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Second hand bicycles

In response to a blog post ‘Why I keep fixing my bike‘ about the risks of buying a dodgy second hand bike, I wrote the following comment. It’s something I’m quite passionate about so worth storing on my own blog…

I have bought at least 7 bikes second hand through either ebay or gumtree all without problem. Every bike has been exactly what I was looking for. I wouldn’t buy off an ebay seller with only a small repuatation – and almost all sellers I have seen when searching ebay have 100+ reputation.

I think the chances of getting a lemon are quite small, but you always have to be careful.

With a bicycle you are predominantly paying for a decent frame as the rest can be replaced. Its fairly unlikely that the frame will have been damaged. So buy bikes that have well made frames e.g. Cannondale. I’ve purchased a Specialized, Cannondale, Merkx, Orange, Klein and Marin bikes. Most of the bikes I bought would have had a new value in excess of $1000. I’d be most wary of buying a Specialized bike as they are the most common and the current Specialized bikes I’ve seen have very poor welding on the frames.

Certainly don’t go buying cheap branded bikes new bikes e.g. and shop’s own brand. If you’ve got very little money you can pick up old retro racing bikes for less than $100.

Limit your search to only bikes that are near buy (i.e. 30 minute drive) so that you don’t waste much time.

There are many things you can look for:

  1. Has the bike been stored inside – if you see a photo of it hanging up in a garage on its own rack its a pretty good bet that it has
  2. Buy ‘fixed’ bikes without suspension as the suspension can be expensive to replace
  3. Look at the type of gears that it has
  4. Check how detailed the spec of the bike is – does the person list exactly all the components – this gives an indication of how much the person cares about the bike
  5. Do they state where they bought it from
  6. Do they display high quality images of close ups of the gears, the joins of the frame where cracks appear
  7. What have they been using the bike for
  8. How often do they clean the bike
  9. Ask what year the bike is from as well as the exact make and model – then hopefully you can find a reference to how much the bike was when it was new.
  10. Check the welding on the bike frame – how clean are the welds. You shouldn’t be able to see the welds – as that means it was a cheaply made bike by machines and never finished off.
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