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Calvin's Corner

BIke Swap!

For my mind, anytime bikers, biker equipment, and bicycles gather together, it will be a good time. This was obviously the case at the Twin Cites Bicycle Club bike swap.


The Twin Cities Bicycle Club was the sponsor of the event.

To state the obvious, there are two types of people who attend swaps: sellers and buyers. If I may continue to over generalize, sellers tend to think their equipment is valuable, lightly used, and just what the potential buyer needs.   Buyers, on the other hand, tend think the equipment being offered is well used, and is just clutter to the owner. Additionally, many buyers prefer that the decimal point on the price tag be moved to the left.


A typical seller's table. Repair stand, some bars, posts, pedals, and a bike.

For the seller, it is important to keep in mind why you are at the swap.   Are you hoping to liquidate your current equipment to re-invest in other equipment?   Are you through using the equipment and just want it out the way?   Bike equipment is not a financial investment.   Your 401K may provide some return for your old age, but bikes are for riding, and of course, for the fun of fixing. This know to economists as ROI (Repair-On-Investment). A bike swap provides an opportunity to be around a lot of potential buyers.   If you want the maximum for your bike, you might consider other options, such as newspaper classified, the Internet, or the grapevine of your friends and your friends' friends.


$1250 for some wheels....at a swap?

For the buyer, you may in fact find a gem at such swaps, the perfect bike or accessory you have wanted, at just the price you wanted to pay.   But, the odds are against that. If you are hoping to find that perfect bike fit, well, find a good retailer and buy a new bike.


The black and chrome frames were very clean, like new, and priced to move! What a bargin....if you are at least six foot, two inches or better!

How does one go about setting a price anyway?   For used bikes, I have always like the Rule-of-Half.   Take the price of the bike when new, and cut it by 50%.   Then, bump the price upward if it is clean and in nice shape.   Bump it downward if the bike is scratched up or looks worn.    Be sure to look at the "market price " by viewing the classifieds and the Internet for how others are pricing the same or similar models.


A bucket of derailleurs. A what a deal, if for the small parts if nothing else.

There may be a bike that the owner considers a "collector's item."   Personally, I love old and interesting bikes, but to be honest, you rarely find a true collectable at a swap.   This may be coldly stated, but if the owner really feels the bike is a collectable, why is for sale at a swap?   However, there may be bikes that appeal to someone's sense of nostalgia.


Classic perhaps, but for $150? I have set up many of these Mafac brakes, Simplex derailleurs, and cottered cranks, but it is still an inexpensive old French bike.

If ever there was a situation to apply "caveat emptor" ("let the rider beware," at least in our case), bike swaps are the place.   Be sure to test ride the bike, even if only in a parking lot.   Give the bike a good inspection. If you don't trust yourself, bring a friend for some extra advise.   You can be assured that the Invisible Hand of the Marketplace is at work at a bike swap, just don't get spanked!


The most interesting, if perhaps arcane, piece of equipment I saw there. Sturmey-Archer drum brake, with a mega-high flange.