Cybex Sigma 530R recumbent exercise cycle, $140.

I was a little dejected when I got to the yard sale where I found this bike because it actually a SOLD sign taped to it. 'Well, it's still for sale I guess, because the guy hasn't come back to pay for it and it's been a couple of hours.' He' had actually taken the chair off the market without even getting a deposit from the guy!

'So, how much is it?' I asked, and the seller told me he wanted $200. I knew that if something was going to happen, I had to act quick because the last thing I wanted was for that other guy to come back to pay for the machine while I was still there. So, I asked him if the price was negotiable, and he said that it was. 'How about $100?' I asked.

'I don't know if I can go that low. I was thinking maybe $150.' One thing you'll often notice about sellers is that they love to split the difference. If I'd offered him $150, he'd probably have wanted $175. So, $150 it was. But wait - in a final attempt to gouge out a lower price, I asked if he'd go to $140 for me, and he agreed. This is a neat technique to use. You offer the seller half of what he's asking, and when he counteroffers, try to whack a little bit more off of that price. It doesn't always work, but it's always worth a try. And after all, ten bucks is ten bucks!

Something you should always keep in mind when it comes to negotiating at yard sales is that you have to work fast. You don't have the luxury of refining your negotiating magic on any one seller, because as you're busy doing that, people elsewhere are busy buying the stuff that you should be buying. Of course, in this case, it was especially important to get the money in this guy's hand as quickly as possible.

$140 isn't bad for an exercise bike that sells for $3200, is it? Of course, I didn't know this cycle costs that much at the time, but there were a couple of indicators that suggested to me that it was one pricey piece of equipment.

Cybex makes some very expensive gym-quality exercise equipment, like treadmills, elliptical trainers and various other types of bodybuilding equipment. You see them in gyms right next to Nautilus machines.

It's heavy, and heavy duty. This cycle weighs in at 165 pounds. Weight doesn't always equate to high cost, and it wouldn't mean much if this were an old, clunky piece of equipment. But this is a high-quality, heavy duty, high-tech, computerized machine, and in cases like these, weight very often means money.

It's made in the U.S.A., which is nearly always a positive. This company could easily have gone to the Chinese, but they decided to pay up and have their machines made here with U.S. dollars. This not the type of machine you'll find at your local Walmart.

It's in like-new condition. That's what really got my attention. The manual is still with the machine, the pedals show no wear at all and the little wheels on the front show no wear either.

What about shipping such a big, heavy item? The best way to list this machine is local pickup only, or let the buyer arrange his own shipping. You can even arrange to drive it to the buyer's house if he's not too far away. But you should think very carefully before getting caught up in the nightmare of palleting the machine and then calling around for shipping quotes for your buyer. There are simply too many better things to do with your time!

There's a final observation to be made here. This machine cost $3200 new, and this example is literally like new. I called around locally, and found that I could get a good used one for around $1495, which is still lots of money. But in spite of all that potential profit, this unit didn't bring near that amount on eBay. Just goes to show that unless you're absolutely positive about what an item is worth, you should always be very conservative in your monetary outlays. It's much, much better to miss a potential deal than to lose money on one that you should've missed!

This Cybex Cyclone sold on eBay to a guy 50 miles away, for $510.

Photo of Cybex Sigma 530R recumbent exercise machine