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  1. #1
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    What to check on a used bike

    I'm going over to look at a used bike in my neighborhood. What things should I be looking for to ensure that it still functions properly and will continue to do so? What should I look for on the frame? Rust is bad but is a little rust okay? Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckleps
    I'm going over to look at a used bike in my neighborhood. What things should I be looking for to ensure that it still functions properly and will continue to do so?
    well' you look at everything . And anything that works today,could go TU tomorrow. Basically, used isn't bad in itsself, but old, used, trashy, excessively dirty, rusty, wore out, bent ginked,buggered is best left where it is. Check HS for binding or notchiness, drop chain off crank and check BB for smoothness. Does not hurt to remove whells,and checK hub bearings for smoothness and adjustment. Anything that is not up to snuff will cost you money to make it right if yoou aren't a do it yourselfer.

  3. #3
    cab horn
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    Check the frame first. If there's dents/cracks/ripples forget about checking anything else.

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    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    Check the frame first. If there's dents/cracks/ripples forget about checking anything else.
    good catch.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mhendricks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    Check the frame first. If there's dents/cracks/ripples forget about checking anything else.
    Totally agree with the frame. However, dirt washes off and rust as long as it's not alot can be removed. Components can be re-worked and bearings replaced. I've taken bikes that nobody wanted and returned them to life that look and ride better than they ever have. Just takes some time and elbow grease.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    I'd say pay special attention to the headset and bottom bracket. If they have problems, they'll probably be the most complicated/most expensive to replace or fix. Most everything else (except the frame) is just components.

    In addition to dents/cracks/ripples in the frame, check carefully for alignment of the fork and stays, and a straight derailleur hanger.

  7. #7
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Make sure the stem and seatpost are not corroded in place.

    Turn the bars and feel for 'index steering' indicating need for a new headset.

    Check the rear derailleur cage pivot for side to side play.

    Check rims for dents.

    Don't worry about cables, housings, or chain. Plan to replace these.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sydney
    well' you look at everything . And anything that works today,could go TU tomorrow. Basically, used isn't bad in itsself, but old, used, trashy, excessively dirty, rusty, wore out, bent ginked,buggered is best left where it is. Check HS for binding or notchiness, drop chain off crank and check BB for smoothness. Does not hurt to remove whells,and checK hub bearings for smoothness and adjustment. Anything that is not up to snuff will cost you money to make it right if yoou aren't a do it yourselfer.
    when it comes to all things bike I'm a bit of a newbie. What am I looking for when I check the headset and BB? Am I just rotating them and seeing if it feels smooth and rhythmic?

  9. #9
    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    Check for smoothness of rotation on both, no gritty feel or binding. Stand beside the bike with hands on the handlebars, hold the front brake closed to lock the front wheel, and try to rock the bike forward and back. There should be no play or wobble in the headset (depending on type, the brake caliper may flex a bit, that's OK). You can "rock" the cranks to do a similar test on the BB, but it might not be as effective.

  10. #10
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckleps
    when it comes to all things bike I'm a bit of a newbie. What am I looking for when I check the headset and BB? Am I just rotating them and seeing if it feels smooth and rhythmic?
    Here's the intro to headsets from the Park Tools Site

    Bearings on a bicycle allow the parts to rotate relative to one another. The headset allows the fork to turn smoothly while riding. Bicycles, and all two wheeled vehicles, make small self corrections in steering while traveling forward. If the headset is pitted or worn, these corrections are not made smoothly and handling suffers. Very worn headsets tend to "lock up" when the front wheel is pointing straight. Pick up the front of the bike, and gently swing the handlebars back and forth from center. Pitting in the cups will cause the headset to stick as it passes through center position. A pitted headset should be replaced. New headsets are pressed into the frame and fork.

    All bearings on a bike have some friction as they rotate. This is normal and does not affect the ride. Better quality bearing surfaces are ground smoother and will have less friction and resistance to turning. Adjustable type bearing systems use two opposing races which can be moved relative to one another. If the adjustment is too tight there will be too much pressure on the bearing surfaces and balls and the system will quickly wear out. If the adjustment is too loose there will be movement or "play" between the parts. This will cause a knocking in the bearing surfaces and again they will wear out prematurely. Generally, the bearings should be adjusted as loose as possible without play or knocking in the system.

  11. #11
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    Thanks everyone for the help. I finally have myself a commuter bike for grad school.

  12. #12
    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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    congrats. pics?


  13. #13
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    Well I would start by checking if the bike is your size, riding it, shaking the bike to feel for loose parts or rattles, shifting, braking and seeing if you like it. Then I would check the weight of the bike, and the quality of the frame; if it is light and has Columbus or Reynolds double butted tubes, aluminum tubes or titanium or carbon you can afford to look over worn components. The whole bike starts with the frame - with a good frame you can get used or new components to make a great bike. But yeah, I would take off the chain and spin the bottom bracket, wheels and freewheel checking for any roughness, or gritty sounds. But if it was a great frame, that fit me, I could overlook a lot of other problems.
    Last edited by RJOsprey; 07-29-05 at 04:49 PM.
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