How to Buy a Used Bike

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Buying a used bike takes patience and a little knowledge of what to look for, but there are great deals to be had in preowned cycles, so consider the following when you start looking.

Things You'll Need

  • Bikes Used
  • Bike Helmets
  • Bike Locks And Cables
  • Bike Tools
  • Bike Jerseys

Determine What You Need

  • Decide what type of bike you want. A road bike? A mountain bike? A hybrid? See Related eHow "How to Determine Which Type of Bike to Buy."

  • Figure out what size bike you need in the type of bike you want. See Related eHow "How to Determine the Correct Frame Size for a Bike," at left.

  • Understand that the bike's fit is very important - a bike might be a great deal, but it won't do much for you if it's too big or too small.

  • Determine how much you want to spend. If you're willing to spend $300 or more, check out what new bikes you can get for that amount.

  • Look at some new bikes. Decide which modern features you want. Do you want click shifting? Do you want V-brakes?

  • Search the Internet, used-bike stores, local newspapers and bulletin boards for used bikes that meet your qualifications.

Inspect the Bike

  • Determine whether the bike has been maintained well by its previous owner. Are the tires in good condition, or are they cracked and old? Is the chain properly lubed, or is it dirty or rusty?

  • Inspect the paint for rust and carefully check for cracks or dimples in the frame.

  • Test the bike's brakes and wheels before riding. See Related eHow "How to Inspect a Bike Before a Ride."

  • Adjust the seat to your height and take the bike for a spin. Does the bike fit well? Does it handle properly?

  • Note the shifting. Is it smooth? If not, the bike may need a minor adjustment or a major repair.

  • Check the brakes. Do they stop quickly and smoothly?

Tips & Warnings

  • If the seller is willing, take the bike to a bike shop so that a qualified mechanic can inspect the bike. A mechanic will be able to spot any glaring problems and give you an estimate of the repair costs. Often, shops will do this for free.
  • In some cases, a bike that appears OK will require too much money in minor repairs to make the purchase worthwhile. New tires and tubes alone can set you back $50 or more, including labor.
  • Sellers are often willing to come down quite a bit on the asking price.
  • Always wear a helmet while riding a bike - especially an unfamilar bike.
  • Cycling is inherently a dangerous activity. Seek proper training and equipment before attempting this activity.

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