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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Bike Swap shoppers find cheap gear, museum-quality and failed bike-share bikes

UPDATED: Sat., April 13, 2019, 5:37 p.m.

Tim Lacey wheeled his newly bought red 1973 Raleigh Olympian bike out of the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, the hosting grounds for the eighth annual Spokane Bike Swap and Expo on Saturday, when hundreds of used bikes are consigned and sold for cheap.

The Raleigh Olympian wasn’t exactly what the Central Washington University student was looking for.

“I wish I would have gotten here earlier,” he said, looking for an adventure gravel bike for touring. But he plans to ride the Olympian to Boise and then Oregon or Utah in the summer.

The Olympian was one of about 800 bikes on consignment at the bike swap this year, event director LeAnn Yamamoto said. The proceeds of the bike swap go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Northwest. Bikes cost $5 to register for consignment, and the bike swap takes 10% of the sale amount for charity. Last year’s event raised about $34,000.

Bikes range from $50 to $3,000-4,000, Yamamoto said, and the selection has kids’ bikes, tandems, recumbent bikes, side-by-sides, mountain bikes, road bikes and antiques.

Perhaps the most unique bike at the swap, bike corral director Michael Ebinger said, was a pre-1960s J.C. Higgins bike, sold by the J.C. Penney company. Maroon-and-gold-painted curved steel made up the classical look of the cruiser, priced at $400.

“It’s probably a museum piece,” he said.

The show also had about 100 bright yellow bikes formerly used in a failed bike-rental scheme in Seattle, Ebinger said. The Chinese-based company, called Ofo, tried to start a rental-bike program using only docks to offer pick-up and drop-off points for the bikes. After the business scaled back last year, the bikes were sold to a merchant in Spokane, who put them in the bike swap for about $75 each.

Lacey was able to work the system to get a good deal. He bought two bikes at the swap. In addition to the Olympian, he bought the other bike just for the brown leather Brooks seat, which is worth more than the $50 he spent on the entire bike. He said he plans on putting the Brooks seat on the Olympian and selling the other bike frame.

He also got a great deal on the Olympian because of the touring baggage on it.

“The bags themselves are worth more than the bike,” he said.

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