You can save a lot of money shopping the used bike market. Although inexpensive bicycles can be purchased at big box retailers, there is something exciting about searching for a second-hand bicycle with a story. Our guide lets you know what to look for so you don’t end up buying a lemon.
Type of Bike – firstly decide what type of bicycle you are looking for (see our previous Chatter article for more information on bike types). Bicycles come in different sizes (big box retailers use tire size, whereas specialty shops list by frame size) be sure the size is close to your size – one can always adjust the headset and seat for a better fit, but there are limits to that strategy.
Vendors/Where to look – you can buy used bikes at bike shops (some deal exclusively with used inventory, but most have discounts on used bikes), thrift/consignment stores (nearly every store has a bike section), from online sellers (look for a solid return policy if purchasing sight unseen), or even craigslist or Facebook marketplace (you can often inspect the product in person before purchasing). If you’re buying from an individual, consider meeting at a bike shop to have a technician check out your potential purchase.
Components – For a higher quality bicycle, look for a multiple part crank-arm instead of a single piece. This is the part that attaches to the pedals and the front gear. Low quality manufacturers use a single piece that snakes through the bottom bracket. Bikes with quick release wheel skewers offer ease of changing out wheels.
Inspection Checklist – almost any bike you purchase used will need some tuning up. Keep an eye out for a bad investment with this simple checklist:
After your successful search take your bike to the next level with a proper tune-up. Our local bike shops can really make that bike perform amazingly well. Invest in new tires, grips/grip tape to make your new-to-you bike feel like butter – which in-fact is a beautiful thing.
Our articles also appear in the Montevallo Chamber Chatter - find us in print there!