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  1. #1
    vol
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    If you have bought used bikes...

    I've never bought a used bike. I am interested to know your sorry experience in buying one, e.g. what kind of problems you had that the seller did not disclose to you and you did not know until after you bought it? Did it cost you a lot to fix the problem?

    Although used bikes are cheap, you don't get free service from LBS as you would when buying a new one from them, so this is one thing to think about for someone not good at adjusting/fixing bikes.

  2. #2
    I'm Carbon Curious 531phile's Avatar
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    I had really good experiences. I bought a lot of used bikes too. About 50 bikes! I do have to disclose that a lot of times I bought it to flip.

    My view is that it is a used item so it is understood that there will be parts that need to be replaced or fixed up. I am sorta handy with tools so I know a thing or two about fixing them up. Surprisingly the only bad experience I got was buying a nice '97 Lemond Zurich at a used bicycle SHOP not an individual. The headset was warped. I didn't know it at first when I test rode it, but it was really obvious afterwards when I went for a longer ride. Got a new headset for $50, but it left a bad taste in my mouth since it was from a reputable shop and not an individual. Especially since one of the mechanics hinted that should I "need" any parts for it, that we have them for sale. I really believe they knew it had a warped headset, but didn't disclose it. The other bad experience was buying a Peugeot from the Salvation Army. The fork turned out to be bent. Still, 48 out of 50 is good in my book.

    I did almost make a really bad buy. There was a cannondale frameset with an aluminum fork. It was really light. Turns out the fork was misaligned. The only way I figured it out was to try to install and remove a wheel. It was a ***** to install. It should be effortless. Good thing I read an advice online to do this to test to see if the fork is misaligned. Frame was most likely in an accident.
    Last edited by 531phile; 10-14-10 at 12:20 AM.

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    I loled. Twice. Then I cried. Then I rubbed one out and cried again, but thanks for sharing.

  3. #3
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    Although used bikes are cheap, you don't get free service from LBS as you would when buying a new one from them, so this is one thing to think about for someone not good at adjusting/fixing bikes.
    It's something to think about for sure. If you buy used from a private party, you've a 2% (bogus stat alert) chance of getting a bike that's in tip top shape upon delivery.

    There are several shops around here that sell used bikes and your chances are better with them. Most of them will make minor adjustments for free within a couple of months of purchase. Bummer about 531's used shop experience.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Olde Western Auto Cruiser.

  4. #4
    Senior Member 009jim's Avatar
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    I've bought one used bike and it was great.
    I rebuilt several with parts from the tip too.

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    I have bought a Lemond Buenos Aires and a Trek Hilo 1000 used off Craigslist for far less than anything I could even begin to imagine paying at any LBS. Both bikes had absolutely no problems, and I ride both on a consistent basis with the Lemond being ridden almost daily. Usually the people selling the bikes are serious bicyclists themselves who I chat with far longer about their love of bicycling than with actually closing the deal.

    The only time I have had problems was buying a used "professionally handbuilt" wheelset off Ebay that went out of true the first day I really rode on them. It still was a good deal, but I had to put more work into them than I expected. The next wheelset I will either have built locally or build myself. All other parts I have bought used have been good to me with any issues coming from me too quickly skimming over an Ebay listing i.e. not noticing until afterwards that I was buying a Campy hub instead of a Shimano one on a wheelset.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    Although used bikes are cheap, you don't get free service from LBS as you would when buying a new one from them, so this is one thing to think about for someone not good at adjusting/fixing bikes.
    If you can find a good shop, repairs and adjustments are not terribly expensive. Also depending on the price of the bike, if you get it used for half the price, that is a lot of work you can get done at a bike shop.

  7. #7
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    I rarely will buy a used bike, and the last time that I did it was a vintage restoration that I knew was going to be a major undertaking.

  8. #8
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    I've had good luck for the most part. Most of the problem areas are pretty obvious. If the chain is rusted and links don't move freely, if the wheels are out of round, if the brakes don't stop the bike, then you might want to pass. A test ride is important.

    Of course, it's also important what you plan to do with the bike. If you are planning to make it your prime bike then it pays to shop carefully. If it's a beater backup bike or just a bargain then you can relax your standards. I've bought a cheap bike just for the derailleur before.

    Only one standout bad experience. That was a used English 3 speed that my Dad bought for my brother and me in High School. Everything worked on the test ride, but it just gave me a bad gut feeling, like this was the bicycle equivalent of Christine. Sure enough, it had mystery mechanical problems and seemed to attract bad traffic situations. My brother finally left it unlocked in a bad neighborhood one day and walked home.
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    I've never bought a used bike, but I've sold a lot of them.... (I refurbish abandoned bikes the kiddies leave behind at the university)
    I always make sure mine are "ready to roll". I go over them thoroughly; check wheel and BB and headset bearings, replace chains and cables as needed...
    But I'm probably the exception. Most folks selling a bike likely just want rid of the thing as they are not riding any more, or they're enthusiasts who want to "move up" a bit.
    See if you can pop off a wheel and check the bearings. If you can do the work yourself, this is usually a cheap repair. If you can't, a shop will charge you a fair bit for the labor.

  10. #10
    Caustic Soccer Mom apclassic9's Avatar
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    I've bought a couple of used road bikes on e-bay, and a used frame. No problems whatsoever - the fellow with the frame even offered to toss in a bunch of accessories.

    The key is communication - let the seller know that YOU know what you're talking about, and you'll quickly find out if the seller does. Before purchasing, there were numerous e-mails flying back & forth, so I knoew exactly what I was getting.
    As with mud, life, too, slides by.

  11. #11
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    I've had good luck for the most part. Most of the problem areas are pretty obvious. If the chain is rusted and links don't move freely, if the wheels are out of round, if the brakes don't stop the bike, then you might want to pass. A test ride is important.

    Of course, it's also important what you plan to do with the bike. If you are planning to make it your prime bike then it pays to shop carefully. If it's a beater backup bike or just a bargain then you can relax your standards. I've bought a cheap bike just for the derailleur before.

    Only one standout bad experience. That was a used English 3 speed that my Dad bought for my brother and me in High School. Everything worked on the test ride, but it just gave me a bad gut feeling, like this was the bicycle equivalent of Christine. Sure enough, it had mystery mechanical problems and seemed to attract bad traffic situations. My brother finally left it unlocked in a bad neighborhood one day and walked home.
    I also have bought cheap bikes for specific component(s)/parts/accessories
    2008 Kona Fire Mountain/Xtracycle
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    I void warranties.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member mr,grumpy's Avatar
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    I bought a nearly new Trek 820 that I test rode. it rode fine. I got it home and the FIRST time I rode it the cogs slipped on the wheel and I whipped out and broke the shifter! I was given a bike that was found on the side of the road, tuned it up and had no problems with it. Shop around and you can find very nice bikes for cheep but you never will know. Bikes are cheep enough to begin with. Don't kill yourself looking for "the best deal". Too cheep is not good!
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  13. #13
    Six feet please Noobtastic's Avatar
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    One thing with used bikes are that the problems aren't always obvious. I bought my Specialized mountain bike used from a local bike shop that replaced some worn out parts on it and and gave it a tune-up, selling it to me for about $100. I got a few months of great riding out of it till one day when I was riding a trail and my bike suddenly decided to stop propelling me forward. It would coast but pedaling had no effect at all (kinda like opening the throttle on a car in neutral), I took it to a bike shop to find out that the pawls inside my rear hub had been breaking off and I just broken the last one; so I bought a new wheel and had it installed for $100 and that's pretty much been it, I love my bike so I'm not sad that it cost me $200, I ride the same trails at the same skill level as many people with more expensive bikes.
    Used bike have wear, how much wear depends on how it was treated in it's past life (which you can't find out unless you're buying from a friend); I'm not saying you should expect something on it to break, but be prepared just in case it happens.

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    Bought a 2003 Allez Sport Tiagra/105 for $440 on Craigslist in 2008. It was in good condition, ran perfectly, no apparent problems.

    Saw a Specialized Roubaix Comp on Craigslist for $700, seller didn't list any specs, just the size and a picture. Since all I had was a pic, I just looked on the specialized site till I found the model with the same paint job - 2005 with Ultegra/DA. Upon inspection, the bike was very dirty but mechanically sound, all the shifts were crisp and the chain needed a cleaning and lubing. After a wash and a lube, it became my daily bike.

    The suspiciously interesting thing was that the bike came with a Garmin Edge 305 that the seller didn't mention. Ended up flipping the Allez for $450 several months later.

  15. #15
    Senior Member CNY James's Avatar
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    I bought my first road bike used, I wouldnt think anything of doing it again. In fact, I check my local CL daily looking for my next road bike... still no luck but ya never know... this may have already been said (didnt read the other responses) but if you are buying from somebody who is upgrading their bike or just never got into it, there is still a pretty good chance that it's been taken care of.

  16. #16
    Senior Member BulkyRider's Avatar
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    Good seller discloses well (If not, they will do at your request). Bad seller try to pretend as if they're like new when its not. And it seems those who are not into bike shows less details cuz they don't know how to describe and what's the matter.

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    I've bought several and never had a problem, but i'm a pretty fair mechanic with lots of experience. Bikes aren't really very complicated, and checking one over for common problems isn't hard to do. For an expensive bike, you could also check with a local shop to see if they'd give it a look (expect to pay for half an hour or so of labor). They may be a little uppity because you're not buying new from them, but that's not a good sign. They should recognize you as a potential customer and go along. i'd arrange it in advance, though, not just show up with a bike on saturday morning and say, "Hey, I'm buying this from a guy down the street. Could you check it out?"

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    i havent had any bad experiences, but i did have a coworker(who knows zero about bikes) who wanted a bike. i helped her find one on craigslist and she called ahead to make sure it was available. when she got there the guy said it was sold but he had a different one. not knowing the difference she bought it. didnt get totally screwed but a little sad.

  19. #19
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I have bought 6 used frames for myself and a used bike for my daughter. The frames were a Bianchi, giant carbon, Masi, Stumpjumper, Eisentraut and Privita. all the frames were in good shape and worked out well. The used bike is still working fine and never had a problem. I do all my own mechanical work, I think that if you know much of bikes and how to work on them then there shouldn't be any problems.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
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  20. #20
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    I've paid so much less for my used bikes that it really doesn't matter if I got LBS service free or not. The most expensive "used" bike I bought was a $100 hybrid that was 14 years old but still had the original store price tag, so it hadn't been ridden. That's actually the bike I ride most because I use it for commuting.

    I also bought a steel road bike at a pawn shop for $50, a 1987 Schwinn Prelude. I invested another $15 and put several hours of tinkering with it and finally got the old SIS shifting system to work properly in index mode.

    Obviously I don't mind doing at least some of my own wrenching, and I learn more with every bike (I've currently got 5).

    I guess the Prelude would be the "worst" experience. When I got it, the SIS downtube shifters were gone, replaced with very cheap, off-brand stem-mounted friction shifters. I scrounged a set of older SIS indexed shifters at a swap meet and they worked, but like I said, it took some tinkering.
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    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  21. #21
    Mixte Power! Arrowana's Avatar
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    I've made a few mistakes when I didn't know as much about bikes. The main one that comes to mind was a Sanwa road bike I got in a trade. He said it had high end parts on it, but although it sounds like Suntour Mountech Derailleurs and Malliard Helicomatic hubs were considered high end, that doesn't mean they were good... Turns out the frame had also been crashed. I think everything else I've gotten from Craigslist was in good shape though.

    I've had plenty of good experiences at garage sales too. Even if something is wrong, it's cheap enough you don't care.

  22. #22
    Senior Member ro-monster's Avatar
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    Why do you only want to hear the bad experiences and not the good ones? I notice that almost everyone who's posted here has had mostly good experiences -- myself included. My Reach was bought slightly used, but it was in such pristine condition that it was indistinguishable from new. I only knew it was used because the seller told me so.

  23. #23
    vol
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    Quote Originally Posted by ro-monster View Post
    Why do you only want to hear the bad experiences and not the good ones?
    Because I'm more concerned with being trapped into getting one that has serious problem which will make me unsafe.

  24. #24
    Senior Member ro-monster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    Because I'm more concerned with being trapped into getting one that has serious problem which will make me unsafe.
    Even though it seems clear that such problems are rare? If you're that worried about it, why don't you do what is done when buying a used motorcycle? You and the seller meet with a mechanic who does a pre-sale inspection (which you pay for, of course) and the final sale is contingent on the machine passing the inspection.

  25. #25
    vol
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    Quote Originally Posted by ro-monster View Post
    Even though it seems clear that such problems are rare?
    Well, it's only after reading the posts here that it seems to me to be rare.

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