MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"  

OLD SHED - INTRO

THE WORKSHOPS

TO KEEP OR NOT TO KEEP

 

 

 

 

 

TO KEEP OR NOT TO KEEP

Make no mistake about it, a great many vintage road bicycles have found their way into The Old Shed.  Hundreds!  Even today, and the inventory is low, there are still about fifty bikes in the shed at the moment.  A few are part of my personal collection but most are not.  The question is what does a fellow do with more vintage road bicycles than he can store, let alone ride and maintain?

The answer proved to be remarkably simple - pass them on to other people who would appreciate the bicycles in question.  But that brings up other questions.  Which ones should be passed on and which should I keep.  Do I keep a gorgeous and incredibly rare 1971 Carlton Professional that is a touch too big and pass on a near mint 1976 Marinoni Quebec that fits like a glove?  Or do I sell my mid eighties limited edition Miele, serial number 17, and keep the 1958 Carlton Flyer that has the most interesting acquisition stories of all the bicycles that I have ever found.  What criteria could I use to base decisions on?  Liking a bicycle a lot is not enough since I like so many.  And the questions do not end there...

How do I pass them on?  And to who?  For how much?

When "what do I do with all of these extra bicycles" question presented itself there was absolutely no market for old road bikes in Thunder Bay.  In fact, I was not even in Thunder Bay when the question surfaced.  My chum and I had gone to Duluth, Minnesota to ride the Munger Trail and spend some time with his niece.  She had offered both of us accommodations while visiting the city and in thanks, we decided to treat for a nice supper.  Though I cannot remember where we went for our meal, I do recall that beer was involved, as were shots of Jim Bean.  At some point in the evening, Jan raised the obvious question.  "What are you going to do with all of those bicycles?"  Quite frankly, at the time I had absolutely no idea and said so.  It was Jan who first made me aware of the shopping phenomenon called Ebay.

Ebay?  What was that.  I had honestly never heard of what might be considered today to be the greatest Yard Sale on earth.  I was soon to learn the Ebay was on the Internet and probably a dangerous place to go.  And I was right on both counts.  It is on the Internet, and if you don't know what you are doing, Ebay can be a dangerous place to go.  That said, part of the MY "TEN SPEEDS" purpose it to help make Ebay a really safe place to shop for vintage road bicycles and related paraphernalia.

Upon returning to Thunder Bay and after a fair amount of research, I entered into selling vintage road bicycles and related stuff on Ebay.  Though it all felt foreign at the time, the process to begin selling was pretty straight forward.  Join Ebay and set up a PayPal account.  PayPal, by the way, was something else that I knew absolutely nothing about.  But both Ebay and PayPal make registering very easy.  The hard part was yet to come.  What to sell and how to sell it.

I was very nervous about the whole thing.  I had no intentions of letting my valuable stuff go for less than it was worth.  Of course, how does one determine what something old and unusual is worth?  I didn't have a clue but I always did my best to guess.  I decided what I would pay for such an item and then I set my "reserve" ( a reserve price is the minimum that I would accept for an item) at that price.  In the early days, I always placed a "reserve" on anything that I put up for auction.  In the early days, I did not offer complete bicycles for auction and the thought of selling a frame set only did not even enter my mind.  To sell a complete bike or frame set would mean fetching a pretty good dollar and I felt that I did not have enough feedback to support such large sale prices.

I honestly cannot remember the first item that I ever sold but I am sure that it would have been something small and pretty much unwanted by me.  A component or something like that, followed by another and then another.  I even purchase a few items just to add content to my feedback report page.  Finally, I decided to offer my first complete bicycle and what a bicycle it was to be...

The first bike I ever sold on Ebay was a mid eighties NOS Francesco Moser.  The bicycle was acquired as a new old stock frame and fork set, built completely from the ground up and auctioned off without ever test riding the bicycle.  By the time the Moser was to be offered for auction, I had the selling process pretty much figured out.

Start with an item, such as the Moser.  Clean it up (or build it in this case) and inspect it thoroughly to ensure that there was nothing wrong with the bike or component.  Take a bunch of pictures of the item.  Have the pictures developed at the local Superstore (cheapest place in town).  Scan the pictures into the computer.  Modify the pictures to best display desired content while keeping the file size as small as possible.  Write the text that would describe the item.  And then list the item, following the easy to use procedures on Ebay.  As mentioned, earlier, signing up was the easy part.

Once sold, of course, one needs figure out how to get the item to the buyer.  It is not the least bit difficult to send a rear derailleur through the mail to anyone anywhere.  However, try shipping a 40 pound container that measures 54"x 8" x 30".  But the responsibility did not end once an item was shipped.  There was always the need to inform the recipient that the package was on the way, offering any tracking information that might accompany the shipment.  There was, in my mind anyway, the need for me to keep an eye on a shipment also, just to be sure that nothing went wrong.  It was beginning to feel like the process of selling a single item would never end.  But the sale does end, and more often than not with a satisfied customer.  At the time of this writing I am still selling quite a few items every month on Ebay and through other on-line and domestic venues.  The process is time consuming, to say the least, but it is fun to list an item and then watch how it performs.

As time passed I learned something that defies logic.  People would pay more for a frame and fork set than they would for a complete bicycle.  For example, I sold a very nice Peugeot "Super Sport" for $65.00 USD.  A week later I sold a slightly lesser frame and fork set for over three hundred dollars.  Go figure?  Not only did I get more for a frame set alone but I could then sell the components off separately, making even more money off of a single bicycle.  Was this ethical?

At first I did feel guilty about parting bikes out and getting more money.  Two issues surfaced.  First, I hated breaking up a nice old road bicycle.  I much preferred to keep it original and intact.  Second, was it fair to accept more money for less stuff? 

NEXT - WHAT DID I DECIDE TO KEEP?

 

 

 

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