Where can my family get five bicycles for $350 or less?

old bikesGetting bikes for a cheap price can be a bit of challenge, and will probably require you to bury some preconceived notions about thrift. Like say, that idea that buying something used always less expensive than buying it new. Not so. Because of the labor costs involved in refurbishing a used bike, bike stores tend to only buy and sell used bikes of a certain level of quality. If a bike is a cheap bike, once it gets to the stage of being a used bike, it’s most likely to be stripped and used for parts, not to be sold again. What this means is that used bike stores are great places to get good to excellent quality used bikes, but if you are just looking for dirt-bottom prices, you’re better off buying new.

Take Kmart for example. Checking into they’re online store, it’s clear that deals are to be found. They’ve got a 20in Huffy bike for boys and girls for 59.99 (reg. price: 69.99) and a Pacific 26in Mens and Womens Stratus bike for 89.99. So for our family of five, we’ve got a price tag of $360, plus tax (and shipping, if you purchase online).

While it’s true that for adults you won’t find anything used cheaper for what you can get new, the same is not true for kids bikes. Since kids tend to outgrow their bikes pretty quick, there is a pretty big market of used kids bikes. The best place to look is Craigslist. A quick look recently revealed a slew of kids bikes ranging from $25-$50, depending on wheel size and whether they come with training wheels or not. You can of course also buy an adult bike off Craigslist, but since you never really know how a bike will feel till you ride it, it’s nice to be able to go to a store and try a few out to compare.

Though it will cost slightly more, I’d recommend getting a couple of slightly nicer used bikes for the adults. Unless you plan to hardly ever ride them, it’s worth having a bike that is a bit more nimble than the typical department store clunker. Of course, a cheap used bike is unlikely to be much less than $200, so it probably won’t work for this budget, but we can at least come somewhat close if the kids bikes are cheap.

If you’re going this route, check out Recycle-a-Bicycle, which has a store in DUMBO and in the East Village. There’s also greatusedbikes.com which tends to sell in the $180-$300 range, and offers free delivery to all of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and parts of Queens. Also try calling Frank’s Bike Shop (212-533-6332) in LES to see what they have in stock. It’s well known as a very reasonably priced neighborhood shop.

6 Comment

  • Department store adult’s bikes are such utter and complete garbage: do not buy them at any cost. It would be better to walk. And 5 bikes for $350 probably isn’t happening.

  • Agreed, department store bikes poorly made to a dangerous extent.

    I got my bike from John at GreatUsedBikes.com and I couldn’t be happier. I would hands down recommend him. He even offers winter storage that includes a tune-up for $90, a pretty sweet deal.

  • Just for the record I agree–but the family requested cheap bikes, so I figured I’d put the department store option out there. Though I wouldn’t say they’re dangerous.

    Certainly though if you plan to ride your bike on anything more than a rare instance, a good used bike is the better option.

  • I think that your quote and advice on used bikes for adults is totally spot on. I just bought a used bike about a month ago BK Bike and Board http://brooklynbikeandboard.com/and I am in love. I can’t stop riding it. As someone who’s never biked in the city before and hasn’t ridden a bike in years it was very important to me that I buy a bike that was comfortable and felt good riding (something that the craigslist route just didn’t offer which had deterred me from getting my bike for almost a year). I set my budget at $250 and I have to say that in comparison to some of my friends’ craigslist bike deals ($100 for a stolen? bike with rusty parts and brakes that fall off) I am very pleased. My bike came ready to ride with a new seat (that feels like sitting on a cloud), handle bars, etc. Yes I had to buy the $75 kryptonite lock but apparently you can buy the same lock for $50something online http://www.bicyclebuys.com/manufacturer/Kryptonite/locks
    (but I haven’t looked in the shipping rates). But I found a coupon online for 15% off! (More on that later) so I ended up spending about $300 (I did buy an adorable helmet) but it’s so worth it.

  • i’ve heard great things about bay ridge bicycle world — totally worth the schlep.

  • It is usually possible to test-ride the bikes you see listed on Craigslist. Obviously this can be inconvenient if you are very picky or don’t really know what you want. However, quite a few sellers listing bikes on CL are people who specialize in repairing and re-selling secondhand bikes, and if you find one with several listings you like, you may be able to try out a few bikes in one shot.