In the last 6 years I have bought and sold a lot of ebikes. Although I currently have almost a dozen ebikes, I have sold 5 ebikes in the last 6 years and never lost more than $100 off the original price that I paid for the ebike, or for all the parts I needed to create the ebike. This article will tell you exactly how I did that.
There are two main ways that I have managed to keep my ebikes from depreciating.
- Buy the ebikes used then sell them used
- Build the ebikes myself out of kits and parts
If you know what you’re looking for you can get used ebikes for pretty darn cheap on Craigslist, Facebook marketplace or from your local bike shop. When shopping for an ebike try to find out how old the battery is and how many times it has been charged/discharged. Most modern Lithium Batteries can take about 500 – 1000 full charge cycles. If the batteries are badly abused this number can be much less. Buying used ebikes is always a gamble, but the reality is that the motors generally work for a very long time if they are not abused and the only thing that has to be swapped out every 5+ years is the battery. If you are buying a used ebike with a dead battery you can often get insane deals.
Building an ebike out of kits is pretty easy and fun. I’m a mid drive guy, and I think the ideal cheap setup is a 750W BBS02 with a 52v frame pack. You can often find that kit for <$1000 especially if you shop for black Friday sales. If you want more power then the BBSHD puts out 1000W continuous (1500W peak) and is pretty bulletproof. If you get the 30 Amp BBSHD make sure your battery can put out 30 amps continous.
There are also a slew of ebike geared hub motor kits you can get for a few hundred bucks and pair them with an inexpensive frame pack. Make sure you buy the motor already laced to the right size wheel and if it’s more than 500W you should use a torque arm. Building your own ebike only takes a few hours and generally the resale value of a kit built ebike is much higher than the resale value of a comparably specification factory built ebike.
Selling used Lithium packs
I’ve sold all my ebikes with either brand new battery packs or battery packs that were pretty beat and I just ‘threw them in free with the bike’. When you have ebike packs that lose a lot of capacity or intermittently cut out instead of recycling them I add them to my pile of crappy ebike packs. When it comes time to sell the ebike I tell the customer something like this “You can buy this ebike with a brand new battery for $1300 or with a battery I’ll throw in for free that I can’t guarantee without any warranty for only $700.” This does two things, it gets rid of packs I don’t use any more and then it’s a gamble for the ebike buyer. I sold a KHS 3000 with a BBSHD (great bike but 19″ was too small for me) to my best friend Eric and made about $300 in profit and then threw in a ‘free triangle battery‘ that intermittently cuts out on the trail. He has used that pack for 3 years now and he is totally happy with it. He saved hundreds of dollars on the bike and I got rid of a battery I didn’t have to recycle that was annoying the crap out of me. In hind sight that was a really bad deal for me because then Eric had me repair the ebike for free for the next 3 years (at some point I really have to cut him off, but he always seems so helpless when it comes to ebike repair that I just feel sorry for him).
One of the best ways to sell ebikes, especially to friends, is to loan out your ebike to them for a week. I’ve done this twice and both times they bought the ebike. Make sure you only do this to people you know and trust, and make sure they understand that if the bike is stolen then they have to pay you for it. My feeling is that when people see the utility of an ebike in summer then they just feel like it’s something they have to have. It makes biking for long distances so much more enjoyable.
Be honest to a fault (you can never be too honest)
People know when you are bull$hitting them so when selling ebikes I find it best to be honest to a fault. Don’t ever try to mislead people or lie about the abilities of your ebike or the battery. Karma is a two way street and the one message that stuck with me from the 14 years of being forced to attend The Latter Day Saints church is quite simply to “treat others the way that you would want to be treated”. I don’t in any way endorse the LDS church, may god have mercy on my heathen soul.
Do I have issue with making a couple hundred dollars on an ebike that I have spent countless hours building and refining? Not at all.
Would I have issue if I said anything untrue about any ebike I was ever trying to sell? Absolutely.
Be good to the universe and the universe will be good to you.