Barton Haynes here in sunny San Diego. I want to talk about something that concerns any of us who don’t have an unlimited cycling budget: getting GOOD cycling gear on the cheap. Anyone can buy bad gear that costs little, but it’s harder to find good gear.
Cycling Gear is Expensive (but doesn’t have to be)
Cycling gear is expensive. In addition to your probably-as-expensive-as-you-could-afford-bike, it’s easy to drop another $1000 on biking gear:
- Biking shoes
- Biking clips
- Biking gloves
- Biking helmet
- Biking pants and shorts
- Biking computers
- Water bottles
I’ve been biking for over 25 years, and here’s what I’ve noticed about the best places to buy good gear…
Get to the REI Garage Sale Early
I’ve found so many good deals on bike equipment during REI garage sale. This year for example:
- Bike gloves on clearance: normally $40 | purchased for $20
- Perfect condition, worn-once biking shoes: normally $130 | purchased for $15
- Socks for biking on clearance: normally $15 each | purchased for $6 each
And to be fair, I wasn’t even looking for bike stuff this year, I just happened across it. In the past, I’ve found other similarly good deals on a whole range of otherwise expensive bike gear: helmets, jerseys, and pumps.
Outside of clearance sales, I’ve never had good luck finding good deals on biking shorts and jerseys. Bike shorts are, in particular, something I am not willing to buy anything but the best on.
Talk to Your Local, Regular Bike Shop
I highly advocate that you find a bike place you like and go there religiously for any of your needs. When they know who you are by face and name, they will treat you better, give you better deals, and offer things to you that they wouldn’t to Joe Schmoe.
One of these perks is this: bike mechanics tend to have a large inventory of very-good-condition parts and accessories at home that are just sitting, waiting to be sold at bargain price. If you are a regular, you should comfortably be able to ask the mechanics if they happen to have anything “lying around.”
Case in point, my crankset was going bad. I could spend $500 on a new one. Instead, I bought an almost-new, almost as good, crankset from a mechanic at the shop I go to for $50.
The possibilities here are nearly limitless.
Buy Used Computers and Helmets
Helmets and computers can get really expensive. Buy them used. They are both items that are regularly bought that many people never use. On Craigslist and Ebay you will find incredible savings on them.
If the idea of wearing a used helmet grosses you out, consider this:
- You can take out the padding inside the helmet
- You can sterilize the helmet
- You can buy new padding for next to nothing for your helmet
- You can get a like-new helmet for a third the cost of a new one
Beyond computers and helmets, check for anything used online, it’s amazing how many like-new things you can find for a fraction of the cost.
How Much Total Can You Save?
If you are in the market for replacing all of your existing gear, you can probably purchase everything for about 1/3 of what you would otherwise spend by simply using the above tips:
- Talk to your local bike shop mechanics
- Wait for REI garage sale
- Skim Craigslist/Ebay for used items that are like-new