When it comes to buying and selling parts, there have always been quite a few marketplaces.
Old-timers remember the classifieds, the hot tip from a buddy, the local motorcycle shop, and the parts swap meet, all of which still live on in some form or fashion. (And Chopper Swapper in the old Easyriders mags, too. More on that in a second.) The internet age brought bike builders a host of options, like eBay, as well as a few more specialized areas, such as the buy/sell sections on a few of the more popular message boards. Most recently, things have sort of centralized on Instagram, where the “Chopperswapper” name was dusted off and used as a parts exchange once again. I believe, though, a new platform is about to kick everything else in the teeth.
That platform is an app called “Cycle Dope.” (Kinda like Harley’s old Shop Dope manuals.) A buddy of mine turned me on to it, and because I’m a bit of a fiend for antique parts, I downloaded the app. It’s available for Android as well as Apple products in either Google Play or App Store, respectively, and it’s free.
You log in with your Paypal information and then you can see and scan parts available for sale, where they are, who’s selling, and a little more information if the seller chose to upload any, in addition to multiple pictures if they exist. Unlike Chopperswapper, there’s no need to open up Paypal and no need to have an Instagram account.
Selling is about as simple. Snap a photo of your part, title it, price it and add in shipping costs, add a description and tell people where it’s located (helpful for larger items like frames and engines) all from one screen. It’s a snap.
I called up Eric Spear, the guy who dreamed it up. He runs a small shop buying, restoring, and and building motorcycles. He’s an antique bike guy, not a computer nerd, but Cycle Dope has been his baby for the past year. He launched it on February 23, and it has, for lack of a better term, exploded.
“It grew so fast. We’ve already had literally thousands of transactions," Spear said. "It’s gotten so big so quick that I’m probably going to implement some filters to improve the UX. We had planned initially for 100,000 searches in a month. We hit that number about four days in.”
I think that’s no surprise at all. Overall, the app works really well. I noticed a small glitch when I used the app. If you’re scrolling through parts and tap one to learn more, your browse point is not saved when you return to scrolling — the app starts you right back at the beginning. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a specific item, but if you’re just shopping for a cool item to jump out at you, it can be a pain. Eric was on top of it.
“I just got back from a meeting in Atlanta with the developer," he said. "We know about the issue and we should have that particular bug worked out either at the end of this week or early next week with an update.”
There are other teething problems — there's no delineation between parts you’ve scrolled past and new parts between your sessions on the app. Also, right now international Android users are having trouble downloading the app.
“We know about most of the problems and they’re being worked on," he said. “We’re also thinking about some other tweaks, like a ‘Make offer’ button or a feature to bump your ads [to the top] after a certain time period, but I’m trying to keep it simple and clean.”
Don’t let any of those negatives overshadow how incredibly good this app is. I know plenty of people who have an Instagram only for Chopperswapper, and even more who simply don’t have it and mooch off their friends or just miss out on some parts. (I’m Category Two.) This is my new jam, though. If you’ve got an old Harley, try it out. And if you don’t? Well, I asked Eric about that, too.
“I want to keep in inclusive. Not everybody has an old bike, so I don’t want someone with a late-model bike to be left out. I think the filters are going to make that possible.”
Me too. Anybody holding a set of aluminum BT sidevalve heads?