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Never buy new again, given bargains for used bikes online?(23 posts)

Never buy new again, given bargains for used bikes online?Sean O'Neill
Mar 22, 2001 9:36 AM
Hello,
I'm a writer for Kiplinger's magazine, and I'm looking for a cycling enthusiast who thinks the Internet has revolutionized the market for previously-owned road, cross, and hybrid bicycles. Are there so many good deals, that you wouldn't buy new again?
I'm equally looking for a person who has had bad experiences with online shopping, or advice to warn people.
Feel free to respond to me here or directly as sean.o'neill@kiplinger.com

Thanks!
Not likely...TJeanloz
Mar 22, 2001 10:00 AM
I will e-mail you an epic argument against this premise as soon as I have time to write it; right now, I need to get my thesis finished.

But in a nutshell; the internet marketplace has revolutionized the market for used cycling goods. It allows buyers and sellers who previously never would have met to be connected with each other. But the market is not without drawbacks: you are unable to view used goods ahead of time, things are wildly misrepresented, etc.

I could go on, but I'll stop with that brief synopsis and e-mail you a full on argument.
If nobody bought new, where would used market be? (nm)Starliner
Mar 22, 2001 10:21 AM
.
But, OTOHQ
Mar 22, 2001 10:41 AM
I got some brand new Electrons for $350, so it ain't all bad...
Not likely...sean o'neill
Mar 22, 2001 12:10 PM
thanks for your message! I look forward to your full argument, too, when you get time.
Fit fit fit ...Humma Hah
Mar 22, 2001 10:25 AM
... I've used the internet to get used parts for my classic. I would use the internet if I wanted to pick up another about like it (since I know it fits). I might use the internet to buy a bike that happened to be identical to one I'd ridden and knew suited me perfectly. But that's a rare situation.

I like old bikes, and will put up with their shortcomings. Even so, I would be reluctant to buy any bike I had not test-ridden and laid eyes on, unless the price were so low I could accept the risk that it might be a wreck, maybe a cracked frame, etc. I not only WOULD buy used, I EXPECT to for my next ride, but I also expect it to be a machine I've seen and test-ridden.

And I don't expect an old bike to be competitive with new. Brakes, especially, are much better on the new ones, as is the shifting hardware.
Fit fit fit ...Sean O'Neill
Mar 22, 2001 12:14 PM
very helpful! Thanks!!!!
response: a true novel in the making.Haiku d'état
Mar 22, 2001 12:28 PM
in the last three years, i've bought four new bikes from bike shops in and near my locale. one used bike from a local bike shop. two used from yard sales. one severely used from a friend's garage. one used on the web (roadbikereview.com's marketplace). and, in the last week, i ordered one new from a web mail-order retailer, and am awaiting delivery.

out of these ten, i've sold five on ebay and stripped parts from a sixth to sell, trashing the frame:

two of the five i've sold on ebay were initially bought new, and i made back 70% and 85% of the initial price, not including the buyer paying for shipping.

another two of the five were the yard sale bikes, on which i replaced cables and housing, well cleaned and lubed all the moving parts, replaced tires, tubes, rim tape and handlebar wrap, and sold for 100% and 150% of my initial purchase price (including parts), not including the buyer paying for shipping.

one of the five was purchased on the roadbikereview.com marketplace forum, shipping paid for by the seller. i rode that bike for 8 months, had the rear wheel rebuilt for $100, then sold it on ebay for about 70% of the purchase price (including the new rear wheel). buyer paid for shipping.

the final was a frame that was rusted through and certainly a risk to even carry about with bare hands, but with nice components that were in good condition for their age and easily salvageable. using the prospective sale of these parts in advance to buy the tools necessary to strip the bike of them, i separated the frame and components, trashed the frame and what parts were not usable, and posted the rest on ebay as a package. the return was 175% of my purchase price, not including the buyer paying for shipping. subtracting purchase of the tools, probably a 160% return. paying a shop to do the same would have exceeded the purchase price of the tools, and they'll get used many more times in the future.

of course, this is all mostly from the seller's perspective. and...the folks that have bought these bikes from me got exactly what they expected, as i represented the bikes to a tee on ebay with full, detailed descriptions, high quality close-up digital photos, and catered quickly and honestly to questions. i ship quickly and don't ask for more than actual UPS charges, getting the discarded bike boxes from the local shops and disassembling and packing the boxes myself. i handle any problems as they arise, bu0>No, but it's now on the ever-growing list
and, here's chapter two...Haiku d'état
Mar 22, 2001 12:30 PM
...any problems as they arise, but there has only been one, a stuck seatpost, and that cost $10 to rectify at the buyer's end.

from the buyer's perspective, i like to kick the tires before i spend a thousand and above. it's been three years of buying and selling bikes, and only one of them was purchased online. that was my first roadbike since i was a teenager, and it didn't fit well and was uncomfortable to ride more than 30 miles, though it, too, was well represented online and was sold to me in an honest manner. i finally gave in last week and sent a check for a thousand dollars to an online seller for a new bike, custom assembled (as regards the components, since it's a stock frame) with a few upgrades. this is last year's model, and since bikes seem to sell like cars, it's at a retail savings of about $400. it takes alot of faith, but hey...there are public forums such as this one, magazines widely read and voices that carry over long distances and touch many lives that reinforce or rebut the reputation of any seller, professional or otherwise. ebay is a prime example, considering its feedback policies.

i'd love to do this for a living, but there aren't enough bikes in and around town available at yard sales and in the sunday classifieds to earn a decent fare. it's certainly made me more skilled with bike repair and more familiar with the workings of the machine, the tools, the techniques. THE SIMPLE TRUTH IS that people in the market for high-end bikes (meaning those that aren't sold in department stores for $100-$300) typically do some homework before making a thousand dollar purchase (this is relative, as $1000 isn't as much to other folks as it is to me). unless you can find the bike in a bike shop in town, sit on it, ride it around, ask 100 questions, and become comfortable with it without obligation to that shop, i'm not sure mailorder, online dealers, or used sales on ebay and the like will ever replace or even very seriously rival the local bike shop.

ps. any writer jobs available at kiplinger's? though my critique may be long and breathy, and may have lost 98% of the readers' attention, i sure did enjoy putting it together. and i'd love to telecommute.

>;-)
Leaves more for meTom
Mar 22, 2001 1:26 PM
I'm glad these guys feel this way.As far as I'm concerned if one has to spend thousands how could one say that the internet has revolutionized bike buying. No, I'm looking for good things, not neccesarily new but well priced. I know what fits me and I don't worry about not being able to kick the tires. I just finished putting together my spring beater, I had wheels, a stem, shifters,cables etc..I needed a frame, headset, bars, levers, seatpost, brake calipers and a rear derailleur. All these and a small order from The Third Hand ran $110. The bike weighs in at 23 lbs. all the parts excluding the aforementioned Third hand doo-dad purchase were had on ebay.On some of the parts I had to participate in as many as 4 auctions till I got the part at the price I wanted to pay. I also re-equipped my Bianchi(main bike) for considerably more but far less than could be accomplished with either walk-in or on-line bike shops.I should say that I've had nothing to do with bike shops for over 20 years so the internet boom has been a dream come true for me.I have to add the $110 is the aggregate delivered prices of parts mentioned and the frame.
I'll say this for internet bike sales ...Humma Hah
Mar 22, 2001 1:45 PM
... a little poking around with a search engine or on e-bay will reveal a growing number of folks are scooping up old bikes that otherwise would probably be in landfills, and are making a nice business out of restoring them and selling them. Without the internet, these folks would have to rely on a tiny local market. But with the internet, they can catch the eye of collectors anywhere in the world. I'm all for it -- but at the same time I'm really glad when an internet connection reveals someone local who is doing this very thing.

The internet has made it possible for this sort of business to flourish. Because it can flourish, I can find parts for my old Schwinn. I can lurk on e-bay and find out what old bikes are going for. And because there are several local people in this old-bike business, some of which I discovered on the internet, I have the opportunity to go look at some classy old hardware that I think might be just what I like.
Bikes on the WebBender
Mar 22, 2001 2:23 PM
Hello,

I am just finishing up the assembly process of a 'new' bike that has been pieced together from on-line parts. All of the parts, excluding some drive train pieces, were purchased from induvidual sellers on this web site. I went to a local dealer and test rode the frame that I had in mind (oh the guilt, not!). Posing as a tire kicker in a LBS does not bother me too much due the outragous prices these people have to charge to justify thier existence. I am willing to pay a fair price for the convenience and service a local shop provides however, I have an option to buy on-line if I feel that the shop is over charging. I do take risks buying on-line but there are steps that can be taken to reduce the potential problems. I also know what fits me, what I like, and what I want. I think a significant portion of the bike buying population needs the guidence a local shop provides along with the invantory to test ride on. I'm all for the LBS staying in business and thriving in the community, however I will not stand for being bent over the counter every time I walk in the store. I can buy tires in Europe (on-line), pay for the shipping charges (relatively high), and still save a significant amount of $$$ over my LBS. Face it, a $48 tire can be had for $28 on-line. Am I racing tommorrow, I might pop for the extra $20, can I plan ahead and wait a week, for $20 per tire, you bet!

I really hate having to ask my LBS to price match on-line prices. Knowledge is power, that what's the internet is about. If a LBS price is close (including shipping) I will definately give them my business. If they're high, I buy on-line.

The new bike mentioned above has a cost $2200. If I were to pay retail for this bike in a shop the cost would be somewhere around $3100 consertaviely. I have run the numbers and will be willing to share the Excel spreadsheet with any interested parties. Granted I no labor charges (its good therapy for me) included in the cost compairison.
Leaves more for meSean O'Neill
Mar 23, 2001 2:08 PM
Great point. And I'm very impressed by your skills at hunting down quality parts for less and using them to re-equip your main bike.
Thanks for letting me know!
I will never buy new again (unless I win the lottery!)Chris-baby
Mar 22, 2001 2:02 PM
High-end bikes are way too expensive. I bought my giant TCR Team used this year and I am very pleased. Here in Canada a new TCR Team with dura-ace grouppo would cost around $4000. I've got a kid on the way so there's no way I can afford that kind of dough.

Cut to: Canadian Cyclist.com's classifieds. I saw my bike for sale for $2200. I wrote to the guy selling it to get the bike's story. It was a team issue bike but used only as a back-up. It sounded too good to be true so I wrote him back saying just that. He offered to send it to a friend of his in my hometown so that I could check it out. I agreed. When I saw it I was blown away. Despite a few nicks in the paint, the bike was practically brand new. Needless to say, I am very happy with my purchase and I will never buy a new bike again.
Never say never ...bianchi boy
Mar 22, 2001 6:44 PM
But you can get some great deals on-line if you're patient and know what you're looking for. I was looking at new bikes last fall, but a new bike equipped the way I wanted it was more than I could afford to spend. So I started diligently shopping for a used bike on ebay and roadbikereview. I narrowed down my search to several models that I was familiar with, and was careful to confine my search to bikes that were the correct size frame. It's very tempting to jump on a great deal, but I found out very quickly that all of the manufacturers size their frames differently -- so it's essential that you get actual measurements of seat and top tubes from sellers. I ended up buying a one-year old Bianchi for about half what my local bike shop was selling the current model year version for.

I could have bought a new Specialized bike from my LBS for about $400 more than the used Bianchi, but I have owned an older Bianchi for years and was attached to the brand. I have a very good LBS, so I was tempted to buy the new bike to support them, but went with the used Bianchi and haven't regretted it. My LBS also sells and services Bianchis, so they will still get my business for maintenance and repairs. BTW, I had my local shop install a new stem and freewheel on the used Bianchi, plus I added a new saddle (which I bought on eBay for 50% off) -- and it was still about $200 less than the new Specialized would have cost me.

Nevertheless, if money weren't an issue for me, I would prefer to buy a new bike from my LBS. I have used them for years and they are honest and do high-quality service work. I just wish their markup wasn't so high because I would prefer to do all my business with them. But I just can't justify spending $80 on a jersey, for example, when I can get virtually the same thing at an on-line store for half that amount. Same with parts like tires and pedals. But I buy parts from my LBS if they're in the ballpark -- particularly if I need them to install.
re: Never buy new again, given bargains for used bikes online?fuzzybunnies
Mar 22, 2001 6:58 PM
The internet has probably had the most impact on mid to high level used parts or older parts. Mostly from those people who have good bikes lying around and don't know how to get rid of them. Personally I don't buy used equipment online but use the internet to sell my older stuff that I want to upgrade. Beats a drawer full of older parts. Though I will pick up older new parts for restorations. TTFN
It's okay.Maui
Mar 23, 2001 4:37 AM
I recently bought a 1 year old frame, carbon fork, stem, headset, bb used online. Each piece is fine. I filled in the remaining pieces from supergo, excel sports and performance. The end result was a bike for $1150 that would have cost $1800 new. The bike is very nice.

This works for me because I understand the componenets and sizes that work well for me. The LBS in my area give poor advice, and I'm not comfortable squabbling over prices. As such, I use excel sports and supergo 90% of the time. Oh, I also use speedgoat for my mtb.

Part of the reason for my interest in buying online is that I do not trust any of the 5 bike shops in Cleveland. I've received too much bad information and price gouging. I'm sure that there are good LBS somewhere in the country, but this city is the worst.

Thank goodness for the Internet.
It's okay.Sean O'Neill
Mar 23, 2001 2:15 PM
Thanks for your response! And I'm awed by your ability to make part-shopping on the Internet work for you!
ebayHap
Mar 23, 2001 5:20 AM
I have been wanting to upgrade some of my shimano componants. First I comparision shopped online. There is a broad range of prices out there. Then I want to ebay. All of the parts I am looking for have been regularly available on ebay over the last couple weeks. Most are represented as "new" or "like new". I have bid on a few items but have not yet bought because the stuff is selling for more than retail prices. Why anyone would pay over retail is beyond me. I will continue to try to get that "good deal" out there but at this point I am assuming that it won't be on ebay.

Still trying.

Hap
ebayTom
Mar 23, 2001 7:15 AM
There is a problem for very "hot" i.e. trendy stuff.But too many have represented ebay as "charging" high prices.It's an auction, if you don't want to pay, PASS ON IT. Another one usually comes up in a few days.
Service and WarrantyDCP
Mar 23, 2001 6:00 AM
I suspect that for many buyers in the more than $1,000 bike market, being able to test ride and obtain a warranty, particularly a lifetime frame warranty, makes a LBS purchase desirable. E-Bay's active used bike market might even help new bike sales. One of my justifications was that if stopped using the bike for any reason, such as losing interest or wanting another bike, I could sell the bike I bought and recover 50 - 70% of my investment.
Service and WarrantySean O'Neill
Mar 23, 2001 2:16 PM
This is exactly what I was wondering about. Thanks for taking the time to reply!
re: Never buy new again, given bargains for used bikes online?Bart
Mar 29, 2001 9:21 AM
I bought a used Jamis Eclipse on Road Bike Review.

I live in New Jersey and the seller was in Colorado.

The bike was exactly as represented, and cost about half what a new one would.

My experience was a good one. Would never have happened without the internet.