One of the main things that a Cycle Tramper must do is where possible, buy things secondhand or at a discounted rate. A great way to do this is using eBay, but if you’re new to it or don’t know how to exploit it to its full advantage, it can be daunting and rather confusing.
There are a few rules that you should stick to when buying on eBay that should help you find your feet:
Get a feel for the market, not just on eBay too!
It’s important that, before buying anything, you know what things cost by searching for completed listings. Get a good idea of prices on eBay and remember, buying used isn’t always worth it. Use Google shopper to do a search of all the major retailers for prices of new items. Chain reaction cycles, Wiggle and Spa Cycles are very good and can be very cheap; check their sales as they often have some bargain items there. Things such as panniers and racks can go for more on eBay than they would new, especially when there is a sale on.
Don’t bid, don’t bid, don’t bid…
Don’t be tempted to bid early, this only serves to bump up the price later. Bidding at the last minute, even within the last few seconds, is the best tactic for a bargain. Bidders will often stick a bid in then ignore it- very few watch the auction end so here is your chance! Auction snipers like Auction Sniper, Bidnapper and Auction Stealer are good too if you know what you’re willing to pay. Just remember, you’re giving your eBay logon credentials to a 3rd party so be careful!
Luk 4 bad spellin!
I couldn’t spell ‘bad’ wrong but you get my point- badly listed items are one of the best ways to find bargains. You can do this yourself by spelling words incorrectly or searching for very general things like ‘bike’ or ‘wheels’ and trawling through the used items. You can also use sites like Typo Hound, BayCrazy and Goof Bid which will search for typos for you. Don’t forget to tick the ‘search description’ box too, as that’ll search everything in the ad and not just the title.
Keep your options open
Another variation on badly listed items is where an item is listed in the wrong category. When searching, make sure you’re searching in all categories and look at all the auctions, that way there’s no chance of missing anything!
Look on your doorstep
Searching for deals locally that people have marked ‘pick-up only’, especially on larger items such as frames and wheels will often net you a good deal. Most sellers don’t want to go to the hassle of packaging and posting large items when they’re not going to make a lot of money so do a search for items close to your post code and see what’s about. Just remember you have to get it home yourself! BayCrazy have a local bargains search function that should help.
Be cheeky with best offers
Sometimes sellers will have a buy-it-now price and also a best offer price. Be cheeky, they can always reject your offer so before clicking buy, try your luck here first, you might be surprised!
If it’s not on eBay, it doesn’t exist!
Not strictly true but having bought most of my car and bike through eBay, it usually is! And if it’s not on today it will be soon, so be patient and wait it out. You can set automated alerts for a rare item you’re after: just search for it and click the ‘save search’ box next to the search bar and next time that item is listed you’ll get an email telling you!
Stay up late on a week night
Items listed to end at stupid times, 3am on a Tuesday for example, go for less than something listed to end when everyone is on eBay on a Sunday evening. I have found numerous bargains using this tactic, such as the handlebars on both mine and Neo’s bikes for 99p each. BayCrazy have a useful search called Night Owl which will help you find items that end after midnight when most people have already gone to bed!
Think about the basic principles of supply and demand- when lots of people want something it’s expensive, with people bidding against each other to get it, but when there is no demand and people are skint, prices go down. Avoid December and buy in January! In January, I managed to buy my front and back Altura Dryline panniers, that RRP at £190, for £90. Less than half the price of new! In December these items were selling for £130+.
Don’t be afraid of old or used!
Most importantly, embrace older and used things! Parts such as gear cables, derailleurs and moving parts are worth buying new as they have a shelf life, whereas frames, bars, stems and forks are all items that (within reason) can last forever. Newer is not always better, older parts such as threaded forks and steel frames are not to be sniffed at.
Following these tips should help you save a decent amount of money over new. Not only that (and this might just be the tightfisted northerner in me), but it’s a good feeling knowing you’ve got yourself a bargain and waiting until the last few seconds to bid can be quite fun!