Suffering from sticker shock at the new bikes in the shop? If so, you might be glad to know that you can sometimes negotiate the price for your bicycle. It’s just a matter of doing it the right way at the right time.
If you’re looking for a killer deal when you buy your next bike, it may be time to learn the ins and outs of haggling for your bike.
So, let’s dive in and we’ll show you the following:
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Can You Negotiate at a Bike Shop?
In most cases, your local shop will be willing to negotiate to some extent. You may be out of luck at chain stores like REI, but local bike shops are much more willing to deal with you on an individual level.
Here in the US, we’re not much of a haggling society, so people are often nervous when they begin to try negotiating for the price. But a good bike is a serious investment, so it’s definitely in your best interest to try for a better deal.
You won’t be able to do this in every shop. Big box stores are the best example.
You may not even be able to negotiate on every bike. There’s a big difference between buying a $400 bike and a $2500 one, for both you and the bike shop.
While not every shop will be willing to negotiate the price of the bike, many will throw in extras like free tune-ups or discounted accessories to help sweeten the deal.
There’s no harm in asking, if a shop refuses to budge then it’s out of your control.
There’s one big thing to keep in mind when you’re negotiating a bike: the dealer is trying to make more than just a sale… they’re trying to earn a customer. You may have better luck trying a shop you’ve never been in if you’re planning on haggling for the price of the bike.
How To Negotiate Bike Prices (7 Tips)
Negotiating the price on anything can be dicey. The following tips should help you get a bike cheaper at shops that are willing to negotiate.
1. Compare Prices Beforehand
It’s best to walk in knowing the price of the bike you’re looking for.
Or, more accurately, knowing how much the bike costs across a variety of stores. You can usually find the MSRP on the company’s website, and you may also want to check online stores to make sure you’re getting a good deal. Bigger companies like REI make it easier to figure out pricing on bikes.
As far as negotiating goes, the big kicker is if another small shop in the area offers the same bike for less. It makes a good starting point for negotiations, especially since you know you can get the cheaper price if negotiations fail at this store.
2. Ask about Deals on Last Year’s Model
February and March are when most companies release their newest models of bicycles. For a shop owner that means clearing floor space of older models.
And you can take advantage of that by purchasing last year’s model in that period of time.
If they still have the bike you’re looking for in stock, you may be able to score a killer deal by going with last year’s model. It’s one of the best ways to save a bit of money on a new bike, and you can score yourself an outright win.
3. Make an Offer for 15% Lower
10% is a safe number to shoot for when you’re negotiating. This means you need to start a bit lower, and 15% is a reasonable number. It’s not going to cause shock or laughter in most cases, especially if you did your research beforehand.
10-15% is safely inside the profit margin for the average bike store. Indeed, a lot of store owners will offer 10% off to a new customer just because they’re hesitant about the sale.
Try to calculate the actual numbers when you make the offer. Asking for a specific percentage off can make things a little bit awkward in person.
4. Offer to Pay in Cash
If a store owner seems hesitant, try offering to pay for the bike in cash. By doing so, you help the business owner avoid processing fees and the problems that can arise from someone using a card.
If you’re planning on doing this, have the cash in your pocket when you arrive. The less time they have to think about the transaction, the better off you’ll be. If you need to run to the bank you may not be able to get the same deal as when you place crisp $20 bills on the counter.
It also helps out the store owner, so it’s a win-win. Physical cash leaves an impression on people, and you can use that to your advantage in cases where the salesman is hesitant to give you a discount.
5. Ask about Extras or Bundles
This is where most people succeed when it comes to negotiation. Service only costs labor hours, and discounts on accessories hurt the shop owner’s bottom line less than a deep discount on a bike.
Remember that the shop owner is trying to create a loyal customer by making the sale. Offering a free tune-up or water bottle holder to sweeten the deal is quite reasonable. Often the offers will come up before you ask.
See what else you can fit into the sale. After all, you still need a water bottle, a helmet, and all of the other accessories that come with cycling. Add in a free tune-up or two and you can save a surprising amount of money while keeping the dealer happy with what you’re paying for the bike.
You can end up with a great deal if you don’t get tunnel vision about the price of the bike.
6. Be Prepared to Walk Away and Try Another Store
Sometimes negotiations over pricing fail.
And that’s okay.
But you need to be prepared to walk out if you can’t get the deal you’re looking for. If you’re not prepared to walk then you have no leverage during negotiations, and store owners can sniff out the person who’ll buy the bike even if they refuse any discount or extras.
If you’re a bit shy it can be a pain, but prepare yourself mentally before you go in to leave. That little bit of confidence can affect your negotiations in a big way.
7. Be Kind
Never let negotiations get out of hand. If no deal is made, then no one wins, and being nasty about it isn’t going to win you a better price. That includes subtle intimations you’re planning on going to another store unless price matching was part of your initial approach.
You can be firm without making yourself look like the bad guy. This ties back to being prepared to walk out. There’s no need to get into an argument, haggling can be heated but everyone involved knows it’s a bit of a show.
You’re much better off just walking than losing your temper.
A store owner who knows that you’re not a pain to deal with is more likely to cut you deals in the future as well. They get your business, you get cheaper and better service.
During a proper negotiation, everyone wins if a deal can be struck. During a negotiation gone bad, no one wins.
What is the Markup on Bicycles?
The average markup on a bicycle is 36%. That isn’t the razor-thin margin that most store owners will tell you they make but it’s not particularly high. For the person negotiating it’s an important number to keep in mind, few dealers are going to sell you a bike which causes them to lose money.
Profit margins of 50% are considered a reasonable goal in retail. Bicycles are a bit shy of that, but they’re also an expensive purchase. The markup, and thus the negotiable margin, on other products, is usually higher.
That’s just proving once again that bundles and accessories are a great place to negotiate when you’re purchasing a bicycle. If you play your cards right you can stack up more freebies than the discount you were trying to receive in the first place.
The important thing to keep in mind is that margins on bicycles aren’t as thin as some store owners would have you think, but they’re still under the retail average. If you can’t get the upfront discount you’d like, try to make it up with products that have a higher margin.
What is the Best Time of Year to Buy a Bike?
Winter is usually the best time to buy a bike. Store owners are focused on clearing out the old stock to make room for the new models that will be released in February and March. In areas, with freezing winters you’ll have an even bigger advantage as business slows down a lot when no one is riding.
February and March are also a good time to buy, but you’ll want to aim for last year’s model in that case.
If you’re planning to order a direct-to-consumer bike, read our article about whether or not your local bike shop will build your bike for you.