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Old bike stuff selling like hotcakes

by Richard Masoner

First this: Obama meets with Bikes Belong board of directors and pledges funding for cycling

Then this: 27″ tire sales up — those are the kinds of tires that go on old 10 speeds from the 70s.

And this: are bike shops selling the bikes that new bikers want?

And finally an anecdote: One of my bus riding buddies had her car stolen (!). She wants to replace it with — wait for it — a bicycle. The bike she has now was purchased when she was a teen in the 70s. She asked me what type of bike to get. I pointed her to the “Commute Bikes” section of this website, and recommended the Breezer Villager in particular. She’s very short and wants something with a step through frame and really liked the look of the Villager.

Are your friends asking you for bike advice?

 
Burley nomad 229

21 Responses to “Old bike stuff selling like hotcakes”

  1. tadster says:

    Cycling does spread by example. My mother is a teacher and she is thinking about biking the 2 miles to her school. She certainly has asked me for assistance on choosing a bike.

  2. NoTrail says:

    I first biked to work when I was 17. A small run-in with the law and my parents took away my car. Turns out, the roughly 7 mile commute each way to my crappy little job turned out to be a lot of fun. That’s the first time I viewed bikes as more than recreation.

    Fast forward another 17 years and I get all sorts of co-workers asking about my biking to work. They seem to be wanting to try it themselves but not finding the courage or determination to actually do it.

    They’re getting there. :)

  3. DMill says:

    Friends, co-workers, and parents (one, anyway) have been asking me questions about my bike and my commute. I had one woman I work with ask me about bikes who admitted she had not ridden a bike since she was a child. I would estimate that she’s in her early fifties now. so no riding of bikes for probably 40 years.

    That’s amazing to me to think that our culture and our policies have been so auto-centric for so long. I’m doing what I can do be an advocate at work and on the road to try to change perceptions.

  4. Alex says:

    Even with my limited knowledge, I’ve been summoned to help numerous friends and co-workers pick out a new/new-to-them bike.

    As a rider of a late 70s Raleigh, every time I recite my tire/tube size I am met with a little bit of confusion and a little bit of nostalgia from the folks at my LBS, but they seem to be getting more and more used to it.

  5. Amanda says:

    I’ve been following your blog for awhile now, and must say a big Thank You! The times are changing and it’s a great thing. :)

    I just wanted to make a comment about the bikes on your commuter bikes page…

    I work for a locally owned Trek Store in Columbus Ohio, so I clicked the Trek link to see what bikes you recommend and noticed that you don’t have the Trek Pure listed. Granted, the Pure isn’t the fastest bike, but it’s a flat-foot style (think Elektra) that appeals to a lot of casual riders and short commuters. Plus it’s available in a step-through and comes in some really fantastic colors. The Pure would probably be a great ride for your friend who got her car stolen!

    I just thought I’d let you know about this… anything that can be done to get people riding is a good thing!

  6. Ghost Rider says:

    +1 on the Pure. Those are some stylish bikes at a better price point than Electras. They make one that is colored like tomato soup, and my wife and I are both coveting it.

    I wonder if people are embracing old bikes also because they’re so much simpler and a lot more comfortable than many “new” bikes? Sure, there are a lot of old 10-speeds in garages that are being resurrected due to gas prices, but these friction-shifting, flexy steel wonders also FEEL GOOD! I’ve got a 1971 French Astra that is my go-to bike when I’m feeling the need for some serious cruising comfort.

  7. matthew booth says:

    re: are bike shops selling the bikes that new bikers want?

    The bike shop I go to that is near to my apartment seems to cater to those not looking for a $1k+ bike. They have a few higher end parts but I mostly see newbies like me in there.

    What I cant figure out is why they don’t have a website. It seems like a website with some decent SEO for the san diego area would help increase their business (assuming web traffic is up for the terms).

    Which brings me to a second thought… has anyone been tracking the increase (or lack thereof) for bike related search terms? I’d be interested to know if the main stream media attention correlates with any sort of noticeable increase in online trends.

    I’ve been on Craigslist a lot trying to upgrade my bike, but most parts are off of disassembled race bikes or the like.

  8. Fritz says:

    Hi Amanda, the Commuter Bikes section is a directory of user contributed content — that means you can log in and add the bikes you like to the list. Please feel free to add the Pure and any other bike you think fits.

  9. Melissa says:

    I typed all this out a minute ago, but of course it got eaten, so I’ll try again. Alas.

    I’m having a bunch of my friends asking me about bike advice for their first commuter or around-town bike. Some are more rurally-based, and are looking for mountain bikes so they can cut across fields, and some are just looking for advice on what parts will be needed to refit a $20 Goodwill bargain before they go to the LBS (because they want to make sure they aren’t sold something they don’t need). Others have had a bike for a while, but now are looking for advice on commuting routes through the city and where they’re less likely to deal with obnoxious vehicles.

    I’m just excited that people are looking to me as an expert rather than a freak.

  10. Amanda says:

    Awesome… I’ll definitely do that. Thanks! :)

  11. CJ says:

    It seems that there are lot more bike commuters in our local area this year. And I have noticed a few of them on old schwinns and raleighs that look like 27″ wheeled bikes.

    Interestingly, people are still driving for obvious reasons, but it seems that the almighty dollar is driving many to bicycle commute. Gas is right at 4.00/gallon here. Some at work state that it costs them 90.00-100.00 bucks to fill up the tanks on their SUV’s. It seems to me that right now many men are letting the wife drive the kids to school and or daycare and then they are choosing to ride if the commute is short enough. OTOH, I have seen many more women out on the commuter trails as well.

    We are lucky in Lincoln. We have wonderful paved commuter trails. And a local organization that works hard to get improvements made to the exsisting trails each year. New trails are being added with new urban sprawl too.

    I am very happy to live where I do and I am able to utilize such great trails. I think that escalating fuel prices is what will make the biggest difference in getting more bicycle commuters on the road. I often think to myself what will the breaking point be for those that are holding out….5.00/gallon, 6.00/gallon. I guess only the future will tell.

    Peace out

  12. Ted says:

    Asking for bike advice? Not so much in the neighborhood but folks at work inquire.

    Seems to me that local bike shops are totally missing the boat with respect to marketing to and supporting bike commuters. You can get a cruiser for putzing around the hood in the summer or drop a month’s salary on a mtn/racing/cross bike. That in-between and all the equipment/accessories/maintenance/info that support it are a big soft spot.

  13. Angel says:

    Yes, a lot of my female friends have started asking me about bikes and I have been scouring the local Craigslist for bikes that might suit them. To them I am hardcore even though I’m not by any means. I like to help them out because I’m trying to spread the Love of Bike.

  14. matthew booth says:

    for anyone interested, http://www.theloveofbike.com domain is not taken and available for purchasing :)

  15. Matt says:

    Definitely being asked about bike commuting. Very simple questions too, that seem obvious. Then I realized how much knowledge bike commuters gain over time without even realizing it. The key is for us to remember what it was like to know less and hold those basic discussions that non-riders need to have. Sounds easier than it is.

  16. Wes says:

    My roommate managed to snag a job just 6 miles from the apartment and I’ve gotten him to ride a bike now! We got him a new old Peugeot that he seems pretty pleased with.

  17. Joel says:

    I bought a Breezer Citizen (essentially identical to the Village except it’s a three speed) and I love it. I’ve not been on my road or mountain bike since I bought it. Sold, light, responsive, and comfortable for my 15-mile round trip commute into the office. Good suggestion!

  18. I volunteer at a bike “recyclery” where we take donated bikes and fix them up. We sell the adult bikes and give the kids bikes to kids (along with a helmet if they don’t have one). We can’t keep old 10 speeds in stock. We’re selling bikes that we haven’t even had a chance to fix yet and were considering stripping for parts. Meanwhile, tons of newer mountain-style bikes sit untouched.

  19. Stevep says:

    I’m a little wary of directing new riders to Craigslist, etc. Buying a used bike can save a little money, but the bike usually needs a little work and investment before it’s commuter-worthy. Most casual riders want something ridable out of the box, no up front maintenance required.
    People can also be well-served by going to a shop with a variety of bikes and finding one that fits them instead of trying to fit one of the limited decent used bikes available. There are tons of no-frills urban/recreational bikes out there that are comfortable, durable and fun to ride for $500 or even less. Shops that sell refurbished bikes offer a terrific value too.

  20. Cafn8 says:

    Old bikes can be a great deal. My current daily commuter is a mid ’80s 12-speed, and has generally been quite reliable. In total I have just a touch over $200 into it, most of which went into a brake upgrade. There’s one thing I should mention, though. Heavy folks, as I’m finding, may not have have the best luck with old multiple speed freewheel style hubs. I weigh a bit over 200 lbs, and I’ve just bent my second rear axle so far this spring.

  21. Cafn8 says:

    I should probably mention that I am comfortable working on bikes myself, so I only have to pay for parts. Otherwise my cost would be higher.

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