The Bike You Always Wanted

The Bike You Always Wanted

It’s not a stretch to say there are few among us who don’t dream of owning one of those custom creations displayed at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, better known as NAHBS.

Friends, that just got a little easier.

Don Walker has just announced an agreement with The Pro’s Closet whereby attendees at the 2017 show in Salt Lake City will be able to trade in an old bike and apply the value toward a new bike.

You read that right. Trade old bike. Apply its value to new custom bike.


That clattering sound is the noise made by tens of thousands of jaws around the world hitting the ground.

It’s simpler than you may think. No, you won’t have to fly (or drive) with your old bike. You take at least one photo of the bike and send it to the Pro’s Closet. They’ll establish a tentative value, which will allow you to decide whether or not you want to cast off your old wheels. If you’re good with the value, you ship it to them, where they’ll assess the bikes for their final value. Within 24 hours you’ll have a voucher that you can print out and take with you to the show. Wander the aisles; pick your builder and then present them with your voucher. The builders will then turn those vouchers back in to The Pro’s Closet to get their cash.

In a language with tens of thousands of words, I can’t find the terminology necessary to describe just how amazeballs this idea is. I anticipate that Walker and company will need burn kits to address the damage they do to pockets as people wander the show floor. Levi’s would do well to have a booth selling new jeans.

No event is perfect, but this new service addresses the only real criticism that NAHBS has faced. Builders leave their shops for a full week to display and some of them go home without a single order. Talking to a builder who has dropped upwards of the cost of one of their complete bikes to go home empty handed is best remedied with either antidepressants or whole bottles of Zinfandel. I feel for them.

Our Trade Up program will be connecting builders with potential customers by unlocking the value in bikes collecting dust in their garages,” said Nick Martin of The Pro’s Closet. “We are excited to give frame builders another tool in their toolbox, making it easier for customers to upgrade to their dream bike. It’s an honor to be able to support customers, builders, and the hand built community as a whole.”

Experience has taught me that the hardest part of buying a custom bike is the deposit. Most builders allow clients to chip away at the amount as they wait for it to be built. Paypaling (that’s a thing, trust me) a builder $100 here, $200 there is as painless as bike buying gets. This new program could make room in your garage as well as cover the deposit. We’re going to need a mop to collect all the excess awesome.

I talked to Don Walker about this and he was audibly excited. In his press release he said, “Our mission has been to get more cyclists on custom bikes, and expose the handbuilt market to a larger audience. Working with The Pro’s Closet is a great fit, and we hope to see more deposits placed at the show because of the partnership.”

Learn more about the program, or get started with your trade-in here.

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  1. Grego

    Better publication of builders going home without desired orders would probably help! If someone was trying to decide between two builders but knew that one of them might hang up his/her torch if they didn’t get an order — I can’t imagine that failing to factor into the customer’s decision.

    1. Author

      Unfortunately, there are a great many builders who go home each year with no orders, or fewer orders than they needed to justify the expense. This isn’t something too many like to publicize, except on the phone when Don calls to inquire about a booth at next year’s show, and then he has on occasion gotten an earful. I feel for him in this regard. He does all he can to get people in the door. It’s up to the builder to charm the buyer. That said, this program will do wonders.

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  3. Rob Kristoff

    While I totally sympathize with how depressing this scenario would be for a builder, do they really expect customers to make a snap decision like that? A custom bike is a big commitment on both sides, and I would expect potential customers to meet all the builders, see their work, then go home and think about it awhile.

    1. Author

      I certainly did. Back in 2012 after seeing three bikes from Chris Bishop I decided he was exactly the cat I’d been looking for. And if I can do it, with the dozens of relationships I have with builders, I’m sure others can do it. Besides, I expect many people will already have researched builders they are interested in even before they arrive.

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