I wanted to share a few tips and tricks in what to look for when you come across used road bikes for sale. How do you know, when it’s used, whether it still has life left in it or not and whether or not its going to be pricey to fix things that are broken or just plain missing from a bike your looking into purchasing? Read on to get a quick run down of my top tips…
First I’m going to list things that you may find wrong but are not a big deal. Sometimes you almost want to find some of these minor things because you can then negotiate a better price! It depends slightly on how handy you are and what you think you may be able to fix yourself but in any case these are relatively inexpensive to repair or replace.
- Check for no tread, cracks and dry rotting, and no tires at all. Tires are not too expensive and are among the easiest things to replace. Don’t pass up a bike just because of the tires!
- Check for flats. A flat tire typically is just due to a punctured tube which is only a few bucks to purchase and a good repair to learn how to do since you’ll likely need to in the future anyway.
- Check the pads for uneven wear or see if there even are any and check how they work. Pads are inexpensive and also easy to replace.
- Check the cabling. The cabling often rusts, the housing cracks or gets dried out, or the cable may even be broken or disconnected. Cables are also cheap and easy to fix so don’t be discouraged if you find problems here.
- Shifters, gears and derailers
- Check again for rust on any of these parts, bends, breaks, etc. See if it shifts gears and if it shifts into all the gears. This begins to get a bit more complex but definitely still not worth passing on the bike. Especially since you could make it into a single speed just as easily!
- Check the chain. It often rusts easily or falls of the gears. These are minor issues and can be fixed inexpensively.
- Check the grips and see if they twist on the bars, they are not supposed to! Also, check how worn they are. Again, an easy and inexpensive fix if you find these issues.
- Check the seat for tears, holes, scratches and just plain comfort when you sit on it. Often times you’ll want to replace the seat regardless of it’s condition to get one that fits you style and ‘shape’. Use an ugly seat as a reason for a good deal not for a reason not to purchase!
Next, are the more important components that may make you want to pass on a purchase because it is not repairable or more expensive to fix than it’s worth or possibly even unsafe to ride.
- Frame and Fork
- Investigate the frame and fork for deep digs, bends, rust, or cracks. These are tall tell signs of abuse or overuse and generally are too expensive to be worth repairing.
- Check the bearings that hold the bars and fork onto the frame. Look for oozing grease, rust, or un-smooth operation. The bars and fork should turn freely with no grinding or rough feel. Although this is a fixable condition it is a more difficult and requires special tools.
- Check that they spin smoothly and that there is no wobble. Dirty is ok rusty is not, pay attention here.
- They should also spin circularly and not feel oblong or bent.
- Check the rim, slightly out of balance is ok, but dents, rust and harsh bends mean replacement and these can be pricey for a decent set.
- Check the hub and spokes. Hubs should spin smoothly and preferably be sealed. Look for a small rubber ring/gasket surrounding the hub on both sides, this is generally a good sign that the hubs are sealed indicating better quality and longer life.
That’s all there is to it! Generally speaking, check closely for cracks, rust, and bad dents. These indicate unsafe or at least unpredictable parts which would need replaced. Inspect the parts that have issues and make sure if there are problems that with any parts that if that single part (or few parts) is replaced that it would then be safe to ride and in resell-able condition (even if your not planning to sell it).
If you are ever unsure what something costs to fix just check online! I buy a lot of my gear from Jenson USA.com. They have a great selection, reasonable prices, and have a good return policy. Even if you don’t but from them just check out prices of the parts you think may need replaced while onsite looking at the bike. A few minutes spend verifying prices before your purchase could save you a lot of money down the road.