The Chainlink

As an avid craigslist follower (just window shopping, really!), I have found that the listings for used bikes have seemingly NO awareness of the current economic "displacement" occurring.  It is as if that vintage Kestrel 300EMS or 1983 Schwinn Paramount Waterford with downtube shifting which has been languishing on CL for over a year at the same asking price will NOW finally find a taker! The new reality has seemingly been slow to set in. No evidence of "motivated sellers."

I can well imagine that the current environment could cut a couple of  different ways -- 1) buyers/sellers reluctant to engage in person-to-person transactions, thus, a drop in new listings 2) or more listings as people try to enhance their cash-flow 3) increased demand for used bikes due to a broad sense of austerity / belt tightening (not the time to drop a couple of thousand on a NEW bike!) 4) increased demand for bikes in general as an alternative to public transpo and with more recreational time available due to lockdown.

Observations / thoughts?

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Phew, I thought it was just me.

Craigslist used to be great. I found and easily purchased many parts in various states of use for what I believed to be fair prices from friendly and interesting people.

In the last few years, I have found that the listings for used bikes/parts have seemingly NO awareness of Google searches, the law of 50% when it gets driven off the lot, time/place/space reality, and the fact that once a part gets used, its value tends to go down, let alone the current economic "displacement" occurring. It may well eventually surface that the water main replacement program of the last few years has shaken up enough lead from the pipes and introduced it into residents' bloodstreams that we are seeing increasing acts of aggression/violence and disproportionate valuation of one's used bikes and accessories.

For parts, one can simply copy the text in a listing, rt click "Search Google" and find the part brand new, shipped to your door with a warranty for 10-20% less than a Chicago resident wants for their worn out and photographed-without-cleaning chainring.

Complete bikes/frames, especially decent "Vintage" ones like those you're seeking arguably have a slightly different value equation but I personally would love it if Craigslist sent a seller with their listing confirmation the sage adage:

"Items are only worth what the market will bare."

Increased sales widely reported.  For exercise and to avoid crowded bus / train commute.

Increased sales of "what"?  Used bikes? Because I am not seeing it reflected in our local CL.

Local bike shops are selling out of their lower-priced bikes and sales are up for new bikes in general. I can't speak for used bikes because I don't think that's really being tracked. 

Yes, I have read the same regarding new bikes, specifically lower-end/priced models. But note my subject line here -- Craigslist disconnect. I am interested in / focusing on the used bike market, which understandably the industry is utterly uninterested in tracking. I also understand that the dynamics behind eBay sales is different than that of CL -- eBay represents a national/international market place and sales are contact-less.

I've been on both sides of Craigslist in this regard.  I bought my fastest used bike - listed for $1,800 on CL - for only $1,200 despite the high "sticker" price.   The good and great deals disappear fairly quickly, so sometimes all that's left are the ones priced "too high" just as with the housing market.  

Meanwhile, I had something else for sale over the winter that wasn't bought for 4 months.  I could have lowered the price, but I'd rather still have and use the item than have a lower amount of cash.

So I agree that some people seem to have both an unrealistic view of both prices and demand, but also have their own "utility" curve of items, the cash to clear it, and the other item they'd buy with that same cash.  One more related experience is if I'm trying to sell something, it sort of helps me if there's a higher price out there for me to under-cut. 

I understand haggling and the difference between asking price and selling price. (Yet the example you shared is extremely uncommon as to how far sellers are commonly willing to drop -- you seriously scored.)  And I am not really talking about "the good and great deals which disappear fairly quickly" -- I understand that dynamic and have scored my share of "wins." (However, a recent listing for a Pinarello was so low it smelled stolen, which I pass on.)  I am talking both about bikes priced so unrealistically, so beyond what they could fetch even during our recent "full employment" economy (see vintage Trek 5200 OCLV USPS, a classic, but lingering for at least a year now at $1,000), and the general asking price of the current stock on CL. While spring is traditionally a seller's market, there are usually some interesting older bikes that have been "exhumed" and are offered up for your consideration. Not seeing much evidence of that yet.

There were a few new listings this week.  It will be interesting to see what the warm weather brings out both in terms of demand, and people hoping to "sell into the season" as happens in residential real estate.  I'm not in the market, but there were a few bikes that looked interesting... several in the 'burbs.  


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