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  1. #1
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    What to look at when evaluating a used bike?

    I'm going to be buying a used road bike for commuting, and I'm wondering if there are specific things I should check for when evaluating the bike in person.

    I'll certainly check the frame for bent parts and the various components for functionality and wear. Are there specific things I should look at or try out to rule out common defects?

    The bikes I'm looking at are in the $200-$300 range.

  2. #2
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    1. Sufficient general quality in the frame: pref named tubeset of butted steel, moulded dropouts, quality lugs.
    2. Correct size.
    3. Sufficient tyre clearance + rack/fender eyelets.
    4. Well aligned: use the string method.
    5. No crash damage. Paint ripples behind the head tube area.
    6. No rust damage around the bottom bracket.
    7. No funny standards (French/Italian threading) unless the frame is very good.

  3. #3
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    8. Make sure the seatpost and stem (if it's a quill stem) are not frozen in place.

  4. #4
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    Find out what it costs to overhaul (inc repack hubs/bb) a bike at your LBS (probably $150 $200). Add that to the price of the used bike when comparing it to a new bike. New bikes also have guarantees and usually a free check up.

    Used bikes are only a 'bargain' for people who do their own work and do not include the value of their time and tools in the price.

    Turn the bike over put your thumb on the fork a mm or 2 away from the rim, spin the rim. If the rim is not true, your LBS will charge about $20, assuming the rim is not shot. spokes should be tight. Was the presta valve hole 'expanded to fit schreader valves? I would not be surprised if the cones were shot ($10 per axel assuming you get the cheapest). Spoke nipples stripped by spoke wrench.
    2000 Montague CX, I do not recommend it, but still ride it.
    Strida 3, I recommend it for rides < 10mi wo steep hills.
    2006 Rowbike 720 Sport, I recommend it as an exercise bike.
    1996 Birdy, Recommend.
    Wieleder CARiBIKE (folding), decent frame.

  5. #5
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Don't forget to actually test ride it, to make sure it fits you.
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
    Stay calm and bring a towel.

  6. #6
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    Thanks guys, keep the suggestions coming. I'm definitely going to take the bike for a spin to see how it feels. I'll also bring some hex wrenches and a screwdriver to make sure that all the bolts turn, and that pieces are not frozen in place.

    The bike is advertised as having been recently overhauled - is there a good way to check whether this is the case (silky-smooth-turning cranks/headset, maybe)?

  7. #7
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    In case there are specific concerns, the bike is a Centurion Lemans RS with a 58cm seat tube.

  8. #8
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GRedner
    In case there are specific concerns, the bike is a Centurion Lemans RS with a 58cm seat tube.
    Here's a link to Sheldon's site, with info on the '84 Centurion product line, including a model called the Lemans 12. Not sure what the difference is between a Lemans RS and a Lemans 12, or what year the bike you're looking at is, but FWIW the Lemans 12 appears to be a mid-to-low level bike. You said in the original post $200-300; no way the Lemans 12 in the '84 catalog would be worth nearly that much, even in excellent condition. More like $125 in excellent condition (depends on market conditions in your area of course, but that would be close to the average I think), much less if the bike's paint isn't good, the components need work, etc.

    www.sheldonbrown.com/centurion1984/index.html

    Check out the catalog page for the Lemans 12, and also the spec sheet at the bottom which lists components, frame materials, etc. on the individual models from '84-

    edit: after looking at the specs on the Lemans 12 again, I notice the frame is not full chromoly. Tange 900 (a decent but lower level chromoly tubing) main tubes, high-ten stays. Again, I don't know about the Lemans RS, but the Lemans 12 appears to be more or less an entry level bike. For commuting this would make a fine bike, but in terms of dollar value it wouldn't be worth much-
    Last edited by well biked; 09-12-06 at 03:41 PM.

  9. #9
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GRedner
    The bike is advertised as having been recently overhauled - is there a good way to check whether this is the case (silky-smooth-turning cranks/headset, maybe)?
    Ask to see the receipt from the bike shop that did the overhaul.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Check the welds/lug joints for cracks. Especailly at the downtube/headtube joint.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

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