Ultimate Used Bike Buyer’s Guide

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The following products can be found on eBay, when you click on the links you will be directed to ebay to purchase that product.

Why use eBay to buy a used bike?

eBay has been around for awhile, heck they basically invented the online auction. Large companies such as Yahoo and Amazon have tried to also create an online auction site and failed. Mainly because eBay has the sheer millions of visitors everyday. The more people that visit the better chance that sellers have of getting a higher price. However, the more sellers that sell things on eBay, the greater chance that a bike that is PERFECT for you also gets posted.

Additionally, eBay is very secure and easy to navigate and search for exactly what you want. You may have used eBay to buy other items before and are concerned that bikes are so much bigger and heavier that it is going to cost a fortune to ship the bike to you. In my experience, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50-90 for a complete bike to be shipped from Florida to California. The amount of money you’re saving by buying used more than offsets the shipping fee, so buying a used bike on eBay is still a great deal.

How to use eBay?

You can search eBay without having an account but if you’re serious about getting a new bike creating an account is simple and necessary.

What kind of bike to buy?

Please read my article called “What kind of bike do you want” to examine this further. You want to match the bike to the type of riding you want to do, and this article helps you identify that. Additionally, on the left of this website in the sidebar is a page for each type of bike (road, mountain, cyclocross, triathlon, etc.) You can click on those pages to get a better understanding of what is going to work for your needs. After you’ve determined the perfect used bike to buy, it’s time to search for it on eBay.

How to search for the best bicycles?

You can click on one of these photos or links to see the item listed. From there, you can read the item’s description, save the item to your “watch” list, place a bid or Buy it Now (if it’s an option).

To search in eBay, you can simply enter your search term into the eBay search box. From there, you can narrow your search by category by clicking on the category you want to search within on the left side of the page. To go straight to the cycling category within eBay click here:

Let’s say you’re interested in a Trek Road bike. Typing Trek Road bike into eBay will give you all of the auctions that are an exact match, meaning the auction must contain all of the words “trek” + “road” + “bike”

If the auction title is “Trek OCLV bike” it might be a road bike or a mountain bike. You can narrow your choices even further on the left side of the page by clicking just on the road bike category. If you’re not getting many results for your search you can click “search titles and descriptions” this will do just that — search all auctions in that category for your terms in both the auction’s title and the auction’s description. This will return more results, though they will probably be less relevant to your item. Try it out to see what I mean.

What to look for?

Pictures, pictures, pictures! The pictures will often tell you much more than the description ever could. First look at the pictures, what’s your initial impression? Does this bike look brand new or does it look like it was chained to a fence and left out in the rain for ten years and then dropped off a cliff? Even if you don’t know anything about bikes, you’ll know when a bike looks nice. If you like what you see when it comes to the photos, now it’s time to read the description. Does the seller say anything is wrong with the bike? Sometimes bikes will look gorgeous but then the description will say something like “large crack in the top tube, this bike is for display purposes only.” That’s not the bike for you.

Okay, so the pictures look nice and the description sounds good too, what’s next? What is the seller’s feedback score? Anything over 98% is good, below 92% and I’d stay away. How many transactions does he have? Under 10 and I’d stay away. If you see a seller with 0 feedback selling a $2,000 bike, that’s probably a scam.

Questions to ask?

If the description does not give you a key piece of information you’re looking for, you can simply send a message to the seller asking them about it. You can also ask them to send additional photos showing a certain part of the bike and many times a seller will do this.

Additionally, if the seller is local, you can ask them if you can just pick the bike up to save on shipping costs.

How to determine your Maximum Bid?

There are a lot of factors to consider when determining your maximum bid:
-what is the retail price of this item
-item condition? does anything need to be replaced/tuned/repaired?
-your cashflow/budget
-what have similar items sold for on eBay in the last few weeks? Within the search results, you can click view completed listings and see items that have sold and those that have not sold. This will give you an idea if the bike you’re looking at it overpriced in eBay-land. Also, this will show you how often this bike comes up for sale. If there has been one in the last three months, you might want to bid a little higher than if there are four a week listed.
-how badly do you want this?
-shipping price? Make sure shipping is reasonable and comparable to what other sellers are charging for like items

After looking at the above factors you should have a much better idea on what your max bid should be.

When to bid?

So you’ve found the perfect bike and you’re ready to bid. What now? Let’s say the auction is 3 days away from end and the current price is $100 with no bids and let’s say I’m willing to pay up to $300 for the bike. What I’ll often do is place a small bid of $110 just to become the high bidder. When/if I get outbid I will receive an email alerting me I’ve just been outbid on the item. Many times, I’ve ended up winning the auction by just placing this small initial bid on it.

If it’s an item you really really want, I’d follow back up with item an hour or so before it closes and put a bid down of $300 (my maximum) and walk away. It’s too easy to get caught up in the “winning” versus “losing” competitive aspect of eBay. By placing your maximum bid and walking away you resist the urge to fight it out with another bidder.

Now you wait, it’s not uncommon when you’re the high bidder and you watch the clock tick down second by second to have a pounding chest like you’re about to win the lottery or something. If you are the high bidder, congrats! If not, keep searching, you’ll find a used bike that fits your parameters soon enough.