Should I Sell My Bikes?

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Dec 14, 2015

Dear Uncle Dave

My background is aviation, and we have stopped using the term cockpit many years ago, we tried changing it to ‘box office’ but that wasn’t liked either, so now, in the interest of political correctness and equality we call it the ‘flight deck’!

But a tiger moth has more controls and instruments than a bike, why do we call the handlebars and brake levers a ‘cockpit’?

I am not a pilot

Dear High-and-Mighty:

Nobody likes it when a group steals something and then claims that it only belongs to them (e.g. Net Neutrality, North American Indigenous populations).

Cockpit – The place where cockfights take place.

It’s amazing that this phrase made it as far as it did.  We should probably stop using it with bikes.

Uncle Dave

Dear Uncle Dave,

I recently purchased a new bike, but I’m struggling to come to terms with selling my old bike. I don’t have the means / space to obey N+1, but the thought of losing my old bike, a beautiful Titus handmade in USA, causes some sort of moisture to form at my eyeballs. Help me deal!

Sad Sack

Dear Sad:

I hear you. I have a tremendously hard time parting with my old bikes. Usually, I do one of two things:

  1. Strip the parts and throw the frames in storage. There are some remarkable things back there now.
  2. Sell them to friends or relatives. That way you still get to see them occasionally. The bikes. Not the friends or relatives.

It sounds like this bike you speak of is a candidate for storage. Go to your local shop, get a bike box, crate it up and forget about it for a few years. Get indignant every time your loved one insists you “deal with all that clutter”. Explain to them just how rare an in-good-condition, hand built, Rocky Mountain Altitude TO is and how they just don’t make them like that any longer. Roll your eyes and stammer uncontrollably when they ask questions that suggest that they just don’t get it. This seems to work for me.

Uncle Dave

Dear Uncle Dave,

Last season I was living the dream: I found plenty of time to ride a downhill bike in the Whistler Bike Park and an all-mountain bike on various singletrack. I ended up buying 2 new bikes: a 650b enduro bike, and a carbon downhill bike. Both made sense at the time because I previously didn’t own a full-suspension bike that I could pedal, and because my original downhill bike frame cracked at the head tube mid-season.

Unexpectedly, I am now unable to use either bike for the next 16 months. Should I try to sell them before new standards make them outdated and they still have value?

Scared of Depreciation

Dear Sod:

As you can see above, I’m not one that can easily let go of my bicycles. However, your situation sounds like one that is ideal for cutting ties. Newish bicycles to which you haven’t formed a strong attachment? A guaranteed 16 months before you’ll need a bike? Sell baby, sell. The sooner the better.

For others who might not be in the exact same situation, I’ve laid out a handy depreciation curve to help them wrap their heads around a potential fair market value for their bikes and potential bicycle equity killers.



MSRP – Our starting point.

Actual Retail Price – Because nobody pays MSRP.

Bro-Deal Discount Factor – Dude!  I’m in here all the time!  Because nobody pays retail.

Ridden on the dirt once – Ya.  It was worth $6,000 last week.  Not any more.

New Wheel Size Introduced – This is a real killer.  A new wheel size will slurp away value.

Hub/BB Standard – There’s enough of these already.  A new one doesn’t do too much damage.

New Model Year Colours Introduced – For some reason, a newly introduced colour tremendously affects the performance of last years product.

Wear Indicative of Actual Riding – Because nobody wants to buy something that somebody actually used.

Off Season Discount Factor – Who buys a bike in the winter?

Craigslist Yokel Bargain Factor – Because you’re sick of dealing with these people and you just want to be done with it.

May as well just box it up and stick it in storage.

Uncle Dave


Sod may end up bikeless for a time, and he may only get pennies on the dollar for his prized steeds, but at least he’ll be warm. If you feel jealous, you can buy Sod’s bikes, and pick up your own Chromag hoodie with the money you’ve saved.

This week’s prize is another sweet one. And it seems to me it should go to the guy who’s contemplating selling his bikes. Sod, you win a Chromag quilted hoodie.

Trending on NSMB


6 years, 6 months ago

In my experience, the issue isn't buyers not valuing your precious bike enough… it's what the majority of sellers seem to be doing
1) Buy your bike at 20% bro-discount
2) ride the shit out of that fucker
3) by the time it needs a new drivetrain, shock service, bb, pedals, brake pads, discs and bleed, tires, wheel alignment, etc, sell it to a newbie on PB at 30% below MRSP. Use words like it "in great condition", and "lightly ridden for one season"
4) Use that sucker's money to buy a new bike at bro-discount.
5) Repeat.


6 years, 6 months ago

i hear you, but I bet a lot of those bikes don't sell for the listing price… i know some of the local guys here get a bro deal in spring (or even fall, early arrival next-year bikes) and ride the bike all summer, sell it in fall for cost… that seems common, but I'm not sure it's a terrible deal, depending on wear.


6 years, 6 months ago

What it does is it ruins the reputition of the second hand bike. Which keeps the prices down for "good" bikes, 'cause noone trusts a good looking bike anymore - you see people wrapping their bikes, putting protectors on all the parts that normally wear visually etc. - to hide the fact that the bike itself (i.e. the parts subjected to non-visual wear-and-tear) is actually worn out. Peel the wrap off the frame and it looks like new. A set of new tires (or even just some tire shine) and new grips, e voila, you have a bike that's being "sold due to a lack of time, barely ridden". I've personally seen super clean, polished bikes with the forks filled halfway up with sand from pressure washing them every day. Forks - dead. Shock - dead. Bearings - dead. Drivetrain - dead. Wheels - dead.
Which is why no one wants to spend more than 50p on a used bike.


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