Considering the depreciation on bikes is rather significant, out of the four bikes I’ve purchased so far – only one was brand new.
As a buyer, it’s great as you can make your dollars go a lot further by getting a lot more bike for the same amount.
I’ve generally relied on Craigslist, and what’s great about that is you can actually see the bike for yourself. But the problem with Craigslist is that the supply is limited to whatever city you’re in, and the further you move away from a Trail/XC bike, the rarer the bike becomes.
So I find Craigslist is good when you’re looking for hard tails and 120mm full suspension bikes as that’s the most common bike out there. It then gets "ok" at the 140mm territory, but once you’re past that the pickings get slim and you really have to be patient waiting for the right bike to come along.
This is where giving eBay a try might be worth it as you’re operating on a national level. The big drawback is that you can’t see the bike for yourself and assess the condition of the bike. It’s not like buying electronics where a specific make and model is going to be the same regardless of the source, and it’ll either work or it won’t.
My first used eBay bike was a 2012 Trek Slash 9, and that went great. The seller spent some effort to clean it well and touch it up and carefully package it all up, and reading into that, I assume he generally took care of the bike overall.
My most recent eBay bike purchase was a 2011 Specialized Demo, and when I received it I was in a bit of shock. This bike was really put through the ringer, the grips and pedals were worn down to zero, deep scratches in places where I’m not even sure how you would get a scratch in those spots.
Going back to the pictures and the description – there were no claims regarding the bikes condition, and the pictures weren’t close enough that you could see these the flaws.
Which I take full responsibility for, as buying on eBay is buyer beware. The seller is a totally cool guy, and provided the fastest turnaround on shipping I had ever seen. But knowing what I now know, I probably wouldn’t have bid what I bid.
It is a great bike that I think I got an ok deal on, and the flaws are predominantly cosmetic (e.g. the frame isn’t bent, there are no structural issues, etc…). So with some TLC I’m restoring this bike to its full glory.
Through these experiences I’d like to share some eBay buying advise.
1) Only buy if the seller as a high (99%+) feedback rating, especially recent feedback.
2) Only buy if the seller has sold a significant amount of things (I’d recommend a minimum of 30).
3) Require close up high resolution well lit pictures (i.e. outside on a sunny day). If that isn’t present, ask the seller to post some. If they don’t, that’s a huge red flag and possibly indicates they’re hiding something.
4) Pictures need to include at a minimum:
a) The bottom of the bike (the places most likely to get damaged),
b) Closeups of drivetrain components (e.g. rear derailleurs, pedals, and the crank arms all take hits).
c) Suspension (grooves/scratches on the shock are bad) / suspension linkage (use this to spot cleanliness, if they took the time to clean out the hard to get nooks and crannies, that’s a good sign they care).
e) Tires (to assess how much life is left on them)
5) 2-4 year old bikes are the sweet spot between depreciation and mileage/usage. Go off of when the bike was purchased vs. the model year.
6) Decide your max limit before you start bidding – once you get into a bidding war, emotionally it’ll become about winning. You need to refer back to your established max as a reality check. There’ll always be another bike that will come along soon, so it’s not that big of a deal if you lose this one.
An absolutely invaluable and fantastic post for those of us that don’t like paying the showroom-fee for products.
I’m 4 bikes in and have also never purchased a new bike. Although all my bike purchases were CL, I’ve bought all my major upgrade parts through eBay, some new and some used. To date, I’ve never been disappointed. As long as guidelines are followed, you can end up with as much bike as you want/need for a fraction of the cost.
Thanks Tariq, Good info!I have been looking at some road bikes on ebay and see some good deals. There is also the shipping aspect of ebay. Some of the folks must be putting the bikes in a limo and delivering them! Shipping has stopped me on quit a few bikes. I have also bought some accessiries of ebay and done well.
I’m generally the exact opposite and rarely buy used anything(s) because I’m always worried about paying money for somebody else’s problems. However, this past Fall, I found a deal on ebay for a barely used 2014 Santa Cruz Tallboy 2 that I couldn’t pass up. I bought a bike that had a $10K retail and saved $4000. Maybe used isn’t so bad after all.