After years of major supply issues and high demand pushing the price of bikes out of reach for many people, prices have come crashing back down. This trend has been going on for much of the past year, which is one reason why so many bike shops in town are having a tough time or are closing entirely. But the extent of the price drop was on full display during Cascade Bicycle Club’s annual Seattle Bike Swap at Seattle Center over the weekend.
In fact, prices were dropping before our eyes during the swap, especially in the e-bike area. Vendors from a number of e-bike shops and makers were there to give people a chance to test ride bikes and get a deal on stale stock. But many of the price tags had hand-written price drops on them as the vendors tried to stay competitive with each other for similar products. It was like an old-fashioned gas price war between neighboring filling stations, except for e-bikes. The Bike Swap just so happened to coincide with a major sale from Rad Power Bikes, the budget e-bike industry leader in the U.S., who were selling bikes for some rather ridiculous prices. The RadTrike, an electric cargo tricycle, is currently listed on their website for $1,500, for example. A RadWagon longtail cargo bike is $1,800. A vendor for a different e-bike company near the Rad Power table told me they went ahead and marked some of their bikes down to the wholesale price.
Of course, this isn’t great news for the industry. But if you’ve been thinking about getting a bike, there are legitimately some great deals to be had at essentially every price level. My advice is to start by heading to a local bike shop to see what deals they have on the floor or what deals they can get from their wholesale suppliers. You may be surprised.
But the Bike Swap didn’t just show that e-bike prices are down. The price of a functional used pedal bike has also come back down to earth. As the supply of new bikes dried up during the early years of the pandemic, demand for used bikes also increased significantly. At points, it seemed like the price floor for any bike in riding condition was $500 or more. “Quality” used bikes, which I would define as any fully serviceable bike in decent condition (excludes many department store bikes and bikes with outdated proprietary parts), started even higher. But the consignment area at the Bike Swap showed that those days are over. I saw many quality bikes starting at $350 or so, which is much closer to the direct-sale price we were used to before the pandemic (buying from a shop, which includes professional service and a warranty, usually costs more). Quality used bikes are the lifeblood of urban cycling, providing an affordable entry point for a bike that is reliable and maintainable. For less than the average cost of owning a car for one month, you can buy a bike that will last for many years.
My advice for anyone looking for an affordable used bike, especially if you are new to cycling, is to buy from a local used bike shop rather than an online marketplace. Not only will the bikes be professionally maintained and warrantied, but they can also help you figure out the right size for your body. You can also test ride several to see what feels best.