Everyone loves a bargain, and buying used bikes and bits can be an excellent way to avoid paying the full retail price for otherwise expensive items. However, there are a number of pitfalls when buying used items online through websites such as marktplaats.nl. Here are 7 dos and 5 don’ts.

Do

1.

… think “contrary” and buy end-of-season. Search for a home trainer once the weather’s great in spring and summer. Buy racing bikes, wheels and parts in autumn when the weather’s bad. This is when people upgrade, or give up.

2.

… be very careful if buying second-hand carbon fibre products. Carbon fibre can be broken internally, without showing any signs of outward damage. If you do decide to buy, question the owner carefully about the wheels/frame, and inspect carefully for outward signs of damage. There are even x-ray services to check out your purchase, but beware: it’s not cheap.

3.

… when online, look very carefully at all photographs of the product. Don’t forget to check out the background of the photos too: a very neat garden could mean that this person also looks after his or her bike carefully. A filthy garage may imply the reverse.

4.

… try and find out the reason for sale. Often the bigger story can tell you more about the seller and potentially move the deal in your favour with a few well-chosen words in an email.

5.

… realise that second-hand can mean worn out. Be prepared to replace smaller moving parts such as bearings, chains and derailleur wheels.

6.

… add the price of petrol to the purchase price to calculate the true cost if you have to drive a long way to pick up the bike/wheels/parts.

7.

… use search terms which are very general in order to hunt for bargains which sellers may not realise are something special. Typing “Racing bike marktplaats” in Google (racefiets) will give a huge amount of hits, but also may reveal that special vintage Colnago fitted with Super Record for €90, which a widow is selling to empty the garden shed.

Don’t

1.

… buy straight away, unless the product is really what you want at the right price point. Getting real second-hand bargains is a waiting game.

2.

… trust everyone, but also don’t think everybody’s trying to rip you off.

3.

… believe all you see. If the price is miraculously low, something is wrong — either the bike/part is stolen, broken or fake. Yes, it is indeed too good to be true.

4.

… forget to thank sellers and let them know you have received the package safely. We’re all bike people, after all.

5.

… keep buying stuff until your garage has piles of parts, a stable of bikes and angry family members (like me).