The hardest part about buying a new bike is selling your old one. Or at least that's how the old saw goes. It's true, right?
While there are a lot of hoops to jump through, one of the fundamental questions people grapple with is pricing. How much is your used bike really worth? In this article, we'll discuss how you can use Bicycle Blue Book to estimate your bike's value and cover other key considerations when selling a bike.
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How does Bicycle Blue Book work?
Bicycle Blue Book value estimates the market value of your used bike based on model year, component spec, and condition. This value can be indispensable knowledge when it’s time to sell, but there are limits to its accuracy.
For starters, Bicycle Blue Book's database is not comprehensive. It has many brands, models, and builds, but there are cases when a search for a specific bike turns up nothing. For example, a 2020 Santa Cruz Megatower X01 Reserve had no results when we searched for its value.
Second, Bicycle Blue Book values do not not account for upgrades. Even if we were able to find that Megatower just mentioned, the value wouldn't reflect the fact that the fork was upgraded from a Fox 36 Performance to a RockShox Lyrik Ultimate.
Finally, bicycle values are not static. They fluctuate, which is why Bicycle Blue Book will give you a range of values. Price can be affected by a number of factors, ranging from the amount of available inventory in the market, current cycling technology, fashion, and trends, and seasonality. Try selling a road bike on Duluth's Craigslist in mid-January, and it's unlikely you'll get top dollar.
If you keep those things in mind, Bicycle Blue Book can still be a helpful starting point for selling your used bike. If you need more than that, let's dive into the details a little further.
What affects the value of used bicycles?
There are factors that help certain bikes hold their value better than others. If you're curious about how your bike might fair when getting an offer from The Pro's Closet or a private buyer, here are a few key factors that may increase or decrease the value of your bike.
- Less than 3-5 years old - Depreciation only gets worse with age. Sure there are some forever bikes, but if you're trying to get more money back for your bike, the sooner you sell the better. The Pro's Closet does not purchase bikes older than 2015.
- Small, Medium, or Large - If your bike is a common size that fits more riders, it will be in more demand. S, M, and L sizes will often sell for slightly more than an equivalent XS or XL size.
- Good condition - This should be obvious, but the better condition your bike is in, the more it will hold its value. Keeping it clean and maintained, replacing inexpensive parts like grips, bar tape, saddles, and protecting your frame and components from scratches and other damage will always boost your bike's overall value.
- Desirable models and brands - Some bikes and brands are just more in demand than others, and they hold their value as a result. Check out our depreciation story to find out what our sales data says about what bikes hold their value best.
- Unsupported technology or standards - Bike technology progresses fast. Over time, some bikes get left behind. Bikes with outdated components (rim brakes, old axle standards, 26" wheels, etc.) or bikes that lack spare parts and aftermarket support will struggle to hold value.
- Unusual upgrades - A few upgrades might increase your bike's value, but most have little effect. Some, however, can't actually hurt your bike's value. Obscure and proprietary upgrades can scare buyers off, especially if they're hard to maintain or lack compatibility with other aftermarket components. Linkage forks, carbon spoked wheels, and "unique" custom paint are just a few examples.
- Low original retail price - The cheaper a bike is when new, the quicker it will lose value over time. This is a major reason The Pro's Closet focuses on purchasing bikes with an original MSRP of at least $1,500. High-end and name-brand bikes simply hold value better.
Other ways to determine used bike value
The Pro's Closet is staffed with a team of bicycle experts who evaluate high-end bicycles every day. We lead the market in buying and selling high-end pre-owned bicycles. Here are our top bicycle valuation strategies for when you are interested in selling your used bike.
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Option 1: The Pro's Closet Sell / Trade
Okay, time for a shameless plug. If you don't have the time to surf the used bike market, determine your own used bike's value, list it, negotiate, and sell it, The Pro's Closet can help.
Provide some basic information and two photos of your bike, and we will give you a quote for your used bike in 24 hours. No obligation. Just a fair offer that accounts for every detail of your bike — wear, age, upgrades, desirability, size, and more. In case you missed the other buttons, here's where you start:
[button]Sell your bike[/button]
Note: The Pro's Closet only purchases bikes with an original MSRP of $1,500 or more. Also, we only purchase late-model bikes: 2015 or newer. Lastly, we don't purchase bikes that are in poor condition or too difficult to sell.
Option 2: Local bike listings, eBay & Checkaflip
If you plan to sell you bike locally, you can determine its value relative to comparable bikes in your area. Unless you live in cycling hub, you may not find many bikes that match yours. So, an online used marketplace like eBay can be a handy alternative.
The basic method is to search eBay for your specific bike to see what sellers are asking. Even better, you can use the filter in the sidebar for "sold listings." This will show you what your bike has sold for previously. There's also an easy third-party tool that performs the task for you: Checkaflip.
Checkaflip is a simple online tool that helps approximate your used bicycle's value using eBay sold listings. It compiles data from sold and active listings on eBay.
Review of Bicycle Blue Book
The Bicycle Blue Book has established itself as a go-to resource for those seeking an unbiased, data-driven appraisal of their bicycles' market value. However, like any tool, it does have its strengths and weaknesses.
Bicycle Blue Book Accuracy:
The overall accuracy of the Bicycle Blue Book's valuations is generally good. The values given are usually in the ballpark, providing a sensible guide for both buyers and sellers. It's worth noting that the values are generated from a comprehensive database of transactions and asking prices, which provides a solid foundation for their estimates. However, the tool does struggle in some areas. For instance, it does not seem to account effectively for the significant regional variations in used bicycle prices, or adequately consider the impact of upgrades or customizations. While these issues are somewhat inevitable given the inherent complexities of the used bike market, they can sometimes lead to inaccuracies in the site's valuations.
Comprehensive database: Bicycle Blue Book has a large database of different models, making it a handy tool for identifying and valuing a wide range of bikes.
Easy to use: The user interface is clean and intuitive, making it easy to find the relevant information and to understand the valuation provided.
Transparent: The site is clear about how its valuations are generated, providing users with confidence in the data's integrity.
Free to use: The site does not charge for its valuation service, making it an accessible resource for all.
Lacks regional specificity: As mentioned, the site's valuations don't take into account the regional variations in used bike prices, which can sometimes be significant.
Limited consideration of upgrades or customizations: The site doesn't fully consider the impact of upgrades or customizations on a bike's value, which can lead to inaccuracies in some cases.
Limited in real-time tracking: Market trends change rapidly, and it's not clear how quickly Bicycle Blue Book's database is updated to reflect these shifts.
The Bicycle Blue Book is a valuable tool for obtaining a quick, data-driven estimate of a bike's market value. While it does have its limitations, it provides a useful starting point for those seeking to buy or sell a used bicycle. Users should be aware of its limitations and consider seeking additional resources or professional appraisals to get a more precise valuation.
Your approach to selling a used bike depends on your expertise and, to a certain extent, your personality type.
If you like to DIY things, it might work well to get a starting point from Bicycle Blue Book, account for upgrades or other factors, and then list your bike on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay. This could be the way to eke out the highest sale price. But it's pretty labor-intensive. Don't forget your prospective buyers will want lots of glamor shots of that bike. Plus the back-and-forth of negotiations and local meet-ups is time consuming.
It should come as no surprise that we thing selling to The Pro's Closet is the easiest and best way to move a bike out of your garage. At the very least, even if you decline our offer, you'll get a real price on your bike, calculated by our team of experts. Oh, and by the way, if you like the offer and sell to TPC, we'll cover shipping.
Submit your bike through our Sell/Trade page to receive a custom quote for your bike:
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Please do not comment asking what your bike is worth! The tools listed above are your best options. Comments asking for bike valuations will be removed.