Which used road bike should I buy? A data-driven approach
In this Article
The decision's made. You're going to buy a new bike. You've set yourself a budget that you're sure to exceed - let that be said in passing! - all that's left is to choose the bike. That's where the questions start:
- New or used?
- The latest model or a little older?
- What about make and model?
- Rim or disc brakes?
- Electronic or mechanical derailleur? Shimano or SRAM? Ultegra or 105?
- Which model will lose the least value on resale?
With over 200 brands on the market, 3 to 5 models per brand on average, component choices that can double the price, dozens of different colors... there's plenty to turn heads about!
At The Cyclist House we evaluate hundreds of bikes every month. Make, model, transmission, brake type, condition, year on the market are all key factors in determining the price of a bike.
And so.., why not tap into the collective intelligence of all those who have already answered these questions and bought a bike in the past? Analysis of the second-hand market enables us to trace their choices.
We analyzed a representative sample of 23,255 advertisements for the sale of used road bikes between private individuals published in France between June and December 2022. Note that only bikes with a selling price of over €1,500 are taken into account. This article is the first in a series designed to share with you our understanding of the second-hand market.
What budget for my road bike?
Unless you're made of gold, this is often the very first question we're faced with. And the answer rarely depends on the range of bikes on the market, but rather on our finances or our ability to convince our partner...
The great interest of the second-hand market or bicycles Certified Pre-Owned is that you can buy a bike in one or two price categories above what you could buy new, but at a price you can afford! With discounts ranging from 15 to 60% off the new price, you'll have access to a wide range of models, whatever your budget.
The scatter plot below represents road bike sales prices over the period June to December 2022. The horizontal green bars correspond to the distribution of these prices. Feel free to move your mouse (or finger over 👆) directly over the data to see them in detail.
Some key points:
💡 A quarter of used bikes for sale are between €1,500 and €2,000 - this is the most common price range, and therefore where you'll have the most choice if you're looking for a used bike;
💡 50% of bikes on offer have a selling price under €3,000;
💡 26% of bikes on offer are priced between €3,000 and €4,500 - enough to make you feel (a little) less guilty if you're looking for a bike in this price range;
💡 The rest (almost a quarter of the bikes) are priced over €4,500, and up to €13,000! The record is beaten by a Specialized S-Works SL7 equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, which sold out in two weeks;
💡 The average selling price is €3,300 and some sixty ads with a selling price under €3,000 are published every day in France - our advice: don't rush if you're looking for the bike of your dreams!
If, despite all these figures, you need more help deciding how much to spend on your first bike, this article is for you.
State-of-the-art or older bike: which to choose?
The more you're prepared to buy a bike with a few kilometers on the clock, 1) the more choice you'll have, and 2) the better bargains you'll find.
The scatter plot below shows the selling prices of road bikes according to their year of release. The black dots represent average prices for each year. Again, feel free to explore the data directly on the graph.
💡 The first observation concerns the number of bikes on sale by year (the density of dots per column). The majority of used bikes on sale in 2022 were sold in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Therefore, if you're looking to buy a bike in 2023, you'll have the most choice on the second-hand market for bikes released 1 to 3 years earlier, i.e. 2020, 2021 and 2022 models;
💡 The second observation concerns the evolution of average bicycle prices according to the year of release. The average price of a used bike does not fall linearly, but exponentially (if you connect the black dots together, you'll see that the shape of the curve is not a straight line). If you're a seller, don't delay too long before putting your bike up for sale! If you're a buyer, you'll find the best bargains by looking for bikes that came out 2 to 4 years ago.
As we all know, cycling is an expensive passion - if you want to save a bit, buy second-hand to avoid the first discount on resale.
Although age is a key factor in determining the value of a bike, it's not the only one. The condition of the bike and the brand are two other factors that play a major role in explaining discounts. Read this article to help you preserve the value of your bike, and read on to discover some of the best-selling brands in France!
Which bike brand to choose?
There are many reasons to choose a popular brand if you're looking for a used bike: more choice, lower discount on resale, more choice of components in case of mechanical problems or upgrades... so which brands are the most popular with the French? Do these choices vary according to the price of the bike?
The histogram below shows the 10 best-selling brands by number of ads. The colors show the price range for each brand. We limit ourselves to models with a release date between 2016 and 2022.
💡 Specialized tops the podium with 1,953 ads and 40% more bikes on sale than the challenger Giant. The top 5 is completed by the American Trek in third place, the Swiss brand BMC in fourth place and the German brand that sells exclusively online, Canyon.
💡 Specialized is the premium bike brand par excellence (with its S-Works range): there are 725 ads for bikes over €5,000, compared with 323 for Trek or 238 for BMC in the same price range.
💡 On the other hand, if you're looking for "more affordable" bikes between €1,500 and €3,000, Specialized is not the best brand to look at. Indeed, Giant is the undisputed leader in mid-range bikes with 805 bikes vs. the 584 or 570 offered respectively by Trek and Specialized in second and third place respectively.
💡 French brands Look and Lapierre are fairly well represented, taking 7th and 9th place respectively. We were surprised not to find any Italian brands in the top 10, but they are there from eleventh position: Pinarello (11th), Wilier Triestina (12th), Colnago (16th) and Bianchi (17th).
💡 These 10 brands alone account for 59% of the high-end road bike market - if you want to limit the risk of future resale, choose a model from this list!
Since we know that our choices are not always so rational, we invite you to read our top 3 Tour de France 2022 bikes - where you'll find, in particular, the Canadian brand Cervélo.
Which bike model should I choose?
Once the choice of brand is a little clearer, the question of model arises. You'll notice that we often consider the brand + model pair rather than the brand and model separately.
The word cloud below shows the 82 most cited models among all the ads published. Font size is proportional to the number of hits.
💡 We have chosen to consider Specialized Tarmac SL4, SL5, SL6 and SL7 as four different models. If we had simply categorized them as Tarmac, it would be by far the most represented model with 1,451 hits, twice as many as the Emonda, which comes in first place with 774 hits. If you'd like to find out more about the Tarmac model, read on our dedicated article.
💡 Here you'll find the great road bike classics: Giant TCR Advanced, Scott Addict, Pinarello Dogma, BMC Teammachine, Trek Madone and Cannondale Supersix (voted bike of the year 2023!). For more information on each of these models, see the next article in this series!
Bonus question: new or used bike?
If you know The Cyclist House you'll know that we're partial to this question. In Europe, less than one in 10 bikes sold is a used bike. Why so few? Bikes are complex objects, with dozens of technical components, which require serious guarantees of quality and safety.
At The Cyclist House we're passionate about bikes: road, urban, gravel or mountain. Every day, our team looks for the best used bikes available. Our mechanics inspect, refurbish and upgrade them to give them a second life. Every Certified Pre-Owned bike by The Cyclist House is delivered within 3 days, ready to ride and guaranteed for 1 year. All our bikes are bought in Europe, overhauled and stored in our warehouse near Strasbourg.
Every bike has a story. Our ambition is to make it as long as possible!
If you're in the market for a used road bike, keep these tips in mind:
💸 Budget for my second-hand bike: Nearly a quarter of used bikes offered for sale are between €1,500 and €2,000 - this is the most common price range and therefore where you'll have the most choice if you're looking for a used bike;
🥧 Year my used bike was put on the market: If you're looking to buy a bike this year, you'll have the most choice in the used market on bikes released 1 to 3 years before, so 2020, 2021 and 2022 models. If you analyze the discounts, you'll find the best deals on bikes released 2 to 4 years ago;
✨ Brand of my used bike: Specialized tops the podium with 1,953 ads and 40% more bikes for sale than the challenger. Giant. The top 5 is completed by American Trek in third place, Swiss brand BMC in fourth and German brand Canyon, which sells exclusively online.
The other option is to let yourself be guided by The Cyclist House. We'll be delighted to help you find the bike of your dreams from our selection of over a hundred Certified Pre-Owned bikes. You'll find the best brands and models, inspected and tuned by professionals.
If you enjoyed this article, look out for the next episode of the series, where we'll talk about brakes, transmissions and frame materials!