Selling Your Old Bicycle: Tips and tricks

Bikewagon - BWCC

Selling an old bike is always a sad experience. An old bike is like an old friend: you've been through a lot together, and it always carried you well. But all things come to an end, and now it may be time to move on.

Maybe you've outgrown an old bike -- in size or in riding style -- or you've upgraded your ride to the latest and greatest new bike. Whatever the reason, there comes a time when you need to sell your old bike. This guide will walk you through the process or preparing an old bike for sale, getting it on the market, and closing the deal.

Prepping your bike

The first thing you need to do when preparing to sell your bike is to get it ready. This generally means fixing it up until it's in decent shape and ready to ride. People don't generally shop for broken bikes that they have to invest time and money in before riding; they're looking for a steed they can hop on right away.

This means that you should ensure the bike's major systems are in working order. Make sure the gears and chain are lubricated and free of rust (as much as possible; a new chain at around $10 might come in handy here). Adjust the shifter cables to make sure shifting is smooth and sure. Replace aging brake pads, and make sure your tires are well-inflated and intact.

Old bike

The better you can make the bike look, the more it is likely to sell for a good amount. Make sure to clean any mud or dirt off the bike, and you may want to wax the frame. Leather seats should be oiled and treated, and old handlebar tape should be replaced. Remove any stickers from the frame, and take off any accessories -- like bottle frames and racks -- that don't match the rest of the bike (you can offer these as bonus items to potential buyers).

Is it scrap?

Some bikes probably aren't worth salvaging for sale. In the case of very old, rusty, or otherwise worthless bikes, you might be better off taking it to a used bike shop and seeing how much they'll give you for the parts.

Listing the bike for sale

Now that you've got your bike cleaned up and ready to ride, it's time to spread the word. Put on your marketing hat and get ready to do some advertising.

The first thing you'll probably want to do is take some nice pictures of the bike. Go for clean, well-lit images with clean backgrounds. You may also want to throw in an action shot or two from some of your best adventures on the bike.

Next, draft up some clean, straightforward language describing the bike. Include technical details (e.g., "2001 Novara Randonee, steel frame, Shimano Tiagra components") as well as some general language that anyone will be able to understand (e.g., "comfortable and durable touring bike, great for long rides and commuting, can carry saddle bags and will last another 15 years easy!").

Make sure to include the size of the bike, as well, and referencing your own height and riding style might help.

Craigslist

One of the best locations for selling bikes is on Craigslist. If you're not familiar, Craigslist is a free online bulletin board service, with pages for each city and different boards for everything from "house rentals" to "for sale - sporting goods."

Make sure to include your price and description on Craigslist, and remember that the confirmation email sent to you after your first listing allows you to "bump" your post to the top of the list twice. If your bike doesn't sell in the first two or three weeks on Craigslist, it may be time to look somewhere else.

Flyering, social media, and bike shops

Other ways to sell your bike are pretty straightforward. Flyering can be a good option, especially in local outdoor and sporting goods shops and community locations. Social media, especially if many of your contacts are cyclists, can be a great way to flip your ride. Use the same techniques you used for Craigslist.

And if all else fails, you may want to sell directly to a used bike shop. You might not get quite as good of a price here, since used bike shops involve a middleman, but you're almost guaranteed a sale if your ride is in good shape. This is a quick and easy way to get rid of a bike if time is of the essence.

The sale

If someone approaches you to buy your bike, be sure to highlight its great qualities. You don't want to lie or mislead potential buyers, but you do want to get the job done. Make sure to help them as best as you can, and allow them a test ride (if you trust them or they can leave you something as collateral).

Buyers may want to negotiate on the price, so decide on a firm minimum before anyone comes in the door. Be prepared to gradually work your way down to it if the customer strikes a hard bargain, and stick to the minimum you've decided on beforehand.

If you make the sale, congratulations! One last thing to do: if you have any registrations for the bike (such as with a certain college campus or police department), you should inform them that the bike has been sold.