It strikes me as quite humorous that my local bike shop is next door to the pawnbroker, with its line of old bikes chained up out the front (the pawn shop that is!). Several meters away is a similar collection of bikes, although these are new and shiny, with the rubber hairs on the tires intact and no rust to be seen.
They are also a couple of hundred dollars more expensive.
It did make me wonder; is being located so close to a second hand bike dealer detrimental to business? Are there any positive business outcomes that could result from such close proximity to a shop selling what most professional bike people would call a pile of junk?
“The seller knows nothing about bikes”
They probably know how much it cost them, and how much they think its worth, but there is a lot more to selling a bike than this. Sure there are knowledgeable cyclists out there selling their old bikes at upgrade time and you may get a bargain, but for the new cyclist one of the most important steps is ascertaining what sort of bike you are after and what is the best bike to do the job. Even for the recreational cyclist buying from Pawn King could lead to a bad riding experience. The bike doesn't fit, it has the wrong gears, or wheels, for the riding you want to do....
NOTE: If there is any question about the false economy of cheap second-hand bikes it would be my own experience in the bike shop. We would regularly get people walking their just bought second-hand bikes in to get fixed. How often would the case be that the cost of parts and labor required equalled or exceeded the value of the bike? This is very apparent with inexpensive bikes, but also more costly road and mountain bikes may not be quite the bargain you thought when paying that $250 repair bill before you even manage a single good ride.
- History: You have no idea of the bike's history, where and how hard it's been ridden. The state of the bb/headset/wheel bearings are a mystery until you get it home and crack it open. If you have a chain checker and know how to use it you could get a picture of some of the maintenance that may be required...
- Worn parts: Related to the history of the bike, there could be many parts that have worn out. You can check tires easily, but remember if that chain has stretched (buy a chain checker here!), there is a good chance it has also worn the cassette and possibly taken out a chain ring with it. Replacing these parts alone could add $150 easily to the price of the bike. If the BB/headset/wheel bearings also need replacing you could double that figure.
- Warranty: Bicycle and component companies are pretty good to deal with when things go wrong (as long as you are riding within the capabilities of the bike!) A local bike shop can do all the ringing around for you and get the bike fixed and going again asap, with little cost to you. Buy second-hand and you're on your own.
- Golden age: New bikes have never been more affordable than today. Technology that belonged at the very pinnacle of the sport a decade ago has filtered down so that even relatively inexpensive bikes benefit. For example: hydraulic disc brakes are available on mountain bikes well under $1,000, ten years ago you would have to double that figure. This is a great time to take advantage of affordability and get yourself a good bike for little outlay that will last you many, many years.
- Relationship: Never underestimate the value of a healthy relationship with your local bike shop. Aside from the usual discounts that apply when buying a new bike, bike shops are a hive of cycling activity and information. Need a quick adjustment? Pop into the shop you bought your bike and get that bolt nipped up, perhaps get a free chain check while there, use the bathroom, grab a drink and off you go. Try that at your second-hand dealer....(actually don't)
So back to my local bike shop. They may be sitting next to a guy selling hundred dollar family bikes, but I would bet when one goes wrong they arrive next door at the bike shop for repairs costing as much as the bike is worth. Is it possible to put a dollar figure on the value of a professional helping hand and peace of mind?