Looking to buy a used road bike but not too sure what is the fair price?
As a buyer, we naturally want to have the lowest price possible. On the contrary, we want the highest price possible as a seller. So where’s the mid-point for a fair price?
There is no fixed price for a bike even for the same brand and model, and this makes valuing the bike a complicated process.
This article discusses the factors to consider when buying or selling a used bike.
Factors affecting a used bike price
Once the bike is sold from the local bike shop, its value will start to depreciate even if it’s ridden only 50 miles. The depreciation depends on the factors below.
Original retail price
The first place to start is to find out the original retail price. Do a Google search on the exact bike model and launch year. All the top-of-the-line bikes usually come with a press release upon launch, and you can easily find out their recommended retail price.
You also want to consider if the seller receives any discounts when purchasing. A discount of 5% off retail price is quite common, while up to 30% for clearance items.
Some brands are more attractive, have higher premiums, and can command a higher resale value. Specialized, Cervelo and Trek are known to hold their resale value better compared to others such as Giant or Canyon.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that those with lower premiums aren’t good. It’s mainly due to perception. You’ll likely find good bargains with the lesser-known than premium brands.
More reading : The Leading Road Bike Brands
The older the bike, the higher the depreciation. Although the bike hasn’t been ridden much throughout the years, its value still depreciates.
A new-ish bike is generally considered to be less than 6 months old, and anything above 36 months old can be considered old. Most bike manufacturers launch a new model every two to three years, making the previous model outdated.
From experience, the sweet spot of a used bike is one generation before the current one.
The frame is the core of a bicycle and should be judged based on both its cosmetic and structural condition. Minor surface scratches and paint chips at the bottom areas are quite common as the bike is ridden. If rust is present, it could be a lack of basic care and maintenance.
Sometimes looks can be deceiving. Pay attention to frames that are either repainted or repaired as there is a high chance that it has been damaged before.
Components and parts
Bikes with current and newer components generally have a higher resale value. They’re easier to source for replacements and spares as most bike shops carry them, or can be purchased easily online.
While something old like the first-generation 10-speed Shimano Di2 might be nostalgic, sourcing the replacement parts can be hard. Shimano stopped manufacturing them many years ago. You might still get them off eBay, but they’re most likely used.
If you’re planning to swap out the older components, consider whether the bike frame can accommodate the newer ones. For example, older bike frames (pre-2013) don’t support internal cabling for electronic groupsets, nor can they accommodate tires wider than 23mm.
More reading : How to Get the Most Out of Shimano Di2 Groupset
Consider the mileage done over the bike’s lifespan. Once you find out the year of purchase, you can quickly figure out the average yearly mileage.
The higher the mileage, the more abuse and wear and tear the bike and components have undergone.
As a general rule of thumb, I’d consider,
- Low mileage – below 5,000 miles
- Average mileage – 5,000 to 15,000 miles
- High mileage – above 15,000 miles
Many bikes last 30,000 miles or more and are still in excellent condition. Don’t be put off by the high mileage, especially if it’s well maintained, but that’s something you want to consider seriously.
More reading : What Affects Tire Wear?
Get to know the seller
Ask the seller questions that will give you insights into his riding behavior and style. The answers will help you form an opinion on whether the bike is worth buying. It’d be easier if you know him personally but that’s not always the case.
Ask your fellow cyclists about the seller, and check their social media or Strava profile. Ask questions such as,
- How many bikes do you own?
- How often do you ride weekly?
- What type of rides do you do?
- Do you race?
- Do you keep the drivetrain clean?
- Have you had a crash?
For example, someone who owns multiple bikes will likely have ridden the bike less than one who uses it for daily commute. He’ll likely keep the bike well maintained at home if he’s handy with basic bike maintenance.
Ideally, you want to buy from someone who rides less while also keeping the bike well maintained.
Depending on where you are, bike sizes do affect their value due to the demand.
A size 54 or 56 bike for riders between 5’9 to 6’ is more common and would attract more interest. The downside is it can be harder to sell as the buyers are spoilt for choices with more supply.
Smaller sizes such as 49 or 52 (for riders 5’5 to 5’8) are more common in Asian countries.
Anything above size 56 can be considered quite a rarity and would have lower interest. The upside is that once there’s an interested buyer, the deal has a much higher chance of succeeding because supply is scarce.
More reading : How to Determine Your Ideal Bike Size
Bike manufacturers such as Cannondale, Cervelo, and Liv offer a lifetime warranty and up to two years warranty on the parts to the original owner. There would be no warranty for subsequent owners even if the bike was sold within the warranty period.
Online resources for used bike valuation
- Bicycle Blue Book has a huge database of bike prices. You can search for a specific bike model and you’ll get the suggested price range for an Excellent, Very Good, Good, or Fair condition bike.
- The Pros Closet is the leading used bike retailer in the United States. They have hundreds of used bikes listed on their website.
- Bicycle Values. Based in Grapevine, Texas, Bicycle Values is in the business of buying and selling used bicycles.
- Bike Soup is a UK-based marketplace for buying and selling bikes.
- Alchemy Trader. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Alchemy Trader is a large buyer and seller of used bikes. They offer a 3-month full warranty on bikes sold.
- Facebook Marketplace is a gold mine for buying and selling bikes. Observe the listings over time and you’ll get a rough indication of a fair price.
- Bicycle Buy/Sell Groups on Facebook is a private group for cyclists to buy and sell their cycling equipment. The audience is more advanced and knowledgeable when it comes to bikes.
- eBay. Check out the sold listings on eBay for a similar model bike. Use the Advanced Search function and check the Sold listings box.