10 tips on buying a used bicycle

Posted by tan xiao yan on

For most commuters, a new bike might be excessive. So there are an increasing number of people buying used bicycles. Here are 10 tips for you on choosing and buying a used bicycle.

Ask for auto-consultant bike mechanics.
If you know, directly or indirectly, some auto-consultants who are located in every area, you can strike a good bargain with them and also have "reasonable assurance" of vehicles' history. Sometimes, bike mechanics also act as middlemen and help sell vehicles. Usually, these auto-consultants buy used vehicles through brand showrooms (they usually pick up vehicles that come up for exchange against new vehicles). Once they pick up the vehicles, they service them, ensure proper documentation, and then sell the vehicles.

Do it online.
It’s time-saving. Obvious ones are eBay, Craigslist and Facebook groups devoted to buying and selling of parts.

But it can also be troublesome. Some frauds happened through these websites. For example, people sell stolen vehicles or giving false information about the history of the vehicles). Also, transferring of vehicles is a major headache as many people selling or buying on these sites quickly change their contact details and it’s very difficult to trace them.buying a used bicycle

The downside is that the bike(s) you are offered might not be the model or make you would like best, but it is always worth it asking around if you do have the time. This question is about buying a bike for yourself, but someone else might read it and if you are looking for a bike for a friend who is out of money it is certainly worth asking around. Most people rather see a bike used than go to the waste heap.

If you have a deal with the seller, you need to choose a common public meeting point to check the vehicle and take someone with you when looking at the bike. You never know who you might come across through Craigslist, and two sets of eyes may notice more than just one.

Go to the thrift shop.
Buy a used bike at a thrift shop where you can also fix them up and resell them at a discount. When my wife and I last visited, they had quite a few vintage bikes for sale.

You can also take a look at pawn shops, and if you live near a college/university, the campus police may hold a bike auction near the beginning of the school year. Our department collects abandoned bikes at the end of the spring semester and sells them the next calendar year (giving the owners time to come back and claim them). We usually have 60 or more bikes up for auction, ranging from rust buckets to almost brand new Treks.

Avoid department store bikes. Note that many bike shops refuse to service such bikes because they are low quality, hard to repair, and impossible to properly tune.

Make sure the bike isn’t a stolen one.
One thing not mentioned about used bikes is to make sure that the serial number is intact. Ask for it before you go purchase and call the local police departments to see if it's stolen. Walk away if you get a funny feeling.

Some more tips to avoid getting a stolen bike:

Google the phone number. If they are selling a number of bikes are alert. If the number is listed with a number of different names, you can almost guarantee the bike is stolen.
The price might be suspiciously low.
Thieves often know little about bikes and often have very poor grammar and spelling. If it's a very nice bike, a legitimate seller will be very aware of what it is and what it's worth. They won't list is as "AWESOME BIKE.
Things listed as "must go today", "selling for a friend" etc. should raise alarm bells.
Make sure the seller purports to be the owner (not "I'm selling it for a friend") and has knowledge of the bike. For instance, he could be able to tell you what the frame size is without looking at the bike. Also, they should have an understandable reason for selling. You have to use some judgment there of course. Maybe ask them how they used it in the past. If you get "I don't know anything about it...", you need a second consideration.
Make sure the bike is fitted for you.
The main thing you want to check is that it fits you correctly- everything else can be fixed or replaced (although the additional cost obviously comes into it) but a frame that is too small or too large will cause you untold misery. buying a used bicycle

Look at the general quality of the bike.
Definitely, take a look at the bike before buying. Give it a quick once-over for general wear or use. If the bike looks like it hasn't been maintained well, it will probably show. This doesn't mean it isn't a good bike, but you want the best you can get.

If you don't see any obvious signs of misuse, check each system more thoroughly. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, and that you will find problems with any bike if you look closely enough. It doesn't automatically mean you should look for a different bike either. What's important is whether the problems you find are evidence of deeper issues, or if they will cause problems in the future. Many issues can be fixed at home with a little effort, but it's still better to be aware of anything before you buy a bike. These small fixes can also add up if you're looking for something cheap.

To know the bike’s history, simply ask if there have been any problems with the bike. Has it been in an accident? Was it rebuilt? Does it pull the left? How long has the seller owned it? How much have they used it, etc. and ask yourself- does anything squeak or make unusual sounds? Can you stand comfortably over the frame with your feet flat on the ground? Does the bike still have reflectors in the front and back, the wheels, and pedals? Has the bike been registered previously, and can the owner produce the paperwork to transfer the registration? Do the parts have a well-greased and smooth feel to them?

Check all the parts of the bike.
In addition to picking the right type of bike and avoiding stolen bikes, which have been addressed, it's important to consider whether a particular bike is well made and in good condition. Depending on the price, a few minor maintenance needs may be expected, but a single serious problem or a large number of minor problems can easily make it more expensive to get a used bike in good condition than it is worth.

Look for wear on the tire tread. Is there any damage to the side walls of either tire? What kind of conditions are the inner tubes in? As how many flat repairs each wheel has had, and if either tire leaks air significantly.buying a used bicycle

Make sure the wheels attach firmly to the frame and that the wheels remain secure when you torque them relative to the axle. (You don't want any 'play' in the wheels, as this may be a sign of one of those deeper problems with a loose cassette or worn ball bearings.) How are the spokes? Do they have relatively even tension on them and look like they're in good shape?

Spin the wheel on the bike, and look down the thread for any wobbling or misalignment. If they do, the wheels could probably use a re-alignment.

Check the brake pads for wear. Will then need to be replaced soon? Are they aligned for proper contact with the braking surface? Do they engage quickly when the brakes are applied?

Check for any frayed ends or rusted sections. Are the cable guides still in place and preventing unnecessary wear across surfaces? Do the cables have end-caps on them to prevent future fraying?

Do the pedals appear to have struck the ground before or they otherwise in good shape. Torque the pedal arms against the axle to see if there is any looseness. Spin the pedals by hand to ensure they rotate smoothly but aren't too loose or tight. Also, spin the pedal crankshaft to look for the same types of things. As with the wheels, being overly tight or loose at the axle may be signs of bigger problems.

Gears and Chain.
Visually inspect the gears for any wear (each tooth should be symmetrically shaped, not wave-shaped). Is each gear parallel to each other on the cassette? How does the chain look? Has it been well maintained and lubricated. This is probably the only part where you would need any equipment to check your bike, but a chain-wear tool would be useful to check for a stretched chain. If you don't have such a tool handy, the aforementioned wave-shaped gear teeth are evidence of a stretched chain in need of replacement. Wave-shaped gear teeth mean the gears should be replaced also (not usually a good sign). Does the gear switching mechanism allow you to reach the highest and lowest gear, and does it move well?buying a used bicycle

How are the handlebars positioned relative to the seat? Are they within comfortable reach? Can you reach the brakes quickly? Are the handlebars in line with the wheel? Is the tape worn and cracked, or does it look like you will still get some mileage out of it? Do the handlebars turn smoothly in the frame with the wheel, or is there any tightness or looseness?

Seat and Post.
How does the seat feel? Can it be adjusted to a comfortable height and does it stay in place well? Quick-release adjustments can be a huge plus here.

How does the frame look? Is it still in line with itself or has it been torqued or bent? Are there any signs of cracks or dents? Problems with the frame tend to increase in severity with use and affect biking efficiency as the frame degrades. Some light damage might be okay here, but be aware that a damaged frame can quickly become unusable.

Ride the bike.
If you want to buy a used cycle the best thing you could do is take it for a long ride. Ride the bike for a short distance and test everything- switch through the full range of gears. Pedal hard, brake hard with both brakes (but don't let yourself fly over the handlebars), and turn a few times. How does the bike feel? This includes how the bike actually performs, and how well it feels for you specifically. Is the bike comfortable for you? If not, can it be adjusted so that it is?

And ask for the owner to get the tires and tubes replaced with new ones, or negotiate. If possible take it to a shop and ask for a complete maintenance. Get a quote from the shop and ask the owner to get all that done.buying a used bicycle

Bargain wish the seller.
Negotiate with the seller but not with your Heart on the bike. If the bike is perfect in every manner, so the time has come to test your negotiating skills. By now you know the condition of the motorcycle so offer him the amount according to that, don't lose your mind and offer more amount to get the bike anyway. After the negotiations, pay the amount to him and try to register the vehicle in your name as soon as possible. Take the key and you are ready to roll.

Choose a safe mode of payment if satisfied with the bike.
Financial fraud is common in trade of second-hand goods. You should pay special attention to the mode of payment offered by the seller in case of being cheated.