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Buying and Selling Bike Stuff on eBay

by Levi Bloom on 4/13/05

So you bought some new parts... and they don't work together. Or some mail order sent you the wrong size jersey. Maybe you need a new bike, but don't have a lot of cash.

These all seem like logical reasons to buy or sell on eBay, an online marketplace with a big cycling category!

In this article, we'll go over some tips on buying or selling your bike stuff on eBay, you'll get advice from top sellers, and hear some cautionary words from buyers.

First, if you're new to eBay, here's a link to where you can get signed up and watch some cool videos about eBay. It's totally free, so there's no reason not to. Even if you don't plan to buy or sell right away, being a member opens up some features not available to non-members, such as advanced search functions.

Buying on eBay

You can save a decent amount of money with eBay if you are always on the lookout for great deals. However, you can also get scammed. Here are some general tips for buyers:

1. Watch out for high shipping and handling costs. If someone is having a bike professionally boxed and shipped, then it could be around $60 for shipping and handling. Otherwise, most bike parts are fairly small and light. Always check before you bid 99 cents on a new handlebar, only to find out that shipping and handling is $75!

2. Not everyone knows how to work with bikes. Some people may take bikes apart in a way that it won't be possible to piece the bike back together!

3. A lot of the stuff on eBay will be used. Be cautious as to what the part is made of and how strong it is. For example, a deep scratch, which could be undetectable from a photograph, could ruin a carbon frame.

4. Sniping...

Sniping is when you wait till the last possible second and then submit your bid, decreasing anyone's chances of outbidding you! Some people frown on this, and it doesn't always work, so be careful.

5. Know how much you are willing to pay.

"As a buyer, you should have some idea what the item is worth on the market, and then decide what it's worth to you. Put your highest bid in and be done with it. You'll beat a sniper that way, unless they are going higher than what you are willing to pay, and save yourself a lot of time and worry. It's easy to get into a bidding war and take an item well above it's value."

 

Selling on eBay

If you're ready to upgrade but your current bike is still pretty good, you may want to sell it on eBay. It's safer and easier than posted a bunch of online classifieds, and opens up a larger market.

Here's some stuff you should know to get the best price out of your stuff.

1. Pictures, pictures, pictures! If there is one thing that can make or break a listing, it's the pictures! Not having pictures causes many people to just pass an item by without a second glance.

Other comments relating to this point:

"Pictures. Lots and Lots of GOOD pictures. Park the bike in front of the nicest house in town and snap away."

"More than one picture, yes! Even if it's a small item. Don't go and snag a pic online! Hundreds of people view your auction, SOMEBODY will know."

2. Give an accurate description, being sure to cite specifics. You may also want to list the reason for the sale, especially if you're selling a nice item at a very low price.

"There is no such thing as too much info. The more info in the article, the less work of replying to questions you will have to do. Even if something is broke, if you fully describe the problems, someone will buy it."

"Lots of good quality pictures, and be honest about any damage or blemishes. Beyond that I also think it's helpful for a seller to say why they are selling something such as a bike part. Did you upgrade? Wrong size or color? Got it as a gift and don't want or need it? If you include those details people are less skeptical. This doesn't apply if you are selling collectibles or overstock type stuff, but if you were selling for instance a wheelset or saddle, people will want to know why you don't want it any more."

3. Another thing that I think helps is to include the MSRP in your listing, especially if it is quite high compared to the price at which you start your auction.

4. Don't pull any crap.

"Make sure you list it in the right catagory, and don't use the misleading, attractive titles, like so: 'Specialized seat post. Not Trek, Giant, or Orbea.' People do that to get hits on searches for Trek, Giant, and Orbea, and it's deceptive. I absolutely won't deal with someone that does that crap."

 

Here's another rule to live by, for all eBay users! Check your e-mail regularly and thoroughly!

There are many instances where an e-mail may go straight to your spam folder, especially if you're using Hotmail and AOL. Don't let this stand in the way of buyer/seller communication and result in negative feedback!

 

Next I got in touch with some of the big sellers in the cycling category for their thoughts:

Thoughts from eBay Power Seller bensbike

Probably the best advice for anyone interested in an item on eBay is do your research on the product or similar product that you are interested in and see if the price is right. Just don't click the buy now button out of impulse.

Next, also look at the over all cost of the item; which means the cost of the item and shipping. Sometimes people look at the shipping rate and get scared off but overall the item may be a great deal.

The last thing to look at is the feedback of the seller and see how long they have been on eBay and what the feedback is like. Overall, people are honest and that's why eBay works so well.

Thoughts from eBay Power Seller wheelandsprocket

One big thing for the average eBay bicycle shopper to watch is a seller's feedback rating. If it says anything but 100%, click on it and find out why. Anything below 90%, and I would avoid purchasing from them. Also, low feedback- say under 10 or 20- raises a flag for me, but a lot of trust can be built up just by emailing someone and asking some questions about the bike or item.

Second- you want to read descriptions very well. You might get that titanium frame for $100, but did you read that it is $800 shipping to the US, or how about the fact that it only fits 24" wheels! Don't be scared of buying on eBay, but certainly don't bid before you thoroughly read the description!

As far as factory seconds/recalled products- I haven't seen much of this on eBay. You put your reputation on the line when you sell on eBay- especially when you do a high volume like we do. With our sue-happy nation, I don't think that too many people would risk putting dangerous bike items on eBay.

 

But remember, everything doesn't always go smoothly. Every so often something goes wrong. eBay can usually help you out, but not always.

Here's one of the horror stories I've heard:

"A year ago I listed an Airstream trailer for sale on E-Bay, had great pix, detailed info etc.

My experience with E-Bay and questioners, NOT BIDDERS, leads me to NEVER EVER buy or sell anything thereon. Thru an error on E bays part, I was charged for 2 listings same item, at least ten tries later trying to speak with a humanoid, and never connecting with one, I gave up, went to the card company and was told tuff luck guy, they have your money and we can't recover it.

Then the questioners, NOT BIDDERS, about drove me up the wall with questions about how I had priced the item at said asking price. Did I not know the last similar item was only priced at X amount?. To those I never responded. The nonsense ?s went on and on, and after the first period I just didn't renew the process. Lead me to observe and believe many bidders(?) are stay at home types who have little way of communicating with the world except on a computer and delight in driving listers nutz with stupid ?s.

Several told me that when the auction was over and I still hadn't sold the item, I should contact them to see if they might be interested, to those I never responded - these came to me while the auction was still continuing!

I went directly to an Airstream message board later and sold the unit to the 1st caller at my desired price, no questions, no haggling, no telling me I was overpriced."

One important lesson from that, is that eBay, although a very good marketplace, is not always the best choice. (And another one is to ignore questions from stupid people!)

But, of course, there are plenty of success stories out there too:

"I've had nothing but good luck with eBay. One thing I consider noteworthy when buying or selling off eBay is shipping cost. Some people will sell an item at a cheap "Buy It Now" price, only to charge you more for the shipping than the price you paid for the item itself. I tend to not even bother looking at ads that have a shipping calculator link because the chances are good that the seller is padding the shipping charge with a high handling charge. NEVER buy anything from someone with says they'll provide shipping cost after the auction is over...you're at their mercy. Average cost to ship a bike in the continental US is $40.

With bike components, generally I've found that you can do better buying them from Nashbar, especially if you're buying several items because the combined shipping charge is lower than paying for individual shipping charge of several items, and there's usually a Nashbar 10% off coupon floating around out there. The things that are good to buy from eBay: cycle computers (usually I find them at half the cost of Nashbar), shorts, complete bikes, and shoes."

 

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