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.
… 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.
… 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.
… 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.
… 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.
… realise that second-hand can mean worn out. Be prepared to replace smaller moving parts such as bearings, chains and derailleur wheels.
… 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.
… 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.
… 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.
… trust everyone, but also don’t think everybody’s trying to rip you off.
… 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.
… forget to thank sellers and let them know you have received the package safely. We’re all bike people, after all.
… keep buying stuff until your garage has piles of parts, a stable of bikes and angry family members (like me).