When it comes to shopping for used sporting goods, it's a small playing field. For some, letting go of their unused clubs -- or skis, or Rollerblades, or bowling ball -- is to admit defeat, to acknowledge a skill they'll never master. Or maybe the tennis racquet that served you well for the past decade wasn't made of the "superlight titanium" so voguish now. It's hardly worthwhile trying to flog it. And everyone knows that with use, equipment like ice skates tends to morph into a veritable extension of the owner's body (or at least smell that way), so who'd buy it? Two exceptions to the rule: home gyms and bikes. They don't have to be brand-new; they just have to get the job done.
A home gym means having your phone, CD collection, coffee machine, TV remote, and 2-year-old within arm's reach while you're working up a burn. Four times a year, Gym Source, which outfits Equinox, Crunch, and New York Sports Club, turns its 45,000-square-foot Secaucus warehouse into a salesroom for used exercise machines. Industrial-strength StairMasters, Trotters, Lifecycles, and other contraptions get overhauled, then deeply discounted, by 50 percent or more. Most machines have been either retired from health clubs or returned after stints as floor models or demos. Recent bargains include a Tunturi bike for $49 (originally $500), a Schwinn Spinner for $375 (originally $749), a Lifecycle for $750 (originally $2,500), a Pacifica multipurpose home gym for $300 (originally $1,195), and a Diamond Back exercise bike for $900 (originally $2,300). The next sale is sometime in September; call 888-496-7687 for information.
A $6,000 Merlin racer may handle the park loop beautifully -- and looks great hanging against exposed brick -- but it won't last five minutes outside the local video store. For a simple, errand-running, crosstown-commuting utility bike, go to Transportation Alternatives' Recycle a Bicycle Shop at the Charas El Bohio Community Center (605 East 9th Street; 260-7055). This citywide program teaches local kids how to fix bicycles that have been donated or pulled from the trash. Resuscitated bikes are then sold to the public, each with a 30-day warranty, and proceeds go to the program. Also worth checking out is The Hub (81 East 3rd Street; 388-1077), where bikes are purchased from police auctions, trash-pickers, and building superintendents, fixed up, and then sold. "We do our best not to buy stolen bikes," says David Perry, who runs the shop and doesn't want potential customers recognizing their purloined Peugeots. Both shops tend to stock old three-speed cruisers with an occasional ten-speed or mountain bike thrown in, but with prices ranging from $50 to $175, you won't have to invest in a Rottweiler to guard your purchase.