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What is a cycle jumble?

The first jumble was in about 1983 in London. Shortly after that Ripley saw their first event with nine dealers. [more later]
Nowadays there are up to 40 venues and about 60 jumbles a year. The general idea is for a variety (and this is the key) of enthusiasts to sell their unwanted cycle bits. "Bits" can be from complete bikes to a single washer. An organiser sets the jumble up. This will involve hiring a suitable building for a period of a few hours. A neccesity is to have parking space nearby and snacks available. The venues are spread widely throughtout England, with one in Scotland. "Holes" in the distribution are Wales and Central London. (no emailed complaints about my use of the word holes - no dispargement intended!)
This website is getting recognised as the main information base. The tremendous feature of cycle jumbles is that under the roof are some of the most knowledgible experts in Britain. They are all willing to help and dispense advice. (clock fairs, in my experience, has a culture of "me to know and you to not find out about")
Cycle jumbles are now the first resort for finding components, now that blister-packs are rife in cycle shops and the latter are often manned by uniformed assistants who don't know their Axles from their Elbow-joints. At Jumbles buyers can see all that is available, can examine what they want, matching up against other components, size things up unhuriedly and seek advice from the seller (who will probably be familiar with the item).
Finally, the sellers are not in competition with each other and will often know of a another stall where you can find what you require.

HOLDING YOUR FIRST BIKE JUMBLE

  • There are quite a few reasons to hold a bike jumble.
  • As a social add-on to your cycling club or charity.
  • As a way of recruiting members for the cycling club, or supporters for your cause.
  • You go other jumbles and fancy a chance to hold your own.
  • You manage, or can get use of, a local hall and feel it should have a new purpose
  • "If you can't beat them then join them"
  • Have always fancied a go at running one but ...
  • As a fundraiser.
  • An extremely OTT way of getting some bike parts.
  • You are mad (about cycling, or generally insane )

Here is some advice regarding how to do it. Rule number 1 - visit a jumble or two. Ask and observe.
Decide where you want to hold it. You probably need to be fairly close to a largish town and / or near where you live. Ideally you would choose a "cycling area". Avoid John O'Groats (you might have a good supply of arriving cyclists but they are not likely to be in the mood to buy).
Decide when you want to hold it. There may be seasonal considerations. Spring and autmun are favoured but there is increasingly a good annual pread. Next you need to check for clashes. For clashes with other (perhaps well established) jumbles would be poor all round. This can best prevented by consulting the Calendar page of www.bikejumbles.co.uk. I would suggest avoiding another one, on the day, within 100 miles. It is useful to check for mass-participation cycling events, festivals etc. When you have got a date, inform bikejumbles person Stuart Collins, and he will publicise the event. (Despite the .co.uk domain, it is a voluntary run and a non-commercial organisation).
First of all you need a hall. It is useful if it is of a reasonable size say over 30m by 15m. It doesn't need super-heating. Buyers come well dressed and in any case there will be lots of hot air generated by the conversation. It should have a toilet and an area to prepare food in (most jumbles provide cheap snacks). Parking is a big consideration. Some sellers have large vans. They don't need to park adjacent to the hall but do need to get close whilst unloading. Many buyers (perversely, perhaps) come by car - and hope they will fill it with booty. Having agreeable neighbours can be a big help (useful to have a word, if possible). It is possible though that cars parked for all sorts of events at the hall is not uncommon. It would be hard to do without a large number of tables to use. If you are thinking of outside stalls / pitches, think hard. There might well be a deal of problems to do with access, legalities and neighbourhood considerations. I wouldn't advise trying this unless you "know the patch".
Decide on the time it is to be. Most jumbles are in the morning e.g. sellers arriving @ 8am buyers @ 9:30am. Charge what you think. If you don't charge, buyers they can come in more speedily. Against this you may have the need to recoop some of your costs. Most don't mind paying but do publish the charge and maybe where the money is going.
Look at bikejumbles for trends. Closure might be at a set time
  • to escape and afternoon assault party of mums and toddlers
  • or when you've booked it for However, I have known many a time when nattering, tea-drinking, chilling and "extra-time" exchange of bike-parts can extend the session.
    Get your publicity going soon (and don't say "that's enough" and stop before the event) There are several ways of publicising. Flyers are good and can be given to other jumble organisers for distribution. They should be passed to sellers and buyers, don't spare the paper. You could attend a few events and nag people (especially stall-holders / sellers). Local CTC, regional cycling clubs and Vcc might publicise your event, but often need long notice. Cycling, the weekly magazine, will put in adverts. At £20 per insert, of restricted wording, without guarantee of when it will appear, is not very suitable. Word of mouth is a wonderful method. Get all your chatty-inclined cyclists to think they are in sole charge of spreading the word. For the month you have an excuse to visit every pub in the area. Go through your email address book saying, if necessary "I know you don't do cycling but could you pass this to someone who does." Within a week the whole world, the Pope, Boris Johnson and Bradley Wiggins included, will know of your event. In theory!
    This is is what you should be transmitting in your adverts. Title / cause, venue, date, day of week, time of event for buyers and sellers, parking "regs.", refreshments, contact (preferably landline phone, mobile and email address) and geographical location of the event. Most important is the post-code of the hall. Many will be guided by a screech owl "I told you to turn left, now we're up the bloody creek, you daft sod" - i.e. the wonderful SATNAV.
    Running the event is the easy bit. You could use a right-hand person so you can get round and do your PR bit. Pass round those leaflets for other events. Try to buy a little something from each stall, or at least visit each one. Thank everyone upon depareture.
    Once home, retire to your armchair and crack that Whiskey bottle you've been given for Christmas.
  • Some Frequently Asked Questions

    Not really - nobody has asked me any! More a what you might want to ask if you could be bothered but WYMWTAIYCBB isn't such a snappy acronym. (If FAQ's are real, then surely this indicates that information given previously was crap?!)


    Are cycle jumbles a closed shop?
    Not at all. If you wish to sell, you need to contact the organiser as soon as you can because they soon "sell out" / get full. If you come to buy then you just get along. It may be a good idea that you make it just for assessment on your first visit. It is probably like a fisherman does on a stretch of water.

    Why are two start times usually published?
    The earlier time (in brackets in the listings in this website) is for sellers to set up their wares. The later time is usually a "doors open" time for buyers to be admitted. The end time is usually vague. Sometimes there is a resurgeance near lunchtime but generally they die down, and sellers start to pack away.
    In some places the hall might be booked for soon after and so the end has to be strict, at others there has been malingering, idle chatter and snack gorging long after the event.

    You've made me hungry mentioning snacks, what is available?
    In some cases there is an commercial eatery nearby. Otherwise the snacks are usually home-made and there does some seem to be a competition for excellence (and never expensive)

    What size are cycle jumbles?
    They vary a great deal. Some venues are in gymnasiums or school halls whereas village halls are quite common. Open-air jumbles are held at Bristol Mud Docks, Herne Hill velodrome and one or two others. The most magnificent indoor jumbles is at Manchester Velodrome, held inside the track. Whist combing over bits and bobs you can might well see an Olympic medal-winner training. One one occasion I went there, Victoria Pendleton was "chasing" a derny bike and letting her coach know what she thought of his "one more lap" behest. (cannot repeat)

    Is there a cycle jumble organisation?
    No. Organisers of events usually do one or two a year. There is no boss, no committee, no fuss. It's more a cooperative of the like-minded.

    Are the events commercial?
    Hire of premises are seldom cheap, events have be publicised, weather is a huge variable. Many sellers buy almost as much as they sell - this is a standing joke. Many of the events are for charity or cycling clubs.

    Are MTB, stunt bikes or BMX's catered for?
    Mostly no. It is not uncommon to find bits and bobs, but not in such a profusion that you could get something specific.

    Can you get new stuff?
    Yes, you can, but it's not particularly the aim. There are many NOS items (New Old Stock), commonly from closed bike shops or discovered in the attic / cellar etc. The new in this sense is really "unused" or "boxed" On the other hand much of what is available is little used, you can assess the wear. For example if you wanted 11/12 speed stuff you are likely to fail (and this failure would be to your advantage, in my opinion). Since cycling gear has joined up with fashion trends, some sellers have fairly contemporary stuff.

    Can you get some real bargains?
    Yes,easily. At ground level most sellers have boxes of truly miscellaneous with prices of 50p, £1 or £2. The only trouble these buyers encounter is with housemaids knees and / or bargain box back".
    Some buyers, with a nerve, move in with interest when the stall-holder is packing away in the hope of a discount.

    Can I come along by bike?
    Probably (and illogically) not catered for much as it might be. I suggest asking the organiser if you can bring your bike inside. Put a sign on it "NOT FOR SALE" or you might get chased with offers!. Bear in mind there are evil people everywhere and somebody stealing a un-locked or poorly secured bike outside a venue would have the best bargain of the day. Some clubs plan ahead and take a club-ride to the venue. Warmth, food. bonhomie and bargains, what more could they want?

    Why do events vary - Saturday-Sunday
    Sometimes simple - when the venues are available. Sometimes limited by antiquated trading laws. Sometimes to fit in with the days local cyclists have their rides. Some organise their event to "twin" with another one. This helps the keen sellers, who can take in two events in a weekend. There are a couple of mid-week evening events to.

    Are all the events called Cycle jumbles?
    No. Variants are
    • Bike Jumbles (this site is called that because all the cycle jumbles domain names were pinched)
    • Cycle and Collectors Fairs. (Kidderminster)
    • Bikes ‘n’ Bits Cycle Fair’ (Manchester only)
    • Hard-to-find bike-bits sales
    • Bicycle Jumbles
    • Saddlebag sales (former CTC rallies)
    Not to be confused with cycle trade fairs at such as Olympia or the NEC. If you harbour suspicion of Jumble Sales, forget it. Cycle jumbles are excellent, fun and informative and you are not normally kicked in the shins by little old bargain-seeking ladies.

    Can I ask a question? I would be delighted to answer a real question!!
    Send me an email and I will try to help.
    Thanks to Kerman who emailed and asked for some basic information about cycle jumbles, as he is new to the game. It made me aware of my need to inform the unconverted.

    Article:
    'Cycle Jumbles'

    (A Clarion call)
    and a more jocular guide to "the scene"


    Surprisingly not every cyclist has visited a cycle jumble. They should, simply because they are a 'reet good do' where you meet loads of friendly folk with whom you share a common interest. You also usually leave far happier than when you arrived and always far poorer than when you arrived; which goes to prove that money doesn't necessarily bring happiness. In the case of cycle jumbles money usually brings you a load of rusty junk which you like to call a bargain, your wife or partner may choose to use several more accurately descriptive phrases!!!!

    So what, for the uninitiated, is a cycle jumble? It's a very different animal than the new phenomenon: the dreaded car boot sale, which now regularly block the lanes of our Sunday Club runs. A cycle jumble is far more civilised: it's a cross between the traditional Boy Scout or Church hall jumble sale and the modern computer fair. Cycle jumbles, like computer fairs, specialise: but in rust rather than state of the art technology. Like the Church Hall jumble sales of old they are always full of bargains. The bargains will range from the new to the old, to the very, very old. You will find all sorts of bits and bobs: the unusual (which you buy before enquiring what it is) to the very rusty (which you foolishly convince yourself it well clean up like new). No cyclist worth his trouser clips (yes! there will be some for sale for less than a pound) can resist a bargain. Cycle jumbles are the place to be whether you are a shopper, a commuter, a tourer, a roadman or woman or a velodrome superstar ~ there will be a wide range of parts and kit to suit you.

    So how do cycle jumbles work? And why are they such good fun? The organiser, usually a cycling club hire a church, village or school hall equipped with tables and chairs. They then notify any potential stall-holders and the general public by placing an advertisement in Cycling Weekly aka The Comic. Local papers and local radio stations will usually give the event free publicity in their 'What's On' slot. There is also an excellent cycle jumble website run by Stuart Collins (see www.bikejumbles.co.uk. but hopefully, you are on this site) Tables will then be rented to stall-holders, the usual rate is between £4 and £10. The public are then often charged a nominal entry fee which is rarely more than £1. It is also a good idea to have refreshments available as this helps to keep the crowds fed and happy thereby encouraging a longer stay at the event.

    The stall-holder's objective is to get rid of as much of his cycle related old junk as possible for as much money as possible thus ensuring an early retirement to the Seychelles. There is little evidence that this ever actually happens, the more usual scenario is that: any profit made is immediately spent on buy more old junk, which results in your returning home with a van containing twice as much junk than you set out with and a far, far emptier pocket. Any unlikely profit is more than offset by the garage bill for the broken rear spring due to your over-loading of the van with new to you old junk.

    The general public having paid their admission, children are usually admitted free and can sometimes even be exchanged for a frame or a pair of wheels. CAUTION: Stall-holders new to the game should be warned that it has been known for unscrupulous parents to leave a troublesome child as a deposit on a desirable frame thereby ensuring the parent of at least three hours of child-free rummaging. The public's objective differs from that of the stall holder as they are looking for the best possible piece of equipment for the smallest amount of money. There will always be plenty of bargains especially for those who arrive early. You will find exceptionally good deals on cycle clothing, helmets and shoes; tyres and inner tubes will be much cheaper than in the shops (please don't neglect your local independent cycle dealer ~ they have the expertise you may need someday). If you are into old bicycles then you will have found your heaven: badges, transfers, rare frames with rare configurations, saddles that will be comfortable in another forty years of touring, bells, toe clips, tourist maps of countries which no longer exist, brake levers for ordinaries are all to be found; the fun is in the searching.

    Tips for buyers:
    (1) Remember CASH is the only God, stallholders are honest, respectable people and would have nothing to do with banks.
    (2) Always haggle, it's what you are meant to do, it's what makes jumble fun. So stop thinking like a shopper in Harrods, think more the bazaar in Marrakech.
    (3) Try to make multiple purchases. It strengthens your bargaining power. Even the hardest stall-holder will knock a few pence off if you buy 500 inner tubes.
    (4) Accept that the minute after you have bought the bargain of a lifetime you will see it cheaper on another stall.
    (5) Always buy something that you don't need; will never use or have no idea what it is, that gives you a reason for going to another jumble.
    Happy hunting.

    Yours fraternally,


    Charles Jepson J.P. (Secretary: National Clarion Cycling Club 1895)

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