Tough times…can’t sell my bikes

If you frequent this site enough, you’ll know that I like to flip bikes for fun. I really don’t make money on it, just enough to cover my next flip and take the wife out for a few drinks. But recently my flips are far and few and in between. Let’s go back about 2 weeks, keep in mind, I usually sell my bikes within the first few days of listing it.

This time I had a total of 3 bikes to sell. One of them I picked up at a local thrift store in which I reconditioned the stuck shifters. I paid $30 for it and I listed it at $100. My last bike I sold that was very similar to this model, was gone within a few hours. After 3 weeks of trying to sell this bike by posting multiple listings…nothing. I did sell one of my other bikes, but that took 2 weeks. The last bike I have, the lady never showed up and never returned my emails…flake.

So I sit there wondering, does the economy have an impact on used bikes as well? I also have a feeling that new bike sales will be hurting since more people will have less disposable income to spend on a bicycle. Or it could do the total opposite and have a different effect. Our economic down turn could wake up people and invest in a bicycle to use for daily errands. What sucks too is that gas prices have crept up again…but don’t get me started on that!


  1. Jon

    It’s also the dead of winter. While that might not matter in the tropical climes it seems most of the crew here enjoys, up in the great frozen north where I live, winter is dead for cycling for the vast majority of people. Of course, it’s when I buy all my bikes…

  2. RL Policar (Post author)

    Well winter isn’t much of a factor as far as temperature goes for SoCal We’re finally starting to see some rain coming out way, but for the most part its been in the 80’s. But you do bring a good point that I forgot…

    Winter is the worst time to be a bike dealer. I worked for a bike shop and we were SLOW during January. Things don’t really pick up until March…so maybe that’s how it will be for used bikes.

  3. Zach

    Its strange. I would have thought that used would be the way to go in this economy. I just bought a used bike off CL to replace my stolen one. I didnt even think of going new. Maybe its just bad luck.

  4. Brian

    I would think gas prices and season more than economy, though I’m sure both are very important.

    I did my part to help my local bike shop and bought my dream ride last month. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it… 🙂

  5. 2whls3spds

    Gas prices and everybody thinks Obama is going to give them a great big handout to buy a new Escalade with! 😉

    Personally I think he needs to lower the boom on the automobile and get this country’s act together on mass transit and alternative energy sources. The next big run up in gas prices is just around the corner and when it hits, it is going to make the last one look like child’s play.


  6. Ghost Rider

    Two words: Stimulus Bike!

    Seriously…hang onto them for now. Come springtime, you’ll be able to sell them at a premium, especially when gasoline climbs back up to frighteningly high prices.

  7. Queso

    watcha trying to sell, RL?

  8. Dman

    I was in the market for a used 29er SS. But, with the economy in the crapper, I’m holding off buying. I’m worried about job security, that’s why I’m trying to reserve cash.

  9. Scott

    Where I am gas costs just over half of what it did when you sold the Puch. I’m guessing people just aren’t as desperate to ditch their cars right now.

  10. Dean Peddle

    Is gas really going to go that high again this summer? Did anyone watch 60 minutes a couple of weekends ago where they said the increased gas prices last summer had nothing to do with supply and demand as that was falling last summer but the prices were rising. It was the traders driving up the price for profits for their clients. Anyways while I suspect this won’t happen again this summer I would welcome it with open arms. I do love the gas prices being high and watched a show on PBS last week called “E squared” where someone made an interesting point in how Europe really didn’t cut automobile travel by half until gas went to like $7 litre. I would love that as this trend started here last summer with the increased gas prices.

  11. Guy

    I agree with 2whls3spds that Obama should lower the boom on the auto industry. However, part of the inaugural speech he had was that America will not make excuses for it’s lifestyle or something to that effect. Wasn’t our lifestyle that got us to this point in the first place? Granted I didn’t hear the entire speech but just parts of it.

  12. TimK

    Guy, yes, he said something like this: We will not apologize for our way of life.

    Like you, I didn’t care much for that sentence. It is our way of life that has gotten us into the serious bind we’re in.

  13. RL

    Guys…this posting has nothing to do with Obama, so keep it out. Not once did I mention his name or his speech. It’s about bikes…

  14. TimK

    The point is this: I, at least, had hopes that the incoming administration would make changes in our transportation policy to promote other forms of transportation, including cycling, rather than just automobile and air travel. If that were the case, one effect of that would obviously be to expand the market for bicycles…to your benefit, RL.

    However, the comment I quoted that Obama made in his inaugural speech makes it seem that he may not be prepared to do that after all, which is disappointing.

  15. Ghost Rider

    I know RL told us to cut it out, but know this:

    if you choose to base what you think Obama’s administration is all about based on one line taken out of context in his inaugural speech (he uttered that line talking to and about potential U.S. terrorists), then sure — we’re all doomed under the thumb of the automobile.

    BUT, if you read the ENTIRE speech and take it all in context the way it was meant to be, things look a lot rosier. Read the whole thing before you cast the stones of dismay:

  16. Stuart M.

    I vote that the word “flipping” be dropped from our vocabulary. It has the connotation that something has been bought for the sole purpose of quickly reselling it at a profit. I think the word “flipping” came into use during the recent real estate bubble that just went bust, taking our whole economy down with it.

  17. Ghost Rider

    I’m with Stuart!

    So, Stuart, what would you suggest as an alternative term for purchasing a bike, rehabbing it a bit and making a little money on the resale? I can’t think of a good one…

  18. RL

    Stuart…what if we do the same for the word “WAR”…that word and act in itself has been responsible for many lives lost, families and countries destroyed…

    C’mon dude, lighten up. The term flipping has been around for decades.

    My father is a real estate investor…he’s been doing it for over 20 years, I’ve heard him say the term “flip” or “flipping” since I was a kid.

    Tell you what, I’m a fair guy, if you can come up with a good word to substitute “flipping” I may consider using it for future references.

  19. Dave

    RL, how can you be so flippant about using flipping so flagrantly? It makes me flipping mad I tell you. Today it bothers me tomorrow, perhaps not. Does that make me a flip-flopper? If I could sell used bikes for a profit I’d want to do a flip for sure. I just don’t want to land on my head. RL, please do the whole world a favor and just mind your own flipping business.

  20. RL


    That’s flippin’ funny! I guess I could keep flipping my bikes because it really is no flippin’ business but my flippin own! In fact, I will flip bikes while I’m wearing my flip flops…But if I can’t my bikes, then I guess it was a flop.

  21. Stuart M.

    Okay, you guys have made me lighten up! I’ve got a big smile on my face.

    I guess if I complain about “flipping,” I should come up with an alternative. How about that good old word “restoring”? Like in “I rescued this bike from someone’s garage and lovingly restored it by ….(fixing this and that). Anyone interested?”

    That might appeal more to prospective buyers than, “Hey, why can’t I flip my bikes?”

  22. Robert

    Although I do not have a crystal ball to predict the future, I’m thinking that the high end bicycle market will be very slow this year. Who would want to spend 3k to 10k on a bicycle right now? People can still buy them on credit, if they can get it, but consumers [hate using that word] are loaded with debt. Lower end bicycles around 2k or less will still sell well, but bicycles will not sell like they did in 2008, unless gas prices skyrocket again. I am using $2,000 as a dividing line, since some people I know tend to think anything more than that is crazy expensive.

    If I were to see a trend, it would be more in the utility/commuter bicycle category where there will be growth. Lower end racing style bicycles around 1k to 2k will still sell. They may not sell at a record pace, but there will still be demand. Steel and aluminum bikes may become more popular once again, as opposed to the more expensive carbon fiber and titanium models. I believe more people will choose to buy replacement components for their existing bikes, as opposed to trading it in to buy a new bike.

    Right now, the choice phrase of the year will be “Higher Value at a Lower Cost.” That is why Walmart and dollar stores are doing so well right now. Less frills and more emphasis on functionality and value.

  23. Ghost Rider

    Wal-Mart isn’t doing well:

    It’s hard to predict what will happen in the bike industry…I fear that we’re going to see serious cuts unless gas prices skyrocket again…and then a lot of bike retailers might be ok.

  24. Robert

    Hey Ghost Rider…….yeah it is difficult to see what will happen in the future. I know that Sam’s Club has been hurting Wal-Mart as of late, much like GE’s financial division is hurting the rest of their business, but many of their other industries are doing well….such as GE Healthcare. Wal-Mart will survive through this economy. Companies that had issues, such as Circuit City, will not.

    I’m sure there are bike shops going out of business in this economy, but the ones that are well diversified and didn’t overextend themselves will survive. Bike shops that offer good service and repair will probably thrive in this economy.

    I don’t see how wishing for skyrocketing gas prices will help the bike industry. If even more people lose their jobs due to high gas prices and are cash strapped….then how can they buy bicycles? We need to gradually change our culture from consumption to conservation. The change in Europe did not happen overnight or in a few months, but took years to develop. I think the high gas prices in 2008 made people stop and think about their daily habits. A seed has been planted and I am definitely excited about what the Obama administration will be doing.

  25. Flippa

    I make $3200.00 a month flipping bikes during the summer months – April – Sept…… Oh yeah and it’s tax free…

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