Padding the Bike Fund-Bike Flipping

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As I peruse the classifieds section on my local board, mtbr and craigslist, I typically have really bad tunnel vision. I know what parts I want to purchase to put together my next bike and I only have eyes for them. Occasionally I’ll see a nice titanium bike or a rare part and have to pause to see the pictures on that. But for the most part, if its not what I’m looking for already, I’m passing it by.

However, this is a bad practice if you’re like me and your bike fund is always near $0. If you’re always trying to find ways to pad the bike fund, its time to talk a little about bike flipping.

Bike flipping is the technique of purchasing a bike on the cheap, parting it out or selling it complete for what its actually worth. Bike flipping comes in all shapes and sizes. From the $50 garage sale beach cruiser that just needs a little tender loving care (think new cables and chain) to the $1,000 “I need money quick” desperate rider up to his eyeballs in debt. Both might take a little time to prep for resale, but there is much money to be made if you know what you are doing.

Rules of Bike Flipping:
1. Know your niche. As an avid mountain biker, I know next to nothing about road bikes (dura-ace is good, right?). In my world I stay away from flipping road bikes. Still, mountain biking has a pretty broad range of products so narrowing that down even more would be beneficial. I’m a 29er rider. I only ride 29″ bikes. Yes, I’m a 29er snob. 🙂 I know what 29er specific parts (think wheels, forks and tires) go for new and, more importantly, I know what they go for used.

Knowing this basic information makes it easy to look at a bike and determine if it can be flipped or not. Check out the price, take the fork, wheels and frame. When you add up their “used” prices are you close to the price the seller wants for the bike? If you’re close, everything else is extra money: bars, cassette, seatpost, shifters/derailleurs, brakes…

2. Stick to name brands. Some stuff sells better than others and name brand parts sell the best. Which name brand parts hold their value? Thomson, Shimano XT/XTR, Chris King, Sram XO/X9, Easton bars and seatposts, Fox forks & shocks. Some popular brands that don’t sell as well: Truvativ, FSA, Ritchey although your results may very.

3. High end will almost always hold their value better than low end stuff. XTR cranks? $450 new, easily sells for $300 lightly used (33% less). If you move two steps down from the top of the line you get the LX crankset which went for $150 new last year. Now it sells for $100 new via Jenson. Thats 33% off already and there is no way your selling your lightly used LX cranks for more than $75 about half of what you bought them for. Ouch!

4. Know your market: The marketers, blogs, mags, forums, are all touting wider handlebars. If you’re just selling a part, will your lightweight, 24″ chopped carbon bars sell as well as the original length 30″ bars? Probably not. Even if your product is from a good brand the trend to go wider will be more desirable than the shorter width bar.

5. Lastly, Don’t be a dork and resell what you bought on the same board a week after you bought it, charging a 33% premium for cleaning the bike. There are people out there who watch the Market Place like a hawk and will call you on this. I’ve seen it happen and its funny, but stupid. This is not a smart thing to do and your just opening yourself up to justified ridicule. If you’re going to resell it on the same board and its a local (read: small or smaller community) board, you’re going to have to piece it out.

Alright, hopefully you got some good info from this. Good luck on padding your bike fund.

1 thought on “Padding the Bike Fund-Bike Flipping

  1. Ah Jeremy, a man after my own heart. As you know I’ve been flipping bikes for years. My mainstay would be older bikes. So don’t worry man, I won’t creep into your 29er domain.

    I’ve had great success in flipping and all your tips are great because I do that too!

    One tip I’d like to leave, know your seasons. Now that the weather is getting cooler, beach cruisers will be harder to sell. That could work both ways, you can pick one up super cheap and hold onto it until spring, then sell it. Or if you have one to sell, wait until spring to list it to get the most out of your sale.

    Another good tip is to check out your LBS. Sometimes people will leave their old bikes there after purchasing a new one, the shop will most likely sell it to you cheap. Another avenue is to ask them for repaired bikes that have never been picked up.

    At the LBS I was working at, we gave it 6 months before we got rid of a repair bike.

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