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Bike flippers, advice needed...

Old 08-10-10, 08:41 AM
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3speed
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Bike flippers, advice needed...

I don't really "flip" bikes normally, but 1. I'm kinda interested in starting so that I can help pay for my bike habit and 2. Sometimes I see bikes that just seem like easy money, and I'm sure as hell not rich so why not.

Anyway... Would you guys pick up these couple of bikes? I was thinking about grabbing the Sanwa as long as it has aluminum wheels. The Raleigh I wasn't quite as sure about, but was thinking it seemed like a good buy too. Any advice for a possible newbie flipper looking to make a few bucks to pay for a bike habit?

https://madison.craigslist.org/bik/1887513262.html
https://madison.craigslist.org/bik/1888417487.html
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Old 08-10-10, 12:37 PM
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It depends on your market. I've seen local flippers buy and re-sell the same bike on CL the very same day!!!

Do you plan on refurbishing them first or do you plan to simply re-list them with better pictures and better ads? How much do you want to make on each bike? I have a C-note minimum, if I'm not making at least $100 I dont buy it.

In general a refurbished bike needs 2-6 hours of work depending your skills and the starting condition of the bike and they usually need $30-50 in parts.

I dont want to come across the wrong way but if you have to ask you shouldnt be buying it. But, we all started off somewhere!! I'm gradually getting away from entry level bikes and trying to concentrate on mid to high bikes.

To make $5000 profit in a year I need to flip 50 entry level bikes while clearing $100 on each. With careful buying i can profit $5000 flipping 10-20 mid to high end bikes.
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Old 08-10-10, 01:16 PM
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Not coming off the wrong way at all. I get what you're saying. I am just starting, though, and am just looking for advice as to whether the bikes I'm looking at will even turn a $10 profit. I'm not looking to profit all that much, though. As for ability and the local market, I've been taking my own bikes apart since I was 6, started trying to upgrade them by probably age 12, and am now 26. I'm not a pro, but I can change a tire easily, tune gears well, and grease bearings no problem. I live in a Very bike friendly college town where Lots of people ride bikes and the market is what I would consider fairly high. I see WAY more overpriced bikes than good deals. Used bike shops here want $500+ for a scratched up 70s Schwinn Varsity. I was thinking I could probably sell the Sanwa pretty well as-is, maybe a good wipe down, new tires, and a little tune up. The other I figured will need minimum of new tires and cables and a good tune-up/cleaning. In my area, though, I think I could get at least $100 pretty quickly for the Raleigh, maybe $150 depending on condition when I see it in person. No idea yet on the Sanwa, but I read they were decent. Figured I could check it out in person and see how decent of a bike it seemed to be.

I know a person isn't exactly being paid for their time at this, but at this point I'd be happy If I averaged ~$15/hour for my work. If I bought for $30, put in $30, worked on it for a couple hours and sold for $85-100 then I'd be ok with that. If I got more I'd consider the flip a success. It may be different now, but I've never done this before, and I've got to start somewhere.

Thanks for the advice.

Last edited by 3speed; 08-10-10 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 08-10-10, 04:09 PM
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Good read and good advice. Thanks. I'm not really looking to flip lots of bikes as a major source of income or anything, so maybe I'll find that it's not a very good route for me to try to get extra bike spending money. I don't have the money to dump a ton into buying up bulk parts to get them cheap, etc. I more just figured if I could pick up a good deal here and there when I'm on CL anyway(I usually take a glance at the bike section every evening) and make a few bucks for my own bikes then that would be great. Otherwise I don't really have any money to put into a nice bike for myself. Maybe I'll just try a couple and if it doesn't work out then I'll stick to beating around on my Bridgestone and longing for the better classic road bikes.

Thanks again to you both for the advice. Quality info to read and think about.

So do you flippers only obtain bikes that are free-$10 or something? I don't think I've seen a non rusted out working bike for under $25 in this area in 6 months (haven't lived here that long), and even those were department store and the like. I can't believe how many people here are trying to sell beat up 95 Huffys for $40, and the listings actually disappear, so they must be selling them.
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Old 08-10-10, 04:27 PM
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I like that Sprite for $25 and if it's complete and not afu it would seem to have potential. But, that's just my opinion and I don't flip bikes, so what do I know?

I don't think it was mentioned above: if you're going to do this with an eye on making a couple bucks you probably need to have real good estimation skills with respect to what you're going to do with the bike -- what it will need.

If that Sprite's not a rust queen and if you're not looking at doing something like replacing the wheels with aluminum rims and SS spokes it looks to my amateur eye like a good candidate. Notice how long the head tube is for such a small frame and how the bars end up being higher than the saddle -- women of a certain age like that geometry. I know this because I bought my wife a Sprite almost exactly like that one and she loves it. Hers is 10 speed though.

edit: Of course, if it's your goal to clear some amount of money on a bike flip, the market for that particular bike has to be able to sustain that. It's necessary that the market will support the value that you add to the bike through maintenance, repair, detailing, upgrade, and marketing. The problem with the Sprite may be that there are a lot of bike markets in the U.S. in which a really nice Sprite is just not valued that highly. Perhaps a free Sprite needing minimal work/parts can't be sold in your market for enough to justify the effort.

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Old 08-10-10, 06:54 PM
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I love saving the junkers and converting them into my own "franken bike" creations that are really fun to own and ride. I usually profit 100-300% after expenses and thats not even trying . If you build something unique, there is a market out there for the strange and abnormal. I don't take my time into consideration because its more of a hobby, its great for relieving stress....but it can create more if your not always on top of things
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Old 08-10-10, 06:56 PM
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I think I do have a pretty good market, but I was still going for basically exactly what you said(chromoly frame, 3 piece crank, alloy wheels) minus some old mixte stuff that I think the college campus girls will buy. They seem to love that stuff. Cute little mixte with fenders and a rack. Those things are quite often about the same price as the road bikes here around campus. $100-200 depending mostly on condition more than the model of bike (I'm guessing this is obviously just because they don't know what makes a good bike beyond nice paint and a comfortable seat/riding position).

As for the CL timing, actually I work afternoon/evenings, so I'm usually looking morning, early afternoon or late at night. I think being in a college based town, though, all hours are common hours.
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Old 08-11-10, 09:12 AM
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I flip for the same reasons as you; to pay for several habits........ You could look at both bikes as potential flippers; as well as learning tools. I would never be able to make real money at flipping; I'm not that good. But it is addictive and if flipping can at least pay for itself; you are way ahead of the game.

I don't even want to think how much bass fishing has cost me over the last 40 years.....

You can clean up the Raleigh and re-sell it for sure; probably make money. The name alone will interest the casual new lady rider.

Assuming it's not some rare "sleeper", it's probably the same for the other bike. Just cleaned; tuned and put in solid ridable condition; you should double your bucks.

Last edited by Thumpic; 08-11-10 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 08-11-10, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by miamijim View Post
It depends on your market. I've seen local flippers buy and re-sell the same bike on CL the very same day!!!

Do you plan on refurbishing them first or do you plan to simply re-list them with better pictures and better ads? How much do you want to make on each bike? I have a C-note minimum, if I'm not making at least $100 I dont buy it.

In general a refurbished bike needs 2-6 hours of work depending your skills and the starting condition of the bike and they usually need $30-50 in parts.

I dont want to come across the wrong way but if you have to ask you shouldnt be buying it. But, we all started off somewhere!! I'm gradually getting away from entry level bikes and trying to concentrate on mid to high bikes.

To make $5000 profit in a year I need to flip 50 entry level bikes while clearing $100 on each. With careful buying i can profit $5000 flipping 10-20 mid to high end bikes.
Hi Jim...I do what you['re discussing...I only touch bikes that I am confident will sell for $300 plus. It takes a little longer to find them, but it takes much less time to sell them and to work on them. I am very happy with how it's working out and my goal is to fund 2/3rds of my hobby with flips. I am definitely doing that and might actually be coming out ahead.
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Old 08-12-10, 09:51 PM
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I was where you were about two years ago. I was buying everything I could get my hands on. I took a mechanics class at the local bike shop so I knew a little about how to repair bikes. Your right you have to start somewhere, so just jump in and start fixing bikes. Eventually you'll find your nitch and work mostly on Road bikes or Mountain bikes or BMX or something else. I went for flipping 50 bikes the first year to about 20 so far the 2nd. I made a choice not to work on mountain bikes and went with Road Bikes. Road bikes seem to be worth more and are actually less complicated when it comes to shifting unless you have index shifters. It will definately pay for your habit and probably will pay for your next vacation. Its a great way to make a few extra bucks and you always get to shop for another bike all over again. have fun, I do
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Old 08-12-10, 11:11 PM
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Lot's of good advice here. I'll share some more with you if you promise not to use it in my area. I'm in a similar situation to you, living in a town with lots of young girls looking for stylish 'vintage' Mixte or step-through frame road bikes. Having ascertained this I focus almost entirely on flipping this style of bike.
The emphasis is WAY on the condition of the paint/chrome as well as having a decent seat and getting it in good working condition to minimize trips to the bike shop. If you're selling a ladies bike name recognition means very little in my experience. I made my biggest profit on the sale of a Zebra-Kenko Thunder, a no-name bike that had gorgeous paint. What does mean a lot is having it clean and shiny. Adding 'custom' touches like coloured housing, using a paint pen to outline lugs and colour co-ordinating with the bar-tape or grips is key. I use my fiance as a style consultant and on average we clear $200 for bikes we sell.
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Old 08-13-10, 12:26 PM
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I know what you mean about name recognition. I sold a French bike called a Pierre a few months back. It was a 60's French bike, similar to the Peugeot. It was all original , but only in fair condition. Could not find anything on the net about it. I figured since it was unheard of no one would want it. It sold the next day for $150. I know most people want a bike to look great, but in that situation the charisma must of taken over. I almost always make sure the seat looks good or I replace with one that does. Bikes don't seem to be like cars, where everything has to be original. Looks and functionalitiy seem to be most important, and a good price. Its nice to a have a style consultant. I have to wing that on my own. Most of the early Peugeots and English Bikes, such as Raleigh had those touches on the frames your talking about. I haven't tried that , but may consider that. The Mixte bikes sure are popluar with the ladies, I know thats a sure sale

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Old 08-15-10, 01:54 PM
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I have good luck with smaller size frames (adds more women to the buyers pool) I agree with Miamijim on the 100.00 profit per bike minimum too. I appraise each potential flip as to condition, desirability and component value before I make a decision, some bikes are worth more in pieces than whole. I tend to stay with vintage road bikes, occasionally a vintage mtb (I put slicks on and sell as commuters). I stay away from BMX unless it is vintage and cheap. I figure my time at 40.00 an hour and parts at double cost to try and keep close to 65% minimum gross profit margin on bikes and parts combined just like a business. I also enter everything into an excell spread sheet so it can be tracked.
All this is to keep my bike hobby self sufficient, I certainly could not survive on what I make on bikes.
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Old 10-17-19, 12:48 PM
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I started flipping because i don't have a job and i'm searching for a good keeper so, a few advices.

I bought an all orignal 1998 GT Palomar, payed about $60 and sold it for about $100, here in Uruguay that's a nice profit. I tuned it, new rear tyre, new cables and some oiling and lube. I thaught that would be my bike for the rest of my life but my rule says, it doesn't matter which bike you bought, just put it in marketplace (or CL in America) at high price but still good. That is the first advice, the second one is to have a multi use bike. It does not have to be good, just need to be in good mechanichal conditions to get you to everywhere when your fliping bikes are being fixed. I used a 28" rimmed bike, it worked nice as i put a rack on it and it carried lots of parts and even complete bikes, but you should look at a cheap, 26" rimmed steel bike, strong and at least 6 gears for when you are carrying things. The third advise is to know people. If you are selling something to someone you are used to se selling bike things, ask for his number and associate with him if he is near you. Associating means helping each other with parts for example. A guy here in my neighborhood flips women bikes and i flip mountain bikes but we are always helping each other with used parts, buying at "friendly price" or exchanging. Hope it works for you and if you think you bought a bad bike, use a paper and put some options with it's cost, that would help you decide what to do.
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Old 10-19-19, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Nahuel_B58 View Post
I started flipping because i don't have a job and i'm searching for a good keeper so, a few advices.

I bought an all orignal 1998 GT Palomar, payed about $60 and sold it for about $100, here in Uruguay that's a nice profit. I tuned it, new rear tyre, new cables and some oiling and lube. I thaught that would be my bike for the rest of my life but my rule says, it doesn't matter which bike you bought, just put it in marketplace (or CL in America) at high price but still good. That is the first advice, the second one is to have a multi use bike. It does not have to be good, just need to be in good mechanichal conditions to get you to everywhere when your fliping bikes are being fixed. I used a 28" rimmed bike, it worked nice as i put a rack on it and it carried lots of parts and even complete bikes, but you should look at a cheap, 26" rimmed steel bike, strong and at least 6 gears for when you are carrying things. The third advise is to know people. If you are selling something to someone you are used to se selling bike things, ask for his number and associate with him if he is near you. Associating means helping each other with parts for example. A guy here in my neighborhood flips women bikes and i flip mountain bikes but we are always helping each other with used parts, buying at "friendly price" or exchanging. Hope it works for you and if you think you bought a bad bike, use a paper and put some options with it's cost, that would help you decide what to do.
It's been 9 years since the OP thus it's highly likely he bought or passed on those bikes.

Cheers
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Old 10-19-19, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
It's been 9 years since the OP thus it's highly likely he bought or passed on those bikes.

Cheers
**** i did'nt notice that haha, i just entered here because the post appeared in Recommended Posts. Cheers.
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Old 10-19-19, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Nahuel_B58 View Post
**** i did'nt notice that haha, i just entered here because the post appeared in Recommended Posts. Cheers.
I've done the same thing or joined a recently resurrected thread not realizing that the start of it was nearly a decade in the past.

Cheers
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Old 10-20-19, 05:05 PM
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I bought a 1984 or so Centurion Elite RS years about 5 years ago for $100 . It was like new , no scratches or abuse and it was my size . The original owner never rode the bike, it just sat in his garage.I did not buy it to flip but after riding it for about 2 years , I decided it was a bit too modern for my taste. It rode very nicely and had some very nice components , cyclone derailleurs , gran compe brakes and very nice bronze anodized wheels. This was an upper tier bike with sport geometry that was fun to ride. I listed it on Craigslist for $300 and it sold to the first guy that looked at it! All I had in it was a set of tires I already had in my attic. I took the profit to fund my purchase of a 1977 Raleigh Competition GS that was in the same pristine condition as the Centurion. I paid $300 for that and still ride it regularly. I can’t imagine actually making money flipping bikes , maybe when I retire in a couple of years.
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Old 10-20-19, 10:07 PM
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Flippin bikes ain't as easy as it was 9 years ago. My really good stuff sits on Craigslist & Facebook for months before anybody shows up and actually buys it. But the good news is, I'm starting to find lots of 26" wheeled, step through, front suspension, multi speed, aluminum framed bikes that are in excellent like new condition for anywhere from $25 to $50. So, I'm trying out buying & selling those. Also keeping a close eye out for 80's era classic step through frames & mixtes too. And, keeping my beautiful fully lugged, steel frame, 21 pound, drop bar, race bikes off the market for now.
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Old 10-22-19, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
For the mid level or lower, the market is dead. Higher end stuff can do well, but you need to re-calibrate your values to recent realities..
Spot on observation. I don't actively seek bikes to flip anymore but I have friends and they tell their friends I can sell bikes. They ask me to sell something for them and what it might be worth. Usually a jaw drop when they get the bad news on the likely value. I did sell a very nice Gitane recently for a 1/3 commission. Still not that much $$ for a lot of work. You younger guys have at it though. The amount of time/energy is just not worth it to me.

I don't even look at Craig's anymore. Majority of ads from the same seller which is a warehouse semi- store front.
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Old 10-23-19, 07:03 PM
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It's a hobby for me and, I don't think that I really break even on anything I sell. The only time I've even remotely made a profit is when I've picked up a really dirty bike with years of residue on it for around $30. Then, sell it for around $200 after cleaning & polishing and putting new parts & tires on it. The used bike market is pretty tough. My best compensation is the satisfaction I get from another person getting a really good deal on a nice vintage bike.
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Old 10-24-19, 08:12 AM
  #22  
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It's just too much effort to sell them...having to answer emails, re-arrange your schedule around people who will very likely be late, photo the bikes...

If you use ebay, having to wrap the parts, ship the parts, communicate with the buyers...

Not even mentioning the restoring...just the sales is too much work. That's a job. I have a job.

The older I've gotten, the less I want strangers showing up. I enjoyed it more when I was younger, but now it's a burden, and there's always something else it's interrupting. The inevitable having to walk people through the collection, like a curator or something. They're just bikes, even the really cool ones.

Maybe when/if I'm retired as a way to stay active. Right now, I talk to more than enough people in a day without having to sell a bike.

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Old 10-24-19, 10:19 AM
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Best year I had refurbing bikes was 2008, when gas prices in the US went north of $4/gal. People were coming out of the woodwork looking for alternatives to three-figure fillups of their trucks and SUVs. It's been a steady slow decline in the bike market since then IMHO.

I realized earlier this season that the used market was dead when I couldn't sell a pair of Gitane road bikes fully refurbed for $99 ea. Went straight into clearance mode. I still have some parts and bikes left to sell, but it's a fraction of what I once had, and it's a much more manageable number. Sell the rest over the winter and spring, and no more rebuilding. Fun ride, but it couldn't last forever.
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Old 10-24-19, 08:11 PM
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I think one of the really big problems with selling vintage bikes is the competition from brand new cheap bikes from China. Just check this out:

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ington1-xv.htm

I can't compete with brand new stuff from Asia that sells for peanuts every day of the week. Maybe if a big trade embargo started or something. ...............
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Old 10-24-19, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
It's just too much effort to sell them...having to answer emails, re-arrange your schedule around people who will very likely be late, photo the bikes...

The older I've gotten, the less I want strangers showing up. I enjoyed it more when I was younger, but now it's a burden, and there's always something else it's interrupting.
Indeed. Even my friends who want to come by and drop off a bike for a tune up, easy money but I ask when ya coming over- tonight is the answer. That is just too vague for me. I am already older and value my free time after a day at work. Old people go to sleep early
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