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What to Look For When a Used Bike?

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While bikes are a great form of transportation, especially in urban areas, buying one brand new can be an expensive prospect. The average cost of a sturdy, quality bicycle is around $360. That is quite a bit of money! And as already mentioned, that’s just the average. Many bikes on the market are in the $600-$800 range. It’s completely understandable that a person would want a more affordable option. For those looking to save money, looking at used bikes is a viable option.

There is nothing wrong with buying used bikes. It makes good sense, actually. And while most people who are reselling a bike are honest people, there are some who are attempting to take advantage of people. It’s wise to know what you are looking for so no one can take advantage of you. Let’s review some tips on what to look out for when buying a used bike.

Don’t send the person money before seeing the bike

If someone asks you to send payment prior to you seeing the bike to assess its condition, or asks you to send money to put the bike “on hold,” walk away from the transaction. This is a common technique that scammers use to get money from unsuspecting people. They create a frenzy with potential customers by saying they have multiple people interested, and for you to save your chance, they need upfront payment. No reputable reseller would ever ask you to do that. If you are asked to wire a person a downpayment, decline to continue the transaction. This potential seller is trying to scam you.

See the bike in person before agreeing to purchase it

While you can learn a lot about a bike from pictures and asking questions from the seller, nothing beats seeing the bike in person. Pictures can only give you so much detail. They can’t tell you how you are going to feel when you sit down on the seat or how you will feel when you try to move the pedals. Just because something seems perfect in pictures doesn’t mean it will be in person. Do not purchase a bike until you can see and touch it for yourself. Test drive a bike just like you would test drive a car.

Check the bike to assess its condition

The old saying is “a picture is worth a thousand words.” While this may be true, that still won’t tell you everything you need to know about the bike you may buy. Pictures can’t show the amount of wear and tear on the tires, especially if the seller didn’t photograph it. Same thing for any issues with the chain or rust spots. Look the bike over carefully, and inspect it for any potential issues. Buying a used bike from a seller is nothing like buying a product from a store. There is no return policy, and there are no warranties. If there is a defect or some other type of issue that will cause you to incur repair costs, you need to know that upfront and consider if you want to take the responsibility of paying for that.

Bring a friend with you to meet the seller

If you have to meet the seller at their home, don’t go there alone. As has already been mentioned, most sellers are good, honest people trying to sell their things and make some money. But there are some people who list items that have bad intentions. They can be trying to scam you. They can also be trying to harm you. If you have to meet a seller at their home, don’t go alone and share the address with your friends. Utilize location sharing services on your smartphone as well. If the seller will agree to bring the bike to a public place, that’s even better.

Do your research and be prepared to haggle on price

Some sellers are firm on price and will not budge. That’s completely ok! But even in those cases, it never hurts to ask. They may have a change of heart or may want to negotiate just to sell the product and be done with it. Other sellers fully expect to haggle with potential buyers. They list the product at a higher price so that when it sells, it is at a price that is more acceptable to them. But don’t attempt to haggle without doing your research! Check to see what other bikes of the same caliber are selling for on the market. You don’t want to offer a price that is insulting.

Check to make sure you aren’t purchasing a stolen bike

This is an unfortunate reality in today’s resell marketplace. Some people steal goods just so they can profit from the resale of them. Make sure you do not get caught up in one of those scams. Look for any identifying markers or registration numbers and check those on bike registration sites. You don’t want to be in possession of stolen property. You would have to relinquish the bike, and you would lose the money you paid for it. You would have no recourse to get your money back.

Accept the fact that you may have to walk away from this transaction

Just because you need a bike, doesn’t mean that this will be the right bike for you. The price may be out of your range and not open for negotiation. It’s possible that the bike may have more wear and tear than you would like. There could be many reasons this bike doesn’t turn out to be the right one for you. It’s ok to walk away. Keep looking on resale sites and know that someday you will find the perfect one for you! It’s not a requirement that you buy the first bike you go see.


Buying a bike is no simple task. There are multiple factors you must consider. There are even more things to think about when you purchase a bike that is used. Hopefully, the tips here can help you with the buying process. Happy shopping!

Author avatar - Bradley Knight

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