I think the main advantage of buying a used bicycle is cost. That was certainly my motivation for looking for a second hand bike when I went out to buy my first road bike.
A friend of mine had bought a six or seven year old Trek road bike for £50 and that seemed like a great deal. If I could get an equivalent bike for a similar price I would have been laughing. Not only a good bike but also a saving of about £400 (in 2007) on the RRP of a Trek entry level road bike.
I wasn’t able to find a decent used bike to buy and, reluctantly, accepted that I was going to have to buy a new bike. Great in lots of ways (I also love new bicycles) but far more expensive.
However, I remained a fan of second hand bikes and realised there are other factors, other than simply cost, that make second hand bicycles appealing:
1 – heritage
I don’t think I am alone in thinking there is something special about a bike that has been ridden before. It has a history. It has been places. It has experienced different conditions.
Perhaps there is some sort of threshold of quality below which a bike never really obtains a heritage (think Patek Phillippe as opposed to Swatch)…but for all bikes above that level, age brings a certain quality that is special.
2 – environmentally sound
Buying a used bicycle is an environmentally sound decision. You will get more use and utility out of a bike into which considerable amount of energy and resources has gone into manufacturing.
3 – individuality
Being different is a good thing. Buying a used bike provides a fantastic opportunity to impose your individuality on your bike. Are you a fan of the early 90s cycle scene, with garish colours and sweatbands? If so, have a look for a bike that suits your taste. The alternative is to match the taste of a graphics designer at a bicycle manufacturer!
4 – quality
You can buy a much higher level used bicycle for a fraction of the price of a lower level new bike. This means that you can find yourself riding a great bike that you would never have been able to afford if you bought a new bicycle.
Buying a used bicycle is not only a cost-effective solution it has many other benefits. I would be interested to hear your reasons for why you like your used bicycles.