The Internet Is the Best Place to Buy a Used Premium Bike
Shopping for a used high-end bike is simple at The Pro's Closet, an online store that built itself like a car dealership.
Photo by Tanner Bowden
Earlier this summer, the transmission died in my 2001 Toyota 4Runner, the car I've driven since high school, the only car I've ever owned. In searching for a used vehicle to replace it, I couldn't help but think about the research I had done a month or so prior for a piece on how to buy a used bicycle. Comparing the processes involved, I came to a quick conclusion: buying a used car is simpler by far.
The one exception to that statement is The Pro's Closet, a Colorado-based business that buys and sells used high-end bikes on the Internet. The company's information-forward approach cuts all the guesswork out of sizing up a used bike, which might come with dings and scratches from its former owner but also aftermarket parts and a hidden history — bicycles don't have odometers.
To develop its process of identifying and documenting these things, The Pro's Closet looked to the auto industry for inspiration (it even brought in Toyota leasing consultants to make its intake process more efficient). Of course, that's on the backend. When the bike shop offered me store credit to try out the shopping experience firsthand, I eagerly agreed.
What We Like
Easy Site Navigation
Online shopping has been around long enough that we only notice how it works when it doesn't, which is why it's worth noting that The Pro's Closet's site makes it remarkably easy to parse through hundreds of used bikes to find the few that fit your needs. Sidebar filters for bike type — road, gravel, mountain, etc. — and size get you down to a small enough sampling to go through one by one, but you can get more specific with selections for brands, frame material, brake type, wheel size, condition and more. There's even an In the Stand page that displays basic info about bikes that the shop is in the process of certifying for resale.
Bikes In, Bikes Out
While I was shopping for a gravel bike that fit me, I narrowed the selection down to my criteria of specs and price (and paint job) only to see one I favored sell to another rider before I pulled the trigger. That's how it goes when shopping used, but luckily The Pro's Closet brings in enough bikes on a rolling basis that the site is always fresh. The next day, I applied my search filters again and found another bike that was even closer to what I was looking for, a 2020 Giant Revolt Advanced 0.
Details, Details, Details
While mileage isn't available for bikes on The Pro's Closet, just about everything else is. Close-up, high-resolution photos document the every detail, and every component is listed whether it came stock or was added by a previous owner. There's also a chart and rating system that codifies the bike's overall condition as well as that of its key parts.
Here's the listing for the bike that I ended up purchasing. The condition rating noted that the frame wasn't in perfect condition, and the photos showed why.
Ready to Ride, Nearly
Not long after placing my order, a box arrived in the driveway. Direct-to-consumer bike brands are few, so many riders may have never received a bike in the mail. Regularly receiving test bikes at Gear Patrol has taught me that they can arrive in various states of "fully built." But The Pro's Closet seems to know that not all riders are mechanics; my Revolt came with its front wheel removed, and handlebars turned.
The wheel I could address by hand and the bars with an Allen wrench, though I used a 5nm torque wrench that came in the box (along with a full set of bits I didn't need). I used this same tool to set the saddle height. The only thing not inside the box were pedals and a tool to put them on (a common scenario with higher-end new bikes as well, for the record).