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Old 04-18-09, 07:46 AM   #1
firequall
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Cheaper across the border?

(I accidentally posted this over in the commuting forum, though the responses have been pretty helpful. I just want to get the tourer's perspective.)


A while ago a friend of mine said he had a friend who worked at Cannondale and was willing to give me a pretty good discount on a bike when I (finally) had the money. Suffice it to say, he's no longer with the company and thus my "in" has fallen through. Oh well.

I'm looking to get a pretty good touring bike for my trip to St. John's, NL next summer, as well as general riding around the city. Naturally, being a recent post-secondary grad, I have little money to spend and am looking for a pretty sweet deal (without sacrificing quality).

So my question is: Would I be saving any money by driving across the border and picking a bike up in the US or am I just better off to order a bike locally? How is the mark-up in the Canadian market?

I've also been reading countless threads on which bike to get and the various benefits, but I'm definitely open for any suggestions (I'm about 6ft, 140lbs, male, if that helps).
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Old 04-18-09, 07:50 AM   #2
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What is your budget?
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Old 04-18-09, 09:02 AM   #3
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What is your budget?
About $1,500 (excl. tax), max.
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Old 04-18-09, 11:24 AM   #4
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[QUOTE=firequall;8754049] Naturally, being a recent post-secondary grad, /QUOTE]

I hate to sound like a crank, but did your field of study include using the Internet to do your own research?

My suggestion:
1. Look up the prices of bikes you want to buy in the U.S.
2. Look up the prices of bikes you want to buy in Canada.
3. Think about whether you want to consider value for your time and transportation costs to come to the U.S.
4. Consider how you feel about "sneaking" a US-purchased bike across the border to Canada without paying duties, if any.

Compare. Decide.
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Old 04-18-09, 11:46 AM   #5
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I'm not sure if you'd be saving anything, given the cost of motor travel. Now to a completely different idea: given that you're looking for a tourer/townie, have you looked at the (Canadian) Urbanite from Urbane Cycle? (http://www.ucycle.com/node/151)

It seems a very well built, well equipped bike, and at a very fair price. Given the tattered U.S. dollar, Canada/U.S. seem about the same. The days of people crossing the border north for bargains seem to have disappeared.

Best of luck.
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Old 04-18-09, 11:51 AM   #6
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That sure would meet your budget.
Nice bike.
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Old 04-18-09, 12:12 PM   #7
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Cannonade is made in the US, for the next few days (moving production to Asia). Therefore there isn't any duty bringing the bike back here. There could be GST, as there would be if you do domestic retail so it is a wash. If the state you buy it in has a tax of it's own, and there isn't a tourist exemption then you might end up paying extra tax.

I did a run like that for a Cannonade about 20 years ago. I was actually on my way to buy a Bike Nashbar mountain bike, this was also a time when MTBs were hard to find up here, I ended up getting the Cannonade. Back then, hardly a product made it to Canada without a distributor, and all prices were marked up 30 percent, plus there was duty pre-free trade. If one wanted a vacation in the US, and spent more than 48 hours there, one could partially finance it and didn't really have to mislead anyone at the border. Since all boarder guards assume they are being lied to one sometimes had to create a lie story just to have the simplest most convincing truth, they would actually believe, but that is a whole other art form...

These days it's less likely to make sense to do US runs because:

- The border is a nightmare, it isn't worth getting thrown in jail due to poor US record keeping just to go shopping in the US, or really visit there for any reason. Ask me how I know...

- Gas prices are higher, so trips need a real reason, shopping isn't enough;

- Many products remain either unavailable up here or radically overpriced, but it isn't so true about bikes. I do import most expensive parts right now, and got a Rohloff hub for about 2/3rds what they cost up here;

- We are in a recession, and stuff like the Urbane Cyclist's frame from Toronto is currently $250, so sometimes your best deal is local;

- We have KIJIJI, and Craigs, so second hand high quality is the best bet every time you can find it;

- The dollar volatility means that the cost of Canadian stock is often high or low relative to current prices. They buy last year at high Canabuck valuations, and that stock in Canada could be cheaper, if you can find it, than going to US with a weak dollar and buying there, or vise versa. Changes rather rapidly.

- Everything comes increasingly from China, where we import "US" goods on the same essential terms as The US, and bringing stuff in via the US isn't as favourable. So when Cannonade is made in China, the access route will be the same for Canada and the US, and subject to the nonsense of our Can/China imports policy, rather than out Can/US policy, and every country seems to bend over nicely for Chinese imports. But at any rate, importing from China via the US will probably make least sense. Of course the US will have sales, and specialty items we can only dream of.

- Postage and shipping policies from the US get seriously worse every day, so that harder these days.
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Old 04-18-09, 04:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
I hate to sound like a crank, but did your field of study include using the Internet to do your own research?

My suggestion:
1. Look up the prices of bikes you want to buy in the U.S.
2. Look up the prices of bikes you want to buy in Canada.
3. Think about whether you want to consider value for your time and transportation costs to come to the U.S.
4. Consider how you feel about "sneaking" a US-purchased bike across the border to Canada without paying duties, if any.

Compare. Decide.
Sorry, no, but I can write one hell of an essay with a typewriter at 120wpm.

It's not like I haven't tried using the Internet for comparisons but, you know, what with it being endless and all, trying to find a starting and ending point (with prices, mind you) is just a tad daunting. I've been led in circles of websites that are primarily based in the US or good luck trying to find a Canadian retailer that lists a price.


Thanks for the input everyone.
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Old 04-18-09, 05:31 PM   #9
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Hi firequall

Bike prices may appear lower in the States but with the Canadian dollar as low as it is, it makes a big difference (about 15%-20%). Remember your still starting off with Canadian dollars, no matter what.

Everyone else has already covered the additional costs of importing a bike from the States (gas, duties?, taxes, exchange rate, etc.). It really is cheaper and easier in the long run to buy locally. Your budget price of $1500 CDN (give or take $100), however, will buy you one of several very nice touring bikes in Canada.

That is approximately the dealer list price for a Surly LHT (Cambridge Cycle), or a Trek 520 (any Trek dealer), a well-equipped Urbanite Touring (Urbane Cycle) or, my recently discovered favorite, the Norco Kwest - http://www.norco.com/bikes/road/performance-road/kwest/

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Old 04-18-09, 05:49 PM   #10
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Buy local.

A good LBS will include at least a year, sometimes more, of basic tune-ups when you buy the bike from them. Unless you do all your own work yourself, this will offset any possible price advantage you might get if buying the bike in the US.

As to which bike, there are numerous options. If speed (and the perception of speed) is not important: Surly LHT, Trek 520, Cannondale Touring. Maybe the Masi Speciale Randonneur.

If you're looking for something with a little more "zing" and want the option to ride on dirt and gravel (but not real off-road stuff), a cross bike is a good choice: Surly Cross Check or Traveler's Check; Bianchi Volpe; Jamis Aurora; Specialized Tricross.

If you're sticking to pavement: Salsa Casseroll, Specialized Sequoia.

Also, Marioni is a Canadian bike manufacturer that apparently makes some good bikes.
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Old 04-18-09, 05:58 PM   #11
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OK:

Surly LHT: $1,100 U.S. plus tax = $1,437 Canadian Dollars
Norco Kwest mention above = about $1,600 Canadian after paying PST.

So, it's $100 more (Canadian) to buy the Kwest.

However, it's 316 km to Syracuse, where you would have to go to buy LHT. Then you have to return. You have to pay a toll for part of the way. So the cost probably comes out equal.


Plus, it looks to me like the value of the bike is well over the customs limit for a Canadian resident returning to Canada, but I'm just looking at what I can find on the internet.
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Old 04-18-09, 07:27 PM   #12
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Check the bike shops in Burlington, VT, there are several.
Earls is probably the largest- they usually stock Trek 520.
Old Spokes Home [OSH] usually has Surly CrossCheck and LHT in stock.
I've purchased bikes from both places. Earls, being a large store, is less personal with more sales pressure- they clearly want to move inventory. Their shop is fine. OSH is much more commuter orientated, friendly and do a great job. I would call either to make sure they have your size in stock and visit mid-week on a rainy day.
Plus there are a couple other shops in the area- no direct experience with them.
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Old 04-18-09, 09:23 PM   #13
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Over a year ago I compared prices of Kona Jakes in Montreal and Burlington VT. They were about $100 cheaper in VT, but I didnt think that worth the price of the gas and the lack of local after sales support.
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