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How to Sell a Used Bicycle without Losing your Mind

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Many lovers of the bicycle live by the golden rule of N+1, with “N” being the current number of bikes you currently own. But there comes a time when you must sell a bike or two. The question then becomes “how do I sell my used bike”? It may seem like a simple proposition, but knowing a the answers to a few basic questions can make your life a whole lot easier.This is a guide to selling your bikes, or any other used item you wish to exchange for money.  

Stay tuned for our next blog, which will be a humor filled rant-fest of the exact opposite of this post: “How NOT to write a for sale ad!”

Question #1: Where can I sell my used bike or bike parts?

  • Craigslist: This option avoids shipping, but requires person to person interactions. Items sell for a bit less on Craigslist than Ebay. You usually get paid in cold hard cash this way. Scammers are easy to identify.
  • Ebay: You'll get to dollar selling here, if you don't mind shipping and accepting Paypal. But, you'll pay 13% in Ebay and Paypal fees. This is also the riskiest method of selling, as Ebay will side with the buyer in 99% of disputes. If a buyer doesn't like your item for some reason or even wants to scam you, they can request a refund from Ebay who will likely make you issue it. It's even possible they will make you refund the payment without receiving the item back in certain situations.
  • To a used bike shop, such as www.BikeRecyclery.com (click the link to sell us your bikes and parts!). This is often the easiest method, as you don't have to write an ad or deal with a barrage of emails and phone calls from which you must weed the flakes and tire kickers from the serious buyers. It's a quick, simple, and efficient method. But, expect to be offered roughly half of market value for your item, as these shops need a built in profit margin to make it worth buying your bikes and parts.


Question #2: What information should I include in my Craigslist or Ebay ad? You can avoid a lot of questions from buyers and save yourself hours of time by including as much information as possible in your ad. This may seem like a lot of time/effort, but it will pay off. The goal of any transaction is to sell for the highest dollar you can get, while expending the least amount of energy and time via answering dead end questions.

  • Year, make, and model of your bike: (eg. 1969 Schwinn Paramount, or 2015 Specialized Stumpjumper)
  • Size of your bike: This is often printed on a sticker on the seat tube of your bike. It could say a named size, such as Large or “L”. Or it could be in measurements, such as 54cm or 18.5”. If it does not, the quickest way to determine your frame size is to measure between the center of the crank mounting bolt to the center of the top tube (where it meets the seat tube).   

    how to measure bike size

  • Condition of your bike: Has it been ridden twice and is in near pristine condition? Has it been ridden hard most of it's life and has the battle scars to prove it, but always well maintained and ready to ride? Or maybe it's pretty beat and needs a tuneup, fresh tires, and has a dent.
  • List of components on your bike: Many bikes have a full group of similar components, such as Shimano XTR throughout. But some have a mish-mash of parts and was built frankenbike style. In this case, you should write a bulleted list of all major components such as derailleurs, shifters, wheelset, fork, and saddle. You should include both the make (Shimano, Sram, Campagnolo, Race Face...) and model (SLX, Red, Super Record, Turbine) of the components
  • Price! If you do not list a price, expect a lot of low ball offers asking you to sell a bike worth $2000 for $200. You'll also get a handful of emails asking how much you want for it. If you simply say “best offer”, expect the best offer to not be very high.
  • Serial number: This proves that you have legal ownership of your bicycle. It reassures buyers that you are not a bike thief trying to make a quick dollar.
  • Preferred method of contact: List if you prefer to be emailed, called, or texted. If you want to be called or texted, list your phone number!
  • Your name! Don't you like to know who you are contacting?


Question #3: How should I photograph my bike? As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Even if you can't be bothered to list all of the information I recommended above, a set of well composed photographs can be the difference between your item selling in a day or sitting unsold for two months.  I took all the photos below with a simple iPhone, against the side of a house.  .  

  • Background: You want a very basic, plain, and clean background. A garage door, side of your house, or a brick wall do very well. A clean background displays your bike prominently, and potential buyers can see all the parts of the bike clearly.
  • Bike placement: Lean your bike against your background, standing upright on both wheels.

-Main photo: The driveside of the bike should face the camera (this is the side with the derailleurs and gears. If you are sitting on your bike, it is the side your right hand/foot are on. Take a photo looking straight on at the side of the bike, level with the center of the bike. Frame the photo so the bike fills up the whole photograph, tires touching the sides of the photo and handlebars/bottom of the tires at the top and bottom

How to photograph an ebay item

-Second photo: The exact same orientation as the main photo, but zoomed in. Aim for the center of the hubs to be the edges of the photo.

-Component detail photos: take closeup pictures of important parts of your bike, such as derailleurs, shifters, saddle, crank, etc.

-Decal photos: Take a closeup of any decals on the frame, which indicate the frame size or tubing material, or make/model.

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sell bike on craigslistHow to sell a used bike part

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