This post explains exactly how to advertise your bike on Craigslist, so that you can sell your bike online. Getting the advert just right is crucial. Craigslist is a great, free online selling site – but it only works well if you use it well.
Contents of this Post
While all of us are still fighting the Covid-19 epidemic, please be wary of meeting strangers to buy a bike. Please refer to the CDC website for accurate information about how to safely conduct yourself.
Example of a Really Bad Craigslist Advert
First, here is an example of an ad that is totally wrong.
What is wrong with this advert? Where do I start? First of all, it is listed in “Bikes for Sale.” So, calling the ad “Bike” is redundant to the point of being downright stupid. Insulting to the reader, even. Then, the bike is upside down! What does the seller want the potential buyer to do? Turn the computer upside down?
Also, there is so little information and reader help in the ad that it is like an Anti Ad. We don’t know the brand, size, age, or … anything at all. This ad makes me want to slap my forehead and say “Duh!”, rather than click on the ad and buy a bike!
Have at least one photo of the bike, and make sure it looks like your own photo. A stock photo from the Internet may be quite impressive, but it does not reassure the potential buyer that the bike is really yours. See more about photos below.
- Mention the brand of the bike (such as Giant Trek, Specialized, Raleigh, etc.). People really want to know this – it’s vital information.
- Also mention the model of the bike in as much detail as you possibly can (such as Trek Valencia, Specialized Secteur Triple, Raleigh Detour City Sport, etc.).
- List the year of manufacture if you possibly can (such as 2015). If you don’t know the year, give the age as accurately as you can. If you go online and do some research, you should be able to figure out what year your bike was made. Don’t try and fudge this one – bikes come out in different colors in different years, so it is easy for a discerning buyer to know if you are lying about the age of the bike. On the other hand, this makes it easier for you figure it out too.
Specify the size of the bike as accurately as you can (e.g. 15 inches for a mountain bike or hybrid, or 54 cm for a road bike). There’s a very useful post about bike frame sizes here, if you need some help with this.
If you don’t know the size, at least try to figure out if it is a small, medium, or large. It is also really useful to say something like “It fits me perfectly and I am 6’8″.” That way, people who are 5’2″ don’t have to waste their time coming to try out a bike they couldn’t even climb onto. Failing to specify the size wastes your time and wastes the potential buyer’s time.
Say (Truthfully) Why You Are Selling the Bike
“I have decided road bikes are not for me; I am selling this so I can buy a mountain bike.”
“The bike is too big for me.”
“I have to give up cycling because I had knee surgery.”
“Turns out cycling is just not for me.”
“I want to buy a new bike, and my partner says I can’t until I get rid of this one.”
“I need to buy an electric bike because my commute is now much longer.”
Basically, try to say something that is genuine and that people can relate to.
Include Information on the Condition of the Bike You Are Selling
“This bike is in as-new condition – I have used it about 30 times, mainly in dry weather, in urban conditions.”
“This bike is in used but in good condition – I have put several thousand miles on it, but I have maintained it well and it is still in great shape”.
“It has been standing in the garage for 30 years – I cannot vouch for its condition.“
Be honest about this – you don’t want someone bringing the bike back two days later and demanding a refund. And you definitely don’t want someone getting hurt because you didn’t mention that the brakes were not working!
Include Information about the Technical Specifications of the Bike You Are Selling
If you can, include details of components and specs of the bike. You can easily copy this from a website, if you don’t know all the details (and really, who does?)
If you can find a good review of the bike online, include a link to it. This will save the potential buyer a lot of time and effort in research, and is very likely to convince them to buy.
Below is an example of an effective advert for a used bike on Craigslist. Note that it has all the relevant information in the subject line, so buyers don’t have to waste time clicking on the ad, only to find the bike is too small/too old/too expensive, etc. The subject line includes the year of manufacture (2018), the make of the bike (Trek), the fact that it is a woman’s bike (WSD = Women Specific Design), the model of the bike (7.5 FX), the size (small), and the price you hope to get ($400 or best offer).
For sale: 2018 Trek 7.5 FX WSD, small, $400 obo.
Body of your Craigslist ad:
Selling my beautiful Trek bike. It’s a Women Specific Design. Size: Small – 49 cm. Would suit a person around 5’3″ with smaller hands (glove size Small). I am selling this bike because I have had to quit cycling following knee surgery. The bike is lightly used – probably around 500 miles, in good weather conditions. Well maintained and recently serviced; ready to ride away. Includes rat-trap, mudflaps, and lights. Great commuting bike, light and easy to ride! Asking $400 or best reasonable offer.
Include full technical details of the bike next, if you know them. They can usually be copied from somewhere on the Internet. If you can, add a link to a good review, such as this review which helped me to sell my Specialized Sequoia. One time a buyer told me that he realized my advert linked to my own review, so how could he trust it? I pointed out that I wrote the review 18 months before I was selling the bike, so it was not written with the intention to sell the bike. He bought the bike, and he was happy and I was happy!
Remember to include at least one recent photograph. Most people won’t bother with a bike advert that has no photos. Craigslist lets you easily (and for free!) upload multiple photos, and it is definitely a good idea to do this. Take photos of the gears, the brakes, the wheels – basically, photograph everything, and include it all in the ad. Make sure that the first photo is the best one, as this is the one that will show up on the ad preview.
Below are examples of the photos I used to sell my BH Emotion Electric Race Bike with Panasonic battery (reviewed here). The photos might look a bit random to you, but trust me – these kinds of photos sell bikes! Notice that I start with a photo that shows the whole bike, obviously in my home (with my dog!).
This gives the potential buyer reassurance that I am not selling a stolen bike. On the other hand, a stock photo from the Internet creates the impression that you are afraid to show the real bike – perhaps because it is stolen.
Here are all the photos that I included, which helped me to sell the bike within 24 hours, for my asking price, to a very happy buyer. I still miss this bike!
Good luck with selling your bike on Craigslist!
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