The overwhelming popularity of my post on Buying Bikes on Craigslist made me realize that a lot of people need guidance on buying bikes online. So I have expanded what was a fairly short post into a much longer document, and produced a comprehensive guide to buying used bikes online. I put a lot of time and work into it, and turned it into a short book, which you can buy – see buying options here.
Click here for all buying options for our Bike Buyers Guide.
I took note of all the questions I received by email from readers, and did my very best to answer every question, and then some! I describe this book as my labor of love: I have tried my hardest to give readers as much value for money as possible, and have included everything I could possibly think of to help you with your bike bargain hunting. Online market places provide a great opportunity to find bargain-priced bikes, providing you know what you are doing – and this book will make sure that you do!
See also Phrases to Watch Out for When Buying a Bike Online
This book is a comprehensive guide to buying bikes online. If you plan to buy a bike on Craigslist, Kijiji, eBay, LesPAC or any other online market place, this book will be invaluable to you. Both the Kindle and the Amazon versions contain all the facts you need; while the Amazon print version is full color and illustrated.
Average Joe Cyclist Bike Buyers Guide includes:
- guidance on bike terminology;
- advice on what type of bike to buy;
- how to determine your bike size;
- how to research bike prices and evaluate the asking price of a bike;
- how to check the condition of a bike;
- how to evaluate the components of a bike;
- a list of recommended high quality bikes; and
- tips for spotting bike thieves.
Average Joe Cyclist Guide: How to Buy Used Bikes on Craigslist, Kijiji, eBay, LesPAC and other Online Market Places warns you about:
- potential extra costs;
- poor quality bikes that should be avoided; and
- red flags to watch out for.
If you’re planning to buy a bike online, I highly recommend you buy this very cheap little book, and use it as a comprehensive guide to prevent being ripped off, and to help you find what you need at a good price – and maybe even find a bargain bike!
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A very good post which is largely true of all used-bikes sales. I suppose Craigslist is the most visible nowadays due to the way it has eaten the classified lunch of the papers.
Average Joe Cyclist says
Thanks Andy. There’s a lot more to say too, but I did not want it to be too long
Danielle Moot says
Sorry to sound ignorant, but what is a POS bike?
Piece Of sh_t
I have sold close to 50 bikes in the past 3 years on Kijiji with a few being on Craigslist. All were ones I found at the side of road either without a tire, brake pads or some other easy fix, but I would fix all of them. A few were also from garage/church sales that I bought cheap and turned around and sold for 2 or 3 times the price I paid.
98% were department store bikes that were far easier to repair and much more comfortable than the non-department store brands.
I had to repost many bikes multiple times (not every single day like some people do) simply because new people are always looking. With Kijiji so many people are posting daily, your item may end up on page 20 in less then 24 hours.
Just because someone is posting multiple times, it doesn’t make the bike a POS or even overpriced. No one might be in the market for that bike at that time.
Every bike I had to repost did sell.
As for that extra $225 for the Norco, most people CAN’T afford that extra money or don’t believe it’s worth the extra money. Like most things, I believe older bikes are far better than the newer ones. Old bikes I can tweak and work on quite easily, however new bikes are POS’s with how difficult they make things. Mind you the same applies to cars as well.
Older cars you could work on yourself, yet with newer models they make it so you have to have someone else do the work on them.
“I don’t really know anything about bikes.”
A lot depends. It doesn’t mean it’s a POS it simply means the person may not know a lot about bikes. You’d be surprised at some of the questions people send, that unless you worked professionally with bikes you wouldn’t know anything about the bike(s).
I found a Trek I knew very little about, except the rear brakes were beyond my repair (newer bike, impossible to work with). I did some research and was told $100 would be a decent price in that condition. Seemed a little high to me for a bike that didn’t have rear brakes attached, however I ended up getting 14 responses within 12 hours of posting. Although I regret not posting it for more, I’m not worried as the bike was being thrown in the garbage anyways, so it was as if I found $100.
I sold a Huffy dual suspension bike that looked to be in brand new condition for $65. Only thing that needed replacing was one brake pad. This bike originally retailed for $350. Quite a bike savings for the person IMO.
Free Spirit & SuperCycle were the two I sold most of, from between $20-65.
Most people would rather pay $50 for a used SuperCycle than $100 from Canadian Tire. Perhaps because I live in a city that tends to suffer from high unemployment, people will look for any extra dollar they can save.
Yes, there are many who overprice or even over value their bikes. I sold bikes on there simply because I would collect bikes that would otherwise be tossed in the garbage. I fixed, cleaned and test rode every bike before even posting them. I tried to research each one to get info on that bike and to see what a reasonable price would be.
I view it as doing a double service. Keeps a bike out of the landfill and gives new life to something that would otherwise be deemed no good.
As bad as some sellers are, I have a million horror stories about buyers, however my biggest complaint are the numerous buyers who said they will come over at a certain time and simply never show. No email or phone call to say they changed their minds, they just screw with you so you waste your time.
I think in all the bikes I sold, only two actually sold on Craigslist. I hated dealing, posting and everything involved with Craigslist. In the future check out Kijiji.ca. It is far better IMO.
I also wouldn’t tell people to not buy certain brand of bike outright. If you can pick up a SuperCycle for $15-30, it is a great deal for those people. I would however inform them to check the prices out because some people DO charge equal or more than what it is worth in stores, however this applies to ANY brand of bike.
Ryan, I applaud the service you are providing for the biking community and for the earth. There is a lot of value in older bikes, and there are a lot of questionable sellers out there.
It is a pain to deal with many people on Craigslist, that’s for sure. Sellers often seem sketchy and buyers often don’t show up at all. I tried to give my 18-year-old bike (in decent shape and recently tuned up) away last year, but found that the only way to get people to take it seriously enough to actually come by to pick it up was to put a $100 price tag on it.
I have to disagree with your point that older bikes are better made than newer ones, though. This is probably true of “department store” bikes, but increased competition in the higher-end bike markets has driven improvements in the design and manufacturing of “bike shop” bikes.
Average Joe Cyclist says
I second Graeme – great work, Ryan. It is nice to know there are some people doing this. Now the trick for the shopper is to try and figure out which sellers are like Ryan, and which ones are not.
I’m just going by my experiences with bikes from Canadian Tire etc. versus a bike shop bike.
I’ve had a Norco & Trek which were probably were the worst bikes I’ve ever had. Uncomfortable & too difficult to work with.
Best bikes were a Raleigh, Triumph and the one I’m currently using, a CCM.
I guess it boils down to taste.
I suppose it was the way I was raised, I just can’t screw people over which unfortunately far too many people do, do now.
It is ridiculous that people sell bikes used for more then what they are worth new in store. I have found some great deals on bikes at garage sales (as low as $10), but lately people are noticing the “value” in bikes since more people are riding them and they are well over valuing them. Which actually is fine with me because many will simply throw them out come garbage day!
I do a lot of dealing on eBay, and find it sad how sellers will sell an item for 1/2 of the price it should be, then jack the shipping cost up to $80 just to avoid paying a few extra dollars in eBay fees.
Average Joe Cyclist says
So Ryan, based on all your experience, would you say that something like this is a good buy:
(Friend of mine is looking for a commuter that is not too flashy and won’t get stolen.)
D Choy says
I totally agree with you Average Joe! I too, check the Craigslist ads quite often looking for a good deal, or to sell my bikes. Haven’t had too much trouble, but yes, avoid those ‘vintage’ ads!
Nice find on that Bridgestone!! I found a similiar Bridgestone mountain bike on Kijiji, and it was free!
Average Joe Cyclist says
Lucky find, D! I guess I will keep on prowling the for sale ads … will give Kijiji a try too. That’s actually where we found our puppy, come to think of it. And he was a great buy 🙂
Good job outlining the risks, Joe. I hope you don’t scare too many people off, though: there are certainly good bike deals to be found on Craigslist. If somebody is willing to talk openly about the history of the bike, it’s probably ethically sourced. As for checking condition, I think most bike shops will be happy to inspect a bike for you (if the seller is willing) before you pay for it. They know it is good PR for them, and you are likely to bring it in to them for future servicing and whatever immediate repairs are needed.
Having purchased two bikes in the past 18 months—one at a bike shop and one from Craigslist—I would say that I haven’t really found much difference. True, you do get a warranty with a new bike; however, your own bike will be “used” soon enough, so purchasing and maintaining somebody else’s used bike (with some knowledge of the bike’s history) is almost the same thing.
Bill Barilko says
Note-they were called Sekine and were decent value back in the day.
I agree that some people have no clue as to pricing-seen the same with many used products.
Marisa Lee says
@ Bill Barilko: What were called Sekine?
@Average Joe: I have had some excellent bargains off of CL. I agree with you though that there are some seroius sharks out htere.
Raymond Parker says
Retro Grouch cast a pretty wide net there on the undesirables.
My Nishiki Landau is still serving me well after more than 30 years. Stock models are highly coveted.
Apollos and Sekines may have been utilitarian (I turned my nose up at them at the time) but, depending on the model, they were well built and if in good nick are certainly are worthy of turning into trusty commuters today.
Nice post. I also prowl the Craigslist ads rather obsessively in search of a nice touring bike. After I completely lucked into buying an old Miyata One Twelve with a lugged, triple-butted, chro-moly frame for $50 about two years ago, my expectations may be a bit high…
Average Joe Cyclist says
Thanks for all the comments. I have used many of them to update this post a bit, using the collective knowledge/wisdom that came in 🙂
Bikes I have owned:
Huffy – on the bad list
Infinity – Current bike of 5 years, ridden nearly 10,000 km with electric kit components added. Sure a lot of parts have been since replaced but it still works!
(Also I have a downhill/cross country bike: Rocky Mountain Slayer)
Took a supercycle suspension fork and ruined the raleigh with that after some 3000km of riding. (didnt quite fit properly)
Free Spirit – crappy, crappy but that is what my mom still has, the frame broke on one, replaced that and the rim broke on the next one. Gave her my spare rim from the infinity. (I have the electric bike rim/motor/gear kit)
Raymond Parker says
Indeed, ANY old bike can be pressed into duty as a commuter. If theft is a real possibility and you don’t have to commute far, the bigger POS the better.
Check out Nigel Press’s Sekine, presently top of the page. Further down, have a look at Patrick Wright’s “tank.” Both these cyclists are accomplished randonneurs (with other bikes, of course) but these machines serve their commuting purposes well.
Average Joe Cyclist says
Thanks Raymond. By the way, LOVE the way you’ve done the two photos on your blog – showed it to a few people. Very cool and original. And I really like the post you pointed me to – I have added it to my post.
Gotta disagree with the Grouch and yourself, Joe. I’ve put 5- to 8,000 km on my Apollo Prestige every year for over 30 years. Just came back from 1,000 km tour of Cuba. The bike came with a solid, well-designed frame and components that were better than average (and far superior to most of the Euro junk that had been dominating the market at the time).
I’ve got 4 bikes hanging in my garage, and that’s by far the oldest and my favourite to ride. I get comments on it every week. Yeah, I’d describe it as “vintage”.
You’re right, just because it’s old doesn’t make it valuable. But just because it’s not Italian (have another look at the Grouch’s plus list) doesn’t make it junk.
I have a original 1970 s Malvern Star speed Dragster. I would love to retosre the bike to it’s original glory. The guards and rims need to be re-chromed alone with the handle bar. I want a good job done and I was wondering if someone could tell me who does a great job. I have looked at some blogs about a place in Hamilton and Cardiff, they don’t seem to get a good rap. I would really appreciate some help. Many Thanks.