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Old 08-06-09, 12:49 PM   #1
wunderkind
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Police Auctions... worth going?

Just wondering if anyone has bought bikes from Police Auctions where they have recovered bikes but were unclaimed?
There's one coming up and I am curious if there are any "diamonds in the rough" specimens that I can nab for little coins.
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Old 08-06-09, 01:13 PM   #2
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We don't have police bike auctions here. There is a city-owned warehouse that is open to the public every Thursday and there are a whole number of items, including bikes.

From what I've seen, most of the bikes are X-mart fare, with rotted tires, rusted drivetrains and broken/missing brake cables. However, there is sometimes a sweet vintage 3-speed or road bike tucked away in the back. Most of these go for anywhere from $5 to $50. Any bikes that have LBS bike brands (i.e. Trek, Cannondale, etc) on them are usually set aside from the rest and marked up to a couple hundred dollars.

I'd say it is worth checking into.
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Old 08-06-09, 01:34 PM   #3
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They sure where when I lived in Victoria BC. Tons of bikes going for $5 each.
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Old 08-06-09, 01:37 PM   #4
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I bought a couple of bikes at police auctions. They both worked out. Both were eventually stolen partially because always thought of them as really cheap bikes.

It is probably worth going to assuming it is not too time consuming. And you do not have to buy bulk lots of 10 bikes.
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Old 08-06-09, 01:50 PM   #5
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Any good bike is in a cops garage long before the auction is scheduled.
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Old 08-06-09, 01:59 PM   #6
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^ yeah that's kinda what I thought. But if the auction is free, I'd prolly visit. At least it can be a learning experience on how to look at bikes.
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Old 08-06-09, 03:14 PM   #7
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"Any good bike is in a cops garage long before the auction is scheduled."

I suspect most cops don't covet bicycles quite the way you might.

Anyway, the one auction like that I went to, it was all Walmart stuff except for one Trek bike, which was pretty beat up and went for $75 or so. The rest went for $5 or $10.
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Old 08-06-09, 03:44 PM   #8
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^ maybe I can snag a used GMC Denali! It's a Wally world product and from the reviews here, seems quite decent.
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Old 08-07-09, 06:24 AM   #9
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Yes, it is worth going to one. I've attended three of them and it is a lot of fun. Bring a magnet and measuring tape to help identify alloy bits and stand over height.
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Old 08-07-09, 12:03 PM   #10
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A Bianchi for my son and a Gaint for my daughter for $75 total. I miss another bianchi for $20 for my self by about two minutes. A Gary Fisher for my wife for $30. Plus a few I sold. Be prepared for somebody to want a bike so bad they will pay any price. Be prepared to replace upgrade parts, a good frame with old parts can be worth buying. Also be prepared to repair/rebuild anything you buy.
Chains will be rusty, wheels will need to be trued, etc.
use you head and don't fall in love, and you can get some good deals
Just remove the "EVIDENCE" tag before you ride it.
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Old 08-07-09, 01:36 PM   #11
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I went to one police auction, and never again. The earliest items went for decent prices; after that the mob got a little desperate and bid fortunes for junk. Maybe the psychology has changed since then, but it was definately a learning experience.
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Old 08-08-09, 12:41 AM   #12
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My squad told a sob-story to the cops running a bike-auction at the local landfill. They donated the 3-Speeds we wanted. After we'd loaded 'em into our truck, we explained they were going to Nicaragua - which was illegal to ship any aid to at the time - 1986/Reagan/Ollie North. I finished with a rousing shout of "Thanks for busting the embargo!" The bikes were going to medical-workers to get to remote villages after Reagan halted all gasoline shipments.

Police-Auctions are fun!
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Old 08-08-09, 01:03 AM   #13
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So is it really a real auction. Like with the auctioneer speaking at light speed and you hold up the paddle to indicate a bid? Or is it a more subdue affair?
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Old 08-08-09, 01:38 AM   #14
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Depends on the town-city how knutz they get.
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Old 08-08-09, 02:53 AM   #15
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So is it really a real auction. Like with the auctioneer speaking at light speed and you hold up the paddle to indicate a bid? Or is it a more subdue affair?
Pretty much like that. Slower talker, and they had assistants working the crowd to confirm the bids, or something like that. This was in Tulsa, many years ago.
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Old 08-08-09, 04:01 AM   #16
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My local Police auction has professional auctioneers. No buyers premium either. They give you a card to hold up when you bid.
Some bikes are good for parts, others that are somewhat ready for the road usually get higher bids. Things I look for are forks that are not bent back, bolt-on rear derailleur, aluminium parts, etc. You will see bikes that were spray painted, and some of these can be good buys!
Here are a couple I've picked up, the first one I got last year for $12.00 plus tax. The other, this spring for $20.00, I parted it out since then.

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Old 08-08-09, 06:10 AM   #17
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In our area they typically do the auctions in lots of 10 bikes. Anything that doesn't sell gets donated to the local bike charity (not co-op style) But it does get bikes into the hands of under privileged kids.

I would hazard a guess that 98% of what is available at the police auction here is WM BSO's. Ditto the thrift shops and pawn shops. Every now and again something nicer might show up at the pawn shops, but if it is a recognizable name brand like Trek it will be priced somewhere between 80%-110% of new retail, regardless of condition and they seldom want to negotiate on price. I do better buying used from my LBS.

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Old 08-08-09, 07:20 AM   #18
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Here in Southern California they are worth going to and you can get a good bike if you look around. The problem is they tend to sell them in lots. Still they people that buy 25 of 50 of them at a time will sell them at a pretty good price. I managed to get a 2000 Haro escape A7 in pretty good shape for $100.00 from such a dealer. I have just never seen a good selection of road bikes at one.
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