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« Functional Art | Main | Ebikes, problem or no? »
Monday
Dec122016

Making sense of eBay prices

The Fuso frame pictured above, recently sold on eBay for $303, which seems to be about the going rate for a frame and fork. I would consider this a fair price.

The frame was listed as undamaged, but the original paint showed signs of normal wear and tear, with a fair amount of chips and scratches. My advice would be to build this frame up into bike up and ride it, as is. If you start thinking about re-painting, a good paint job will set you back $700, or more.

Now you have $300 the frame cost you, plus $700, $1,000 invested. Not including the cost of shipping when you bought it on eBay, and then the shipping to, and back from the painter.

Fuso frames or not rare, I built around 2,400 between 1984 and 1993. So the best option is to ride this bike as is, and wait for another to come along with paint in better condition. There were a lot of Fuso bikes that were bought on a whim, then hardly ever used. Rarely does a week goes by that one or two frames I built come up on eBay.

So if one comes up for sale in the size you want, be prepared to pay a little more if it has really nice paint.

It will still be hundreds of dollars cheaper than refinishing, and original paint will retain a higher resale value than a repaint.

Don’t forget too that the original frame you bought for $300 you can put back on eBay and get most, if not all your money back.

Here is where I don’t quite follow the logic behind some eBay bidding. It seems people balk at paying much over $300 for a frame and fork. But as I have just explained if you paid $200 more for really nice paint, it is far cheaper, and better than buying a beat up frame and refinishing.

Plus there is this to consider. The beat up frame probably has been ridden hard for tens of thousands of miles, whereas the frame with pristine paint has had little use, with no more than a few hundred miles on it. It is as if you had gone back in time and just bought it from a bike store.

Take for example this bike shown above left, and below, it was listed recently at $1,400 and had no bidders. The going rate for a complete bike seems to be between $500 and $800. Rarely does anyone bid on anything over $1,000. Regardless of condition, which is what I don’t quite understand.

The original finish on this one is really nice with just a few minor nicks in the paint. It has top of the line Campagnolo components, with Delta brakes. These alone would resell on eBay for $250 or more.

This next Fuso Lux bike is another. (Below.) Currently listed on eBay at $2,000 “Buy it Now” price, or auctioned starting at $1200. I have followed the history on this one. About a year ago, this frame was new in a box, stored in someone’s attic and never used. The current owner bought it and built it up with modern Scram components. Then the owner found it was a tad small for him. Hence it is on sale.

This is a Fuso “Lux,” the top of the line, no expense spared model. It was brand new a year ago, and you could not have got me to build a frame a year ago at any price.  The circumstances of this bike are rare and the $2,000 price tag, I think is fair.

Of course I realze people will pay what they can afford and what they think an item is worth. Maybe most just want a bike to ride, and nice paint is not an issue. 

I would like to point out that I don’t know any of the people selling these bikes or frames that I have mentioned, and I have no financial interest in any of these sales. I just don’t like to see people get ripped off, whether they are a buyer or a seller.

Here are some tips to consider when buying a used frame or complete bike on eBay.

1.)    Don’t buy a frame with the front fork missing. Ask for the fork. Was it damaged in a crash? A bent steel for can be safely straightened, but expect to pay a greatly reduced price. Also make sure the top and down tubes are not rippled.

2.)    When buying a complete bike, look at the components. I built and sold frames to bicycle dealers who then built them into complete bikes. Often they were assembled with cheaper components to keep the cost down. The idea being that the owner would upgrade later. This rarely happened, so when such a bike comes up for sale, bear in mind that the frame is the only thing of value. The rest of the bike’s components have little resale worth.

3.)    Most top of the line racing bikes built back in the day had tubular tires, nice lightweight clinchers were not available back then. Keep in mind you may have to re-build or replace the wheels and buy tires. Wheels for tubulars (Sprint rims.) do have some resale value on eBay, especially if they are in good condition. You may be able to recoup a large part of the cost of replacing the wheels and tires.

4.)    There were more frames built in the mid sizes. But then again it is the mid sizes that are still in demand today so there will be more people bidding. There were fewer very small and the very large frames built, so these will come up for sale less often. But again the small and larger sizes are in less demand. You may get a bargain because you are the only one bidding, but if there are more than one bidder the price may go high.

5.)    Don’t get carried away. Decide ahead of time how much you are prepared to spend and stick with it. If you get beat by $3.00 it does not mean if you had bid $4.00 more you would have got it. The other guy may have been prepared to go much higher, you were the second highest bidder and when your highest bid was reached, the next guy got it for just $3.00 more.

6.)    Don’t bid early. All that does is push the price up. The only exception is, if you can’t be home when the auction ends. Enter the highest amount you are prepared to pay just before the action ends. This does two things, it gives others less time to counter bid.

Possibly more important, if you are outbid, you don’t have time to counter again. Because be honest, you decided before hand how far you were prepared to go. There should be no regrets, it sold for more than you were prepared to pay.

If you have regrets, then you were actually prepared to go higher, and probably should have done so. Either way you will just have wait for the next one to come along, and it will. There is always another day.

 

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Reader Comments (10)

On the topic of repainting: I recently did an enquiry on what it would cost to repaint a Bianchi SL frame I've owned and ridden since 1980 - and which cost me $200 new. The quote was $660. I was a bit surprised, so the question is, what about painting a frame justifies that steep cost? If I can buy an entire bike for $500 that has a decent paint job and decals, etc.?

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEd

You sure didn't make may tall ones, or at least they don't come up very often.
Thought I don't ride as tall of a frame as I used to (I can't lean over as far) I still prefer a 61-62 c-t-c and a horizontal top tube.

Your observations about the flow of bids and prices rings true with me. Full bikes go for a lot less than they would parted out, if you could sell all of the parts. That is the catch, that only some of the parts are in demand.
Your last couple observations concern human nature and the psychology of bidding. Pick a number and stick to it. You are satisfied win or loose that way.

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteredstainless

Powder coating is one way to cut costs, IF you can find one that will do a decent job.Buying and selling on Ebay is to me a pain ii=n the arse.The best buys that I have made are from members of the Clasicrendezvous list run by Dale Brown. One thing for sure buying and selling is NO way to get rich quick

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjohn Crump

Steel continues to be undervalued, I just don't get it.

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Great post as always Dave.

I totally agree with #5 and #6. I've never bought a whole bike on eBay before, but I have bought a frame/fork (made an offer), and many parts by bidding.

When bidding, I always try to snipe, i.e. decide up front my max price, and set alarms/reminders for the end of bidding, go there, and enter my price with about 5 seconds left. If possible, try to choose items that have a bidding end time when fewer other bidders are likely to be be sniping.

How to pick a price? Pick any price, pretend you just got it for that price, check your gut reaction; if it is "what a deal!" then raise your price. If it is "eh, maybe not such a good deal", then lower it.

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRubeRad

The black one is a pretty big frame (rare for yours), which might explain why it didn't sell. The delta's make it easily worth the price IMHO, although I don't like them because they look heavy.

I think that maybe they're not selling because of the competition - there are a lot of bikes and frames out there. I've built two bikes in the last three years - a single speed and one based on Suntour Superbe. In both cases I started with the frame and was driven by the tubing (531c) with the maker being a secondary (although important) consideration. The frames were shot-blasted and powder coated with no transfers or badges, so the original maker wasn't relevant to the final build. I'm afraid that if I'd used one of your frames it would have ended up robbed of its identity.

$700 for a good paint job? Shot blast and a single colour metallic powder coat at my local paint shop is £120 for the basic service (including an MoQ charge for importing the top colour from the US) and they do a very good job. Add second colours and transfers and it might hit £250, but for $700 I'd be expecting some pretty fancy paintwork. The powder coat is bomb proof - the single speed gets used almost every day for commuting, shopping and pubbing and after three years shows no chips.

December 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterandy mac

Your are correct, complete bikes are a bargain over "building" your own. I don't pay more than $500 for a complete bike and still have good frames with good parts. By that I mean they were considered top of the line in the day.
My range of frame size is from 58 to 61, thanks for your help on that. The extremes are pushing the envelope for size but still allow for great rides. I would love to include a Fuso in my meager collection but as many as you have built, it doesn't compare to a number of higher production bikes that are still respectable. Finding one in my size would be a challenge too. All my bikes are patina challenged, hence the cost. They still ride great and still get positive remarks. As much as I would like to have a "new" appearance, it will likely not happen without a lottery win.
PC, powder coat, is hit and miss. The local PC shop stopped offering services because the Navy like his quality of work so much, they are consuming all his time. He made PC application an art to rival wet paint. Such refinishing suppliers are few and far between. I would rather take my chances with a rattle can application in my garage than get a thick coat of poorly applied PC on the frame.

December 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersjx426

Kind of on the subject of Fuso bikes on eBay - I spotted this one today, but I am almost certain it is not one of your bikes, despite having the Fuso decals. The seat-stay caps are not consistent with your Fuso builds, nor is the fork crown -- unless you made some big changes to the design at some point. eBay item 201747285284

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Fuso-frame-set-vintage/201747285284?_trksid=p2060778.c100276.m3476&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20140725133649%26meid%3D2503db045d38492a9e12a001bd0bdd21%26pid%3D100276%26rk%3D2%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D182384745967


What do you think, Dave?

December 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKyle Brooks

Kyle,
The frame you mention was built by my ex-apprentice Russ Denny, after I left the business. There is a Facebook group for those interested in bikes I built,
https://www.facebook.com/groups/543672059105443/?fref=nf
We decussed it there and Russ commented and cofirmed he built it.
Dave

December 13, 2016 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

That's good to know -- counterfeits are unfortunately a problem today, and I knew that one had some unusual details. Glad that Russ can confirm it.

December 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKyle Brooks

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