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The Mother of All Bike Sell-Offs
The MOABSO has been foretold and might even already be here.
For centuries, the received wisdom regarding barriers to getting more people on bikes was that our major hurdles were the high cost of a decent bike, the physical cost of turning the pedals, and the ever-present danger of a car trying to ride your bike while you’re on it.
Then, in early 2019, the Coronavirus pandemic struck. Sporting events were cancelled. Bars were closed. And bike shops exploded into a mob scene.
As if they’d been hypnotized at birth by a bicycle-obsessed super-villan, legions of Americans who hadn’t touched a bike since childhood awoke one morning with a hot desire roiling inside them.
That desire? To ride a bike.
Bike Boom 2: Ebike Boogaloo
The result was a bike boom not seen since the gas crisis era of the 1970s. In addition to the increased demand there was also a downturn in supply as employees up and down the supply chain refused to return to work after their deaths.
But what goes up — at least for we non-politicians and non-billionaires for whom consequences exist — does often come down. Though the pandemic rages on, with record-high case counts and hospitalizations, people are simply tired of observing society-minded responsibility. Bars are open. Sports are back. Bicycles lean dusty against garage walls.
But there is an inarguable upside for the persons most deserving of upsides. Namely, me.
Sooner or later, the bike boomers who rushed to the shops and bought anything even remotely bike-shaped are going to realize that they are not riding those bikes. They will also remember that they were right about the cost of bikes. They ain’t cheap.
They will begin eyeballing similar bikes which have sold recently on eBay. They will remember that bikes are very much a fungible token. They will become funge-curious. And the MOABSO will be the result.
What will the MOABSO look like?
People are not very good at selling bicycles. They often “restore” them by putting on new (but shitty) tires and new (but shitty) bar tape, then whack up the price to cover both. People like you and me — which is to say, people with taste — are rightfully appalled.
Sellers rarely include accurate sizing information, choosing instead to guess at the optimum height for a future rider. It’s a bit like trying to sell someone a hat by guessing the length of their hair.
Lastly, and most importantly, they price their bikes far too high, sometimes higher than the brand new price of the same model. They react with surprise and annoyance when one sends them a polite email beginning with, “If you ever stop smoking whatever you’re smoking…”
The MOABSO, through the power of a large supply of bikes for sale and diminished pool of buyers as the market shrinks back to bars-and-sports-open levels, will be the great equalizer.
Always had your eye on a Moots titanium mountain bike? I know I have. Are you scared away by the price tag which, at top trim level for a Womble, approaches ten thousand dollars… Wait. Ten thousand dollars? Jesus, who is buying these? Smaug?
Nevermind. The MOABSO will bring used prices down considerably when it comes. Many say it’s already here. And by many I mean 100% of the authors of this column. I believe over 2022 and 2023, much as the James Webb Space Telescope has done, the MOABSO will unfurl.
Feast your eyes on this Craigslist find, one of my much-lusted-after favorites from years gone by, a BMC Road Racer Sl01 I snagged for $800. Sure, those bullhorn bars are weird and those wheels need to go but still.
Keep your eye on eBay and Craigslist, my friends. Hoard your mountain of gold, however modest it may be. The MOABSO has been foretold. It is coming. And we all may yet end up with the bicycles of our dreams.