High quality mountain bikes cost a lot of money and one way to save money on them is buying them used. I’ve typically found that people take good care of their expensive toys, however there are always exceptions. Below is a little guide on getting a great deal on a used bike and ways to avoid a money pit.
The three places I typically look for used bikes in Canada are Kijiji.ca, Craiglist.com and Pinkbike.com. To be honest, I spend way too much time browsing for a steal of a deal, even when I am not in the market for a new bike. Like most things in life, if the deal seems too good to be true, it is, or it’s stolen. Inconsistent information or lack of information in the ad as well as a ridiculously low price are usually red flags that the bike is stolen. Asking for the serial number and running it through The Stolen Bike Registry is another way to avoid supporting a junky bike thief.
2. The Hunt:
Once you decide on how much you want to spend, you can select a price range on those sites to make browsing what is available easier. Having trouble finding your size or specific bike you are looking for? Widen your search to other nearby cities or towns. I typically check the local classifieds most mornings to see if there is anything new that I am in the market for.
3. Do your Homework:
Knowing what the bike is actually worth can be tough but Bicycle Bluebook is a good tool to use. Once you find a bike that is in your budget and you have read some reviews on it, arrange to view the bike! Confirming with the seller the specifics (size, better photos, any upgrades, repairs needed, and maintenance done) can save you a lot of time.
4. Inspecting the bike:
For a second set of eyes and to be safe, it’s always good to bring a friend along.
Things to check:
- Does the frame have any dents, cracks, or welding issues?
- Do any of the components or frame have any rust?
- How much and what type of use did the bike get?
- What type of maintenance or servicing did the bike get?
- Has the seller had to replace any components?
- Does the seller have the original sales receipt and are they even the original owner?
- Are the chain rings and sprocket teeth sharp or rounded?
- Is there any noticeable chain wear or cassette wear?
- Do the wheels spin straight or do they wobble?
- When you apply the brakes and rock the bike back and forth, is there much movement?
- Do the gears change quickly or are they sluggish?
- Do the gears slip when you pedal hard?
- Do the fork lowers and stanchions have any forward or backward movement in them and any damage to them?
5. Closing the Deal:
If after testing and inspecting the bike and you think you still want to buy it this is where you can save yourself a few bucks. If any of the inspection points showed signs of wear and you think they will need to be replaced or require maintenance, mention them to the seller. If you know you are going to have to dump $50 into it to get it riding smoothly tell the seller that. I typically pick out a few issues the seller failed to mention and make my offer based on that. If the bike isn’t up to your expectations or is going to require too much time and money walk away! Yes, you may have just driven across town in traffic to get it, but if in your gut it’s not a good buy, don’t. Don’t be a complete jerk and throw out an insulting low ball offer but don’t be afraid to ask for a better price either.
Hopefully these techniques help you get out on the trails on your dream bike sooner!