Hello! I am moving with my family to the Zurich area this summer and I'm super excited. When it's not snowing, I love to bike. I'm bringing my XC bike, but I want a touring or cyclocross steel frame road bike like a Surly Long Haul Trucker or Crosscheck for commuting and long rides. I have found some great off-season deals in the states, saving ~500 USD. Does anyone have any advice on buying cheap & shipping vs. buying this sort of bike in Switzerland?
"Buying cheap in Switzerland" is not really an option unless you get really lucky. For a cheap bike deal in Switzerland, it's best to look at the online stores outside of the country, and then you'll need to pay shipping anyway. Plus, that kind of bike is not readily available, so you're even less likely to get a cheap deal. Therefore, if you can get something for a good price right now, then do so and ship it over with the rest of your stuff.
Officially, when you import personal belongings when you move here, anything that you haven't owned for more than 6 months you are supposed to pay Swiss sales tax on (7.6%). In reality, they rarely check this, and I'm sure that it would be difficult for them to prove it for your bike.
The key here is the bike that is wanted: "a touring or cyclocross steel frame road bike like a Surly Long Haul Trucker or Crosscheck". We recently had a thread about this kind of bike, see here: First Touring Bike. Which one?.
The two Surly frames you mentioned will be hard to get as complete bikes anywhere in Europe; you may be able to get a frameset and then build it up with parts, but that will end up being more expensive, even if you do all the work yourself (although you do then get the advantage of using exactly the parts that you want). Wiggle (a UK online store) do currently have a couple of LHT bikes in stock, see here, but they are both 60cm frames. In that other thread, we discussed a few other bikes that might fall into this category and will be available on this side of the Atlantic (e.g., Trek 520, Dawes Galaxy, Specialized TriCross).
BTW, another US frame that you could consider is the Soma Double Cross, see here.
So, my advice to buy it there and ship it is not only due to the difference in prices, but also due to availability - you can get something like this much more easily in the States than in Switzerland, and if you have your heart set on a Surly then this is even more true.
Check your baggage allowance and excess baggage costs with the airline that you plan to fly with to be fully informed of all regulations, but if you have more than a couple of suitcases each then getting some of your stuff shipped is definitely the best way. If you're paying for it yourself then don't pay for door-to-door, we saved a lot when moving here from Canada by taking our stuff to the local international shipper's warehouse, and then collecting it from the freight desk at the airport over here 10 days later - 4 bikes, a desktop computer & monitor, a digital piano, and loads more items stuffed into those boxes cost a total of about 1000 CHF.
When shipping multiple bikes, you can save a lot of money by putting more than one bike in a box. Standard bike boxes are only large enough for one bike, but you can have a box company make boxes in custom sizes or you can fabricate one yourself by combining bike boxes. I figured out the exact dimensions needed to fit two bikes in one box and had a box company located about 1 km from our house make me two of these with double-walled corrugated cardboard for the equivalent of about 35 CHF each! Some skill is needed when packing them, but if the bikes are not too weighty then you can get the whole package to stay under the limit of many airlines of 32 kg / 70 lbs. Therefore, bringing two bikes over may not cost much more than bringing the one bike over that you already have.
That's great, thanks. I'm going to scour ebay & craigslist and see what I can do in the States, then put it into our shipment (which is paid for to a certain amount, it's not a container shipment, fwiw). I appreciate the help and look forward to getting some rides in this summer!
Buy and ship.
I carried my Crosscheck on the plane for 250. Bikes are considered sports equipment and they can fly with your for between 200-300.
My wife is shipping hers. Broke it down to a couple boxes and sent it freight with all our other stuff. I think we were at 1.5k total for our shipment.
Looking at various bike shops around Bern. I would guess I would be paying at least $2000 for a bike on equal footing with mine. A crosscheck complete is about $1200 in the states.
A friend of mine is selling his crosscheck. size 54 I think, and pretty lightly used. He owns a bike shop so is in a good position to pack and ship it properly too.
Let me know if you want more info.
I you purchase in the states and ship as a household good, you might look at Excel Sports - www.excelsports.com - in Boulder, Co. They generally have really good prices, will build a to your specs, and have reasonable shipping rates. You can build the bike - from your choice of the group to the wheels (they can build, or you can buy pre-built), and they are genuinely good eggs (I used to live in Boulder County and visited them often). As one of the first web bike shops, they have pretty good prices. Another resource is www.coloradocyclist.com - tho I don't think they carry Surly frames - but you can get some killer prices on Campy parts - often times more competitive than Excel.
I built up a vintage Merlin frame, and mixed parts (a Chorus cockpit, and a Record drivetrain) and Excel gave me just what I wanted at a very reasonable price.
With a Swiss connection here, they also build killer DT wheels - I'm a Campy guy so I went for the DT hubs and hoops, and the wheels are bombproof.
Thanks for the heads up, velocolo. I'm coming from Steamboat, so Boulder is a possibility. We have a good LBS in Steamboat, so I may work with them. We'll see. There have been some good deals on craigslist, as well, so I'll see what comes up.
Velocolo, on another note, any suggestions on shipping from CO? I'd also be interested in hearing about how the singletrack riding compares to CO, if you have thoughts.
I'm (mostly) a roadie - and not yet in CH. I'm in Seattle, waiting for my permit. While the Cascades have GREAT mountain biking - I gotta believe few places favorably compare to Steamboat. Don't know anything about mountain biking in CH - but there are a couple of very informative threads.
Being from Steamboat, do you have a Moots in your stable?
I was riding a 2006 Litespeed Vortex (6/4 Ti frame) and I bought a 99 Merlin ti frame (prior to the Litespeed purchase of Merlin) off eBay for $500 - it was going to be my rain bike. I outfitted it with an old Ultegra group and found that my 7 year old ti frame with straight seat stays rode better then the new Litespeed that had bent seat stays and all sorts of fancy shaped tubes. Then, to confirm the ride, I took a Serotta for test rides, and I became an acolyte of old ti bikes. So, I updated the group on the Merlin to a mixed Campy group.
I haven't ridden a Moots, but it's sort of my holy grail of bikes. But, I certainly understand the cost issue. You might be able to pick up a vintage Merlin off eBay and build it up. If you do, make sure it has Merlin headtube badge and Merlin stamped on the drop - a lot of people have taken Ti Sports frames and put Merlin decals on them, and tried to pass them off as vintage Merlins.
You can strip all the decals off the merlin, buy a box of Scotch Brite pads, and after a few hours of polishing, you can have a brand new brushed ti finish.
Enjoy finding that new bike - after riding, buying bikes has to be my favorite sport.