How to SELL your second-hand bicycle online

how to sell your second-hand bike

This year I have been incredibly active on the second-hand bike market. I have bought and sold a number of bikes and other cycling goods. In this post I will give you my tips to get the most out of your second-hand bike sale. There are a few things I have learnt are important to do and some that are important not to do, if you want to sell your bike as quickly as possible and for as much money as possible.

Just last week I was asked by a friend to help him buy a bicycle on the second-hand bike market. It inspired me to write this article on what to look for when purchasing a second-hand bicycle. Well, it seems like these blog post ideas are just falling into my lap, because now I have been asked by a different friend to help him SELL his second-hand road bike. You might have heard me talk about this bike before… it is the red Merida Scultura 200 I have been flaunting all over my Instagram stories the past two weeks. I have been riding it while waiting for my gravel bike to arrive, but now my friend wants me to sell it for him so that he will have extra money for the holidays.

sell a second-hand bicycle

My top tips to help you sell your second-hand bicycle!

5. Find the correct site to sell your bicycle

In South Africa, we are very fortunate to have a site such as Bikehub. If you take a quick look on it, you will see that there are literally hundreds of bicycles and cycling goods posted on there by users from all over the country. There is also a forum chat that will keep you coming back to the site, even when you do not have anything to buy or sell. It is a great website and I am curious why not more countries have something similar. I have yet to find a second-hand online bicycle store that is as successful as “the Hub”, but I cannot imagine why something like it would not work in other countries where cycling is popular. If you do have something similar to Bikehub where you are, then that is without a doubt the first place you want to advertise your bicycle. If not, then you should consider advertising it on places like Facebook Marketplace and wherever else you can imagine. If there is not one site that dominates the second-hand bicycle market, then it is better to post your bicycle ad on all of the different site. That way it will increase your chance of finding a buyer.

4. Give the bike a quick service

A potential buyer will ask you questions about your bike, such as “How are the gears shifting?” and  “Are the wheels true?” Giving your bike a quick service and fixing any problems, for example an untrue wheel, will help you answer these questions with confidence.

mechanic repairing bike

Another question I always get is “How much wear is on the drivetrain?” This is something you need to know the answer to. If you are not sure, then you can take your bike to your local bike shop and they will be able to tell you. They use a tool that measures the amount of wear on a bicycle chain. The mechanic at the shop can also take a look at the wear on the crank and cassette and make an educated guess as to when it will need to be upgraded. He will tell you if a new chain will work smoothly on the bike, without replacing the entire system. This is important information you can pass on to the person who wants to buy your bike from you. It is always better to be honest and transparent when you sell your second-hand bike. If you feel like there is any information you need to disclose to the buyer, then you should do so. Some people think that if there is something wrong with the bike then “Oh well, it’s the next guys problem.” That is such a terrible attitude to have.

3. Clean the bike and take a lot of pictures

man cleaning a bicycle

I can not stress enough how important this is. The first thing you want to do is clean your bike. Give the drive train, especially the crank and cassette a proper scrub with a brush and some degreaser. Make it look as polished as possible. After that, wash the frame with a cloth and soap water. You want it to look shiny. I am going off a bit here, but this is really a crucial step towards selling your second-hand bike. If your bike looks visually appealing, it will go a long way towards justifying whatever price you are asking for it. Once you have washed your bike you need to take pictures of it. Take a lot of pictures and do so in good lighting. When I am looking for a bike to buy, I find myself scrolling past the advertisements that have blurry pictures of the bike or pictures that are taken in dim lighting. Make it look good. You want the cover photo of the ad to be a wide angle shot of your bike. If you can pose your bicycle against a white or clear background then that is ideal. Do not make the mistake of posting your advertisement with the cover photo of the ad being a close up shot you took of your crankset.

Here are a few good and bad examples I found of bike ads that are currently active at the time of writing this article:

second-hand bicycle ad
This is a good example of a BAD bicycle ad. The cover photo should be a picture of the entire bike, not a close up of only part of it.
bike ad
This is an example of a second-hand bike ad with excellent pictures. Notice the clear background and good lighting.
bicycle ad
Here is another good example of a top quality bicycle ad. The carbon deep sections do not look to shabby either.

2. Know how much your bicycle is worth

You need to know how much your bicycle is worth. This will help you while negotiating with a potential buyer. You might not want to hear this, but most people drastically overvalue their second-hand bicycles. This is especially true with carbon products. The fact is that if you are selling a second-hand bicycle then you are selling it without any warranty, as bike warranty’s usually only apply to the first owner of the bike. The buyer also has no idea what you have done with your bicycle while owning it. You can be completely transparent with him or her, but there is no way he or she will know if you are telling the truth. This is something to keep in mind, so you do not feel insulted if someone gives you a “low-ball” offer for your second-hand bicycle.

It is also important to know the marketplace where you are going to sell your bike. A good idea is to spend a week or two looking at what other people are listing their bikes for. You will quickly get an idea of what the going rate is. Some places are more of a buyers market and others are more of a sellers market. An example of this is how I could buy a road bike in Thailand and then two years later sell it in South Africa for the same price, even though I had put an additional 20 000km of mileage on the bike. Second-hand bikes sell for a lot more money in South Africa compared to other places I have traveled to.

selling a bike

When you list your bike, be sure to list it for a slightly higher price than what you hope to sell it for. Potential buyers will almost always attempt to bargain you down in price and you need to be prepared for it. I usually list my bikes a lot higher than what I actually believe they are worth, at least for the first week. This is because sometimes there will be someone who has been keeping his eye out for a bike just like yours and when you post it, he or she will immediately jump on that opportunity! If you get lucky you will sell your bike to this buyer for more money than you were originally hoping for. This will not always happen, but it has happened to me before. Usually what happens is that you will end up dropping the price of the bike after the first week and then you will start getting offers for it. It helps if you are not urgently trying to sell your bike. If you are able to wait a few weeks or even a month to sell the bike, you will probably get a lot more money for it, compared to if you went with the first offer you got.

cyclist riding

1. Post as many details about the bike as you can

Before posting your bicycle advertisement, be sure to give as many details about the bike as you can in the description of the ad. Make mention of all the specs of the bike. Here is a list of all the different things you can make mention of when posting you second-hand bike ad:

how to sell a bike

If you are not sure what parts are on the bike, I would again suggest that you consult your local bike shop. If you can not do that, then at least take enough pictures of all the bike parts so that the buyer can see what is what.

Just to summarize, here are the important steps to follow when you want to sell your bicycle:

  • Find the right website to sell your bike on
  • Give the bike a quick service (ex: tune the gears and true the wheels)
  • Clean the bike. Make it spotless!
  • Take a lot of high quality pictures of the bike
  • Know how much your bike is worth and what you want to sell it for
  • Share as many details about the bike specs as possible on the ad

That’s it. It is not a difficult thing to sell your second-hand bicycle, but if you do it well you will sell it for a good price and save yourself some time. Best of luck with selling your bike!

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