Buying cheap and second hand bicycles
Posted on May 05 2015
Buying cheap and second hand bicycles
Just moved to Sydney and want to try out the streets for cycling? Or maybe you're a university student and need a cheap bike. Or you have the coolest bicycle in the world and need a pub bike, a bike that you can thrash around, lend to your friends, leave locked up at night and not attract attention. Maybe you just like the simple, low-tech things in life. Whatever the reason, it seems a lot of people want second hand bikes and don't know where to get them in Sydney.
Sydney is hard compared to other cities. Part of this is due to geography and urban planning and the effect that cars have had on making the city hard to get around on. Getting a second hand bike in Canberra is easy, takes a few hours of garage sales and following classifieds ads and a trip to the tip shop. One theory about why Sydney is hard is because it's bigger - you can't go take test rides on all the bikes you see in the classifieds. Others are that in the inner city people are short of space, so they don't keep bikes they don't want for long - they just throw them out. Probably the biggest reason why second hand bikes aren't usually seen in bike shops is that a member of the public can buy them at the same price as a bike shop can. The situation is quite different in the Netherlands, where you can buy hundreds of second hand bikes in one lot (as seen in photo). This means a bike shop can buy wholesale quantities of used bikes at good prices and sell them to the public at a higher price. In Sydney we can only buy them for what you can buy them for and then try to sell them to you for more, so it's a bit of a losing game all around, other than the occasional trade-in. However, it is possible to find good second hand bikes in Sydney and here are some tips. This is focused around the inner west because that's where our bike shop is.
Whatever you do, don't buy a cheap new bicycle. I don't want to say how cheap is too cheap but beware of anything new below $400. Stay clear of anything sold in a department store or bikes packaged with gym memberships and clothes purchases etc. These bikes often appear in the second hand market and have no value. Watch out for brands like Huffy, Southern Star, Royce Union (K-mart), Crane (Aldi), some Repco models, Industrie and pretty much anything cheap with dual suspension. Another giveaway is a bike that writes 'Shimano' on the bike in bigger font than its own name.
Bike Club in Waterloo. You can build your own bike here from bikes rescued from the waste stream. Anyone is welcome and you dont have to know a thing about bikes. You will when you leave though! Every Monday night from 5-9pm at 1 Phillip St Waterloo. Free!
The Bower - The Bower at Addison Road Community Centre. The Bower has second hand everything in varying condition. You'll find bikes there are in two categories - bikes outside that generally are not ready to ride away - they need some work done. Those go from $10 to $50. You can fix them up at Bike Club (aka Nunnery bike workshop and now cycle recycle club) and make some cycling friends while you're at it. Or just wheel them over to our shop across the road for a once over. Then there are bikes that the Bower keeps indoors. They are usually in very good working order. They aren't the best value that you can find but they are bikes, they're nice, they work and when you add all that up and the time a Bower volunteer has spent on them, they're worth the money and the money is going to a good place. You get a discount if you become a member.
Sundays (market day) at 11 Illawarra Road Marrickville you'll see a bunch of bikes at the front fence of someone's house, all for sale, $50-100, varying quality and condition.
Mitchell Road Auctions no longer sells bicycles! Too much trouble from the Police is what the rumours say.
M&P's Treasure Hut aka The 'Garage Sale' shop - This shop on Agar St, right next to us, is only open on weekends including Fridays. These days we see up to 10 bikes on display, from kids bikes to old racers. Normally these bikes need some work before they are ready to ride but they sell very cheaply - $20-60 gets you something that often only needs a service and a few parts or around $100 to get a reliable ride. They're happy for you to wheel the bike to our shop to get a quote on bike repair before committing to buy from them.
Ebay for Bicycles - Ebay has a lot of bicycles and many of them are great value. I only really recommend this for people with a good eye for quality bikes and preferably some experience buying them on ebay. There are plenty of crap ones, you need to know what kind you would like and what size you need etc because you don't always get to test ride them. Same goes for buying bicycles from Gumtree.
Newtown Hub. At the Newtown Hub (opposite Newtown train station, where Hare Krishna serves food) there are often bikes chained up with a price and phone number. Prices range and start quite low. The quality is also quite varied now that more than one person is doing this, so choose carefully. Same goes for the Addison Road (Marrickville) markets on Sundays.
Western Sydney Cycling Network recycles bikes. You can get a bike on 'permanent loan' from $25. The bike shed is at Fairfield City Showground, Prairiewood. Give Doug a call on 02 96042221.
Many auction houses do bicycles, particularly the Police Auctions and the Cityrail Auction. They're a fun spectacle to watch as long as you're not bidding. People pay silly prices for some very average bicycles.
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