Last 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).
I didn't need to use it, but it's certainly worth noting that The Pro's Closet offers a 30-day return policy in case the bike that arrives doesn't fit right or isn't what you expected, both of which are bound to happen occasionally when buying a used bike online. Return shipping is on you unless the company sent the wrong bike, so it's not wholly penalty-free; bike shipping can cost $50 and up.
The Pro's Closet also offers an 18-month trade-in or buy-back program on all the bikes it sells. That amount is visible in your site account immediately after purchasing a bike — so I can see that after my purchase and a little over a month of owning the Revolt, it's trade-in value has dropped by $644. That makes it easy to know precisely how much store credit I could get if I decide to swap this bike for another one (or for cold hard cash, though in that case you receive 13 percent less than the store credit amount).
The Pro's Closet recently established a carbon frame warranty covering any manufacturing defects and "one instance of frame damage due to normal use." That's incredible, considering that many of the high-end bikes it sells have carbon fiber frames.
You Can Use The Pro's Closet to Get a New Bike, Too
The company also inked a deal with the bike brands Giant and Liv to help cyclists wanting to upgrade their ride by turning an old bike into a brand new one. How it works: complete an online form that details your bike so that The Pro's Closet can assign a value to it, either reject or accept that value offer, then use the voucher to order a new bike from Giant or Liv and bring your old one to your local Giant or Liv dealer to execute the trade. That's one caveat — you have to have access to a participating retailer (here's a map of where they are).
You can use this same Trade Up process to exchange your old bike for a new one from other brands too; you just have to find a participating bike shop (search for one here). The process is much the same — you submit for a quote from The Pro's Closet through its usual sell and trade process, then select Trade Up credit and your local shop, and you'll get a voucher to use there. You can also bring your old bike directly to the shop and perform the entire submission process there.
Watch Out For
If you're looking for a website to buy a cheap used bike, The Pro's Closet isn't it. The company has made its space in the high-end category — the original price of every bike it takes is $1,500 or more. That isn't where prices bottom out though; at the time of this writing, the cheapest bike available costs $956 (the most expensive is $10,000, a 2020 Specialized S-Works Venge Sagan Collection road bike).
Check Often, Act Fast
As I mentioned before, when I was shopping for a bike, I picked one only to have it bought out from under me. And before that happened, I spent a few weeks checking the website for bikes that fit what I was looking for. It bears remembering that despite its A+ web experience and the quality of its wares, The Pro's Closet is still a used bike shop — meaning there's just one of everything — and you should shop it as such. Check the site often to find what you're looking for, and when you do find it, snag it.
Shipping Isn't Free
One of online shopping's unwritten rules is that high-ticket items come with free shipping. That's not the case with The Pro's Closet, and while I know shipping a bike is expensive, I wasn't expecting the $95 fee at checkout.
Do a Final Check
Typically, we advise that you take any used bike to a bike shop for a final lookover after you buy it. The Pro's Closet gives each bike a professional tune-up before boxing it up, but it's worth checking things yourself once it arrives. I took the Revolt for a ride after unboxing it and found that the gears weren't indexing quite right and had to be adjusted.
There isn't anything like it, honestly: no other used bike site is set up like The Pro's Closet with an easy-to-use website, quality assurances, guarantees or buy-back promises. There are other places to buy a used bike online, including eBay, Craigslist and online communities such as Pinkbike, Bicycle Blue Book and GearTrade. Shopping there requires more finesse — check out our guide on how to do it right.
If you're looking for a hassle-free place to buy a premium used bike, The Pro's Closet is it. Riders just breaking into this range may experience sticker shock when perusing the online store's selection, but high prices are simply part of buying a high-end bike (yes, $1,000 is cheap in this case). The platform justifies them with a degree of transparency and information you might not even get at a brick and mortar bike shop, let alone on eBay or Craigslist. Plus, the guarantees it provides make it the perfect place to score a dream bike, whether it's your first or merely this year's upgrade.