Whether you are a seasoned cyclist or just jumping into the bike scene, buying a new bicycle can be an exciting endeavor! Until you look at the cost of course! So you shop around looking for the best deal, and soon realize all new bikes are expensive.

The idea of purchasing a used bike seems much more ideal. A cycling veteran should already know what to look for in a used bike. A new player getting into the game, won’t know what to look for.

Whether you are a veteran or a newbie, we are here helping you get the most out of your used bike.

Detective Work

A little bit of detective work must be done to ensure the best used bike is acquired. That goes from scratches on the frame to a damaged seat post.

Make sure the frame is in good condition. Bring a handheld flashlight to inspect the surface of the frame carefully. Sometimes it can be difficult to see dents and scratches without a flashlight.

Look at the bike’s steerer. If it is made out of carbon, be precise in your inspection. Damages to carbon can be hard to spot. When there is damage to the stem clamping point, be careful that the headset doesn’t suffer from steering-indexing-syndrome.

Points of Interest

Please make sure your attachments, rivets, bonding zones, and contact points are in good shape. Everything should be strongly attached to the frame. If anything has a scary wiggle to it, tell the owner.

Bonding zones can be formed by either bonded, riveted or bolted metal. Look out for these spots where the tubes are joined. There should be no corrosion on any of these points. A small amount of oxidation is expected. Large bubbles of paint should be what scares you.

Contact points must be safe. Check for signs of stress. If the bike is more than five years old, ask the owner if any of the components are aluminum. If they are aluminum, be sure to ask if they have been replaced at some point during the bike’s life.

Wheels and tires should also be in good shape. The is crucial for the performance of the bicycle. It is also important because a certain future cost will be replacing the tires.

The chain should have a snug fit. If you have a bike chain checker, then this is the time to use it! If you don’t have one, you can still inspect the quality of the chain. Just lift the chain away from the chainring. It shouldn’t lift past about two-thirds of the way above the gap between the teeth.

Don’t risk getting injured because of old, used parts.

Check for Signs of a Crash

Sometimes if a biker gets in a bad enough accident, the bike is never the same again. Irreversible damage can be done even from just one bad tumble.

Check to see if the owner has replaced anything on the bike. A common replacement is either of the wheel rims. A replaced wheel rim can be a sign of a damaging crash in the past. Usually, if one item is damaged from a fall, something else got damaged as well.
So if you notice that anything has been replaced, be diligent in your search for other faulty areas.

Beware of Stolen Bikes

Pay attention to the way the seller explains the features of the bicycle. Make sure the person seems knowledgeable about the things he or she is explaining to you.

Look for scratched off serial numbers. Usually one of the first things a bike thief will do is scratch off the serial number. The serial number is a unique code that identifies the bike. There are databases online with serial numbers of stolen bikes.

Check out our article about stolen bikes here.

Meet Up With the Seller at a Bicycle Shop

Ask the seller if it is alright to meet up at a local bike shop. If the bicycle is in the specified condition, the seller should have no objection to meeting up at a bike shop. If they do object, they could be hiding something nasty.

Go For a Test Ride

The seller should have no objection to allowing you a test ride. Firstly, check for any annoying squeaks or rough handling. Once you’ve ruled out any malfunctions, check to see how comfortable you feel on it. Adjust everything for your height and weight, as if it was your bike.

Click here for our article all about sizing.

If everything is in the desired state, and you feel comfortable riding, you should probably get it.