Selling your bike on eBay (Bicycles)

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This guide was written for the benefit of people who want to sell their bikes on eBay - but are unsure of how to present them.

Description

It is important to accurately describe the bike so as customers can accurately assess whether the bike is suitable for their needs. The more information, the better.   While it may not mean anything to you, it will most likely mean something to the potential buyer.

Information that should be included is:

  • The general condition of the bike and any faults.  If the bike is not in a safe condition, you should inform the buyer to at least have it checked.
  • The approximate age or history of the bike.
  • The number of gears - This can be ascertained by counting the number of chain wheels on the front of the bike, and multiplying it by the number of cogs on the rear.
  • The manufacturer and model of bike, as well as where it was made if available.
  • Frame material  - There are three main materials which bikes are made from; steel, aluminium and carbon fibre. To tell these apart is relatively simple.  A steel frame will attract a magnet, whereas the other two will not.  Carbon fibre is very light and feels a little like plastic, wheras aluminium is heavier and has a more metallic feeling.  Frame material information is usually printed on the seat tube.
  • Components - Read and record the brands and models of components on your bike.  Information such as brand and model of deraillers, brakes, cranks, wheel rims and hubs, stems and handle bars, seats and seat posts,  etc. These are very important factors in most buyers' decisions on which bike to buy.
  • Bike measurements - This includes the bike's wheel size (printed on rim), the size of the bike - which includes the seat tube from the middle of the bottom bracket (the crank axle and bearing is known as the bottom bracket) to the middle of the top tube near the seat clamp, the top bar of the bike from the seat post to the head unit (steerer),  and the bottom bar of the bike from the bottom bracket to the head unit.  Some people will also want to know the standover height of the bike, which is the measurement from the top tube of the bike to the ground. Be sure to note the way in which the bike was measured.
  • Other features of the bike - such as bike computers or modifications.
  • And another very important aspect is to include the suburb from which the bike can be collected.  Sometimes if you enter your postcode under location in the listing, your location will show as the generic 'Melbourne, Victoria'.  Replace 'Melbourne' with your suburb or town.  Also be careful that your postcode is still recorded, as a lot of people will search for a bike by proximity to them.  If you do not enter a postcode, other's searches will not display your item. To check this, perform a search for your item, filtered by distance from your postcode.

Presentation of the bike.

The way the bike looks and is presented is very important if you want to maximise the selling price of your bike.  Simple things can be done to ensure that your bike is looking and performing to the best of its ability.

Some simple advice:

It is not difficult give a bike a clean before listing it.  A lot of people list dirty and dusty looking bikes on eBay.  The presentation of the bike is very important, therefore a dirty and dusty bike will most likely not generate the return that a clean bike will.  You would be surprised at what a difference a cleaning makes.  Also, try to remove as much surface rust and other corrosion as possible without ruining the paintwork or finishes.  The bike should be washed with a mild car detergent, and the metal polished with fine steel wool or a toothbrush and some WD 40.  Be sure to test these methods on a small discrete area before continuing to ensure that the cleaning does not damage the surface.  I am not familiar with cleaning carbon fibre, so I cannot comment.  For more extensive information, or better methods of cleaning a particular material or surface, you should do a search on the internet, or in a bike forum.

Minor adjustments and repairs are also not very difficult to do yourself.   Join a bike forum or buy a repair manual and learn how to detect and repair problems, as well as make adjustments and peform other maintenance on your bike.  If you are confident and competent, this will improve the saleability of your bike, as the buyer will generally want a bike that they can start riding immediately.  If you are not confident, it is a good idea to get the bike checked by a professional at a bike shop, or even inform the buyer of the work you have performed, and advise them to to get it checked over by a professional bike mechanic before riding.  A bike can be very dangerous if not properly maintained, and safety is very important.  If unsure of anything, do not touch it and take it to a professional bike mechanic for inspection - or request the advice of those more knowledgeable.

If a cheap cosmetic fix is available which will improve the presentation of your bike, and not adversely affect the income that you will recieve, then you should consider it.  For example, if you have a bike which will sell for $400.00 and the handle bar tape is tatty, then it would enhance the bike's appearance and saleability if it were changed. Most handle bar tape costs around $12.00, therefore it is not a great expense considering the income generated.  But this will depend on your profit margins. For a bike that will only sell for $20.00, it will usually not be worth the extra expense.

Photographs

A picture is the best way to convey information about the bike.  Therefore, it is important that you capture as much of the relevant details about the bike in the photograph/s.  Information on features such as deraillers, cranks, brakes, wheels, and the like are very important to most buyers.  A picture should also be used to highlight any damage or cosmetic faults the bike may have.

A problem I see with a lot of bike listings is that the person photographs the left hand side of the bike.  While we may get a good idea of the frame, the wheels and such, important details such as deraillers and crank/chain wheels are being not being shown.

The best photograph will be a clear and crisp representation of the bike's right hand side. Make sure that you have adequate light and are in focus.  Try not to, however, photograph the bike in direct sunlight as detail may be lost.  If you are adding multiple images, make them count.  I personally always take photographs of the following:

  • Right hand side view of the bike - Standard photograph displaying the full right hand side of the bike. Use this as the main image.
  • The drive-train - A photograph of the the chain, the rear derailler, the cranks and chain wheel, and front derailler.  This will make it instantly obvious that a bike has such and such components, the type of derailler mount, the type of cranks, as well as the overall condition of the equipment.
  • The front of the bike - This will highlight the brake calipers and levers, the head badge and the forks.
  • The wheels - To convey the condition and brand of wheel.  Usually a photograph is taken of the rim at the point that the brand is shown.
  • The handlebars from above - This will draw attention to the brakes and derailler shifters (depending on what sort of bike you have), as well as any equipment such as a cyclocomputer..
  • Damage or imperfections - A buyer should be aware of any damage or imperfections that the bike may have.  This is the best way to allay fears about the quality of the bike.  If you just mention the fault, the buyer may pass on bidding as they may think that the problem is more substantial than in actual fact it is.  This is a good way to keep the buyer fully informed, as well as to avoid any post-sale problems.
  • General features - Other outstanding features of the bike.

Thanks for reading this guide.  If you find any errors or would like to make some suggestions, please feel free to contact me.

I am not an expert or a professional bike mechanic - therefore the advice regarding repairs and cleaning cannot be fully relied upon.  If unsure of anything, please seek advice from a professional bike mechanic.

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