Selling your mountain bike isn’t a particularly enjoyable process. For some of us, it’s even an emotional experience when parting with a trusted companion. But it just as well should be a calculated move to maximize the cash you are able to get.
There are ways to stack the odds in your favor before you even begin listing it on a marketplace. One of them is selecting the ideal time of year for a bike sale. And here it is:
August through October is generally the ideal time of year to sell a used mountain bike. That’s near the end of the MTB riding season but peak bike trade season. It’s the best time for a top selection of used bikes as both supply and demand are high and driving prices up.
A little counter-intuitive when you consider that’s exactly the time when new bike prices are at their lowest with season-end sales. That’s only one of the facts we can gather from used bike marketplace data. Let’s take a closer look and follow the money.
Average used Mountain Bike prices since 2017
To back all this up with raw data and hard facts, we can use the unofficial Mountain Bike Price Index “MTBPI” (yes, that’s a thing). Stephen Van Wyck sourced every sold bike’s price on the Pinkbike marketplace (one of the largest worldwide) over multiple years.
Here are the resulting average used MTB prices from 2017 to 2023 in USD and CAD.
Obviously, the period since 2020 has been an anomaly for the MTB industry with so many new riders entering the sport, supply chain disruptions and generally increased interest in outdoor sports.
It will take some time to get back to normalized levels, but it’s save to say the overall elevated (inflationary) price level is here to stay. When looking at the period right before that we can still get reliable, steady price data.
Let’s use the basic economic principle of supply (seller) and demand (buyer). What you want to avoid as a seller is a situation of low overall demand (few people in the market of buying a bike) and high supply as this will drive prices lower.
Especially since 2020, manufacturers can often not keep up with the high demand during the spring months. During this time, odds are in favor of sellers.
To stack the odds in your favor as a bike seller, look for times when demand is high and supply low.
Let me share my experiences buying and selling bikes so you can find the best deal on your next MTB. Later we’ll go into how long to hold on to a bike in the first place from a purely financial point of view.
The 3 best times a year to get more money for your MTB
You don’t have to be an experienced salesperson. Good preparation is everything here and timing will make your life so much easier – and your wallet much fatter.
Let’s preface all further discussion by saying that bike buying and selling is a big financial decision. If you are in a liquidity situation where buying a new bike and selling the old one can be separated by a couple of months, you can really take full advantage of “timing the market”.
Because – you guessed it – there are also ideal times to buy an MTB too. Sometimes they even overlap.
Mountain biking is extremely seasonal and very predictable with product reveals and launches occurring at similar times each year. Knowing that is half the battle.
The single best time of year to sell a used MTB is from August through October. Average prices are at their highest during this period year after year. I know this somewhat contradicts the supply-demand argument as used bikes flood the market at the end of every season. And on top of that, new bike prices are low due to end-of-season sales.
So why are used bike prices so high despite massive supply?
Because demand is equally high due to the great selection available. Think about it: This is peak bike-swapping season. Anyone preparing to get a new (used) bike will get rid of the current one asap to make room and get cash for another one.
The best bikes in good condition are going to get snatched up quickly and the lemons remain on the market through winter.
It’s the best time of year to get quality used bikes in good condition and that window of opportunity is short, inducing a feeling of scarcity. It’s a time with a great selection for used bike buyers and there’s a good chance you’ll still find exactly what they want or need then.
Prices start declining towards winter, when purchasing other stuff becomes more relevant during the holidays. The price level is still good, but from my experience the demand tapers off considerably.
Spring is usually peak bike buying season for new and used MTBs. But while bike shops start their selling season, the window of opportunity on the used bike market is coming to a close. And potential buyers know that. So while demand is high, you’re going to be in a weaker position for price negotiation.
Avoid summer as it’s peak riding season when people are actually riding what they have and don’t think about bike buying.
The people without a ride by the end of spring are mostly waiting on their new bike delivery or scanning their local bike shops. That’s not your target audience. You may even be one of them!
Used bike sellers get into a hurry to get their old bike sold to make room or to get cash for their new bike. People are changing bikes mid-season only due to inventory shortages and long delivery times.
End of bike-park season
Consider the type of MTB you’re selling. Different types of riding have slightly varying riding seasons. For example, bike park season ends the earliest, while XC isn’t as much weather-dependent and those bikes are ridden longer.
So think about being among the first to market for the specific bike on offer. In late summer is great opportunity to start selling DH bikes. Even when the season is still going, but coming to a close slowly.
Don’t hesitate to put up a listing even while you’re riding the last couple of weeks. This way you can get a feel for the market (by the amount of competition and messages received) and prices you can expect.
The end of bike park season is usually earlier than the end of the general riding season. In mountain regions the window for good deals is sometimes starting in the middle of August and throughout September.
In regions where there are no clear off-seasons in terms of climate, the seasons are more dictated by the leisure time people have on their hands. School holidays are a great indicator when weather isn’t.
How long to hold on to your mountain bike
Let’s take a step back and take a look at bike selling from a bird’s eye view. By that i mean not thinking about the right time of year to sell an MTB, but rather which year in the first place.
Because the bike’s age will determine it’s value even more than a specific time of year. In other words, we’re talking about value depreciation of mountain bikes.
If you catch a worldwide pandemic and supply chain disruptions, you could even sell your bike for more than you paid for it brand new!
Similar to cars, the depreciation rate is fairly linear (the same % each year). Which still means a larger amount of money in the beginning and a slowing value decline over time.
In other words: The biggest price decline is realized within the first year – the moment as it turns from “new” to “used” in fact. From the second year on the value loss is less dramatic. As depicted by the curve flattening over time. The key takeaway is this:
It makes the most financial sense to keep a new bike at least for two seasons.
Getting a new bike every year is the best way to burn money for limited benefit. Mountain bikes are not becoming technologically obsolete as fast as they used to.
The year-on-year innovation and progression has slowed down to marginal improvements. The market is getting more crowded with top MTB bike brands and reputable component manufacturers. And bikes from good brands hold their value well.
Various sources say bikes lose 40-50% of their MSRP within the first year. Zach from Mountain Treads did the legwork and put up an amazing article about MTB depreciation.
However about 20-30% is more of what I personally observe, depending on the level of components and overall condition. It’s also what the MTBI shows for historical data.