There is a place, not far from S-Bahnhof Schöneberg, that offers a slight chance of vindication for all those bike casualties you’ve suffered over the years: stolen saddles, slashed tires – or, worst of all, an empty spot one morning in place of your sturdy steed, and the lock lying round a lamp-post base like a pair of old knickers. Want it back? Or maybe something better? Six times a year, the city’s Zentrales Fundbüro auctions off all the stuff lost, left, taken and ultimately jettisoned on the streets of Berlin.
Picture the scene: it’s a large room, on the first floor of an auction house. There are 10, 12 rows of chairs; folks sitting and standing around. It’s 10 o’clock in the morning, but they’ve been here since eight when the gates to the compound opened: that’s when you can check out the rows of bikes, all firmly padlocked together in the outside hangar, and make your choice. Lot 007 please, a brand new Koga-Miyata racing bike. Going, going, gone for €180.
There are one or two traders here with an eye for a bargain, but also lots of regular Joes who bid on the pink kiddie’s bike with plastic flowers around the handlebars (a snip at €30) or any number of silver and black mountain bikes that end up selling for under €50. And just in case your purchase isn’t quite roadworthy, there are plenty of guys hanging around with a set of spanners and a bicycle pump when you go down to collect your bargain. Most customers get right on and ride off – into a suddenly sunny morning.
A word, though. It’s a cash-only affair, so come prepared. And it might take a while to get through the 300-odd bikes to your number, so bring a book… or a camera, and do some people watching.
Auktionshaus | GoIndustry Deutschland GmbH, Werdauer Weg 23, Schöneberg, S-Bhf Schöneberg. Remaining auctions in 2010: June 1, July 27, Aug 31 and Oct 26. For more information, contact the Zentrales Fundbüro, Tel 030 9027 73101.