Recently I’ve seen a few adverts on various auction sites that are peppered with lies. Lies that, unless you knew better, or knew how to find out the truth, you might very well believe. So to help you avoid having your pants pulled down by a dodgy seller, I thought I’d share some of the naughty auction tricks I’ve seen a few people pull in the last couple of months.
Just last week I saw an advert for an absolutely immaculate race bike, advertised as having done zero miles. It was a beautiful thing that I’m sure would genuinely be worth a ton of money. As far as zero miles goes though, I’m not having it. I’m a bit of a saddo when it comes to old race bikes, so I found myself inspecting all of the pictures. And whilst the bike really was tidy, there were tiny weeny signs here and there that the bike (or certainly components thereof) had been used before.
The brake disks, front and rear were, for example, not new; when you zoomed into the images, you could quite clearly see the wear marks on the rotors. Perhaps a previous owner had put some used brakes on the bike for some strange reason. Although I’d find that difficult to believe. And besides, the advert stated the bike was completely standard, with nothing having been changed since it left the factory.
And then there were the forks. Again, this was only something very, very minimal, but there was a slight pitting to the front of the forks, consistent with at least some miles. I accept that on older bikes, some metals can oxidise over time causing surface pitting. If that was the case though, you’d expect it all the way round the fork bottom, not just the front.
I’m no expert in the matter so I wouldn’t like to go on record saying that bike was definitely used. Maybe it wasn’t one of the naughty auction tricks, at all. But it certainly didn’t look like a zero-miler to me.
So if you’re after something to add to your classic bike collection and you see something advertised as having zero miles, be careful. And be thorough. Don’t be afraid to be pernickety. Because if someone discovered it’s not a zero-miler once you’ve bought it, you might end up losing a load of money.
There’s a Ducati going around claiming to be something that it’s not. I’ve seen the same bike advertised on eBay a few times. Or certainly a bike claiming to be the same thing. Now, this particular bike had a bit of pedigree as it was raced by a few big names at a few big events, and I know the bike well, because I was one of the people that raced it (I wasn’t one of the big names, by the way).
I’d recognise the bike in an instant because there were some very particular things about it. Most prominent of all is the number on the headstock. I remember the number well, and even if I didn’t remember it, I’ve got a photograph of it.
It’s perhaps unfair to hold it against the bloke trying to sell the bike, because he might genuinely think he’s got a GP, TT or BSB winning bike from yesteryear. He might have bought it, and is now selling it in good faith. Be that as it may, you don’t want to be the one that buys it off him.
If you’re thinking about buying a bike which has allegedly been raced by a notable rider, do your research. The bike racing community is fairly small, and if you ask enough people enough questions, you’re likely to get an answer from someone who’s been close enough to the rider, or the bike, to know.
If you’ve ridden, or worked on a bike, there will always be tiny details, peculiar to that particular bike, that you’ll remember, that’d definitely help the bike be identified. Post-factory welding, details in the wiring (like where the feed for the rain light was spliced in), fixing brackets for the bodywork, to name but a few.
So don’t get the wool pulled over your eyes. Be careful, do your research; and don’t fall for anyone’s naughty auction tricks. And if in doubt, knock it on the head.