The Mountain Bike Life

As much as I love to hang bling bits off my bike, it comes at a high cost that most times I just can’t justify. I feel that we often get caught up in upgraditis, most of the MTB media that we see are pushing a sexy new carbon piece of this or a shiny anodized hunk of that. Are these things needed to have fun on your bike? Absolutely not. We can have just as much fun on cheaper gear as we can on the new bits that are shoved in our faces everywhere we turn.

In this post I will share some of the methods I have used to find good, cheap gear that will let you shred and still afford to go for beers and nachos after the ride with your friends.

This bike I fully built with either used parts or parts that I received a great deal on using the methods in this post

Buy Used

One of the first thing I learned was that if I buy used I can get gear that I normally would not be able to afford at great prices. All you have to do is spend a little time looking around online for good deals. If you are lucky you can get stuff that has barely been used for half of the price you would pay new. At one point I almost put together a full bike build with used parts. Not only do you get to put your bike together one piece at a time making it fully custom, but the joy of knowing that you saved a ton of money over your friends who bought everything new is awesome! Here is a list of a few of the places I keep an eye on for bike parts:

Caveat: Be careful. If you are buying a used frame and can not inspect it yourself ask the seller to take it to a shop and get it inspected. This may cost you a little, but nothing like getting a frame just to find out it’s cracked or bent or the bearings are all shot. When buying used you have no warranty, none. Some companies may help you out with a replacement but don’t expect one.

A stack of parts that I was selling used a while back…some great stuff in there that I was letting go cheap!

Friends

Everyone has a friend or two that just needs to have the latest and greatest gear. The good thing about these friends is that they will sell off their old gear cheap at the end of the season just so they can hop on the newest and greatest. This is great because these people also tend to take care of their gear, so you will be able to pick up some top of the line gear in good shape for cheap…it’s a win win for everyone involved.

Caveat: If the part you buy from your friend has issues, don’t go to them and complain. Parts break and one of the things about buying used is that you don’t get a warranty. Your friend may have the receipt, but once you buy it it’s not up to them to do anything. Don’t ruin your friendship over a little money.

I bought these Shimano Saint brakes off of a buddy for less than half the cost of new and they have been going strong for a few years now.

Online

Everyone knows of the amazing deals that can be had online, as with buying used you just have to keep your eyes open for the best deals. I have talked to my local shop about some of the pricing that these online shops have and they can’t even get things from their distributor that cheap. I find November is the best time to buy online…best time of year for shipping and sale prices prices.

Caveat: Watch out for shipping costs, these can quickly ramp up. It may seem like a great deal but once you add shipping and taxes it can total more than my LBS was charging for the same part. The other huge thing to look out for is brokerage fees and duty. Shipping regular post will not only save you shipping costs, but a lot of the big couriers have very high brokerage fees. Not an issue if you are buying from a shop in your country, but in Canada I have seen brokerage fees as high as $50.00…that can quickly make your good deal a bad one.

Sites like CRC can have some great deals…but watch out for shipping and other costs that add up quick

Local Bike Shop

Some of my best deals have been through my local shop. This is more of a long term strategy, but one that can pay off with good prices but with friendship and good times as well. Find a good shop in your area and stop in once in a while, make friends with the people who work there, pick up some little things and talk bikes with them. Once they get to know you and trust that you are not just there to look around or waste their time they may start giving you “bro deals”. This is a give and take relationship, don’t expect to get any deals right off the bat, like any good relationship you have to put yourself into it to get anything back. Bring them their beverage of choice once in a while, get your bike serviced with them, and tell your friends about them…show that you care about their shop and they will care about you.

I am not hear to talk about whether you think bro deals are okay or not…I am just saying that they exist.

Caveat: Not everyone has a good shop near them, so buying online may be the way to go. Not all shops are created equal. I am blessed to have over 20 bike shops in the area that I live in, it does not take long to figure out what ones to stay away from and what shops will work for you, all of this takes time and dedication that some people may not have, in that case some of the other methods in this post may work better for you.

A good local bike shop is worth it’s weight in gold

End of Season Sales

I have some friends who were just telling me that some of the best deals they have received have been from Whistler of all places. They go there and ride at the end of the season when the local shops are trying to get rid of all the extra gear, they won’t be selling when the white stuff starts flying so they offer deep discounts to get rid of it. If you have saved enough using the tips in this post for an awesome lift access trip look at making it at the end of the season, not only will you have a great time riding the hill you may find some amazing deals on gear as well.

I find winter the best time of year to buy gear, new and used. Shops want to get rid of their old stock so they can make room for the new gear and you would be surprised how many people just want to ride a bike for a season and get a new one for the next one….some amazing deals to be had here.

Caveat: You may travel a long way and not find any good deals on the items you were looking for, the worst that can happen is you get a good road trip out of the deal.

Volunteer

Some of my favourite gear has been stuff that has been given to me while volunteering. Local clubs and events often get sponsors to donate goods to give away to the volunteers that make the event a success. I have a bunch of socks, gloves, t-shirts and jerseys from events like this. Everything from local MTB events to trail building and all it costs is your time. I have even seen bike frames, forks, helmets and tons of other cycling gear given away, it’s amazing how much swag is given away at some of these awesome events. The up side to this is not only are you helping your local MTB scene but you are often making new friends and having fun doing it. It’s another win win!

Caveat: I can’t think of anything…volunteering helps everyone involved.

A pile of swag at a local race where I volunteered. While most of it was for the racers, the volunteers were treated very well!

These are some of the ways I have used to get awesome gear on the cheap in the past and have made this sport affordable when I was down on my luck or had other obligations that took precedent over my sport of choice. What do you do to find good gear for cheap?

Fruita Fat Tire Festivus
The Frugal MTB Rider: Part 4 - Frugal Shopping

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