Top 8 ways to find a great deal on a bike, mountain bike or road bike
Determine your bike goals, then your budget
Buying a “new” bike can be a very exciting time. We see people all over social media showing off their new steed with the hashtag #newbikeday. But all that excitement and people showing off shiny new $6000+ bikes can also cause #bikeenvy. And that can also cause you to buy more bike than you might need.
First thing to do is to determine what your goals are in buying a “new” bike. And by determining goals, be real with yourself and you can save yourself a lot of money. Some examples of goals for your bike might include:
- You want to get in some extra exercise, be an occasional rider.
- You want to lose weight and get healthier.
- You want to commute to work more often.
- You want to ride with your friends who also ride.
- You want to get super fit.
- You want to go on long rides and explore more.
- You want to race, or even compete on a team perhaps.
- You have higher race aspirations like finishing on podiums, or even earn a living.
In figuring out what you actually want to accomplish on your bike can prevent you from buying too much bike, or even not enough bike to match your goals. This is the first step in creating a budget. The higher your aspirations and goals, the more you should plan to spend on a bike, and visa versa. Now, where should you go to find a bike to meet your goals, and your budget?
8 places to find a great deal on a great bike
1) Buy a bike at a bike shop
I feel this is the first place to go for a variety of reasons. The first, and maybe most important is that any reputable shop will help you determine a good size of bike. Nothing will take the joy out of cycling quicker than a bike that doesn’t fit you by being too big or too small. It will also help you search for the best bike faster. If your body is fit for a medium sized mountain bike, then you can quickly eliminate every other size on the market.
Bike shops are usually going to be the most expensive option, but if your goals and budget are higher, this is where you should start in your search. They are knowledgeable about matching a bike to your goals. They also often offer nice perks like free tune-ups, or even trade-up program if you decide to upgrade down the road.
2) Buying a bike online (eBay, craigslist, PinkBike, etc.)
Always keep in mind that buying online, especially used bikes, can seem less expensive at first glance, but could end up costing you more if say the drivetrain is in bad shape, the frame is cracked, or the wheels are jacked up. These repairs can easily run into the hundreds of dollars quickly.
Buying new bikes online are usually much safer, but you also might have to assemble the bike. Weigh the pros and cons, and any added costs.
Craigslist is a great place to find a quality used bike, but caveat emptor, or buyer beware. There are people who will be super happy to sell you a piece of junk that looks nice. Most bike sellers will be honest, but some are also unknowing to the issues their bike has as well. One piece of advice if you find a great used bike you are very interested in is to meet the seller at a local bike shop. Call the bike shop ahead of time to ask if they might be able to give your potential bike purchase a quick safety check and lookover to determine if it’s a good buy. They will usually do this for $25-50, a 12-pack, or even free. But even a $50 bike review by a mechanic could save you a lot of money down the road, as well as a lot of headaches. You can use services like Bicycle Blue Book to help you determine market value for a used bike.
3) Buy your bike in the off-season
This might be harder for some if you want a bike sooner rather than later, but it will undoubtedly save you money if you can wait until the first snow flies in the fall or winter. Demand is much lower during this time of year. Bike shops will even start discounting current year models during this as well.
I have seen used bikes and even new bikes up to 50% less in October than in March for the same bike.
4) Buy last years model of bicycle
Even in the spring when bike buying is peaking for most people, many bike shops and online stores need and want to clear out last years inventory to make room for current year models. This is one of the best ways to find a great deal on a new, or never used bike. But also be aware that finding the right size for you could be a challenge. Often times, last years’ leftover bikes are in less desirable sizes like small and XL+. Medium and large frame sizes are generally most popular for a majority of the bike population. This is a risky option to take, but the rewards can be extremely high if you get lucky.
5) Buy a demo or rental bike
I like this option for a variety of reasons. You can find great deals on top brands at your local shop, or even a bike shop in a tourist town that rents lots of bikes to out-of-towners. In many instances they have already recouped the cost of the bike from all the rentals or demos throughout the year so whatever they can sell them for is a bonus. This isn’t always the case, but it can be.
Start by researching bike rental fleets and shops that offer demos. Then call or reach out to them to find out when they will be selling their fleet. Do this before the big buyers come calling who literally buy up an entire fleet of bikes to save even more. Your hard work can pay off. But do you research and start contacting them before their season is over.
6) Attend a bike swap, or local bike event
These are great places where shops and private citizens try to sell their bike in a single day. These could be at a high school, a bike shop, convention center, or even at a local race. Almost every race I’ve been to has at least one bike someone is trying to sell. And almost every city hosts any number of swaps and bike events where people are selling bikes.
Facebook marketplace and Facebook bike swap groups are another excellent place to find great deals on bikes locally, or even from around the country. If you know what you want, or even don’t, simply ask people in these groups and most of the time someone will at least know someone who is selling the same or similar bike.
7) Buy from a direct-to-consumer brand
Brands like Canyon, YT Industries, Commencal, BikesDirect, and others are producing incredible mountain and road bikes that will compete with the biggest brands in the world, and yet they’re selling them for hundreds or even thousands of dollars less. The most amazing thing right now? From year-to-year many direct to consumer brands, like YT Industries, are actually dropping prices while spec’ing better components. Take advantage of this trend while it’s here and score yourself a killer bike by simply eliminating the middleman seller.
You can find many of these companies by doing a simple Google Search.
8) Buy a bike from a sponsored or pro racer
Yep, you heard me right. Buy a pro’s bike. Not only do these men and women have some of the best bikes around, they nearly always get new bikes the following year from their sponsor. This is often times one of the few ways these riders can generate some quick cash by selling their current year bike to make room for the new racing bike with all the newest features. Are these bikes raced hard and beat up? More than likely, yes. BUT…racers always take care of their bikes too. They always have their bike running in peak form, and anything that breaks is always replaced with something new. But this method will take some extra stealthiness. First, you need to find out who they are. Then you need to follow them on social media or some other means. Then you need to make contact with them before they decide to give or sell their bike to a friend or family member.
This option has a high failure rate, but also the potential for the highest return too.
Another great store who claims to sell used bikes from pro riders is a Boulder/Denver store called The Pros Closet. The nice thing with them is that they inspect every bike by a mechanic. Some great deals to be had here. The prices might be a tad higher, but a great selection of really nice used bikes.
Final Thoughts on finding a great bike deal
It’s extremely possible to find a great deal on a great bike without having to buy a brand new bike. But it will take some work and diligence on your end. Knowing your goals and what you want to accomplish from your bike will help in your journey as well. But, as with anything, hard work will pay dividends and also if you have the patience to see it through. Shop around, and ask around, but also get fit to know your size no matter kind of bike you’re after. And if you aren’t sure, start small at first and work your way once you realize how addicting a new ride can be.
If you have another idea or something else has worked for you, comment below or email me at Eric@solidaritycycling.com.
And of course, you will need a new jersey or kit to match your match your new bike, so check out some of our latest artist inspired styles HERE.
Author: Eric Graham, Solidarity Cycling CMO and bike deal searcher.
Used mountain bike owner purchased on Facebook Marketplace, and procurer of many used bikes for kids as a high school mountain bike coach.
Bike Goals: Ride and explore Colorado often on the road, singletrack and gravel, coach and ride often with kids to race, and occasional cross-country mountain bike racer of distances between 10-50 miles.
Current bike quiver: 2014 Giant Anthem Mountain Bike, 2017 Specialized Diverge Road/Gravel Bike