Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Tired Wheel

Probably one of the most popular activities pursued by bike people is "flipping" bikes. This is the process of buying something (in this case a bicycle) at one price, then selling it at a higher price. Occasionally you will do something like "fix" the bike in between the buying and the selling, but this is not always true.

While "flipping" can of course be done with anything, it is more prevalent with bicycles than with other goods for a variety of reasons, but the most important are that there are:

  1. a lot of bicycles sitting in basements that are spontaneously slated for sale by owners ignorant of their bicycle's value
  2. a lot of lazy hipsters and bike shop employees sitting around waiting to pounce when aforementioned bikes appear on craigslist at prices well below their real value.
There is some danger in this. Many of the people flipping bikes are seasoned or out-of-work mechanics with the ability to take a rusty and mistreated bike and restore it to past glory (or at least give it a modicum of functionality), the reality is that most flippers are newjack morons with an adjustable crescent wrench and non-metric allen tools. while these folks may be established experts at switching out the cog on their color-coordinated fixed gears, their ability to create a safe and functional 10 speed is unproven, leaving the purchasers of their flippery as the guinea pigs in their doomed laboratory of bicycle experimenting. the results, of course, can be terrible.

So it goes without saying that I flip bikes. And while my reasons for doing so are varied, the principal motivators can be summed up to this: Getting Over. Even though I have a lot of bikes and don't need another one, rather than let someone else score a good deal on some cheap wheels, I'd rather swoop it up and sell the bike at an inflated price, not because I like to restore bikes, but because I like money.

Well, perhaps that is not entirely true, since there is the whole issue of being a cycle pervert and wanting to rub my hands all over as many bikes as possible before I am ultimately struck down during a ride to work.

Whatever the reason, I've been doing it for years. And while I don't really call what I do flipping, since it implies that I don't put any love into it, that's what an outsider would call it and so that's fine with me. It is true that I do the vast majority of both the buying and the selling on craigslist, and that I always sell higher than I buy (although the bike I sell is always vastly improved over the one I bought).

Recently I started taking pictures of my projects, which I'll begin sharing here. If you're lucky. Which, as any cycling commuter knows, is what it takes to stay alive, even on the relatively non-mean streets of a city like Seattle.

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