Last week, we provided a list of bang for your buck upgrades that can transform your bike for as little as £5, but if you feel you’d rather get a new bike, than upgrade your old one, you’ve come to the right place with our guide to selling your bike.
Bikes generally retain their value really well, and it’s certain someone out there would fall in love with your second hand bike. Here’s how you get it to them.
1) Decide where to sell
There are many options:
- If you belong to a cycling club or group you can probably advertise via a forum, newsletter or word of mouth – this means no liaising with strangers, the process will likely be less formal and simpler – but remember it’s hard to haggle, talk terms and business with friends – don’t sell the bike for less than it’s worth because you feel duty bound.
- A local bike shop sales board – local means no hassle over travel but cuts down the size of your audience
- Your local paper
- Forum Classifieds – these are free, and reach a wide audience – www.lfgss.com is a popular London based forum, we have a list of more bike forums here.
- GoingGoingBike – The website was created to help buyers who wanted to know they weren’t purchasing a stolen bike – the site is teamed up with Bike Revolution and an ownership test will be run, and if you have a frame number this will be listed too. You pay nothing to Going Going Bike if the sale is unsuccessful, and in the case of a sale, you pay 10% commission to them.
- There are plenty of other second hand bike websites: Gumtree, eBay, Bikesoup, BikeMeUp the list goes on!
Once you’ve chosen a medium – next up…
2) Make sure the bike is in good nick
If you want to offload your bike as quickly as possible, and don’t want much money for it, feel free to ignore this step. However, you’ll get more in return from your ex-pride-and-joy if you give it one last spruce. Start by cleaning the bike, but then look for any parts which are a little worn – brake pads, chain, cassette, bar tape.
Replacing these parts might seem a little bit counter productive, but if you do so, you’ll be able to include ‘brand new brake pads, chain, cassette, bar tape…’ in the description, and consequently charge more for it. If it’s an entry level bike, your buyer might be a beginner – and they’ll appreciate a bike that isn’t going to take them hours to fix up, or cost them a fortune in servicing.
3) Collect all receipts, proof of ownership and paperwork you have
If you’ve got original proof of purchase of the bike, or it’s been logged with a security company like Bike Register, have the details ready, and scanned in so you can prove via email if need be. A sensible buyer will want to know you actually own the goods yourself. Of course, if the bike is tagged and logged with a frame look-up system such as Bike Register, you’ll need to transfer ownership – this is usually done via your login or via email, but varies between organisations.
Other paperwork – receipts from servicing, the original owners manual – are all valuable items that make your bike much more desirable.
4) Decide on a price
Firstly – ‘sensible offers only’ is not a price, and not stating the price is only annoying for a buyer. Bike buying process goes a lot like this:
a) decide what you want to do with the bike (ride on roads, ride off-road, race..) and how much you want to spend
b) research what is available at that level
c) either buy appropriate bike, or release a little more can be obtained for a tiny bit more investment, leading to more research and eventual purchase
It all starts with a decision on the required style of bike, and the amount the buyer is both willing and able to spend – and it’s an obvious deciding factor – so don’t leave it a mystery. Buyers will probably see 5 bikes they could be interested in investigating – if one requires an email, phone call or other just to find out the cost, they might not bother.
To determine the appropriate price, do some research and find out how much similar spec bikes are going for, then alter that depending upon how yours compares in state of repair. You can do the research by looking at second hand sites like eBay, Gumtree and see if you can spot the same bike or at least a similar specification.
5) Descriptions – be positive, but honest
There is absolutely no point telling the world the bike is ‘pristine’ if it’s covered in scratches – a viewing will only result in an irritable customer who has wasted time. By all means, blow your bikes trumpet – tell the world it’s comfortable, handles great, and if it is faultlessly ‘as new’, tell them that – but don’t try to bend the truth.
In the world of second hand purchasing, pictures say a thousand words. Include as many as you can, detailing components and any damage you’ve referred to in the text. For example ‘slight scratch to downtube’ could put someone off, but if you attach a picture and the damage is not that bad, they’ll feel both reassured that it’s not an issue, and they’ll appreciate your honesty. Of course, if certain components are in great condition, include pictures of them too.
Include the size of the frame, and if you can find it a link to the manufacturers sizing guide (for an online ad) or a height range. You can also give your own height and state how well or otherwise the bike fits – these sort of details help a first time buyer who might not have experience of fitting themselves to a bike.
Be sure to include the spec of the bike – is it Shimano Sora, Shimano Tiagra? Have you replaced the brake calipers? All these details matter. Try to include all brand names (especially “Shimano”, the kind of brands people associate with quality, and thus might be searching for… )
6) Titles – Be SEO minded
SEO = Search engine optimisation.
If you’re selling online, you want to be ranking high for the right query – meaning if someone is looking for your bike, you want to beat all the other people selling the same one.
Make sure you include the full title of the bike in your ad – for example “Specialized Allez” can range from £600 RRP to £7k RRP (S-Works version) – if you’ve got a “Specialized Allez Sport C2 Sora 2014” – say so. Someone out there might be looking for a second hand version of exactly that bike.
Do make sure you include more general terms, too – to catch those who are less focused on a specific model – for example an ideal title might be “Second hand road bike: fully serviced Specialized Allez Sport C2 Sora 2014”.
7) Test rides
It goes without saying you should be careful meeting strangers who have contacted you via a phone number in the paper, or via an online site – meet somewhere where there are people and be sensible.
It is understandable that the buying might want to try riding the bike. It’s not uncommon for bikes to be stolen thus. Make it clear before they arrive that you’ll want a form of ID and a deposit before the test ride, and keep them in view.
Have you sold a bike, and do you have any further advice to give?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.