Me, the credulous fool
I'm not certain of Anonymous Coward's location -- the UK perhaps -- or his/her familiarity with how business is done on ebay, but the WHOLE IDEA of the forum is to bring together buyers and sellers to exchange merchandise where it is not ordinarily possible due to enormous distance between the parties. It would be absurd to hop a plane and travel 2,300 miles to take a look at a bike for sale. For local swaps, craigslist.org is certainly preferred, but you just can't always find what you want on a local level.
Secondly, I still have faith in the ebay feedback forum as a good indicator of whether or not a seller is honest or should be avoided. Of course, when an account is hijacked as in my case, all bets are off. That's the REAL issue here, after all: the security of member accounts on ebay.
As far as trusting someone I don't know by sending personal funds via a cashier's check, I have some interesting data since nearly losing $1,500 a few months ago: Since that time I have contacted 12 ebay members regarding similar merchandise to see if they would be willing to sell their bikes using ebay's escrow.com. I offered to pay all associated escrow.com fees and pointed out the transaction would save each of them a rather hefty paypal fee, since they are paid the full amount of the auction directly by escrow.com. Of the 12, all refused but one, and that particular person had a (0) feedback rating. Invariably, the reply was "There's nothing in it for me."