Tips for Buying a Used Bike

Here’s what to look for when buying a used bike.

| July 2, 2013

Uban Biking Handbook

Learn the ins and outs of cycling culture in “The Urban Biking Handbook.”

Cover Courtesy Quarry Books

Across the United States people are leaving their cars behind and immersing themselves in the bicycle culture. The Urban Biking Handbook (Quarry Books, 2011) by Charles Haine offers an illustrated guide to cycling culture with repair and maintenance techniques as well as information on the health benefits of cycling. In this excerpt from part one, “The Ride,” learn what to look for when buying a used bike.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Urban Biking Handbook.

A new bike offers a few benefits: you know its history (or lack of one), it is generally covered under at least a 1-year warranty against defects of manufacture, and practically every reputable bicycle shop offers a year of free tune-ups with the purchase of a new bicycle. Whether these benefits are worth the increase in price is a decision every cyclist makes for himself.

A more common route to bicycle ownership is buying a used bike. Every community offers a variety of outlets for used bikes, from thrift stores to community bike shops to online classified services. Used bikes offer great value, but come with unknowns, such as their previous maintenance history. With most types of bikes, however, a quick visual inspection will reveal if the bike is a lemon.

What to Look for When Buying A Used Bike

Examine the frame carefully for any cracks or dings. Though minor scrapes are not a problem, and to some cyclists actually a benefit (someone else has taken care of that emotionally painful first scrape), cracks or major dents in the frame, especially dents or bends that create bulging, should be avoided.

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