You must have blinked at the prices some bikes sell for on eBay. Private sale used bikes sometimes go for more than you’d pay a dealer for them; sometimes even close to discounted new prices.
Yes, you can get a bidding frenzy. What also happens is that, to be sure of not being pipped at the post, people will put in an over-high bid. Say you want to pay £2400, but are willing to be flexible and you don’t want to lose it for the sake of a few quid. So you bid £3000.
People don’t consider what might happen if somebody else has the same idea. When two of these bidders collide, you have a seller whooping for joy.
I’m convinced this happened with a 400 Four I was chasing – original and low miles, but stored in a shed for 20 years and in need of restoration. It went for £3350, for which you could buy... well, my own superb one, for a start.
I’ve watched stuff I sell – usually classic parts – do the same. How about an original complete toolkit, in its bag, and the tool tray and lid it sits in (old Honda 400 Four again)? Normally that’s £60-£70, but on one occasion such a combo fetched over £180, having jumped from around £50 in the last 10 seconds (which is when all the serious bidders appear).
Don’t make the mistake of doing this – one day you’ll come unstuck. Set yourself a limit and if you get outbid, just shrug.
I sometimes use a sniping programme – esnipe.com works for me. Very good at slamming in an unexpected bid in the last five seconds.
Also catching my eye this week
1978 Yamaha XS400, £2500
Seller says Fully restored, 16,000 miles. Neil says Humdrum bike in its day, with lousy carbs and an electric starter that struggled. Can’t imagine why anyone paid two and a half grand for it.
2002 Honda XR400R, £2487
Seller says Only 1360 miles, only two owners, recent full service, new road tyres, chain & sprockets Neil says Really good fun semi-serious trail bike in fabulous condition at a good price.
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