Finding a cheap bike

The second most frequent question I get from people (after if they can get a key to the shop) is where they can find a cheap bike to ride around town/learn how to fix up/turn into a giant squid for Burning Man. I think this is pretty useful knowledge, so I thought I'd do a post on this for general consumption. There are several places that are fairly accessible from Caltech.

- Bike Oven. The Bike Oven is a co-op located at 3706 N Figueroa St. in Highland Park. This is a bit far from campus, but they are all of 2 blocks away from the Heritage Square station on the Gold Line so they're reasonably easy to get to. The shop has numerous used bikes for sale in varying states of repair, and you can get a fixer-upper for around $50 or something you can ride out of the shop for $100. The shop's volunteers will teach you how to do any bit of bike repair necessary for $5/hr+parts and has some of the best prices for basic bike parts (cables, etc.).

They periodically do deals with Pasadena Cyclery or the REI in Arcadia where people bring in all their old used bikes for discounts at the respective stores, so check their website periodically to see if any such events are coming up. After these exchanges Bike Oven gets some really great bikes to sell. Otherwise their stock is a little more variable (some good, some bad), but is worth checking.

Their hours unfortunately are a bit short, though they're not during the heart of the working day so you can visit after lab. No Caltech discount, but you really don't need one. Cash only.

- Empire Bike Shop. Empire is a typical bike shop located at Esther and N Fair Oaks in Pasadena. They have several used bikes for sale (including ones for around $100) as well as the usual assortment of bike parts. They're cheaper than any other bike store I've seen in Pasadena, and have been a friendly lot when I've dropped by. Typical bike shop hours. They have a Caltech discount.

- PCC Flea Market and Rose Bowl Flea Market. The former is free, the latter has an entry fee. First and second Sundays of the month, respectively. There's generally a few bikes for sale. Worth going to anyway, because there's a lot of interesting (non-bike) things for sale.

- Open Road Bicycle Shop. Open Road is located at the intersection of Colorado and N Sierra Madre. Has used bikes for sale generally around the end of the school year (May-ish). Still may be worth a look at other times. Also a good place for getting bike parts for older bikes if you're fixing up something yourself. Open daily 11-6. They have a Caltech discount.

- Your Bicycle Broker is a outfit run out of a fellow's garage in north Pasadena. The guy (Nick) fixes up old bikes and then re-sells them. Probably your best bet for an used road bike nearby unless Bike Oven is doing one of their events with REI. Has a %10 student discount. Cash only.

- If you just need a bike occasionally, the Caltech Parking office has folding bikes that they will loan out to Caltech students. See my last post here.

- Craigslist. Enough said.

- Target. You get what you pay for, but if it works it works.
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