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Buying a used bike

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Buying a used bike

Old 08-02-18, 10:21 AM
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rachel120
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Buying a used bike

I need a new-to-me bike fairly quickly, not a "I need tomorrow", but I also don't want to wait more than a month. So a used bike is more than likely in my future.

Before finalizing any deal, I know to look over any potential bike carefully, but I don't know what to look for. Does anyone have a list of the essentials? What are deal breakers, what are things that are expensive to fix, and what are to be expected things and are cheap and easy to fix?

Thanks.
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Old 08-02-18, 10:55 AM
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Unless you are good and competent at doing almost all your maintenance, I'd think that everything on the bike should work and look like it's going to last a while. As well, I would buy a used bike that has exactly the components on it that I can live with without having to upgrade anything with the exception of the saddle.

If you are very good and competent at doing all your own maintenance, then subtract the price of everything you must replace or upgrade from the asking price of the bike. Or just get a 50 to 100 dollar frame and build it out.

Other than that, tires are expendable items on a bike. But if they are looking like they need to be replaced very soon, then subtract that from the ask price. Then you haggle with the seller from that. If they get offended, so be it. Some do, but it's also a ploy by experienced sellers that know that most buyers are inexperienced.
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Old 08-02-18, 11:23 AM
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If you need a bike "fairly quickly", then I would recommend buying one that does need to be repaired 1st thing. Kind of defeats the original need, no? That being said, there are lots of lightly used bikes that wouldn't need anything replaced; maybe the chain lubed but if its been stored properly everything should work without needing repaired/replaced. I think more important is identifying how you are going to use the bike. If your needing a bike to commute and go to the store, then buying a 16 pound racer isn't going to work well. You should test ride any bike your thinking of buying. If it doesn't shift correctly, or the brakes don't feel good, then pass on it. That or before buying it, take it to a shop and ask how much its going to cost to fix/tuneup. Subtract that from the buying price. If you don't know much about bikes, can you take a friend that does along when looking at the bike.
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Old 08-02-18, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Unless you are good and competent at doing almost all your maintenance, I'd think that everything on the bike should work and look like it's going to last a while. As well, I would buy a used bike that has exactly the components on it that I can live with without having to upgrade anything with the exception of the saddle.
To the saddle I would add the other touch points, pedals and bars/stems/grips in the list of likely changeout items.
I would also look for evidence of cheesy/abusive repair practices, like wired-on parts, rims with screwdriver scars or Vise-Grips gouges in the hardware. Check frame joints for paint cracks or rust which might indicate cracks.
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Old 08-02-18, 11:31 AM
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As a do it myself mechanic, there aren't a lot of deal breakers.

Well, maybe a broken frame, but even that would be worth considering if things were right.

I'd almost prefer things like bad tires as I would know I could simply install new ones of the style I like.

On the other hand, a badly worn drivetrain (chain, cassette, chainrings, etc) also isn't a deal breaker, but potentially a rather large expense around the corner.

I suppose if a hub is really bad to the point where it is falling apart, then it may not be able to be tuned, but rather would need a hub transplant. Not a huge problem, but more hassle.

You recently had a commuter bike stolen, so I assume you're hunting for a bit cheaper bike.

If you are looking at a bike that is < 10 years old, then to some extent you can get away with putting off bearing maintenance.

If you are looking at a bike > 30 years old, then at some point it should have a full maintenance, stripping down to the bearings, greasing, cleaning or replacing worn parts, etc.
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Old 08-02-18, 11:33 AM
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I would advise first and foremost, to only consider a bicycle that is clean and you can actually take out for a test ride with no more than saddle and bar adjustments. Any of that "it only needs this or that" should be a non starter unless you're prepared for a full over haul.
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Old 08-02-18, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
I need a new-to-me bike fairly quickly, not a "I need tomorrow", but I also don't want to wait more than a month. So a used bike is more than likely in my future.

Before finalizing any deal, I know to look over any potential bike carefully, but I don't know what to look for. Does anyone have a list of the essentials? What are deal breakers, what are things that are expensive to fix, and what are to be expected things and are cheap and easy to fix?

Thanks.
With the correct skills, there is nothing on a bike that is expensive to fix. Without the skills, everything on a bike is expensive to fix. All used and/or mail order bikes are projects. If you need a bike to work then go to all the local bike shops, decide which one you are most comfortable doing business with then test ride some bikes from your top two choices, and buy the bike you like. It will be a lot less expensive that a used bike.
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Old 08-02-18, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
I need a new-to-me bike fairly quickly, not a "I need tomorrow", but I also don't want to wait more than a month. So a used bike is more than likely in my future.

Before finalizing any deal, I know to look over any potential bike carefully, but I don't know what to look for. Does anyone have a list of the essentials? What are deal breakers, what are things that are expensive to fix, and what are to be expected things and are cheap and easy to fix?

Thanks.
My 2c, with pics and explanations:

Looking over (buying) a second hand bicycle.
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Old 08-02-18, 01:45 PM
  #9  
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Sorry about your recent bike loss...

..but the good news is that this is a stupendous time to be buying a used bike. The market is glutted with bikes of every kind imaginable, and nothing is selling but the very best bargains and diamonds-in-the-rough.

If you would give an approximate market (e.g., Cleveland, Los Angeles, etc.), a price range, the frame size and style of bike, I'm sure that several Craigslist eagles will post you links to bikes in your area that show potential. There are so many great bikes in my market now, that it boggles the mind.
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Old 08-02-18, 02:21 PM
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Assuming it's just pads (~10$), then brakes are easy to fix even running cables(10$) doesn't seem like it should be too bad or expensive. Tires can be expensive(50$+ up to hundreds of dollars) though on a budget bike you can put on some budget tires(20$ each). Rims can start to get expensive even cheap ones start at (30$ each) and on a budget bike $60-100 you could use that to get a new/ newer bike. Rims can require some special tools and skills to true and balance and stuff. Flat tires could just be the tubes which are only $10 and easy to fix watching a youtube video. For rims you need to check the spokes, they shouldn't be loose or bent and they can poke through the rim and puncture the tube though you're not likely to take the tire off and inspect the inside of the rim. Tires will look dried out and cracked if the rubber is old. They could be worn down either losing their tread and smooth or worn so bad they're getting holes or close to it. Main concern is more likely dried out cracked rubber. You dont want a rusty chain. It shouldn't be too much to replace(10-20$) but may be a sign the bike was left out so look for other rust around the crank. Derailuers or the shifting can be adjusted and should be adjusted but that seems a little difficult as I don't know which way I should start and am afraid to mess it up but shifting can skip or be full on broken so it's best if it shifts smoothly and quickly from the get go. I dont know much about the main crank or hub but thats a pretty crucial part as well. At the least it should spin smooth enough not grind or have a bunch of rust or be loose. Most common issues I think will be rusty chains though hopefully not on any bike that was once or is a quality bike, dried cracked old tires, and poor out of alignment shifting. Shifting is likely just an adjustment so if they'll let you take a whack at adjusting it right there pull up the youtube video and see if you can make it better. You don't want rusty gears either, probably not any rusty bits. It would be good to read a used bike buying guide online as well.
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Old 08-03-18, 10:13 AM
  #11  
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there are lots of threads on this or close in C&V, would be a good place to check out.

need to identify what type of bike you are looking for and what you are going to use it for so then you know what you are looking for
also need to understand your wrenching capabilities

Beyond that:
Fit, has to fit otherwise nothing matters

oriiginal quality...... if the bike was a BSO from a big box store is is only going to go downhill ....avoid these used like the plague

Frame and fork...no dents, bends, etc. avoid huge rust

other than that does every thing work? shifters, brake,etc

does any thing wobble that shoudn't wheels, crankset, handlebars

wheels have no broken spokes

overall feel....does it feel like the bike is abused

no broken levers, shifters

tires, tube, cables, brake pads, bar wrap can easily and cheaply be replaced

Normally I would suggest the OP give a better location and people could suggest craigslist bikes..... but I know from previous post OP would prefer to be location anonymous...... so OP could post details of potential used bikes to get feed back
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Old 08-04-18, 12:17 AM
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In general, avoid anything needing serious work unless you are a competent home mechanic. I recommend buying an inexpensive chain tool to bring along--avoid anything with a significantly worn chain as the cost of replacing the chain, cassette, and possibly chainrings is going to seriously effect how much money you'll need to put into the bike. I would avoid anything with suspension components more than two years old in general unless the bike has seen very low mileage and/or the owner can explain that the suspension has been frequently and professionally serviced. Also avoid mountain bikes that look like they've been ridden hard, even for a season or two. If you're not used to assessing bikes, I'd steer you away from carbon mostly and definitely from any carbon that looks like it has many or hard miles.

Basically: check the chain, avoid stuff that's clearly seen a lot of use unless you know what you're doing, be wary of how some mountain bikers can destroy their bikes in a few seasons.
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Old 08-04-18, 05:48 AM
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Assuming everything is functioning well.

For me only the rear wheel is the deal breaker. Not cheap to buy new with shipping and may not get a suitable used one. Other parts are easier to replace.

Nice things to have:
8 speed and above rear wheel
Branded tires
Full alu brake levers
Kool Stop pads
Indexed shifters
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Old 08-04-18, 01:02 PM
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I just bought a used bike, and I probably bought it too quickly, but I just looked at the measurements of the bike and then test rided it to make sure everything was working.
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Old 08-04-18, 02:33 PM
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Thank you all for all your tips.
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Old 08-06-18, 07:14 AM
  #16  
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decide if you want a bike that is ride-ready or are you willing to do some repair or maintenance or hire a pro?

wheels spin true?
inspect at the brake caliper to see if they wobble side to side
inspect from the side to see if they are out of round, is there any jump up/down when viewing from the side at the fork crown?

brake pad condition
even or uneven/weird wear?
front & rear closing & opening evenly? meaning one side is not hitting first (alignment is an easy adjustment, if necessary)

while holding bike & spinning wheels do you feel or hear any vibration or sound?
if you support the front or rear of the bike & try to wiggle the wheel (not spinning) is there any play at the hub? a tiny tiny bit is OK. a lot of play is not OK. (adjusting the cones requires technique & experience helps, judging by your OP, if the bike is otherwise great, except for this, take it to a bike shop for adjustment)

ride the bike, any "play" in the pedal crank? any grinding sensations or sounds?

while riding the bike can you shift into all the gears, front & back? (small adjustments are easy for an experienced bike mechanic) but if a rear derailer hanger is bent, it might need an experienced bike mechanic to straighten &/or replace

does the seat post slide up & down? if it is adjusted for your height you might not have to check that. rarely, a seat post will get stuck in a seat tube & can't be adjusted without sometimes complex repair efforts

cracks or dents in the frame. I don't personally worry about superficial scuffs

does it have holes in the front & rear forks to mount fenders & a rack? (may not be important to you)

are any of the cables front or rear showing any signs of corrosion or rust? they might still work fine but replacing them could be put on a to-do list if you get the bike which will add to the cost of owning the bike. & a negotiating factor to talk down the price a cpl dollars

this may sound weird but are all the spokes there? any bent? you can quickly squeeze (not hard) the spokes on both wheels to see if any are loose

condition of saddle & bars. is this a bike you even want to touch?

inspect the front & rear gears for bends or dents

inspect the chain, is it old nasty & rusty? are any of the links sticking/not flexing? bring a cpl disposable gloves so you can run the chain thru your hand & feel it flex

if you wear reading glasses, bring them to inspect the tires for cracking or dry rot. needing new tires is not a deal breaker but will add to the cost of owning the bike & a negotiating factor to talk down the price a cpl dollars

ideally, look for bikes that were bought & not used much. there's lots of buyers remorse & lots of "like-new" bikes out there like this one

https://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/bi...642541181.html

all I can think of extemporaneously right now. good luck!

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Old 08-06-18, 07:27 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by FBOATSB View Post
I would advise first and foremost, to only consider a bicycle that is clean and you can actually take out for a test ride with no more than saddle and bar adjustments. Any of that "it only needs this or that" should be a non starter unless you're prepared for a full over haul.
That's what I think too.

A bicycle is a pretty simple machine. Serious flaws are generally pretty obvious.

The deal breaker is ride-ability. If it just doesn't "feel" right when you test ride it, it's not the bike for you. Walk away.
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Old 08-07-18, 02:43 PM
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Buy a bike shop brand bike; stay away from department store bikes. Better yet, buy used at a bike shop.

Make sure it fits. If you don't know what will fit you, find out.

Take a test ride and make sure all components work as they should.

Check for sneaky hidden costs on low-priced bikes -- you can be up over $200 for parts and repairs pretty quick if you drag a junker to a bike shop.
Pumped up tires with treads.
Non-rusty chains.
Non-rusty cables.
Wheels that spin true, no side to side wobble as they spin.
No play at the handlebar with the front brake applied, rocking the bike forward and back; at the crank (pedals are attached to the crank), across the frame; and both wheels from the sides -- even a bit of play means shot bearings or at least bearings which may require adjustment.
"Skipping" in the drive train could be something simple like a manual adjustment, or worn part$, like chain, cassette, chainrings.
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Old 08-07-18, 03:57 PM
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I've bought 2 bikes for my wife off of eBay. Not to say that is what you'll want to do. But the first thing, after fit, is to find a bike that has not had much use. They are out there. People buy bikes and they spend most of their life sitting in a garage with little use.

The pictures of my wife's Trek 8000 mountain bike did not show any scratches and it looked like black chainrings had no signs of use. This was 5 years ago and I paid $460 shipped. It really needed nothing but personal customizing. It is good to stick with a "brand" name such as Trek, Giant, Specialzed, etc... with maybe the exception of a good house brand.

Her other bike is a Performance brand, Scattante, that was purchased by a husband and never ridden. That cost the same. I'm only bringing up the Performance house brand because it is a good bike with low resale value so used should be cheaper. I don't know your budget. It is not a Walmart level bike.

John
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Old 08-07-18, 04:38 PM
  #20  
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...you don't list a location, but here in my city, we used to sell a reasonably well inspected and repaired (if needed) bicycle that people would give us as donations at pretty down to earth prices. But there were also "project" bikes for sale, and you need to have some idea of what the difference is. Look around for either a bike co-op, or another charity that accepts donated bikes and repairs/resells them to the public. Also canvas your friends, relatives, and acquaintances to see if you might have a mechanical support staff on call.
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