Metal Platform Pedals

SEAT: Fizik CP3 Pave

SEATPOST: Black Machined

MISC: Surly Singulator, Specialized Faux-Carbon Water Bottle Cage, Carbon Stem Shims & Lizard Skin Stem Guard.

This bike is not your typical Craig's List P.O.S. It's a killer bike!

the price is not negotiable. AT ALL. i can keep this bike easily, i'm fine with that. don't bother asking to reduce the price. i'm in chelsea if you want a testride. zeev

Quite simply, this ad has it all. Most importantly, it has an attention-grabbing headline. The bike is so "bad ass looking" he had to say it twice. He also knows his customer, and he's going right after the weight-weenies by advertising the 16.5lb weight. Sure, that's not especially light for a singlespeed road bike, and sure your average Ultegra-equipped geared road bike weighs something like 17lbs these days, but keep in mind that you can also get this bike down to 15lbs by cutting the handlebars. If you're still not convinced, the bicycle is called "Vader," it has received many compliments, and it's a PERFECT FIT. (It fits him perfectly so it's bound to fit you as well.)

Obviously I was already sold, but if you're somehow still on the fence you're sure to be pushed right off of it and into the "buy" pasture by the fact that the bike has passed the "pinky test." I'm not sure what the "pinky test" involves, but I think it may be what the doctor gives you if you've been having trouble going to the bathroom. Also, he was having endo problems so he wisely moved the front brake to the rear. Of course, you could put on two brakes, but then you'd add weight and have to cut more material off the handlebars.

Best of all, the seller looked to the two greats of Craigslist advertising, Amir and Kevin, and did a photo shoot. Like Amir, he clearly spared no expense, and like Kevin, he made sure you could see his ink. By the way, if you want a test ride you know where to find him. And while he's not negotiable on price AT ALL, hopefully you won't also have to pass the "pinky test."