How to maximise on profits when selling your bike online

Cleaning and servicing your bike before you sell it can really make a difference, here’s what you need to focus on, and how to make your listing stand out

Image shows a road bike.
(Image credit: Future)

Are you looking to sell your current bike? Impressions matter. Think about the state of your bike, the state of your listing and the state of your replies - all of this will make a difference to how much money you’ll be rolling in, to buy more cycling stuff, am I right?

We have shared tips for buying a used bike and what to look for in a second hand bike, and so if it’s you that’s doing the selling you’re going to want to be taking these points into consideration - you need to think like the buyer. 

Many of us selling our current bikes are doing so because we have our eyes on a shiny new one. If you sell your bike for more, that leaves you with more cash for investing in one of the best road bikes – or buying upgrades for another one of your trusty steeds that are currently taking up space in what by now might as well be called a 'bike shed'. 

Clean your bike

Image shows a person cleaning a bike.

(Image credit: Getty Images / Johner Images)

Whilst it’s important to clean your bike after every ride to maximise the life of your components, after you get through the door it's very easy to be distracted by thoughts of food and the bike gets forgotten about. You say you’ll do it after the next ride, but we all know what happens that next time… 

Every time you put it off, your bike will become even harder to clean. It’s a vicious cycle.

But before you take the photos of your bike for the listing, a complete scrub down is an absolute must. Wash your bike so it looks like new - well, as close as possible to. 

Fortunately, cleaning your bike properly can be done in just a handful of minutes once you have a clear idea of the procedure and the right equipment - the best bike cleaning kits can make this messy job quicker and simpler. Follow our step by step guide on how to effectively clean your bike here.

Neaten it up by replacing the finishing kit

Image shows handlebar tape.

(Image credit: Future)

After you’ve cleaned your bike you’ll be able to clearly see which parts of the bike are still looking a little less than perfect – typically this'll likely include grubby and scuffed bar tape.

A fresh and neatly wrapped set of bars is perhaps one of the cheapest and most effective way to boost the desirability of your bike. The best handlebar tape can start from as little as $17 / £13, for Sram’s Supercork Bar Tape for example. 

Service the components or replace

Image shows gear cable.

(Image credit: Future)

If/when any prospective buyer comes to view your bike in person, the last thing you want is for them to experience clunky gears and ineffective brakes.  

Even if all that's needed is some simple adjustments (free!) to the cable tension, or just a cheap upgrade to some new pads, you are going to find it a much tougher sell than if you made sure these aspects were in good running order yourself.

Replacing your gear cables and indexing your gears is quite a straightforward job to do – and we have a step-by-step video taking you all the way through the process. Admittedly, on some internally routed frames, this job can become sustainably harder – in that case you might decide that a trip to the bike shop might be the more expedient option. Just the cables by themselves are quite a cheap buy, though. 

Similar points hold true for the brakes. New pads are a relatively cheap upgrade, and well worth it if you've accidently contaminated yours with oil - leading to squeaky and under powered braking. 

If your hydraulic brakes feel spongey at the lever, that's a sign they need bleeding. This is quite a straightforward process, but it does require some specialist kit. We've got an explainer on how to bleed hydraulic brakes, but if it's not something you're planning on doing semi regularly, again it's best to take it to a bike shop.

Finally, rim brakes and mechanical disc brakes fall into a similar category to your gears when it comes to servicing and replacing brake cables - this is generally quite a straightforward process, provided you don't have finickity internal cable routing. Other than that, it's work making sure the pads line up squarely with the braking surface and that both pads contact simultaneously.   

With the brakes and gears in good working order, you should find it much easier to sell the bike for its actual value.

Showcase your bike with quality photos - and lots of them!

Image shows a bike leant up against a wall.

(Image credit: Future)

If you’ve gone through the cost and hassle of sprucing up the bike then you’re going to want to showcase the sparkly new finishing kit you bought and the clean state of your ride. 

People are also going to want to see what condition the bike is in now and if that lines up with the description you give in the listing - that means taking photos of both the upgrades you’ve made and the damage. 

A sale is only going to go through if the bike is what the person expects when they sell it in person. If they turn up and the bike isn’t what you pitched it to them as it’s just going to be a waste of time for both parties. 

Find somewhere that’s uncluttered so your shiny bike really stands out, and make sure lighting is decent so that the state of the components is genuinely visible. 

List the components

Providing as much information as you can will reassure any potential buyers that you are someone who knows and cares about bikes – and that your model is what they're hoping or expecting to go for.

Most important is the frame size and groupset, but components such as the wheels, tyres, saddle, crankset length, chainring size and cassette sprockets are all good points to include as well.

If you can still find the listing of the bike online from when you bought it, you might be able to copy and paste all this in quite quickly. But if you have swapped out any components, do make sure to update this in the description. 

Be helpful and available

Don’t put up the listing if you’re not prepared to answer questions someone messages. People tend to have quite specific requirements and so may want to check in about something particular regarding the set up.

If you're about to go on holiday, consider waiting until you're back to put the listing up – anyone who is looking for a bike likely is interested in making the purchase sooner rather than later.

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