Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Top Tips for Selling your Bike!

Buying a bike can be a tricky proposition. At face value they all look the same but it’s not until you throw your leg over it you get a feel for it that you can really tell. A 58cm bike of X brand can feel substantially different than a size 58cm or Y brand. There are lots of variables that can effect things; geometry, ride orientation (race vs. endurance), components, weight, the list goes on.

While I am not in the market for a new bike I keep an eye open for a good deal and it was with that open eye that I was able to pick up my gravel bike, a 2013 Lynskey CooperCX, last year. The same bike that I used for Dirty Kanza 200 this June.

So with all that said this post is actually about selling your bike. As a seller you typically want two things to happen;

You sell it for the best price possible and you sell it as quickly as possible.

I recently sold my Tri Bike. The bike in question was a 2011/12 Cannondale Slice Hi Mod5. It’s the same one I used for all my triathlons including Ironman Arizona.

imaz bike

I posted the bike on a couple of Facebook forums, one that is national and that contains all things bikes (bikes (Road, MTB, CX), parts, clothing etc.) for all bikes and the same one I picked up my Lynskey from. The second FB group is more Southern California focused and is all things Triathlon (bikes, wetsuits, etc.). It sold within two weeks to someone who had seen the posting in the latter group and it sold to the first person that came to see it.


This last weekend I went to have a look at a used Trek Emonda SL6. I didn’t buy it as it too small but for a bike that 11 months old is was pretty beaten up. The seller wasn’t doing himself any favors with his approach to selling his bike. Including some pretty poor photos and presenting a dirty bike.


So based on my experience as a buyer and a seller (plus lots of years of being in sales in general and even longer being a Virgo with all their neatnick tendencies) I thought I would list some thoughts and tips on how to get the best price fast!

Before you do anything, clean the bike! I am amazed at how many postings list at best a dusty bike and at worst one that is filthy. Give it a good clean. This would include washing and polishing the frame. Get rid of the spilled drink and the sweat marks, the mud and the dust. Clean the drivetrain. Degrease the chain and if you have the tools and the knowhow strip down the cassette. Relube everything so the drivetrain purrs like a cat and doesn’t rattle like a bag of hammers. Polish any surface. You want the bike to look like it’s been lovingly cared for not used and abused and ignored.

Now you have a clean muse it’s time to get your creative juices flowing…well actually it’s time to write a solid, honest advertisement!

Title; the title is the lure. People scan listings so be clear, accurate and to the point. This is not the place to inject your sense of humor;

“Cannondale Slice; Shimano DA/Ultegra Groupset w/ Stages Power Meter, Training & Racing Wheels” this tells you exactly what is being listed. It also has the added attraction of the Power Meter and multiple wheelsets.

Pitch; this is the first couple of sentences of the post. It’s what get the reader to read on. Why should they read your ad or buy your bike? Some humor, clean and short can be used here.

The Listing; What are you selling? Remind them here. Size, at least 30% of the ads I see omit the size. Just list it up front so people know to read on, if you have included it in the title this is just a reminder for them. I made a point of noting how tall I am too and that there was plenty of adjustability for sizing.

For the ease of reading break up the posting into logical sections with bullet points. Avoid big blocks of text and run on sentences. Keep it short and snappy! Spellcheck it!

Groupset; list each item. Is it a full set or is it a mix? Be specific. Cranks need the length and chain-ring sizes noted. Cassettes need the sizing noted. List all the items; BB, Cranks, Chain, Front and Rear Derailleur, Shifters and Brakes.

Wheelset; got fancy wheels or not got fancy wheels, call them out here. Include what type they are i.e. Clinchers or Tubulars, make a note of the tires and the mileage if you know it.

Cockpit; I specifically called out the upgraded cockpit on the Slice. A 3T carbon fiber aerobar set up was well worth noting.Basically you need to note the Bars and Stem. If you have a special Headset bearings i.e. Chris King call it out here too.

Other items of note/Accessories; this is basically what’s left. Seat Post, Saddle Cages, Pedals, Mounts anything else that you’re including.

Photos; a picture really is worth a 1000 words. It’s well worth spending time on this. Good lighting and situation count for a lot but if you can’t take an arty picture with the bike at the center of the shot at least put the bike against a plain background, a garage door or living room wall are perfect. Take photos of all the key elements of the sale post. These include upgraded components, highlight anything that’s worth calling out, this includes the good and the bad and the ugly. The last thing you want is to surprise a buyer! The photos above were all used in my ad and were taken with an iPhone!

Mileage; if you have kept a track of your mileage here is the place to put it, especially if it varies across different items. Strava is a great resource for this if you have set up your bike and are tracking mileage. If not an educated guess is better than nothing. Wheelsets may have different mileage?!

Any else, had a crash, time to confess! Lovingly looked after by a Pro Mechanic, state your love here! Ridden in the Pro Peloton, here’s the place to note that!

Price; this is the fine line between cash and time. Pricing things realistically makes them sell faster, that said you don’t want to give them away. Do some research, like cars bikes depreciate tremendously once they leave a show room floor. I invested over $6000 in my Tri bike and I sold it with a Power Meter and Race Wheels. I sold it for a third of that investment but it sold and there is no benefit to having it depreciating further! Price it realistically and it will sell. Hanging out for the last $25 usually results in the sale falling through or burning any goodwill that you may have generated with the buyer.

Finally shipping! Obviously selling it to someone in person who comes to see it is best. They can look at it, ride it and look you in the eye. If you’re selling online to someone who lives the other side of the country the best advice I can give you is to get it professionally broken down, wrapped, and packed. Treat it the way you would want to receive it. Use a reputable shipper, FedEx, UPS etc. Insure it. Track it and send all the shipping information to the buyer. Over communication is key. There is nothing worse than having somebody go radio silent on you. If you use PayPal opt to use Goods and Services, there is a small fee <3% but this covers both the buyer and the seller in the case of a dispute or missing or damaged item. Hopefully you won’t need it but it’s nice to have it just in case.

Basically the best rule is to be fully transparent and honest.

So there you have it, not a super exhaustive list of things but in my opinion a good starting point.

Did I miss anything? Yes I probably did so leave a comment below!

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