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Used Bikes

Old 02-08-23, 05:15 AM
Colorado Kid
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Used Bikes

Has anyone bought their bike used? Is there anything I should be aware of when buying a used bike?
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Old 02-08-23, 05:29 AM
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well yeah. that's all I buy, w/ rare exception

one can't be rushed. take your time checking it out. check as much as you can think of. don't let the seller's priorities become yours. meaning, it doesn't matter that they are moving & need to sell it. it doesn't matter that it's 1/2 price of what they paid. you might have to write down your priorities so you can remind yourself what you want. talk less, inspect more. it's so easy to get distracted by cycling talk but that's not why you are there

I tend to pay the asking price, sometimes a little bit under. if you don't like the asking price, don't go look at the bike

the best bikes to buy are "I bought the bike for exercise but wound up not riding it". I recently got a bike that was brand new but 10 years old. it was also a bike I really wanted & my size

I did buy a bike that was too large for me but it wound up being just fine for many years. but ideally you get one that is the correct size

buying used, you have to be patient enough to find the right bike. sometimes you have to expand your search area & I've driven pretty far to get bikes

good luck!
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Old 02-08-23, 08:45 AM
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I currently have four bikes. All were purchased used. Two of the four needed some modification - shorter stems - to reduce reach. Rumrunn6 gives good advice. My Specialized was 8 years old when I bought it but still had protective film over components. The owner, a serious bike guy, bought it for his grandson who didn't like riding. I paid a premium during the pandemic because new bikes were just not available and felt lucky to get a decent machine that fit me.

Hopefully you know enough about bicycles to check the obvious red flags concerning condition after you've found a bike that fits you. Has the bike been neglected - rusty chain, dinged/dented frame, bent derailleur. Signs of road rash indicating the bike has been crashed? Does everything work correctly - shift, brakes, etc. Is the fork true? Wheels true and spin straight?

You probably already know most of this. Good luck in your search. It's the right time of year to shop and in some areas there pandemic purchased bikes on the market for reasonable prices.
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Old 02-08-23, 10:59 AM
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I guess my first thought is "used by whom"? Someone who neglected it? Or someone who pampered it? Or someone who at least stored it out of the elements.

Most all of the bikes I currently own were purchased used. The one exception is my All City Big Block, which was purchased as a frame set and built up by me.

I carefully check (and ride if possible!) all bikes I'm interested in. I am unabashedly picky. If the bike appears to have been seriously neglected, I simply walk away. I looked at a potentially nice Panasonic road bike many years ago after having seen photos that appeared to show a well-preserved bike. Upon inspection it was clear that the bike had serious issues. Shame, because it was my size and would have made for a nice rider. I walked.

Regarding price, I try to reach a point where if possible we both win. In other words, they get a reasonable price and I don't overpay just because they think their bike is all that. Sometimes, especially on Craigslist, people list a bike, of which they don't even know the size, but insist it is top-of-the-line for that brand/year. And it clearly isn't. I've had to educate many sellers on how to properly measure a frame. When a bike is overpriced, and the seller cannot understand why, again, I walk.

Points of negotiation are consumables that need immediate replacement. Is the bike roadworthy as it sits? If not, the price needs to reflect that. Again, the goal is to offer a fair price, not top dollar as if it was ready to ride when it isn't.

When claims are made about maintenance it is usually easy to check. My presumption is unless the person is obviously an enthusiast, the bike probably needs a complete overhaul. The exception being a really new bike I guess, but I rarely find those for sale.

Oh, and before buying, make sure the seat post and the handlebar stem aren't seized up. Bring some basic tools along just in case. A good excuse to check them is when you are going for a test ride. I've never had anyone balk. And if they did, I'd walk. But I've been lucky and haven't had to do that very often because I do my due diligence before even contacting the seller. Good photos help a great deal.

Good luck and happy hunting.
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Old 02-09-23, 02:26 PM
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All but one of my bikes are built from junk parts, that were either free or purchased for scrap value. I'm fearless about building up a new bike.

The first thing is that some people buy a new bike with the best of intentions, then lose interest and sell it 10 years later. Those bikes can be effectively brand new except for the condition of the rubber and lubrication. And decent tires can last a long time indoors these days. Single speed takes more commitment than most people have, and if they bought it as a fashion choice, they'll dump it when the fashions change.

I'm not a pro mechanic, and don't have a guaranteed way to judge the mechanical integrity of a frame. Some rules of thumb that I follow: It has to ride straight when I let go of the bar. It's possible for a crooked frame to ride straight, but unlikely. I look for signs of a crash: Bent brake levers, pedal that wobbles when it turns (bent spindle), mismatched fork and frame, mismatched wheels. None of those problems are insurmountable, but contribute to it being more of a project or parts bike than a ready-to-ride. Bikes stored outdoors will need more work. Look for paint and plastic parts that are more faded on one side than the other.

I no longer want a bike with 27" rims unless I envision a project that's worth building new wheels. I want enough clearance for wider tires and fenders, and a reasonable way to attach a rack.

"Do your research" and price up things like new tires, drivetrain, brakeset. Those things have to be figured into your budget if they need to be replaced, and after market parts are always more expensive than what an OEM pays for them.
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Old 02-11-23, 11:27 AM
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Look for sketchy things like mismatched group sets , weird paint jobs and others have said, bring your Allen keys and check the seatpost, if there is any movement on the headset, search for cracks in frame and the wheelset( valve gap and rim eyelets) , If it has a carbon steerer and the owner allows it, remove it and search for any crack with a light.
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Old 02-11-23, 04:33 PM
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rumrunn6 's advice is great! The other commenters have also added some useful guidance.

There is just one important point that I think that should be mentioned in your quest to find a suitable used bicycle:
*** IF YOUR INTUITION TELLS YOU THAT SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT ABOUT THE PERSON SELLING SAID BICYCLE (....meaning your Gut tells you the bicycle is probably STOLEN) , THEN DO NOT FINANCIALLY SUPPORT SUCH A CRIMINAL ENTREPRENEUR. *** ----Don't Buy That Bicycle, no matter how nice or perfectly that it matches your checklist of required prerequisites if it were not a "HOT" bike.
Yeah, so you do get the bike you have sought and nobody likely will ever know, but think for a moment, you are financially supporting a scumbag actively engaged in ongoing criminal enterprise of stolen & fenced two wheelers. Bicycle theft is continous and some would say rampant and out of control because it is very lucrative for the thieves. REMEMBER THAT YOU DO NOT WANT TO ENABLE SCUM OF THE EARTH CRIMINALS!!!
Knowingly purchasing stolen items and gear is in itself, a serious, potentially prosecutable criminal offense.
Hey, probably 92%, maybe even perhaps more like 95% of the total people advertising the sale of a USED BICYCLE or multiple USED BIKES, are the legitimate owner or the original purchaser of the bike(s) being offered for sale.
True, you can never exactly know but your gut's intitution should give you something of a possible alert that something seems really sketchy and fishy............. know like when your very simple questions, not even your "Columbo" like questions, have no seemingly normal, logical answers from the selling party...
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Old 03-11-23, 01:10 PM
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And I'm not sure if this is helpful in anyway, but if you do buy a used bike you can go online and see if that model and serial number of the frame has been reported stolen. I generally do this when buying used bikes just as a piece of mind. Very few people actually register their bikes but I would love to be able to return a bike to someone who took the time to register it under their name and take the time to report it stolen.
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Old 03-13-23, 09:28 AM
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I only buy used and my basic requirement is a solid frame and fork. I always assume it will need at least a basic service if not a full-blown strip down and build back up. My personal budget is ~$125 total investment for a fully functional machine and often that is very manageable.

(Full disclosure - I did buy one with a broken steerer tube but it was a unique bike and had a great story.)
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