Bikes, gear, components and bling; all were available Sunday at the Seattle Bike Swap. An annual event, the Swap is part rummage sale, part antique mall, and totally a bicyclist’s treasure hunt. If you weren’t there, you missed some sweet deals. With vendors coming from as far away as San Francisco or from Burlington just up I-5 , the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall was throbbing as prospective customers wandered among the tables and stalls.
Skagit Cycle Center, among the bike shops attending, had a prime location near the front of the hall. Guided by Cody, it was easy for enthusiasts to shop for a bike, parts or clothing before becoming overwhelmed by the myriad of options filling the expansive hall. Typically, it’s not the type of venue where shopper enters focused on an item, buys it and leaves.
It takes a special approach to maneuver through the innumerable displays of bicycle bric-a-brac. The intent focused on specific products with the patience to plod through the maze. The lucky enterprising shopper knew a vendor selling that frame or set of wheels and simply located the booth. It’s more for the leisurely hunt, the open-minded you-never-know-what-you-might-find bargain-hunter. After all, amongst the racks of cycle apparel is that hardly worn jersey or displayed in front of you, the perfectly sized-for-you handmade Rodrigues that’s in premier condition and a steal at $850 like the one being sold by a vendor whose niece had out grown it. One collector/seller up from San Francisco offered a 2010 Isaac, the year of the high-end company’s rebirth, $1500; not too bad for all carbon.
Anyone with an eye set on that 1972 refurbished Schwinn Continental, would have been hard-pressed. This bike wasn’t for sale. The owner, David Baker of Ballard has been rebuilding cast-offs since he bought his first rusted out Continental several years ago. While a work in-progress, besides the meticulous paint job, the restoration sports a hand-stitched Brooks saddle, Super Champion rims, and Campy components. A replacement rear hub will have to be machined as it’s no longer available. though Baker even searched through European contacts.
For those tired of digging through components or growing glassy-eyed from the maze of booths, Brian Echerer brought his creative wares from Portland. Echerer makes jewelry and home decor pieces from bicycle parts such as chain links and cassette cogs or chain rings. His "Velo Gioielli" (bicycle jewelry) earrings and necklaces were a sight for the bleary-eyed.
Seattle Monthly Bike Rental was a new-comer to this year’s bike swap. Operated by Lucas, this business meets a unique niche by catering to business travelers. Via website scheduling, his company offers drop off and pick up service for people in town for a period of time who are interested in having a bike readily available throughout their stay.
Caiman Marrick among the satisfied customers beamed ear-to-ear while he guided his shiny, new-to-him bike toward the door. Beyond the bargain-finding for bike efficiados, the Seattle Bike Swap is a fundraiser for Cascade Bicycle Club sponsored Major Taylor clubs. With a percentage of vendor’s earnings being donated, Peter VerBrugge, Cascade Bicycle Club Event Producer, expressed hopes of surpassing last year’s take of $7000. Surely with 172 vendors and Sunday’s turn-out, Major Taylor will benefit as well as Caiman Marrick and other 2013 Seattle Bike Swap browsers.