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10/01/2011 // HOW TO, INFO Leave a comment

How to buy a used bicycle

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Used Bicycles

Cycling is an activity that is accessible and unites people. One reason is the low cost to get into cycling. Buying a bike need not be expensive. Particularly if you buy a second hand bicycle.

Second hand bike guide

Going Going Bike commissioned a survey into the cycling habits of Britons and discovered that there is hardly any difference in the number of bikes well off households own to the number that less affluent households own. In my view this is largely because, if you know what to look for, you can buy a second hand bicycle cheaply and certainly at a fraction of the cost of an equivalent new bike.

Below are Going Going Bike’s top tips to buying a second hand bicycle:

Bike size is key

Make sure the bike fits. If you are buying online check out a bicycle sizing guide. On Going Going Bike we also have a simple Bike Match search tool which provides bike suggestions based on your height. If you don’t have this sort of support or information to hand it is just as good to get on the bike and check that it fits.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect as you can adjust the seat post and saddle position to fine-tune it for a really comfortable ride. You need to make sure you can stand over, and sit on, the bike comfortably. Avoid any feeling of stretching for the handlebars or being cramped over them.

Bicycle Condition

Second hand bikes come in all sorts of conditions. Superficial marks or scratches are not a problem but avoid a frame or fork which is rusty or with cracks or dents. Check out the frame of the bike closely, but also inspect the bike’s components. If these are not in decent condition and need to be replaced it could end up costing you far more money.

Make sure the wheels are true and that the spokes are equally rigid (they should give out a nice “pinging” noise when you pluck them like a harp). Tyres can be replaced if they are worn out but the bottom bracket, gearing and brakes will cost more to replace if they don’t work.

Make sure the bike is not stolen

You do not want to buy a stolen bike. It encourages people to steal bikes and might result in the police wanting to have a word with you. Unfortunately second hand bike can often mean stolen bike. However, if steps are taken to check the legitimacy of the bike being sold then the marketability of stolen bikes will drop dramatically.

The best thing you can do is check a bike register to see if the bike matches one that has been reported stolen. On Going Going Bike you can easily spot bikes which are registered by looking for the Prove It symbol.

Avoid areas or websites which are notorious for selling stolen bikes and trust your gut instinct about a seller. If you think they stole the bike, don’t buy it from them.

Ask the seller questions

Find out how long the seller owned the bike and whether they bought it new. Get a feel for what type of rider they are and how many miles they’ve done and how many of those were wet miles. Has the bike been stored indoors in the dry or outside in the damp?

If you’re buying the bike from a second hand bike store you may be able to get a warranty for any problems the bike has in the first few months. It’s worth asking!

Give the bike a ride

A test ride on the bike should be the final step in your decision making process. In just a few minutes you should be able to confirm that the bike is the right size for you and that the components are in good working order.

A version of this article appeared in  Issue 4 of Cycle Lifestyle magazine.

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