Why won't you buy my bicycle? Why are you so cheap?
We have a robust document that goes into great detail about what we do and don't buy.
High fixed costs, LA real estate, a changing retail landscape, fair employee compensation, worker's comp insurance, property taxes, liability insurance, overhead, theft and the risks associated with buying used bicycles are all factors that have to be baked into the price.
Used bikes are risky. It is why most bike shops don't mess with them. More often than we would like - more often than you would believe - we get stung by discovering something during rebuild that we didn't catch when purchasing. Miss a crack in the frame, rust in the bottom bracket shell, a bent frame that only appears when we measure with frame alignment tools, cracks at the spoke eyelets, etc.
And, expensive bikes are even more risky! Yes, that vintage Italian road bike is exquisite and of undeniable craftsmanship but it is also super lightweight tubing that is so easily damaged. Carbon is awesome! But also fragile.
1. Not to Coco's Standards - Condition - though we have brought bikes back from death, it is very time consuming to resurrect a bike that has been improperly stored or left outside. It takes so long and requires so many parts that it is not profitable. Sometimes, it is too far gone.
2. Not to Coco's Standards - Damage - from a crash, hard riding or abuse.
3. Not to Coco's Standards - Practical - cool bikes that we (personally) would ride and love, like an old Chicago Schwinn or a Robin Hood branded Raleigh are not practical for the majority of our customers. They are looking to ride off curbs, rarely true their wheels, ignore loose crank cotters and not follow the Sturmey Archer maintenance recommendations.
4. Not to Coco's Standards - Initial Quality - we don't generally buy department store or mail order bikes. Many legendary brands like Schwinn and Mongoose have been consolidated under a few large conglomerates like Dorel. There are no absolutes, but the bulk of their business is selling fairly modest bikes through mail order, Amazon, Costco, Dick's Sporting Goods, etc. There are exceptions e.g. Dorel bought Cannondale and those are still 'bike store' grade bikes. Brands like GT and Diamondback are on a case by case evaluation - some are high quality bike store grade bikes while some are mass market.
5. Not to Coco's Standards - Geographically Inappropriate - 'Fixies' & Cruisers - our interest in single speed bikes and cruisers (even 3-speed cruisers) is limited. The wide bars of a cruiser, with big soft tires and limiting gearing means that it is a less than ideal choice for our urban, hilly neighborhood. As is the case with cruisers, single speed/fixies/track bikes are just not a good fit for our pragmatic, transportation oriented store. Wonderful bikes, beautiful craftsmanship, gorgeous, lovingly built with exceptional components - but fixies have run their course. NJS is not Enron stock, but we hope you had a diversified portfolio. Do we say no to all cruisers and fixies? Nope, but our level of financial investment in them is very limited i.e. we are cheap.
6. Not to Coco's Standards - Aesthetics - some bikes are ugly. Some are too plain. A pink and purple fade paint job will sell, while a plain grey bike with black logos will 5 times longer to find a buyer. Taste is subjective and no single person can be the arbiter of good taste, but I have been doing this for over ten years and I know what I like and what sells.
7. Not to Coco's Standards - Can't Warranty - all of our used bikes come with a warranty and there are some bikes that we don't feel we can warranty due to the unavailability of parts, cost of parts or complexity. For example, we are not going to buy a 10 year old full suspension MTB with hydraulic brakes. If something goes wrong, all profit is let out of the deal like air from a balloon.
8. Not to Coco's Standards - Not our 'thing' - we only do what we do well. We are not a high mountain bike shop, triathlon outfitter or a fixie store.
9. Not to Coco's Standards - Too Collectible - we love classic and collectible bicycles but we have a hard time building a business around that. The collector mindset (which I have) is to find undiscovered gems in the wild, buy them at a great deal, enjoy the artifact as much as the story and eventually sell at a profit. Collectors don't want to pay what we need to charge. Also, they don't want to accept the money we are able to offer.
Many collectible bikes are in desirable, original condition and are awesome untouched. Our business is to make everything a daily rider which means breaking it down to a raw frame and rebuilding from scratch. For a classic Schwinn collector, removing dry rot original tires is a travesty but we are a riding shop not a wall hanger shop. As collectors generally enjoy working on bikes, they often don't feel our level of refurbishment is a value add. They often feel it removes value. I get both sides and maybe will one day figure out a pure collector store, but for now, we focus on classic riders. Bikes that 'ride fine, need nothing' still get the full service because if we don't go through it at deep level, we can't warranty it.
10. Too Many Bikes - we have too many bikes that are waiting to be built. Or, we have too many of the type of bike you are selling.
11. Frankenstein Bikes - we have all built them, have loved them, ridden them but it is not what most of our customers are looking for.
12. Not enough profit - we need to make more margin/profit on a used bike than a new bike. We need to cover all the labor, parts and risk involved in rebuilding a used bike. Our new bikes have 1 year warranty on parts and 5 years on frame from the manufacturer - they present zero risk! If there is a problem, the manufacturer covers all parts and our labor!
13. Feels Wrong - maybe the paint has been stripped off, the serial number is obscured, painted with a rattle can or maybe the story doesn't feel right. If it feels funny, we will pass. Do we miss out on some cool stuff from an abundance of caution? Sure, but the cycling community is just gutted by bicycle theft and we are going to do everything we can to fight it.
14. "A little old" - maybe your bike is 3-4 years old and it was a high end thing at the time, but there have been advances in the interim that makes it less desirable to the buying public. For example, if you bought a $1500 road bike 5 years ago, it was probably aluminum frame, 10 speed 105 and caliper brakes. Now, for just a little more money, a modern road bike would be full carbon, disc brake and 11-speed. Even more damning if you bought a really nice 26" wheeled carbon fiber best of everything mountain bike a few years ago, now the market has shifted and everybody wants 27.5".
The "little old" issue most directly impacts higher end mountain bikes and road bikes as that is where the technology is changing.
Why are you willing to pay so much for my used bike?
15. Immaculate - it is absolutely pristine. The grips are like new, the tires have no cracks, the chain has no wear. Everything is completely stock or very sensibly upgraded.
16. Gorgeous - we get high from being in your bike's beautiful presence.
17. Prop Rental - we think we will rent the hell out of it.
18. Right Size, for employee! - one of our employees really loves it and it is their size.
19. Just What We Need - it is exactly what we need to meet high demand.
20. Personal Interest - it is a bike I want in my personal collection.
21. Special Interest - it is a bike of special interest that we can connect to a (known) collector.