I have been looking around at used tri bikes (first tri bike), but I'm having some trouble figuring out what a reasonable price is for a used bike.
from what I've seen, it looks like many used tri bikes sell for only a few hundred dollars less than their price when new (for example, a 2-yr old P2 selling for around 1900 when it costs 2400 new).
in contrast, my experience with road bikes is that a good-condition used bike may sell for 50-60% of the original price.
given that 2012 bikes are starting to arrive at bike shops, it seems like getting a good deal on a new bike may make more sense than trying to find a used one if they don't depreciate much.
I suspect if you wait for the tri season to end, you'll find cheaper prices across the board. But in terms of your specific question, I would agree that the bike would have depreciated more even if it hadn't been used much. I would use eBay and Craig's List to come up with a general pattern of depreciation. Two other thoughts:
The bike models don't change that much from year to year (generally speaking). So a P2 from two years ago might be awfully close to a 2012 P2. I have another model of Cervelo and about the only thing they've changed over the past two years is the font (typeface) on downtube. But, even if the bikes are 99% the same across two years, you are correct that the next person buying the bike from you would also want to know the year of the bike -- so resale value would be important, and the model year does play into that.
Another reason for the used bike to be almost as expensive as the new one is that the used bike has been upgraded with better components (say Ultegra to DuraAce), better wheels, better aerobar (carbon vs. steel). But in those cases, the seller really highlights all the fancy/expensive upgrades so you'd know why the price is what it is.
Remember, negotiating on the price is a not against the law. And also remember that the most important thing is not whether you got a good deal but that you got a bike that fits you.
thanks for your input!
I didn't realize the changes between model years were so minimal with some of these bikes. road bikes seem to have at least a few significant changes each year. I guess if the design wins races, why change it!
given that it's my first tri bike, I'm not expecting to find the perfect bike (especially if I end up buying used). as I've found with my road bikes, I think the first or first couple will help me figure out what I like and what works/doesn't work for me.
It's also pretty much universally accepted that you will negotiate. Think about the listed price as the high end of the range the seller will accept.
In regards to age, while sometimes bikes don't change much over a few years, components can. So 2-3 year old Ultegra might be today's 105.
I've also noticed that people tend to overestimate the value that "upgrades" have. For instance, if someone spends 600bucks upgrading their crank, it's not a $600 upgrade, its a [$600-value of old crank] upgrade. Its frustrating to read craigslist adds where people say "$2200 of improvements to the bike!" Just because something cost them a lot, doesn't mean it actually adds that value to the bike.
All that said, if you know your stuff you can get a used bike for a good deal. But with 2012 models coming out, you could probably also get a really good deal on a 2011 bike from a shop, and that will come with support and quality guarantee.
Another thing to consider in deciding new vs used is that some bike shops will include a bike fit and yearly tune ups. Definitely, ask when shopping. If you buy used, you'll be paying out of pocket.