Dear PoPville – Where to Buy a Used Bike?

by Prince Of Petworth May 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm 60 Comments

“Dear PoP,

The bike I’ve had for the last 10 years finally died a few months ago, and I’m looking to get a new one pronto. Where are your readers’ favorite sources for used bikes? I don’t want to spend a fortune given the frequency of bike thefts in the city — maybe $200 or less. Are there any shops in the area that will sell used bikes (all I’ve found so far is Big Wheel Bikes, and everything they have is listed is more than I want to spend), or any used bike sales coming up? Craigslist hasn’t been that helpful, and my Googling isn’t turning up much either.”

Any good ideas besides Craigslist?

  • Anon

    There is a really cute and helpful place near where I live in Takoma. They are technically in Takoma Park, MD but are just a few blocks away from the Takoma Metro:
    Takoma Bicycle – http://www.takomabicycle.com/About_Us.html

    Hope this helps!

  • J.H.

    There’s a group that sells bikes at the saturday market in Courthouse (Arlington VA. All used bikes and generally decent prices.

    • Another guy named Chris


      I just went on Saturday to have my old beater tuned up for $25.

    • BPL

      These guys are also at the Georgetown flea market on Sunday. Not sure, but I think they’re name is DC Vintage Cycles (don’t quote me on that). Anyway, I’ve bought a couple bikes from them over the years and I’d highly recommend them — they’re pretty helpful, straight-forward dudes who just love bikes and want people to ride. My advice would be to get there as early as possible. They open at 9 and get cleaned out pretty quickly

      • E

        These are really nice guys and the bikes are excellent, but just because it’s a flea market doesn’t mean it’s cheap. They tried to sell me a bike for $275…

        Stick with Craigslist, and widen your search terms… eventually you’ll get something you like if you stick to it!

  • 1216

    The flea market section of the eastern market, near the entrance on the 8th street side. The guy usually has a dozen or so bikes in the warmer months.

    • I bought a bike there last year, when I was going to put the bike in the car, I noticed that a couple of the lights that were there when I first saw it, were not there anymore. So I had to go back and ask them for the lights…

      • The lights fell off or were taken off between you seeing it for sale and you finalizing the purchase?

        • They took the lights off the bike when I went to get some cash!

  • JRL

    DC bike shops are not allowed to sell used bikes. There’s a place in college park that’s not bad although pretty expensive if you’re just looking for a beater. If you’re patient with craigslist something good will turn up.

    • OP

      Really!? Do you know why? I’m just curious. I know there are shops that do.

      • ontarioroader

        A bike shop would need to obtain a pawn shop licenses to sell used bikes. It’s a stupid technicality that requires a ton of paperwork, background checks, etc, so most if not all bike shops don’t bother.

        • balls to you!

          Jeezus! Can’t run a reasonable business model until the DC Council gets paid apparently.


        • jm

          which brings up another shady option: pawn shops. the one on Florida between Georgia & 6th NW seems to have a steady rotation of 5-10 bikes…

        • Anonymous

          why? pawn is very different from used.

    • OP

      Checked it out this weekend — he only had 4 men’s bikes (I’m a chick). Will keep checking back, thanks!

      • Elle

        While I totally understand why you might want a low cross-bar on your bike, the position of it does not make the bike male or female, nor does it dictate which gender should ride it.

        • anon

          Yes, to check if a bike is male; gently cradle your hand under the seat while holding the handle bars straight ahead.

          • mca

            good one!

        • Anonymous

          Elle, do you have exceptionally long legs or something? I can’t ride men’s bikes because I don’t like having to leap off it whenever I stop.

  • Margaret

    Bike and Roll DC at 1200 Pennsylvania in the Old Post Office Pavilion sells last year’s rental bikes around mid-May. E-mail them for more info. Usually Trek Hybrids run $200.

  • Kalorini

    Any word on where to sell old bikes, too?

    I’ve given up on riding bikes (too klutzy and not skilled enough to ride with cars.. or near people) and I’ve got an old women’s mountain bike and newer fitness bike to unload.

    • OP

      I’m the OP — can I take a look? PoP has my email, perhaps he can connect us!

      • Kalorini

        What size bike are you looking for? :-)

        • OP

          ~52″ women’s hybrid ideally, but I’d be interested in your fitness bike (NOT a recumbent bike, right)?

          • Kalorini

            I’ve got an ’09 XS Specialized Vita — not a recumbent bike!

    • Cait B

      Wonderful question – I was wondering the same thing!

      When my boyfriend and I got excited about biking two years ago about this time of year, we went out (feeling flush from tax returns) and got two hybrids by Specialized at $400 each.

      They’re beautiful and great to ride bikes, but after doing nothing but gathering dust for so long, I think they need new homes.

      Any less flaky alternatives to Craigslist would be much appreciated!

      • dreas

        Me, too. A woman’s Jamis mountain bike from–wow–2002 or 2003. I’ll pretty much give it away to whoever wants it. Barely, and I mean barely, used.

        • nakiki

          I’d love to get it! I have a bike already, but I love it so much that I don’t have the heart of leaving my beloved beautiful bike parked all alone somewhere. So I’m looking for a bike to drive around the city. I’m 5’3”, do you think it would fit me? Let’s get in touch!

  • Dan

    Phoenix Bikes in Arlington sells used bikes (http://www.phoenixbikes.org/) and they do really cool stuff with kids so you’re supporting a good cause.

    You’ll probably end up paying about 25%-50% more for a bike at a shop or co-op than you would off craigslist. Google “what to look for when buying a used bike” and hit up craigs.

    • anon

      I have donated a bike to Phoenix before after a conversation with one of their mechanics. Really good people trying to make a difference (and cheap bikes to boot!). Definitely check them out if you are able.

  • Sarah

    Check out Phoenix bikes in Arlington – http://www.phoenixbikes.org. They are only open limited hours for shopping (Fri and Sat I believe) but I’ve purchased two used bikes from them and been happy with both. Plus, they’re a non-profit.

  • DWC

    Not to hijack from Kalorini, but I have a ladies 21 speed mountain bike/hybrid that is in pretty good condition that I am about to post on craigslist (in the next day or so, need to getting around to taking pictures). If one of her’s doesn’t work, let me know if you are interested. Its in pretty new condition (minus some dust from lack of use). Bought it for my girlfriend who wanted to go bike riding with me, and then we never went together, so now I am selling it for her. Its a 17.5 inch frame with a step through for ladies. Would definitely sell it for under $200.

    Naturally Kalorini can have first shot at selling one of hers since she posted first.

    • Kalorini

      Mine might be too small, and your bike might be cheaper – no worries :-)

    • Elle

      Again (this is a pet peeve of mine, if you can’t tell), being step through does not make it “for ladies”.

      • 1216

        Or all the capital bikeshare bikes would be for ladies. But “ladies bike” is short hand for a bike with a low cross bar which many ladies prefer.

      • anon

        why do you care?

      • TaylorStreetMan

        Is it just an frame style, then, with no other purpose and indicating nothing?
        (I know that sounds snarky when you red it, but I don’t mean it to be!)

      • Anonymous

        I guess they should call it a “short person” bike. :)

    • OP

      I’m asking PoP to connect us…

      • DWC

        I think I forgot to put my email address, but I did with this post.

        Sorry about the step through for ladies, I assumed wrong, but I do know this is a ladies bike, it has lady coloring to it. And it was for ladies when I did research for buying it.

  • RS22

    PHOENIX BIKE CO-OP IN ARLINGTON. Great selection, good prices, will treat you well. http://www.phoenixbikes.org/

  • LCM

    For anyone else looking for a used bike- Phoenix Bikes out in Arlington is a great organization that works with neighborhood youth restoring and selling used bikes.


  • J

    If you’re not looking for something especially nice, it might be worth checking thrift stores. I seem to remember Value Village in Langley Park having some bikes. Maybe the Salvation Army in Hyattsville, too.

    Yard sales are probably a good bet, too.

  • bikes dying?

    I’m intrigued with the idea that a bike “died.” Unless we’re talking about a cracked or bent frame, no bike is really dead. Try taking it to the Bike House behind Qualia Coffee in Petworth– knowledgeable volunteers will help diagnose a problem and then fix it with you!

    • bikes dying?

      sorry– forgot to mention that the Bike House is open on Saturday afternoons.

    • Anonymous

      You could say something similar about a car. These things reach a point where they’re not worth the trouble and expense of fixing.

      • OP

        Exactly. It is very rusted and bent in several places. My parents left it out in the rain, and a shop quoted me something like $500 to fix. Heck no. And its a mountain bike, which is not what I want anymore (looking for a fitness/commuter hybrid).

  • S

    I have been commuting to work for the last six years on a bike I bought for $100 from Bike the Sites in the Old Post Office. They rent bikes to tourists and sell off older ones — they keep them in good shape since they rent them out.

  • herewegoagain

    I have the impression that “ladies'” bikes are less likely to get stolen. Has anyone done the statistics, or have any other way of confirming this?

    • Another guy named Chris

      Bike thieves don’t want to look gay whilst riding a pink huffy to the chop shop.

  • greent

    Unless they are gay bike thieves. Tra laa laaing to the chop shop

  • Polytasker

    Echoing the recommendations for Phoenix Bikes. I also bought a bike from Bulldog Bike Restoration once and had a good experience.

    • anon

      Ditto on both counts!

  • Anonymous

    There was a thrift shop on 14th south of U (near S maybe? forget cross street) that used to have a handful of old bikes, Trek etc.

    • nettie

      that thrift store sells hot bikes. and by hot, I do not mean sexy. I mean stolen.

  • dynaryder

    There are four co-ops in the DC area;I believe they all sell bikes:
    Phoenix Bikes http://www.phoenixbikes.org
    Mt Rainier mrbikecoop.com
    Velocity velocitycoop.org
    Bike House http://www.thebikehouse.org/home

    Also FYI,if you don’t know much about bikes and are looking at something on CL,you could bring it to one of the farmer’s market bike clinics(see Apr 28 posting) for a free safety inspection.

  • SF

    Used bikes seem very expensive and hard to come by in DC. The best luck I’ve had is checking garage sales when back in the midwest– no shortage of excellent 80s-era steel frame road bikes for $20.

    Of course, this isn’t a great option for somebody who wants a bike soon, or doesn’t have family in the middle of the country…

  • Anonymous

    terrapin traders. dirt cheap.

  • Meeshell

    Just wanted to also say that I have bought 2 bikes from Phoneix Bikes and HIGHLY recommend that. Great bikes, great prices, and a great cause! My boyfriend has also bought 2 bikes from there as well. I recommend them anyone I know who says they are looking for a bike.


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