Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

Fixing up old bikes: Is it a guaranteed financial loss?

Notices
General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

Fixing up old bikes: Is it a guaranteed financial loss?

Old 07-18-11, 05:44 AM
  #1  
BlueRaleigh
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 317
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Fixing up old bikes: Is it a guaranteed financial loss?

I've got two road bikes, both old Raleighs, one of which I put over $1000 in new parts into, and the other I put about $700 in new parts on. If I were to have put either on Craigslist the very day I finished fixing them up, I doubt I could get half of my investment out of either.

Some bike shops seem to thrive fixing up old bikes. How do they do it? Do they cut corners in some way? I know they get better prices as dealers, but still... I don't see it.
BlueRaleigh is offline  
Old 07-18-11, 05:58 AM
  #2  
curbtender
Senior Member
 
curbtender's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: SF Bay Area, East bay
Posts: 6,374

Bikes: Marinoni, Kestral 200 2002 Trek 5200, KHS Flite, Koga Miyata, Schwinn Spitfire 5, Schwinn Speedster, Mondia Special, Univega Alpina, Miyata team Ti, MB3

Mentioned: 37 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 843 Post(s)
Liked 317 Times in 231 Posts
They use other peoples money. You don't have to put the top-shelf stuff on to make it run well.
curbtender is offline  
Old 07-18-11, 06:15 AM
  #3  
Esteban32696
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,157
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
They get better prices that individuals , as stated above , they won't use $$$ parts if reselling,, they may cannabalize parts from free junk bikes, & they don't totally make them like new,, or better than new. Many buyers will buy their used bikes by looks, more than fantastic condition.
Esteban32696 is offline  
Old 07-18-11, 07:35 AM
  #4  
wahoonc
Membership Not Required
 
wahoonc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: On the road-USA
Posts: 16,855

Bikes: Giant Excursion, Raleigh Sports, Raleigh R.S.W. Compact, Motobecane? and about 20 more! OMG

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 67 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
What individuals do is called "flipping". You buy an old bike for $50, put $50 worth of parts on it and sell it for $150...or possibly more. People that do it on a regular basis can make money, they also buy parts in bulk and have a stash of old parts. You aren't going to get rich doing it, and most people that I have met doing it are doing it for the love of bikes and quite often roll the profits back into more and better bikes.

I routinely double the value of my bikes in upgrades and customizing. But I am doing it for my pleasure, not to sell. None of my bikes would be considered high end, but they give me pleasure and that is what counts to me. I do sell the occasional one, but it is seldom for financial gain. It is usually to make more room in the shop, get rid of a duplicate or raise funds for a different bike that I desire.

Aaron
__________________
Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

"Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
_Nicodemus

"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
_krazygluon
wahoonc is offline  
Old 07-18-11, 08:00 AM
  #5  
Looigi
Senior Member
 
Looigi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 8,950
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
Originally Posted by BlueRaleigh View Post
... I doubt I could get half of my investment out of either...
Unless there is reasonable expectation to make money on something, it's an expense, not an investment. It doesn't matter how much fun, enjoyment, or even health benefit accrues. If there is no expectation of monetary return, it's not an investment. So the bad news is your going to lose money on your transactions. The good news is they weren't a bad investment.
Looigi is offline  
Old 07-18-11, 09:32 AM
  #6  
Ratzinger
Buddy
 
Ratzinger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 683

Bikes: 80s Gardin. Green fixed-gear. POS mountain bike.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Look hard to find bikes that are especially cheap (garage sales, thrift stores). Buy parts in bulk (like handlebar tape and ball bearings) on the internet. Private citizen bike flippers also seems to just love fixing up old bikes, it isn't a hugely profitable thing. Some people seem to do ok though.

Stores that sell used bikes, at least around here, charge way too much. It's what you pay for the privilege of not searching on craigslist and going to check out the bike yourself.
Ratzinger is offline  
Old 07-18-11, 10:09 AM
  #7  
BlueRaleigh
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 317
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Well, I definitely didn't build them to make a profit. But there's always new finds and sometimes the bicycle assortment just gets too crowded and some have to go. Not being able to get your full investment out is understandable, but it sucks not even being able to get half. Ah, well...just the way it is, I suppose.
BlueRaleigh is offline  
Old 07-18-11, 10:39 AM
  #8  
Nightshade
Humvee of bikes =Worksman
 
Nightshade's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 5,362
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by BlueRaleigh View Post
I've got two road bikes, both old Raleighs, one of which I put over $1000 in new parts into, and the other I put about $700 in new parts on. If I were to have put either on Craigslist the very day I finished fixing them up, I doubt I could get half of my investment out of either.

Some bike shops seem to thrive fixing up old bikes. How do they do it? Do they cut corners in some way? I know they get better prices as dealers, but still... I don't see it.

You fail to understand a basic business principal......put enough in it to resale but not enough to make it mine.

Most people are fussy with what they fix up to keep using better materials and parts to have the best. Whereas for resale function is all that matters let the new owner worry about the bling.
__________________
My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
Nightshade is offline  
Old 07-18-11, 10:46 AM
  #9  
Flying Merkel
Senior Member
 
Flying Merkel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Costa Mesa CA
Posts: 2,641
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
I buy and sell lower end transpo-bikes. Parts are sourced at the local swapmeet or cannibalized from other bikes. I can get a set of tires for less than one tire at a bike shop. Cables run about a buck apiece. People want perfect bikes. Few are willing to pay for a perfect bike.
Flying Merkel is offline  
Old 07-18-11, 10:55 AM
  #10  
LesterOfPuppets
cowboy, steel horse, etc
 
LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Valley of the Sun.
Posts: 34,646

Bikes: everywhere

Mentioned: 56 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5553 Post(s)
Liked 1,282 Times in 673 Posts
My last flipped find was a GT Outpost. Thrift store purchase cost: $7.50 + tax. needs: 2 new cables, one new tire. Had tire on hand, cables $2.00. Spent probably 3 hours repacking bearings and doing cables, making adjustments. Sold for $75.00

One example from my stable. KHS Comp frame cost $25. Wheels $90. All the other stuff, probably $275. Time: probably 25 hours of online shopping and bike assembly with much trial and error. What could I get for it on craigslist? $75.00, maybe $125 if I repost for 6 months.

Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 07-18-11 at 11:05 AM.
LesterOfPuppets is online now  
Old 07-18-11, 05:18 PM
  #11  
Bikewer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,442
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I do this all the time for my "mad money". As the guys above say.... First, I get my bikes either for free or for next to nothing. How? I work at a major university and the kids abandon bikes every year. The university always goes around at some point after graduation and cuts them loose and donates them. I just go around before that and identify bikes that look re-sellable (many are not) and contact the owner to get permission to take 'em.
Then, I fix 'em up to decent shape by replacing chains, cables, and re-building wheel bearings and such. I won't take a bike that needs major repairs. Usually, I only invest 20-30- bucks in parts and quite a lot of labor... Cleaning up these neglected machines is a pain....
Then I turn 'em over for prices that usually run under 200 dollars, more usually 150-125.
Everybody happy... The owner gets a decently-rebuilt bike and the thing doesn't end up in a landfill.
Bikewer is offline  
Old 07-18-11, 05:49 PM
  #12  
joejack951
Senior Member
 
joejack951's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Wilmington, DE
Posts: 12,008

Bikes: 2016 Hong Fu FM-079-F, 1984 Trek 660, 2005 Iron Horse Warrior Expert, 2009 Pedal Force CX1, 2016 Islabikes Beinn 20 (son's)

Mentioned: 30 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1198 Post(s)
Liked 52 Times in 37 Posts
If you shop around, you can find road bikes for cheap that need nothing more than tires, cables, bar tape, and some grease (or less). I've fixed up plenty requiring just that and usually make $100-150 on the sale. A common scenario is $75 for the bike, $25 in parts to rehab, and sell for $200. You can't go around buying other people's junk and expect to make money though. In my experience, really good finds (where good money can be made) are few and far between and take constant searching to find. If I added up the hours involved in shopping for the bike and parts plus wrenching time, I'm not making much per hour but it's fun and I learn some new stuff with each new project. That's good enough for me.
joejack951 is offline  
Old 07-18-11, 05:52 PM
  #13  
RaleighSport
Hogosha Sekai
 
RaleighSport's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: STS
Posts: 6,671

Bikes: Leader 725, Centurion Turbo, Scwhinn Peloton, Schwinn Premis, GT Tequesta, Bridgestone CB-2,72' Centurion Lemans, 72 Raleigh Competition

Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 69 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 12 Times in 11 Posts
I personally buy multiple similar old bikes at the dump.. then use the ones in worse condition as parts bikes. Keeps my cost very low (obviously chains bearings etc do NOT fit this criteria). And I know of a bike outreach place around here that takes donation bikes strips them of their parts then bin them all for use on builds on 100-200 bikes they charge 300-400 for.. (I'm not exactly fond of them for obvious reasons here). But yeah getting a classic bike to the way YOU want it, your gonna be losing money if you resell.
RaleighSport is offline  
Old 07-19-11, 04:35 AM
  #14  
kengrubb
Senior Member
 
kengrubb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Olympia, WA
Posts: 169

Bikes: 1986 Schwinn World, 2007 Kona Dew

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
A lot also depends upon the condition of the old bike and your ability to turn a wrench.

I am very much a novice wrench turner, but I got my old Schwinn World Sport rolling again. New tubes, tires, brake pads, a lot of cleaning, gluing the seat, and tightened up the spokes.

Between Sheldon Brown and books from the library, I've been learning what I can. My LBS does a free maintenance class. Some LBSes do more advanced maintenance classes for a reasonable fee, and I'm considering that.

I've also thought about bikeschool.com since their Portland campus is only 2.5 hours from me.

In terms of money, just getting a bike operational, and riding rather than driving, could be a cost savings.
kengrubb is offline  
Old 07-19-11, 05:50 AM
  #15  
JonathanGennick 
Senior Member
 
JonathanGennick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Munising, Michigan, USA
Posts: 4,131

Bikes: Priority 600, Priority Continuum, Devinci Dexter

Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 685 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 54 Times in 36 Posts
Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
You fail to understand a basic business principal......put enough in it to resale but not enough to make it mine.

Most people are fussy with what they fix up to keep using better materials and parts to have the best. Whereas for resale function is all that matters let the new owner worry about the bling.
The above is probably the secret. If you aim to flip, do the least possible work using the cheapest possible parts. You also need a ready source for old bikes to work on, and a ready market for the ones that you've fixed up.
JonathanGennick is offline  
Old 07-20-11, 09:02 AM
  #16  
geo8rge
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,015
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I doubt that there a many LBSs that make money on reselling used bikes. Not impossible but you need a reliable source of used bikes, and a reliable source of customers for the used bikes. Not many place have that. It is also illegal in some places to sell used stuff without a special commercial license.
__________________
2000 Montague CX, I do not recommend it, but still ride it.
Strida 3, I recommend it for rides < 10mi wo steep hills.
2006 Rowbike 720 Sport, I recommend it as an exercise bike.
1996 Birdy, Recommend.
Wieleder CARiBIKE (folding), decent frame.
geo8rge is offline  
Old 07-20-11, 09:13 AM
  #17  
bobn
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: South Florida
Posts: 726
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
You also need the room to store and work on this stuff. I don't think an LBS wants to take up to much floor space with used bikes. Probably a lot more dough in new.
bobn is offline  
Old 07-20-11, 09:29 AM
  #18  
joejack951
Senior Member
 
joejack951's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Wilmington, DE
Posts: 12,008

Bikes: 2016 Hong Fu FM-079-F, 1984 Trek 660, 2005 Iron Horse Warrior Expert, 2009 Pedal Force CX1, 2016 Islabikes Beinn 20 (son's)

Mentioned: 30 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1198 Post(s)
Liked 52 Times in 37 Posts
Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
The above is probably the secret. If you aim to flip, do the least possible work using the cheapest possible parts. You also need a ready source for old bikes to work on, and a ready market for the ones that you've fixed up.
There are a lot of similarities to flipping houses (something I've never done but I admittedly find those shows entertaining). You need to be careful about where and why you spend money on the bike. Installing a brand new bottom bracket to replace the slightly rough original might make you feel great but for most buyers it's an unseen item and won't make them spend any more for the bike. On the other hand, new bar tape or grips are quite cheap and readily noticed by buyers. Likewise, when buying tires even though it may be fun to install a pair of high end race tires, a pair of cheap Kendas will impress most buyers just the same for far less money. All they care is that the tires are not dry rotted and hold air.

I also always mention that the bike has been "tuned up" along with explaining the adjustments made and new parts added. Something about those words seems to help sell a bike.
joejack951 is offline  
Old 07-20-11, 11:03 AM
  #19  
estciclista
likes bikes
 
estciclista's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Northeastern US
Posts: 92

Bikes: Bianchi '88 Road Bike, Trek Allant

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Funny, I was going to post on the same subject. I recently bought an '80s Bianchi. It was in decent shape, but needed:

1. new tires
2. full tuneup
3. new handlebar tape
4. saddle
5. pedals (with clips)
6. bottle cages
7. frame pump

I bought it for $175. The above cost approx $370 (the saddle alone costs $120 - a Selle Regal (Vintage-line saddle which is awesome).

I am sure I wouldn't break even if I sold it, but I am happy with it and have no plans to sell. That's the key to success in my book. And best of all, it gets ridden.

I think I'll leave the restoring to the pros. My advice to anyone who buys vintage is to give serious thought to how much it will cost to make it a decent ride.

If it will cost a lot, make sure the bike you're fixing up has some intrinsic value to enthusiasts (or else sentimental value to you) - in my case, it was both.

The final product:

estciclista is offline  
Old 07-20-11, 11:31 AM
  #20  
Nightshade
Humvee of bikes =Worksman
 
Nightshade's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 5,362
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by estciclista View Post
.

The final product:

Oh go on with ya!! You can't fool me!

THAT'S A NEW BIKE!

Admit it now you know it's new!!
__________________
My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

Last edited by Nightshade; 07-20-11 at 12:01 PM.
Nightshade is offline  
Old 07-20-11, 11:45 AM
  #21  
estciclista
likes bikes
 
estciclista's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Northeastern US
Posts: 92

Bikes: Bianchi '88 Road Bike, Trek Allant

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
Oh go on with ya!! You can't fool me!

THAT'S A NEW BIKE!

Admit is now you know it's new!!
LOL!

It's even better than new.

The way I look at is: what new bike for $550 can be had that equals a Cro-Moly Bianchi with Campy parts that rides like new?

So buying vintage can work out, especially if you plan to keep it.

Me = Happy Camper
estciclista is offline  
Old 07-20-11, 03:50 PM
  #22  
wahoonc
Membership Not Required
 
wahoonc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: On the road-USA
Posts: 16,855

Bikes: Giant Excursion, Raleigh Sports, Raleigh R.S.W. Compact, Motobecane? and about 20 more! OMG

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 67 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by bobn View Post
You also need the room to store and work on this stuff. I don't think an LBS wants to take up to much floor space with used bikes. Probably a lot more dough in new.
Not really. I know of a couple of shops that sell more used than new and they aren't hurting. They make most of their money on accessories and wrenching. But they have an unusual business plan and are in a college town which makes a difference.

Aaron
__________________
Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

"Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
_Nicodemus

"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
_krazygluon
wahoonc is offline  
Old 07-20-11, 09:37 PM
  #23  
curbtender
Senior Member
 
curbtender's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: SF Bay Area, East bay
Posts: 6,374

Bikes: Marinoni, Kestral 200 2002 Trek 5200, KHS Flite, Koga Miyata, Schwinn Spitfire 5, Schwinn Speedster, Mondia Special, Univega Alpina, Miyata team Ti, MB3

Mentioned: 37 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 843 Post(s)
Liked 317 Times in 231 Posts
Here is a shop that deals mostly in rebuilt bikes. One of our members... https://www.citizenchain.com/
curbtender is offline  
Old 07-21-11, 07:19 AM
  #24  
estciclista
likes bikes
 
estciclista's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Northeastern US
Posts: 92

Bikes: Bianchi '88 Road Bike, Trek Allant

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by curbtender View Post
Here is a shop that deals mostly in rebuilt bikes. One of our members... https://www.citizenchain.com/
Very nice link. Vintage bikes can be an excellent value if you plan to keep it. Does it really matter if the marketplace can't appreciate it?

Now I ask you, who wouldn't want this over some carbon?



https://pedalr.com/items/702
estciclista is offline  
Old 07-24-11, 04:03 PM
  #25  
xrayzebra 
Very Verbose Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Cape Coral, Florida
Posts: 167

Bikes: 62 Schwinn Typhoon, 62 Schwinn Racer, 69 Schwinn Varsity, 72 Schwinn Speedster, various bikes and trikes in pieces

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Buy low, sell high. Unless you've got something really special to start with, don't be using expensive parts and components.
xrayzebra is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.