Sell Bikes or Bike Parts on the Internet: Tips for Getting Top Dollar

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Find the Right Buyer

It's easy to find yourself with a couple extra bikes sitting around. Maybe it's that mountain bike you took with you to college, the BMX you got for your kid or a $20 rummage sale special that you couldn't pass up. The good news is that for every old bike or greasy old bike part, someone has a need for it, and is willing -- and even happy -- to pay you cash for it. The older and more obscure your extra parts are, the better. That means they're going to be harder to find, and there are not thousands of others clogging internet sales sites offering the same things. Read on for tips on how you can match buyers with the bike or parts they want -- and make money in the process.

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Be Descriptive

Stronglight Chainring 52t

Maybe you've seen an ad on Craigslist that reads: "Men's bike - great condition - $125." There are about 50 questions that come to mind immediately about this bike: What size is it? What style is it -- is it a road, mountain or hybrid bike? And, what does "great condition" mean -- is it in perfect shape, has it never been ridden outside or does the paint only have a few chips and the wheels mostly spin straight?

Avoid this trap and be specific in your ad. You might state, for example, you're selling a 52-tooth chain ring from a 1982 Raleigh 12-speed bike. You'll also say that while it's seen some use, it's still in good condition with no rust or bent teeth. And finally, you might say that it includes part No. XB17115 stamped on the back. Listing the part number is important: People looking for a specific part on the internet may only have that information to go on. And if they are looking for that same chain ring, chances are they are going to do a search using the term "XB17115" -- and you want your ad to be the one that pops up.

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List the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

A dirty bike chain - you don't want this in your pocket or purse.
A dirty bike chain - you don't want this in your pocket or purse. (c) Steve Ryan

Be clear about wear, damage or any flaws because:

  • You don't want to waste anyone's time. If there is a problem with something you're trying to sell that's going to kill the deal, it's best to let prospective buyers know that up front. It will save you both time.
  • Sometimes even a nonfunctioning item may be desirable to buyers. Maybe they plan to disassemble the bike and used for its separate parts. Perhaps they want to repair or restore it, and the fact that it doesn't work is what actually makes it appealing. 
  • If you disclose any problems up front, that removes potential leverage for buyers to try and knock down your price. If someone comes to look at a bike frame, for instance, and you haven't mentioned the rust inside the bottom bracket, they'll certainly use that as a justification for offering less than what you're asking. 
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Include Close-Up Photos

Kona Major Jake 2009
This is a photo I took of a bike leaned up against the side wall of an old log cabin. The cool background makes the bike look even better. David Fiedler

Good photos are the most useful tool you have when selling bike parts. They show exactly what you're selling. They reveal in better detail any potential problems you've described as well as the positive features of your item. Good photos allow prospective buyers to visually compare your item with the item they are looking to upgrade or replace.

To help you, check out these tips for taking good photos for internet ads, which include information about layout, lighting, close-ups and even the number of images to take.

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Use Smart Pricing

Tyler McPheeters

Research what comparable pieces are selling for, then price accordingly. If you want to move the item quickly, price it lower than the competition. Remember that as you're looking up prices, your potential buyers are doing the same. If you price items higher than the going rate, you either need a good explanation  -- such as condition, rarity or special features -- or you will lose potential buyers before they even talk to you. If you're trying to sell your items quickly for cash, offer them at a low price, and you'll be surprised at how quickly they move.