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I am looking into purchasing a road bike to commute everyday and I am a rookie when it comes to bikes. I don't want to purchase a crappy bike from a supermarket but I don't have the budget for a brand new brand name bike. I found the second hand 2003 Cannondale R600 CAAD5 below:

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The guy is asking $300 for it. It looks in good shape but it's a fairly old bike. I saw that it retailed for $1200 brand new.

Some more info from the seller:

  • Shimano 105 components
  • Triple chainring
  • 9-speed drivetrain
  • Bontrager anatomical saddle
  • 700c Gipiemme wheels
  • 700x23c Specialized tires
  • 56cm frame with a 31.5" standover height
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    We can't reasonably discuss valuations here - they are totally location dependent, and vary over time. – Criggie Jan 14 at 6:04
  • The question doesn't actually ask a question. Makes it very hard to answer – Andy P Jan 14 at 8:52
  • @AndyP As Criggie mentioned, I was asking a question about valuation but it is an impossible question to answer. But really what my question was is whether the price the vendor is asking for is crazy or not. – Francois Jan 14 at 16:00
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    @Francois well as Criggie pointed out, we don't do valuations. However personally, I would never buy from a buyer that thought putting a big squishy sofa saddle and a 'pleased to see you' stem on a bike designed as a head down racing bike was a good idea. – Andy P Jan 14 at 16:12
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    Cannondale's a good brand, but we can't begin to guess what this one's worth. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 14 at 18:49
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Are you physically near the seller? The single best thing you can do is go see it, inspect it closely, and then get a leg over the bike.

Test Ride That way you'll know instantly if its a "no-way" fit bit sitting over the bike. A good seller will let you take it for a ride too. Ideally an hour, with some mixed surfaces, and a small climb/descent to get an idea how it goes. Its common to leave something behind, like your drivers licence or similar ID as collateral, or sometimes the seller might come for the ride with you.

Components by buying used you're going to get an older groupset. And it will likely have some wear in it. 9 speed parts are available, but you might not find high end duraace or ultegra level. 105 is a perfectly good workhorse generation and even tiagra and sora and claris are useable. I might think twice about spending money on non-branded stuff, or tourney groupset.

Brakes Most modern bikes will have dual pivot rim brake calipers. These are superior to single pivot calipers. But expect to replace brake pads basically straight away.

Wheels Start by looking at the brake track. Ideally it should be straight and not scalloped/curved. Some scalloping will be evident on most wheels, but too much and the wheel is worn out. The rims should run true, and all spokes should be present. Bonus if you get some spares with the bike - they can be pricy on these low spoke count wheels.

Transmission triple chainsets work okay, and are a necessity for some of us. There are snooty road riders who look down on triples as being for "bad climbers". In the same vein there are 1x users who do the same to double-chainring riders. In terms of hills a triple generally gives you more grannie gears at the low end for going up big long grades. If your commute has hundreds of metres of climbing, you'll appreciate it. For flat use, you're likely to stay in the big chainring all the time and only change gears at the rear.

It should change gears smoothly and reliably. A little bit of clatter means it needs a tune. A lot of pressure required to change means it needs new cables. Can be a bargaining point.

Tyre clearance Modern trend is toward wider tyres at lower pressure. That this bike has 23mm tyres means only that it will fit 23 and smaller. You might find that a 25mm won't fit safely.

Tyres are kind of irrelevant. As long as it has some, and they're not dry rotted you'll be okay. These are consumable items, so when you start riding more you'll figure out if they're suitable, or if the next ones should be larger, or a different tread.

Commuter features The yellow colour is good - there are too many black bikes that blend into the background, which is a bad thing.
Depending on your climate and commitment level, items like mudguards/fenders, rack, lights, and reflectors will be required. I doubt that bike has mounts for full mudguards, nor space under the brake caliper for the guards. But then if you live in a dry place or if you have a wet-weather option, then this may not bother you.
A Rack is for carrying stuff to/from work. You might prefer a backpack, its up to you.
Night riding will ABSOLUTELY require lights and reflectors, of which this bike has none.
Security too - even though its 18 years old, its still stealable. You'll need to park and secure it safely, or bring it inside at work.


I personally own a `90s aluminium cannondale road frame, and the tyre widths is probably the worst point, followed by road buzz. I can only fit 25mm on the front and have to do naughty things to get a 28mm on the back wheel. Even then it risks rubbing and wearing the inside of the chainstay.

The road buzz comes from our road surface, which is chipseal (small sharp pebbles embedded in tar) and it can make one's hands go numb. My handlebar gopro goes poorly, and worse at night because of the vertical shake. On other bikes it works much better on the same roads.


Is it worth $xxx ? Well you need to look for other bikes in your area and see what they're priced at, and compare that to the cost of a comparable new bike.

The new cost of that bike is irrelevant - its a nice bike, but its not a super highend race bike, while also not being a BSO from the supermarket.

Personally I think horizontal-top tube bikes look "normal" and the modern slopey-frames look like a dog scootching over the carpet. But that's my opinion. If it were taller I'd ride it. And remember any bike beats walking.

  • A bicycle's value is whatever someone is willing to pay for it. When one is riding "shank's ponies" (walking), anything that rolls looks good. That said, my view is that Cannondale's are high quality, well-built bikes and one of 3 or 4 brands I would even look twice at. Bikepedia is a website that catalogs information about bicycles including monetary values. This and other sites (i.e. bicyclebluebook.com) put an excellent condition, '03 Cannondale R600's monetary value at around $175. The asking price is not unreasonable... – Jeff Jan 14 at 11:49
  • ...but I'd be dickering down using this information and have a price point in mind that I will not go above, beginning by low-balling. Having cash in hand in lower denominations to make a fatter stack is a psychological trick that sometimes tempts a seller to break at your lower offer. Obviously good sense and safety has some relevance here. – Jeff Jan 14 at 12:06
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    @Criggie I do live relatively close to the seller (30 minutes car ride which by US standard is acceptable I reckon) and I do intend to take it for a test ride before I purchase it. Thanks to you I now know what to pay attention to. To give a little more context, I live in the silicon valley, which means the weather is extremely dry (basically does not rain from May to November). So I will definitely get lights but won't get mudguards. As for valuation, a reference point would be that the cheapest road bike (at Walmart) is $200. – Francois Jan 14 at 16:11
  • @Jeff To clarify, the seller was asking for $400, but after I showed him the BBB page, he accepted to go down to $300 but no lower. I have read in other places online that the BBB quotes a price for the bicycle to be sold to a shop which will than have to flip it and make profit, hence the lower price point. Is that accurate ? – Francois Jan 14 at 16:13
  • @Francois BBB is known for low-end pricing. However they quote 3 different prices in the "value guide." They are sale price as new or manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP), trade in value--what one might expect from a shop that will deal with trade-ins IF youre buying new, and "private party value" which is the category your situation falls into. The seller is not firmed up on an unreasonable price either. This is why the SE forum tries hard not to get into, "how much is this worth?" type questions. It's certainly a question you need to ask...however the best answer comes from within. – Jeff Jan 14 at 19:59
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Criggie has made some great points.

In an attempt to be additive - tagging on to the "Tyre" portion of his comments.

Your first consideration when selecting a bicycle is on how you will use it. Once you match your usage to a type of bike then it's time to get the best value for your money.

One should take into account the type of roads you will be riding on, weather conditions, density of traffic - the type of environment you will be riding in. The two of the biggest considerations when buying a bike - new or used - are tire size and riding position.

Tire Size
23mm tires are going to ride very hard and are designed for ideal road conditions. Bicycles (tires act as a kind of suspension system that can reduce rim damage) and riders benefit from the extra cushion a wider tire provides on rougher roads. Go to your local bike shop and test ride a bike with 23mm tires and another bike with 32mm tires. Just in the parking lot over some rough patch you will feel the difference.

Riding Position
In my experience, riding in dense city traffic is easier/safer on a bike with a more upright riding position. Drop bars make more sense when roads are more open, fewer stop lights, pedestrians, pot holes, etc. Your experience may be different but it's important to figure out what you like before buying.

Criggies first point is "Test Ride" - this is super important.
A good bike shop will be happy to help you with advice and test rides even if you aren't going to buy a bike from them. Drop by the shop, be honest, tell them your story. If they are open to helping that's great. If they are not that tells you where not to go for parts/repairs/advice.

Getting the right bike for your situation is critical. If a bike is a bad match it will be frustrating to ride every time you get on it - no matter how good a deal you got or how nice the bike is.

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    The bars in the picture are very upright. The shifters are very high and the stem is very steep. Much more than on a typical roadbike. So much that it was the first property of the bike my eyes caught. I see no problem for commuting at all. So upright that it may be actually very awkward to ride this bike in the drops. – Vladimir F Jan 14 at 15:45
  • @VladimirF I agree - some people will find the riding position to be very good. Some people enjoy riding track bikes in the city. It's important to test ride different bikes to find out. – David D Jan 14 at 16:00
  • @DavidD Thank you very much for your comments, it's extremely helpful to me. From reading your and Criggie's posts I understand that the tyre size is the main worry, which I would never have thought of as being and issue. I guess I need to test ride it to see how it feels on the road. I live in the silicon valley, which means the weather is dry, the road quality is mixed and I would say that the traffic lights, while not placed every 50 m, are still relatively frequent on my way to work (Probably around 10 on a 10 miles ride). – Francois Jan 14 at 16:19
  • @VladimirF Thank you for your input, I will try different positions when I get on it. – Francois Jan 14 at 16:20

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