Padding the Bike Fund-Bike Flipping

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.

Review: Raxter Rack 2 Bike Extension

Who:
From Raxter Racks website:

Introducing RAXTER – The new standard for value in a wheel mount hitch rack. RAXTER is lightweight, it’s EASY to install, EASY to load, EASY to store!
The innovative design of RAXTER gives you the ability to move bikes forward or backward during loading and is independent of wheelbase. This provides unequalled flexibility to load any combination of bike styles or sizes.
We subscribe to the design credo “Keep it light, keep it simple?. Simple yet effective, marine grade Velcro straps are perfectly suited for providing absolute security for your bikes. Moving parts are minimized. There are no small, intricate parts to rust or become gunked up from road debris. RAXTER’s simplicity makes it reliable.

Product Tested:
Raxter 2 Bike Extenstion

Website’s MSRP:
$269.99

Details

2 Bike Extension for 1-1049 (2″ 2 Bike Rack), 1-1047 (2″ Single Bike Rack) or 1-1110 (Folding 2″ 2 Bike Rack). Quick installation and removal with only 2 bolts to attach to the rack and 4 more bolts to attach your crossbars! Gloss black . Ships in two boxes. $25 shipping fee.

About Me:
6’1? 210lbs, 28 year old male. I’m a mountain biking enthusiast who enjoys rocking the 29er wheels and riding with lots of friends.


Fully loaded at Sea Otter 2008

Testing Grounds:
Road trip to Sea Otter Classic 2008, Drive to San Juan Trail (1+ hour each way) and drives to many more Southern California trails, parks…

First Impression:
After testing the Raxter Rack back in October of 2007 I knew it was the only rack I would want on the back of my car to take on the trip to Sea Otter 2008 and back. The Raxter Rack 2 Bike Rack has held up extremely well with NO problems (none, nada, zip) but since we were going to Sea Otter with 3 people, and consequently 3 bikes, my first choice was to ask Raxter to test the 2 Bike Extension they offered on their website.

Raxter sent their 2 Bike Extension and I put it together very quickly. After having a couple of user related problems setting up the original rack, setting up the 2 Bike Extension was a breeze. I was slightly worried that after using the 2 Bike Rack for 9+ months of constant use the metal might have warped and made the extension difficult to install. No such problems. Screws went in smoothly and I was able to tighten everything down quickly to the original rack. Good solid workmanship.


RL and his pouty lips. 4 bikes: 2 x 29ers with tires ranging from 2.1 to 2.35 in width, a commuter bike with skinnies and a Swobo with 26″ bmx-ish type tires.

Strengths:
Same design, just with 2 extra trays: Raxter hasn’t changed a thing with the 2 Bike Extension… this is very good. The 2 Bike Extension is really just a simply designed, but strong, piece of metal that attaches easily to the original 2 Bike Rack. The crossing wheel trays attach using the same type of bolts and the arms of the wheel tray still exhibit the same design of the 2 Bike Rack. This design has served the Raxter Rack extremely well and it continued to do so for the 2 Bike Extension. There is a bit of stiction when you initially rotate the arm but the stiction lessens after a couple of uses and starts to move slowly with minimal effort.

The simple durable velcro straps are still there. They’re so easy to use that my 3 year old son has started to “help” me unstrap my bike after I get back from the trail. They securely held all the bikes in place for our long 6+ hour trek to and from Sea Otter. Actually, we never thought to check on them and when we arrived, they were still all in place.

The folding arm that attaches to the hitch still works: I was initially concerned that the added weight and size of the 2 Bike Extension would make the folding arm not fold. My concerns were misplaced as the folding arm still works great. The button still popped in and out of place with ease and using the folding arm gets the extra length of the 2 Bike Extension out of the way when not in use. Sometimes, with just the regular 2 Bike rack, I’ll leave it unfolded because it does not stick out too far from the car. But with 4 racks, I always utilize the folding arm to move the rack out of the pathway of other cars.


2 Bike Extension still works with the folding arm

Plenty of room, but still compact: On the way back from Sea Otter we had 2 x 29ers, one road bike and one bike from Swobo that does not conform to any preconceived bike categories. All four bikes easily fit on the rack. There was no need to adjust the seats or handlebars. Just slide the bike a little farther forward or backwards in the wheel tray to get a good fit. There is plenty of room for these four bikes. But where the 2 Bike Extension really shines is that it does not stick out off the back of the vehicle too far. It is still really compact for a four bike holder.

Other four bike racks I have previously seen/used extended out so far they are just asking to be swiped by other cars. In their efforts to make a rack that will comfortably hold all types of bikes they ended up making a rack that extended out so far as to be hazardous to the bike. The design of the Raxter Rack does not have this issue. By making the wheel trays relatively narrow and using the “Auto Nesting” design – sliding the bikes forward/backwards to get a good fit – four bikes can be fitted onto the Raxter Rack and still keep a compact profile close to the vehicle. Designing this took some thought


4 bikes, but not stretched out to infinity and beyond

Weaknesses:
I did treat the straps, immediately, to my flame treatment I detailed in the review of the 2 Bike Rack. With this treatment, the straps never exhibited any fraying. Also the straps I originally applied the flame treatment to have been working fine since then. No signs of fraying at all.

The rack is heavy. By itself the 2 Bike Rack is fine, maybe even relatively light. I’m confident that most people would not have any problems with the 2 bike rack, but once you combine the 2 Bike Extension to the 2 Bike Rack, you’ve got something at least in the 50+ lbs range that, due to its size, is also awkward to maneuver. At 6’1″ and 210 lbs, I’m an above average sized guy so I didn’t think working with a large rack would be such a difficult proposition. But it is.

After doing some research I discovered that Raxter is not alone with this dilemma, it is pretty much an industry standard. If you’re looking into a 4 bike rack that holds the bike by the wheels securely, as in not with upside down “J” hooks, then you’re going to run into this problem. It is inevitable. Remember the saying: “Fast. Cheap. Good. Pick two.” In this case: 4-bike rack. Held by the wheels. Lightweight. Pick two. The surprising thing is that the Raxter Rack fully outfitted (4 bikes) is about 20 lbs lighter then its competitors.

Summary:
The Raxter Rack’s 2 Bike Extension is a perfect compliment to the 2 bike rack. The weight, when combined to the 2 Bike Rack, is the biggest hindrance but this is the norm for all racks of this type. However, where the rack really shines is the simplicity of use and the compact/space efficient design even when fully loaded up. If you’re going anywhere and want to tote along 4 bikes securely then this is the rack for you.

For Raxter Rack’s official site, click here.
For Raxter Rack’s official site on the 2 Bike Extension, click here.
For our review of the Raxter 2-bike Rack, without extension, click here.

Pivot 429 Ride Impressions

I got a chance to take the Pivot 429 out on a quick haul through the Sea Otter Demo XC demo course. I was out there for less than an hour so this is definitely not a full on review of the Pivot 429 but more of a couple of impressions I got from the short ride.

When I hopped on the 429 and started pedaling, I instantly noticed that this bike has an almost hardtail-ish racy feel. I attribute this to a very solid/stiff rear that transfers power down without any wasted flex. There was no noodley feeling from the rear that I occasionally get with other fs 29ers. This suspension seems to be on the firm side rather than ultra plush. I personally prefer this setup as it suits my riding style to a “t”.

The demo trail at Sea Otter is not extremely technical but it does have a couple of short climbs one being particularly steep and a couple of uphill grinders. It also has some nice flowy singletrack with stutter bumps, small XC-ish jumps and, on this weekend, sand. On all the climbs around the demo course the 429 to performed very well. Standing and seated climbs were easy and the rear suspension never felt like it got in the way. I was particularly happy with the way the 429 climbed a steep section as the rear felt planted and the cockpit felt comfortable enough to change from a seated position to a standing position and back to a seated position without losing balance or being awkward.

The steering feel of the Pivot is neutral. Not fast like the Gary Fisher G2 geometry but not slow either. The bottom bracket height is almost a full inch taller than my Redline but this did not impede handling, nor did it make me feel like I had too high a center of gravity. I still felt comfortable carving the singletrack at SO although the tires did not give me confidence to rip any of the jumps. The stutter bumps were muted by the suspension but did not disappear entirely as the suspension is more firm than plush.

Overall the 429 is a very fun racy bike that fits my type of riding entirely. I would probably go with a tire with a bit more grip both front & rear if I were to ride this but I could see the Kenda Small Block 8 on the rear being used for races.

Click here for pictures of the Pivot 429 prototype seen at Sea Otter 2008.

Click here for the video of Chris Cocalis discussing the Pivot 429.

Click here for Pivot’s website.

Quick Survey… 29ers at your LBS?

I recently went out to four nearby Local Bike Shops (LBS) to check out the 29er scene. I was particularly interested in what manufacturers the LBS carried and if the LBS carried 29ers from those manufacturers.


Specialized FSR 29

My realization? 29ers have definitely come a long way in a short period of time. Every shop I went to had at least one 29er on their sales floor. This probably would not have been the case just a year ago. The popularity of 29ers has caught the attention of many big name manufacturers and because of this many of them have added their own 29er for their lineup.

The first shop I visited is a high end bike shop. They carry smaller bike brands like Salsa & Felt. At this shop 29ers were very commonplace and the sales people were very familiar with 29ers. They consistently recommended them for mountain biking to many of their customers. I came away pretty stoked because the 29ers were holding their own at the shop.

The next shop I visited was significantly larger. It had a ton of bikes from different manufacturers and 29ers were still well represented there. The 29ers they had were by Redline and Specialized. Only a short year ago this shop wasn’t even carrying any 29ers. Why? Because they didn’t carry Redline bikes and Specialized was still dragging its feet in coming out with their 29ers. Now Specialized got on board and added a hard tail plus a full suspension 29er to their lineup. The shop, likewise, did the same to their sales floor. Redline had a strong showing here multiple Mono 9’s, Monocogs & Monocog Flights.

The 3rd shop on my list was a Trek/Gary Fisher dealer. I knew this bike shop would be filled with 29ers but I was surprised when I walked in and only a few 29ers were on their sales floor. I inquired about this and was told that their supply couldn’t keep up with the demand for 29ers and the 29ers were flying off the floor as soon as they were built!


Moe & his KHS Solo-One

The last bike shop I visited is a little shop that I’ve been frequenting off and on for the last few months. For mountain bikes they carry Santa Cruz, KHS, Cannondale and Trek. Although half of those manufacturers carry 29ers the LBS had only one 29er on the floor, a lonesome KHS Solo-One (not kidding… a “solo” “one”). I was a little bummed that this shop didn’t have more 29ers especially from KHS who has wholeheartedly supported the 29er movement with rigid, hardtail and recently full suspension 29ers. When I inquired as to why they stocked only one 29er the owner mentioned that he had not ridden a 29er yet. Ahhh… I get it now. In my opinion you really can’t realize the benefits of the 29er unless you’ve had some seat time. His reasoning for carrying the Solo-One is that if any of his customers were interested in trying a 29er the cost would not be prohibitive to get onto one. Valid point.

So, are 29ers coming around? In my neck of the woods I would have to answer with a resounding “yes?. All of the LBS’s I visited carried at least one 29er and many of them had 29ers from different manufacturers. For some of these LBS’s the 29ers were a strong part of their bottom line. Music to my ears!

What about for you? Have you started to see more 29ers out on the trails and in your LBS?

One Bad Experience

It takes only one bad experience to sour someone on a bike shop.

One of the bike shops that I have been frequenting over the last few years has recently turned over its entire staff. All of the old guys that I used to do business with and were comfortable with were replaced by new guys that I didn’t know and didn’t know me. The change occurred quickly as in the whole staff, save the big manager, turned over in about 8 months. And the big manager has been there just a few months longer. But this is fine with me. I’m more than willing to give them all a chance especially since the shop is convenient and I’ve purchased or been a part of purchasing 7 bikes at the shop within the last 3 years (three between myself/wife, one each for my sister, brother-in-law and my parents).

But all it takes is one bad experience by a relatively new employee who is not familiar with my continued patronage to sour me on this LBS. This happened to occur this past weekend when I went in there with my bike. This bike was not one that the LBS sold but the previous people there were always good about helping me out whenever I had a problem. Especially since I followed RL’s advice and occasionally brought the guys at the LBS some cookies and soda. A few of them were 29er riders so they were particularly interested in anything 29er I brought in.

This time my problem was simple. I had experienced skipping the last time I rode my bike. After I got home I spent some time adjusting the derailleur myself. I seemed to have fixed the problem but I wasn’t entirely sure so I went to the LBS to make sure it was done correctly. Normally this procedure is quick: Walk in, say “hi? then get asked “what’s up with the bike?”. The mechanic would throw the bike on the stand, spin the cranks, pop the shifters and tighten/loosen the barrel adjuster. 5 minutes max, most times 2 minutes on the stand.

This time though things did not as smoothly. I went into the back and shot the breeze for a bit (new standard operating procedure; the old crew would perform the fix then we’d talk bike) but nobody asked me what was up with the bike. I mentioned my story and the mechanic grudgingly tossed the bike on the stand. A quick pedal then a comment about how he won’t work on the derailleur because its a SRAM. I originally thought this was a joke, but but maybe it was a subtle hint that I totally missed. After a few more minutes of chit-chattin’ he finally spoke the words that clarified I wasn’t welcome anymore: “I need to work on other customer bikes.?

Now understand I’m not the type of guy to expect free service. I’m not looking for a handout. I’m a big supporter of my LBS and I have been known to buy things at the LBS for SIGNIFICANTLY more than it would be sold online (for the service and to support a community business). But in this case I wasn’t even given an opportunity to be sold the service. If you had told me “hey, this is usually a $10 procedure? I’d probably say “No problem, write it up.? If he’d offer to do it for free I’d probably come back next time with drinks or a snack but I wasn’t even given a chance to pay for anything! I was just given the boot.

4+ years of patronage, 7 bikes purchased, countless services paid for, dozens of friends referred to the shop and I don’t even get a twist on the barrel adjuster to check if I tuned the derailleur correctly? Not even a chance to pay for the service? That’s a little ridiculous in my book. Thankfully, local bike shops in Southern California are a dime a dozen and the next one is just around the corner.

KHS Flagstaff & Turner Sultan at Bike Demo Days

Lance & I hit up the Consumer Bike Demo Days at Southridge in Fontana, CA this past Saturday. It rained pretty hard all night on Friday but I continually checked the weather.com and knew that there shouldn’t be anymore rain by 9am.


KHS tent

When we rolled into Southridge, the skies were cloudy but no rain. Thankfully Sourthridge race course dries up very quickly and, because of the rain, the trail was more ridable than normal.

I had two bikes on my mind and Lance was up for anything (thanks Lance).

KHS Flagstaff
We first headed over to KHS and I checked out their new Flagstaff, a full suspension horst link 29er.

KHS Flagstaff
Still dirty from Interbike

KHS Flagstaff
Enough clearance for WTB Exiwolf 2.3’s up front and in the rear

KHS Flagstaff
Horst link can be seen in the back

I don’t have much to report on this bike because it wasn’t my size (KHS doesn’t have a Large Flagstaff yet) but I am glad I put in some seat time on it. The Flagstaff give me more confidence as compared to riding my hardtail 29er on the Southridge course and the horst link was very plush. For the price ($2,000 complete) and what you get, there is no competition in the full suspension 29er category.

Turner Sultan
The 2nd bike I rode was the Turner Sultan. You can’t just glance at this bike as the blue really calls attention to itself. The Sultan uses the Turner Rocker suspension design.

Turner Sultan
Turner guys took a few minutes to dial in the bike for me

Turner Sultan
Cables fit under

Turner Sultan
Ready to rock & roll

This bike was my size and dialed in to me so I do have a couple of quick impressions. I thought this bike fit me really well. The geometry is just a good fit for my body’s dimensions. The frame was pretty stiff and the suspension was very nice. It definitely gave me confidence in some of the more technical parts of the trail. Lastly, I found that the front end of the bike did not pop up on me as much as my hardtails do.

If you get a chance to ride a demo day, I’d highly recommend it. The guys at the booths were very accommodating. Also, a suggestion I heard from more than one person: bring your own shoes & pedals. Other then that, leave the rest up to them.