The home of Sweaty Spice, the 'other' Spice Girl

Enter the way-back machine. In the late 1970’s our family began dirt bike riding. While our blended family brought the bug of riding, we needed bikes. And the best place to find them was in the local classifieds.

Since I delivered the local fish wrapper, every morning there was a ritual, looking at the classifieds section under the “Motorcycles For Sale” category. Usually there was at least a full column or two, segregated by model year, and the index finger would scan looking for deals. I always had a few marques and models I looked for (I found my one season used 1979 Yamaha YZ125F, my first bike I bought with my own hard-earned currency).

Why was this a magical time?

Pre-internet, there wasn’t a national market for these sorts of transactions. Everything was local, personal, and intimate. You had something you wanted to sell, you wrote a brief description (the ad was priced by the word), set a price, and posted it. Then it was a waiting game. If you priced it too high, nobody would call. If you priced it too low, it sold that afternoon, and you wondered if you left money on the table.

Still, you were doing business with someone you might run into out on the trails, or in a coffee shop, or whatever. Alas, you would meet, you would kick the tires, and you would hand over your Benjamins to close the deal. A hand written bill of sale, the signed title release, and your next stop was the DMV.

We bought many motorcycles in this manner. Two Honda XL125S’s, the aforementioned YZ125F, a couple of various vintage XL175’s (that was a weird beast, and my first street bike), CX500’s, a Goldwing, little Suzukis, and a stable of Trail 70’s and XR75’s that I used to deliver newspapers with.

Again, it was all local, it was all insular, and the key to getting a good deal was the every day scramble to review the classifieds.

How Craigslist fucked this up…

When Craigslist hit the world in the late 1990s, it began the at first slow, then accelerating decline in local classifieds. It democratized the want ad, put it on line, and made it easy to search and find things.

All good, right?

Well, at first anyways. It made it free to post things, and unlike EBay, they didn’t take a slice of each sale. But instead, after a few years of being free as in beer, they began to offer sponsored ads, and places like car dealers and other services would pay. Later, they added fees for some (but not all) posts. But the costs were minimal compared to the inc/space cost of the print classifieds. For example, today, if I want to post a motorcycle for sale, the fee is $5.

So far so good.

But, to find what you are interested in, you can use the search to find things. Say, you want to buy a 2008-2011 VW GTI you can specify that, and you will get … well something. You will get a few on point listings, but then you will see some cruft. Some Subarus will appear, and some motorcycles, and some services.

Why is that?

Simple, SEO, but the shitty kind. An example:

CL Search for Yamaha 250
CL Search for Yamaha 250

Here we have a generic search for a Yamaha 250 in the South Bay Area Craigslist. What is it we see in the top right? That KLR is a frickin’ Kawasaki. It is neither a Yamaha, nor a 250. What the actual fuck?

How did this get here? Good question.

If you scroll down the listing you will see this ugly block of text:

The search confusion word salad
The search confusion word salad

Alas, they have done the throw the kitchen sink in approach to warping search.

It is worthy to have this whole block to read below:

cb500f , cbr500r , cb300 , sv650 ,ninja , vespa , scooter , elite , buddy , kymco, sym , riva , zuma , pcx150 Yamaha , ,suzuki , Kawasaki , Honda , Bmw ,cafe honda .cb cb750 , custom cb1100 cb1100f fz-07 ,FZ-09 , Bonneville ,Thruxton , motoguzzi ,R3 , NINJA , GSXR, CBR300 Honda , Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki , 675 , r6 , gsxr , ninja, cbr600 ,rr, cbr 600 , sport bike , f4 ,Tags: CBR R6 R1 GSXR NINJA 636 HONDA YAMAHA SUZUKI cbr 600rr 600 honda cbr600 cbr600r cbr6 gsxr600 gsxr750 gsxr1000 gsx zx6 nina 636 Ninja 250, Ninja, Kawasaki, CBR 250, 600, Yamaha r6, GSXR 600, KEYWORD BANK: SV-650, sv650, 650, sv, zx zx-10r zx10r cbr x-11 x-12 rf-1000 cbr929rr cbr 954rr rc-51 rc51 600rr 929 RR r1 1000rr zx6r r6 gsxr GSXR750 GSXR1000 sv650 f4i fz6 fz1 ducati 749 748 900rr cbr900rr cbr929rr ‪848 999 996 748 749‬ 954 motorcycle 1200, 1300, yamaha, honda, suzuki, kawasaki, GSXR1000, sportbike, superbike, , parts, yamaha R1 parts, motorcycle parts, GSXR 600, Z1000, kawasaki Z 1000, FZ 1, yamaha FZ1, yamaha R1, triumph xbr12 buell monster s2r 1098 GSXR, GS 500, GS500E, CBR, R6, Ninja, 675, 675r,r1,r6,gixxer,gsxr,rr,cbr,954,f4i,trade, trades, street fireblade r1 r6 600rr 1000rr 1000 hayabusa ninja , 250, zx6 zx10 gsxr f4i cbr900 ‪954 929 750‬,yamaha r6 kawasaki zx zx6r 636 suzuki gsxr gsx r ‪600 1300‬ rr super sport sports bike gixxer zx-6r cbr600rr cbr fuel injection track race cbr600 600rr, z,zx,zx9r, zxr, gsxr600, r1, r6, zx6r, zx10r, zx 14, z1000, cbr, cbr1000, cbr600, R1, R6, 600RR, 1000RR, GSXR, CBR, YAMAHA, KAWASAKI, HONDA, SUZUKI, DUCATI, 848, 1098, 1198, ‪1199 996‬, 916, 748, cbr250, 300, 250 sv sv1000 TL1000 CBR1000rr, cbr 1000 rr, R1 yamaha, yzf-R1, yamaha, ZX10R , ZX-10R, zx10, R1, Hayabusa, GSX1300R, Busa, GSXR1000, Kaw Z1000, Z1, R1, yamaha R1, GSXR, yzf R1,R6, sportbike, superbike, R1, yzf-R1, GSXR, sportbike, GSXR, street bike, streetbike, icon, helmets, helmet, gear, crotch rockets, fast, JDM, yoshimura, FMF, Pro circuit, bills pipes, Suzuki, ktm, Aprilia, Ducati, Harley Davidson Hd Honda, Indian, Kawasaki, MV, Agusta, Piaggio, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory, Yamaha, Ural CBR R6 R1 GSXR NINJA 636 HONDA YAMAHA SUZUKI cbr 600rr 600 honda cbr600 cbr600r cbr6 gsxr600 gsxr750 gsxr1000 gsx zx6 nina 636 Ninja 250, Ninja, 650, Kawasaki, CBR 250, 600, Yamaha r6, GSXR 600, SV-650, sv650, 650, sv, zx zx-10r zx10r cbr x-11 x-12 rf-1000 cbr929rr cbr 954rr 600rr 929 RR r1 1000rr zx6r r6 gsxr GSXR750 GSXR1000 sv650 f4i fz6 fz1 ducati 749, 748, 900rr cbr900rr cbr929rr, 749‬, 954, 1200, 1300, sportbike, superbike, parts, yamaha R1 parts, GSXR 600, kawasaki Z 1000, FZ 10, yamaha FZ1, yamaha R1, triumph, GSXR, CBR, R6, Ninja, 675, 675r, r1, r6, gsxr, rr, cbr, 954, f4i, trade, trades, street fireblade r1 r6 600rr 1000rr 1000 hayabusa ninja , 250, zx6 zx10 gsxr f4i cbr900 ‪954 929 750‬,yamaha r6 kawasaki zx zx6r 636 suzuki gsxr gsx r ‪600 1300‬ rr super sport sports bike gixxer zx-6r cbr600rr cbr fuel injection track race cbr600 600rr, z,zx,zx9r, zxr, gsxr600, r1, r6, zx6r, zx10r, zx 14, z1000, cbr, cbr1000, cbr600, R1, R6, 600RR, 1000RR, GSXR, CBR, YAMAHA, KAWASAKI, HONDA, SUZUKI, DUCATI, 848, 1098, 1198, ‪1199 996‬, 916, 748, cbr250, 300, 250 sv sv1000 TL1000 CBR1000rr, cbr 1000 rr, R1 yamaha, yzf-R1, yamaha, ZX10R , ZX-10R, zx10, R1, Hayabusa, GSX1300R, Busa, GSXR1000, Kaw Z1000, Z1, R1, yamaha R1, GSXR, yzf R1,R6, sportbike, superbike, R1, yzf-R1, GSXR, sportbike, GSXR, street bike, streetbike, icon, helmets, helmet, gear, crotch rockets, fast, JDM, yoshimura, ktm, 1190, M109, Yamaha, ,suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, Bmw, Ktm, dual sport, K r80gs, r 100 gs, GS, adventure bike, tiger, f800sg , f650 ,f700 f800r KLR, CRF , XT, r100, gs, r100gs, cycles, norcal, powersports, MOTORSPORTS, SPECIALTY, shadow, vt, 1200, 1800, GT, ST, 125, 150, 250,, fast bike, Yamaha , ,suzuki , Kawasaki , Honda , Bmw , Ktm , dual sport , K r80gs, r

Wow. No wonder why this garbage appears for just about any search you do. I am surprised they didn’t squeeze Maico, CZ, and BSA into this shit show.

My real beef

If you are looking for something specific, you will get metric crap-loads of garbage listings presented, regardless of how carefully you craft your search. Craigslist destroyed the local news papers classified ads (and that significantly contributed to the epochal decline of the fortunes of the local papers) and now they are polluted with tag spam meant to conflate real searches with lots of noise.

Back in the day, if I was interested in a Yamaha XS650, I could easily find them in my local listings. Today? Fuhgetaboutit.

And worse yet, you are competing with people across the country. The advent of Craigslist turned local markets into national markets, with people snatching up the best deals almost as soon as they are posted.

And don't get me started on the Facebook Marketplace.

If you really want to score a good deal, you need to do daily Craigslist searches, filter out this noise, and then avoid the scams.

Or just go to a dealer and buy new.

Lousy choices all around.

You’ve successfully subscribed to Sweaty's Corner
Welcome back! You’ve successfully signed in.
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Your link has expired
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.