Peter Vermeren, owner of the bike shop Coco’s Variety in Los Angeles, estimates that he’s bought more than 6,000 used bikes over the past decade. Here’s his advice on scoring a great deal on a pre-owned ride.
In addition to yard sales, pawn shops, and thrift stores, Vermeren also scours bike shops for old bicycles and parts that get abandoned or traded in when a customer buys a replacement. Build relationships with local dealers who might help you find what you’re looking for. And always buy something—even if it’s just a tube.
Find your community.
Vermeren suggests snapping up interesting bikes or components, then seeking out other collectors. If you can connect a mountain bike collector with some classic cantilever brakes, he might let you know when that vintage Campy derailleur is up for auction.
“Sometimes when you start talking [to a seller], you find out about other things that they weren’t even considering selling,” Vermeren says.
But don’t be demanding.
“If you come up and bark, ‘You don’t got no Campagnolos?’ it doesn’t land well,” he says. “Just start talking and tell people what you’re into.”
Look for signs of wear and tear—dents from crashes, stripped nuts, a wrecked bottom bracket—and leave room in your budget for repairs.
“I ask, ‘Would you entertain a potentially insulting offer?’” Vermeren says. “People are usually curious enough to listen.”