Mountain Bike Depreciation – How Much Is a MTB Worth?


We all know that mountain bikes can cost a pretty penny nowadays. Bikes with carbon-fiber components can fetch over five thousand dollars, rivaling the price of most second-hand cars. As the retail value of brand-new MTBs goes higher, so does its depreciation cost. In other words, buyers can expect to lose money once their bikes have set out on the trail.

Based on the current reselling prices on bicyclebluebook.com and online auctions, here are several things to learn about the second-hand bike market.

Your Mountain Bike Will Lose a Ridiculous Amount of Value Within 1 Year of Purchase

It’s easy to think that high-end brands such as Trek, Giant, Santa Cruz, and Specialized will have a better resale value. After all, these bike manufacturing companies churn out a variety of models faster than you can hit the brakes for a screeching halt. While sellers can offer them used at a much higher price compared to lower range brands, their value has already gone down significantly nonetheless.

For instance, when you buy an 8,700-dollar Giant Trance Advanced Pro brand-new, you cannot expect that amount to hold even when you’ve used it for only less than a year. It is said that branded bikes tend to be resold at about 55% of their original value. As such, selling a used Giant Trance Advanced Pro one year after purchase can only be pegged at 4,700 dollars, more or less.

The depreciation value of 45 percent for mountain bikes is a lot higher than that of a car which is placed at about 10 percent within 12 months. This huge disparity is enough to leave you disheartened hence, it should be taken into consideration when buying the more expensive line of mountain bikes.

However, there are many opportunities where you can get a new mountain bike at a discount although this would normally apply to less current models of big bike manufacturers. Anyhow, you will have a better depreciation value of 35 percent if you were able to buy the MTB in brand-new condition for 10 percent off.

The latest variants of Giant and Trek will typically be offered at sticker price. You’ll be lucky if you are able to negotiate your way through your relentless persuasion when dealing directly with your local bike store. This way, you can manage the depreciation costs which would otherwise be quite difficult to swallow for most original buyers.

Another way to score a deal on new mountain bikes is to get them through industry insiders such as bike store agents, or sales staff. Sometimes, you will find the discount is substantial enough that it can rival the resale price of a used bike. This puts pressure on resellers to lower their offer even further in order to compete for a sale.

If ever you get the opportunity to buy these industry-discounted MTBs, the caveat is you are usually barred from reselling such items. While there will be those who can get their way around it, you can say that used bikes that are sold in general, were bought at their retail value. In any case, the market will still dictate how much you can sell your bike at the end of the day.

Selling Your Mountain Bike After 1 Year

The significant drop in value of mountain bikes during its first year can be a huge letdown, but all will not be lost after this period. In fact, as the bike goes into its second, even third year, the added depreciation rate is said to be anywhere from 5 to 7 percent only.

Simply put, if you are reselling a 6 thousand-dollar bike 2 years from purchase, you can get under 3 thousand dollars versus 3,300 dollars resale on its first year.

Bike Age Value:

  • Less than 1 year up to 55 percent of MSRP
  • Less than 2 years up to 48 percent of MSRP
  • Less than 3 years up to 41 percent of MSRP

To illustrate the depreciation for the succeeding years, it would look something like the following.

  • Mountain bike purchase price : $5,000
  • Resale value in less than a year: $2,750
  • Resale value in less than 2 years: $2,400
  • Resale value in less than 2 years: $2,050

You have to note, however, that the resale price will not only be based on the age of the bike, but also on its condition. This can make a big difference in the offer price such that a bike which has been used within a year, but is actually in pristine condition, can resell up to 62 percent of its original retail value. On the other hand, a bike with a similar age, but in fair condition, may command as little as 38 percent of its MSRP.

It is quite uncommon to find used bikes that are three years old or more in the secondhand market. When you look at the examples from bicyclebluebook.comOpens in a new tab., many bikes are within the 1 to 2-year age range, but vary on their condition on which the selling price is based. As such, they have models valued at even less than what the market dictates.

Used Mountain Bike Condition Scale

MTB maintenance

Let’s go into the condition scale in order to determin the value of a used MTB. Based on the scales you should get a good idea on how to value your MTB. Be honest with yourself though, it’s rare to have a MTB in mint condition unless it’s been sitting in a garage or only used for a couple of rides on the road.

Mint

Just like any item sold in this description, a bike that is in mint condition is practically new and if at all, will have very minimal wear. This is most likely because it has only been used 5 times tops hence it has a very low mileage, fewer than 100 miles perhaps. You will find the paint in its immaculate state, including the decals. This bike is practically free from dings, scratches, and dents, therefore, no reconditioning is necessary.

Excellent

The bike may have been used a number of times, but its appearance and mechanicals look like new. There are no conspicuous blemishes on either the fork or frame, and other components as well. The tires, grips, decals, shifters, saddle, handlebar tape, etc. remain in their original state. As such, no additional servicing will be required on the bike or any of its parts.

Very Good

You can see that the bike still looks great, with minor cosmetic blemishes on some of its components and accessories. There is nothing that would be bothersome unless you are the ultimate perfectionist. Meanwhile, minimal adjustments might be required on some parts.

You will find the brakes and suspension are still clean albeit with signs of usage alongside the brake pads, tires, and grips. However, they won’t have any pitting and grooving, with plenty of miles left on them. The wheels would still have the smooth rotation without any damaged spokes, wheel hop and play in the bearings.

Good

As its label says, the mountain bike would still manage to look nice, although it might have already racked up a lot of mileage. It will most likely need new tires, grips, saddle, tune up or mechanical servicing. While other parts such as the brake cables, tubes, chain, etc. may also call for a replacement, the shocks, shifters, chainrings, wheels and derailleurs are still good.

The frame will show signs of wear; graphics will be somewhat faded, and wheels may require truing. There are cosmetic scratches on other components as well. Sometimes, the hubs might need an overhaul, and the braking surface would have some discolorations and shallow grooves.

Fair

Many of the bike’s components will have multiple dings and blemishes, and understandably so. After all, a bike that is in this category would have been on many trails frequently and repeatedly. It would be highly likely that the bike has been in a crash or has been dropped in a number of occasions.

There is noticeable paint fading and scratches on the frame. Aside from a tune-up, an overhaul would be recommended. The brakes and suspension will have to be serviced, while other parts such as the saddle, chainrings, handlebar tape, grips, will require replacing. The bike operation may not be as smooth as it should be given the worn-out pivots, springs, and suspension bushings.

Factors That Help Mountain Bikes Hold Their Value

Most mountain bikes that tend to do well in the used market have the following traits which will help you manage the reality of depreciation. Brand name is a big factor, design, component quality and type of materials can all add value to used MTB’s.

It’s All in the Name

You know how a strong brand name can leave its competition in the dust. It’s common for people to equate a branded product to high quality even if it’s not necessarily the case all the time. Mountain bikes are no different. In the world of bikes, three names are on top, namely: Yeti, Santa Cruz, and Specialized.

Yeti and Santa Cruz MTBs are popular for a reason – they are made from high-quality components that have clearly contributed to the brand’s stellar image. This recognition leads to strengthening customer loyalty, which can last a long time and may even spread to younger generations.

In the meantime, Specialized bikes are known for their premium line, the variants of which have found success in many cycling races. As such, Specialized has built an impeccable reputation of being the top choice of both enthusiasts and professional riders alike.

It Has a Universal Appeal

It always follows that when there is a strong demand, prices will go up. Most bike manufacturing giants like Santa Cruz will have items that cater to a wider range of riders and at the same time, release marketing niches like all-roaders, gravel bikes, etc. that can only be appreciated by a limited market.

In the industry of second-hand bikes, niche items are said to have a high depreciation rate. As such, they can’t keep their value for too long compared to a bike that’s been designed to appeal to a bigger audience. This is one thing you should consider when making a purchase.

While you have the freedom to buy whatever type of mountain bike suits you, may that be a niche bike or not, you just have to be prepared for the consequences of depreciation. You will most probably take a hit when you buy a bike that is customized and has outstanding frame geometry for all intents and purposes. This type of ride can already be expensive, but don’t expect to get a decent resale value afterwards.

It is Current

The fast-paced world of advanced bikes is proving difficult to keep up with. Just when you think you carbon-fiber frame is the best thing since sliced bread, out comes a bike that blows the competition out of the water. Bike technology keeps evolving faster than you can say Jack Robinson. This aggravates the situation of niche bikes, which makes them feel older and passe.

Basically, if a new standard is set, anything that would have features, which were once considered ground-breaking innovations, will already lose a lot of its value. One great example of this reality is the rapid rise of modern mountain bike wheel sizes such as 27.5-inch and so-called 29ers. They have clearly clashed with the original 26-inch bikes, almost causing them to disappear into oblivion, therefore, dragging their value to ground.

You have to be on the lookout for future advancements in order to stay ahead of your cycling game. Some buyers may want to consider a shop’s buy-back program where you are able to trade in your bike with the latest one.

Realistically speaking though, your average mountain biker wouldn’t be one to update his bike every year. But if you have the following bike specs, you might be able to manage your depreciation costs should you decide to sell your mountain bike after a year or two:

  • 29-inch wheels
  • 11 to 12-speed single chainring drivetrain
  • Thru-axle wheel, frame and fork
  • Minimum of 30mm rims
  • Tubeless tires
  • Boost hub

If your MTB still has a triple chainring, 10-speed drivetrain, rim brakes, quick-release axles, and tube tires, then you are most probably looking at low resale value. It won’t be long before bikes with 12-speed drivetrains will be commonplace as well as having wireless and electronic technologies.

It Has Quality Frame Material

An average mountain bike will have an aluminum alloy frame, which is not necessarily bad, but it will not command a higher value in the resale market. A titanium frame, however, would be the gold standard, something that will make your bike hold its value.

Titanium is an expensive material used in high-end MTBs. Such bikes are lightweight and flexible yet has outstanding anti-corrosion properties that trump platinum. It even has twice the strength of aluminum and can cope better with harsh debris and bashing. This is why secondhand titanium bikes can be resold with less depreciation.

Bike frames made from premium carbon composite and boutique steel are the next choices when it comes to a good second-hand bike. It must be noted that not all carbon frames are alike. The ones designed on Yeti Turq or Santa Cruz CC, for example, are the best examples of high-end carbon material. Others who may lay claim to the carbon-fiber description are using a higher amount of fillers in order to be sold at a low price.

The frame’s condition is another important factor aside from the type of material it has. Carbon frames may be pricey, but once it is compromised such as being broken from a drop, its value can take a huge dip. However, repairs can be done on damaged carbon-fiber components and for as long as it remains structurally sound, you should be able to get a good resale out of it.

Aluminum bikes will be the least desirable, therefore, it will depreciate more. In any case, these bikes are still good choices for new riders and budget cyclists, but sellers can only get so much because of the presence of other coveted variants.

It Has Pimped Essentials

Upgrades may help make your bike in the durability and “looks” department, but not all can do you good when it comes to reselling it. Custom-fit seatposts, cranks, saddles, among others will not increase the value of your bike because these are according to a personal taste. As such, they may not appeal to many buyers. This is why it’s best to keep your MTB in its stock condition if you plan to resell it later on.

On the other hand, if you have upgraded your suspension, wheels or power meters, you might be in for a better value. An amped-up suspension can make all the difference when it comes to riding comfort. High-end types such as RockShox Ultimate and Fox Factory can attract a buyer’s attention.

Your bike’s performance will be greatly affected by upgraded wheels, which can cost as much as the frame itself. Carbon wheels will prevent a significant drop in value brought about by depreciation. Meanwhile, power meters can help abate the depreciation cost, and will most likely appeal to competitive cyclists.

Tips for Buyers of Used Mountain Bikes

By now it’s pretty obvious you can get a great deal buying a used MTB but it’s not always as easy as you think. A bike needs to fit, shouldn’t be too old and you don’t want to buy stolen goods. Get a bike from a reputable seller and ask for a demo ride. If there’s a local bike shop, bring the bike and consult them (if they’re willing to).

Know What Type of Bike Fits Your Needs

A casual rider may not be able to determine what kind of bike he needs for as long as it gets the job done. For a regular rider who uses his bike most of the time, it is a must to find the right one according to your riding style.

For instance, if you often take steep ascents, you should probably get a hardtail which would be lighter and make climbing much more manageable for you. When you want to go extra, choose a carbon bike instead of aluminum alloy. The wheel size is another consideration, with plus-size tires becoming a popular option given their wider surface that can take on sharp rocks and protruding roots.

Get a Used Bike That’s Not More Than a Year Old

Mountain bikes lose nearly half of their value on their first year of purchase. When you think about it, the buyer is likely to benefit in this scenario. You can get a bike that’s not more than a year old and with an original sticker price of 3,000 dollars for only 1,650 dollars. It may not be brand-spanking new, but it will be the next best thing, especially if it’s in like-new condition.

When you buy an older bike, the depreciation slows down to 7 percent max each year. Clearly, as a potential second owner, you might end up not getting enough value with a bike that’s seen hundreds of thousands of miles. Worse, you might be at the receiving end of all its problems and mechanical issues considering its age such that, it would cost you more than you wanted it to.

Buy from Reputable Sellers

There are a number of channels you can consider for a used mountain bike. You can start with your local bike shops, some of which have consignment deals with bike owners while others would have a buy-and-sell scheme. As a buyer, check if their selling price conforms to the expected depreciation of the bike otherwise, it will not be a worthwhile endeavor for you.

Often, online sellers offer the best deals. After all, they have less operating expenses compared to a brick-and-mortar store. You have Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Pinkbike for your consideration. Ideally, you should meet the seller in person and see the merchandise for yourself before you engage in any sales transaction. And while you’re at it, you should test ride the bike which allows you to check for any loose components or compression of the suspension.

Check If It’s Stolen Property

Before you think you have scored a good deal, get the bike’s serial number and punch them in on bikeindex.org and bikeregister.com before whipping out your hard-earned cash. Another telltale sign is when the seller is offering a high-end mountain bike of which he has no technical knowledge. It would be best for you to step back and do your research before making any rash buying decision.

Give it Some TLC

When buying a used MTB, especially something that’s 2 years or more, it goes without saying that it will need some sort of servicing. Honest sellers will even tell you what type of additional maintenance it requires. The pivot bearings may be grinding; spokes are not as tight anymore, or there is wobbling on the wheels. Once you have established the compromises, you can start negotiating with the price.

Tips for Sellers of Used Mountain Bikes

It’s sometimes hard to let go of a bike but getting sentimental about it won’t help you set a realistic price. Make sure to provide as much details using photos, videos, mainentance notes, etc.  A buyer will trust you more than a person who hardly provides any details.

Determine How Much Your Bike Is Worth

As a seller, you should be realistic with your pricing in order to move your bike fast. You must remember that a 2012 model bike that was once priced at 2,500 dollars will not matter as much when you sell it after 3 years or more. So don’t expect to get a thousand dollars for it because you will never be able to sell it, even if it is in excellent condition. Always take note of the depreciation rate when selling your bike.

Cut the Emotional Ties

Leave the sentimental value out the door because your buyer will not pay you more just because you can get over your bike’s significance in your life. When somebody buys your bike, he will be making a new set of memories without considering your own history with it.

Keep it Real

Transparency is important when selling a bike. If you are an online seller who cares about his reputation, you should be honest if the mountain bike on your listing has dents or major issues. This way, if there is buyer remorse, you can hold your ground because otherwise eBay, for example, will more likely side with the customer during a transaction dispute.

Snap Away

Do not use stock photos, if at all, they should only supplement the actual images of your mountain bike. Take clear pictures in order to highlight the positive attributes of your item. You can even put in more effort by staging a nice background such as a spot in the woods or at your local trail center. If there are slight blemishes, place a coin beside them to give your potential buyers an idea of how small or big they are.

Fill Them In

It’s not enough to show visual images, you should also provide written information. When jotting down the details of your listing, indicate the brand, year, frame condition, size, major components and their corresponding state, recent maintenance performed, and necessary servicing from the buyer’s end. You can add an FAQ portion if the listing space allows you. This way, you will not be bombarded with repeated questions that could have been addressed automatically.

Choose Your Sales Channels

While using different selling portals increases the probability of your item selling quickly, often the commission fees can be quite paralyzing. Aside from the website, payment options like PayPal takes a cut from the sale as well. Depending on how badly you need to dispose of your bike, you can consider selling it naturally through your own social media accounts so that you will not be subject to extra charges.

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Ruben

I always had a thing for bike sports and love almost anything that involves bikes and boards. I work part-time as a designer in the tech industry and work on my blogs whenever I can.

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