Questions Every Buyer Must Ask When Buying A Used Bicycle Online
With bicycle prices on the rise yet again used bikes are becoming more attractive options for buyers in the market. As long as you are an educated buyer there are many great options for you, but if you are naive and overlook important details you might as well throw your money away or even worse you could be seriously endangering yourself.
We understand that with the massive range in price for used bikes the need for some of our points might be overkill. If you are looking to spend a couple hundred dollars on a commuter you might have different concerns than if you are looking for a higher end mountain bike or road bike where its important to check all of the boxes before spending thousands.
One of the first questions you’ll want to ask for is more pictures. You’re familiar with the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” well its true. You’re looking for as much detail as possible that will tell you the whole story of a bike. You’ll need pictures taken with good lighting of all the major areas. Most sellers post fewer pictures than the buyer would like and force imagination to fill in the gaps. Don’t fall into this trap. You’ll want pictures of both drive side and non-drive side. Pictures from the front, pictures from the rear, close ups of the derailleur areas, cranks, chain stays, shifters, shocks if it’s a mountain bike, and cable wear areas at a minimum. If the seller has disclosed any damage you’ll also need extensive pictures of the damaged area so you can make the best distance conclusions possible.
When you get to a bikes description, you’re looking for a thorough account filled with detail. If the seller has skimped here you should follow up with an arsenal of journalistic questions to paint a picture of the bicycle’s past. Questions like how many owners is a good place to start. This will give you insight into the usage and accuracy of information you are getting from the seller. If the seller is the original owner hopefully you can rely on honest firsthand information. If the seller was the 2nd or 3rd owner it gets a little harder to determine all of the facts and paint a clear picture of the bikes history.
Another good common question for buyers to ask sellers is, what type of riding was done on the bike and how many miles or hours are on it? You’ll be looking to see if the bike has been raced on or ridden in a way that puts extra strain on its components ultimately shortening life span and costing you money quickly after the purchase. Well cared for bikes can go for 10’s of thousands of miles, but be observant if you are a buyer the more use a bike has had the deeper the inspection needs to be.
Has the bike been crashed or dropped? With carbon fiber being woven into every nook and cranny of our industry these days it’s really important to have some understanding of its properties compared to that of steel or aluminum. When carbon is impacted it has the potential to catastrophically fail in a different way than alloys. Carbon cracks where as metal can bend and dent before cracking and failing when adversely impacted. Knowing just this alone might caution buyers when looking into used carbon bikes or carbon bicycle products. Understand this isn’t a red flag against buying secondary carbon fiber but a yellow light advising you to proceed with caution. There are plenty of well cared for safe used carbon bicycles bought and sold every day.
How was it cared for? This is a big one. Like most other machines, a properly cared for bicycle is essential to long term dependability. I’m sure we can all identify one of our riding buddies who is a little more lax about their bicycle maintenance that others. This person will more than likely be the one who has repeated mechanicals on rides or has that annoying squeak or creak coming from who knows where for months on end. While to each his own, we are simply saying when you are a buyer with options look into the details.
How it was stored also falls in line with how it was cared for. While most higher end bikes will be kept in a safe dry environment like the garage or house we are also aware that many commuter or lower end bikes can live outside when not in use. They maybe covered by a tarp or under an over hanging, but they will still be susceptible to more weather wear than if kept in a garage or house.
Also under ‘Cared For’ falls service. You’ll want to ask about the bicycle service records. If the bike was frequently used then a professional bicycle shop should also have frequently serviced it. It’s ok to ask which shop if the seller doesn’t have the records. A quick phone call can add the extra verification your looking for. If the bike was maintained by the owner you’ll want to know if he or she has any experience in doing so. Again just trying to paint a clear historical picture.
In the end if you’ve asked your questions and still feel unsure about the transaction think about an inspection. It’s becoming more and more common to have used bicycles inspected before purchase is made final. Many local shops for a fee will perform an inspection and give the used bicycle a thorough once over noting any matters to be aware of. For a small fee this can bring the piece of mind to buy confidently when buying remotely.
BicycleBlueBook.com – Used Bicycles for Sale