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Sunday, May 1, 2022

How to Buy an Used Bicycle: Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips for people looking to buy a used bicycle:

  1. Determine Your Needs:

    • Consider your intended use of the bicycle: commuting, road cycling, mountain biking, etc.
    • Determine the appropriate bike type, size, and features that align with your needs and preferences.
    • Set a budget range to guide your search.
  2. Research:

    • Research different bike brands, models, and their reputations for quality and reliability.
    • Read reviews and seek recommendations from experienced cyclists or trusted sources.
    • Educate yourself about different components and technologies to make informed decisions.
  3. Inspect the Bicycle:

    • Physically inspect the bike for any visible damage, wear, or signs of poor maintenance.
    • Check the frame for cracks, dents, or signs of a crash.
    • Examine the drivetrain, brakes, wheels, and suspension (if applicable) for signs of wear or damage.
    • Test the gears and brakes to ensure they are functioning properly.
  4. Test Ride:

    • Arrange a test ride to assess the bike's fit, comfort, and performance.
    • Pay attention to how the bike handles, shifts gears, and brakes.
    • Test it on different terrains, if possible, to get a better sense of its capabilities.
    • Most sellers will insist on holding onto the cash while you do a test ride, to ensure you don't ride off and steal it.
  5. Ask Questions:

    • Inquire about the bike's history, including its age, usage, and any repairs or modifications.
    • Ask about the bike's maintenance history, including when it was last serviced.
    • Seek information about the bike's original specifications, components, and any upgrades or replacements.
  6. Verify Ownership and Check for Stolen Bicycles:

    • Ensure that the seller has legal ownership of the bike. Honestly, good luck determining this. But whatever. Let's include this on the list.
    • Check the serial number against online stolen bike databases to ensure it is not reported stolen.
    • Ask for proof of purchase or any relevant documentation. Most people won't bother to have kept such things.
  7. Negotiate and Insist on a Fair Price:

    • Research the market value of similar used bikes to have a basis for negotiation.
    • Take into account the bike's condition, age, components, and any additional accessories.
    • Be respectful and reasonable during negotiations while aiming for a fair price.
  8. Consider Professional Inspection:

    • If you lack expertise in evaluating bicycles, consider getting a professional inspection from a trusted bicycle shop or mechanic after you purchase it. Or bring a friend who knows bicycles quite well.
    • They can provide a more comprehensive assessment of the bike's condition and identify any hidden issues.
  9. Check for Return Policies or Warranties:

    • If dealing with a store inquire if the seller offers any return policies or warranties for the used bike.
    • Understand the terms and conditions to protect yourself in case of unforeseen issues.
  10. Trust Your Instincts:

    • If something feels off or suspicious during the buying process, trust your instincts and consider walking away from the deal.

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of finding a suitable and reliable used bicycle that meets your needs and provides an enjoyable riding experience.


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About the Author

Charles Moffat is equal parts bicycle mechanic, cyclist, painter, sculptor, fantasy writer, poet, website designer and pun maker. For more details see



Do you own a bike shop and are looking to hire a bicycle mechanic in North America? Just email me with the job posting details and I will post it for you. (Also, please let me know when the job has been filled so I can update the posting.)


If your bicycle is basically junk and you don't know what to do with it then SELL IT TO ME. I will use it for parts. I will give you a fair price ($20 to $30) for your old clunker just so I can rip it apart for parts.

If you need repairs check out my Bicycle Mechanic Services in Banbury-Don Mills.