Research by the website that's under our spotlight this week – Going Going Bike – reveals there are more than 13 million unused bicycles lying dormant in sheds and garages up and down Britain, with 33 percent of households having at least one bike gathering dust.
Early in 2010, James Johnson and Andrew Nethercot hit upon an idea that would get these bikes back on the road again. Last July, Going Going Bike – the UK’s first and only auction site designed specifically for bicycles – went live, and it's gone from strength to strength ever since.
“It all stemmed from trying to find a used bike that wasn’t stolen,” James told BikeRadar. “Our mission was, and is, to help people buy and sell millions of used and unique bikes, and for not one of them to be stolen.”
Going Going Bike has a variety of safeguards in place to prevent thieves operating on the site and allow users to buy with confidence. Firstly, anyone who is selling a bike with a frame number must display it on their listing, to allow the site to check with police and bike registers and make sure it isn't stolen. They've also teamed up with Bike Revolution, the anti-theft organisation who use barcode-style Pulse ID tags to allow quick bike ownership checks.
The pair's mission was to bring buying confidence to the second-hand bike market
No sale, no fee
If you’re debating whether to sell an old bike, you may be put off by the advertising or listing fees associated with many auction sites. Going Going Bike operates much like any other auction site, allowing users to sell via a bidding process or at a fixed price of their choosing, but it has no upfront fees. “Our big selling point is that if there’s no sale, then there’s no fee,” says James. “It’s very simple to list an item, and it’s free. It’s only if there's a successful sale that the seller will pay a 10 percent commission on the sale to the site.”
And because the site is bike-specific, it helps guide the shopper towards a ride that’s right for them. Features such as Bike Match, which searches for the bike you want according to your height, its condition and what you'll use it for, are typical of this. A more detailed search, allowing shoppers to search for frame sizes, material and colour, narrows the choice down even further.
Going, Going Up
So what's the response been like since they launched last July? “It’s been really great, not only from users but the press too,” said James. “The best part is how the site is used by so many different types of sellers – individuals, independent brands, mass retailers and used-bike stores. It’s become a market that all cyclists can use. It’s also encouraging new brands to start up because we help them market their products to our community for no upfront fee.”
Creators of Going Going Bike, James Johnson (left) and Andrew Nethercot
These new independent brands and retailers form webstores, auctioning new bikes and accessories in the same way that private sellers do. As always, the emphasis is on security and all webstores are approved to ensure they comply with the site's policies and procedures.
Andrew and James have made a big effort to make the site as uncomplicated for the uninitiated as possible. People just getting into cycling may see the second-hand market as the ideal place to start, but a jargon heavy site could put them off. Their Bikepedia section is a glossary of terms commonly seen in the bike industry and is a great resource for inexperienced riders.
To help get their name out there, in January the pair took their online auctions to the London Bike Show for their first taste of live auctioning. Simultaneously taking bids from online users and visitors at the show, they sold a selection of reconditioned bikes to raise money for two Olympic cyclists from Nepal and India. The auctions were held in partnership with Druid Cycles, a London-based social enterprise bike repair shop which was sponsoring the riders. James said it drew a huge crowd and was a fun experience that they're looking to repeat further down the line.
Neither Andrew nor James was involved in the bike industry prior to Going Going Bike, but they were both keen cyclists. Andrew was a lawyer, while James worked in the used car market during his time as a business troubleshooter with a multinational company, so the used bike market wasn't too much of a jump. "It's a great industry to be part of because there's a really helpful, collaborative atmosphere," said James. "It's probably the most friendly industry I've ever worked in!"
For more information on the site, visit www.goinggoingbike.com.
BikeRadar readers: If you visit – or own – a cycling website that you feel is worthy of mention in BikeRadar’s website of the week, email a link to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it in the comments section below and we'll follow up with them for a possible profile in our latest column.