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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 10-02-09, 11:55 AM   #1
Niles H.
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Ordering a Bike from an Overseas Seller?

I've heard of people ordering titanium frames directly from China. People often buy other sorts of products [bright LED flashlights come to mind] directly from offshore online sellers [often based in Asia], and it seems to work out.

Tim and Cindy Travis wanted to buy Koga Miyata bikes that were much cheaper (at that time) when purchased in Europe. Someone said that they could have bought them through a seller in England or Europe and saved quite a bit of money, compared with buying them from a US-based seller.

Could someone overseas buy from a US online discount seller, and save some money (or, simply buy a bike that is unavailable in their country)?

Could someone in the US do the same, with an overseas seller?

It seems to work out for some people; but I don't know what the potential pitfalls are, and the recommended procedures.

Does anyone know of good China-based companies that will sell (bikes, frames, and other bike products) directly to buyers in the US or elsewhere?
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Old 10-02-09, 12:46 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
Could someone in the US do the same, with an overseas seller?
I think there are several people on this forum who have purchased bikes from Thorn, Bob Jackson and Mercian in the UK. It's pretty easy to go to their websites and figure out the process and prices.

Remember that US-based purchasers don't have to pay UK VAT (Value Added Tax), which I think is 15% or 17% right now. A year ago, when the exchange rate was 1.35 dollars/pound this was a screaming deal; right now the rate has gone back up to 1.6/1.

I've purchased a fair number of parts and accessories from ProBikeKit, Ebay UK, SJS Cycles, and even directly from Carradice.co.uk. Sometimes the savings vs US sellers is substantial; sometimes you're just able to find stuff (sizes, colors, styles) that doesn't exist in the U.S.
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Old 10-02-09, 03:53 PM   #3
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buying a bike is a lot like buying clothes. If you are an easy fit, it can be a great way to go. I have had good luck with it. If you are difficult to fit, or are picky about things, it might be a better bet to be able to test ride something before you commit money to it.
I have mail ordered lots of racing road frames but I build all my own bikes and am a really easy fit. In fact, I can ride most anything on the market from 53 to 56 comfortably, but I am lucky. A friend of mine has a really difficult time fitting on a bike and had horrible luck ordering a Kuota triathlon bike. He saved 200 on the purchase but ended up spending close to 600 getting it professionally fitted.
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Old 10-02-09, 04:48 PM   #4
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I buy stuff from Rapha and Wiggle in the UK via their websites and it's realy easy. I once worried that US customs would charge import duty, but that has never been an issue. My purchases just arrive via Fed Ex
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Old 10-02-09, 06:56 PM   #5
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I bought my touring frame from the UK, had it delivered to the USA. I did buy from a bike store, though the whole transaction was an ebay sale. The only issue I had was the shipping time -it was something like 6-8 weeks. I still don't know what took the time, and I do believe the bike store in the UK did ship it in reasonable time (I recall the shipping label let me know that). The funny thing was just before I got the frame -via USPS, not FedEX or UPS -I'd been in contact with the bike store expressing my concern over the time it was taking to receive the frame. They said they'd try to trace things at their end, and I did the same (I think I called Boston area customs directly, though in the end it came in through New York). I still don't know if that made the difference and some customs agent decided that frame should be delivered after all....

I'd think much has to depend on the business you deal with -whether they are trustworthy and reputable or not -as well as a certain randomness with customs. It all ended very happily for me though.
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