Buy vs. Don’t Buy: What to look for in a used road bikes

April 20, 2015

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.

  1. Tires
    1. 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!
    2. 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.
  2. Brakes
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
  3. Shifters, gears and derailers
    1. 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!
    2. Check the chain. It often rusts easily or falls of the gears. These are minor issues and can be fixed inexpensively.
  4. Comforts
    1. 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.
    2. 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.

  1. Frame and Fork
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
  2. Cranks
    1. Check that they spin smoothly and that there is no wobble. Dirty is ok rusty is not, pay attention here.
    2. They should also spin circularly and not feel oblong or bent.
  3. Wheels
    1. 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.
    2. 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 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.


Another good why ride single speed or fixed gear thread…

April 6, 2015

I was browsing the other day and found this good question and answer thread on why people ride single speed bikes and fixed gear bikes. I liked that actual people had answers and they were quite varied. I often try to avoid this question because I know the answers are very different for different people. However, I felt since there were a lot of good responses that it could be helpful to those looking to understand and potentially move in that direction.

I personally like single speed because of the fewer distractions when riding (no shifting gears) so you can focus on just pedaling and (if on city roads) avoiding cars, potholes and traffic. I also like that it simplifies the bike which in turn means it is lighter and there are less parts to potentially break, wear out or replace. The added exercise benefit is a nice bonus but definitely not a motivator for myself. for Used Road Bikes?!?

December 3, 2009

I was quite surprised the other day when browsing to find that not only do they have decently priced new road bikes, but on occasion you can even find used road bikes!  The lowest priced one I’ve seen so far is $140 which is more than a lot of older used road bikes, but for that price your actually getting a newer, relatively good bike.   I have not actually purchased or seen one in person, however, the ratings seem to speak quite highly for most of them (especially the Schwinn’s).  Schwinn’s quality definitely tanked when they got bought out, but I’d say they still have the best bikes among the cheap ones.  From my knowledge of bikes, the specs on them seem decent as well, especially at that price point.  Not the end all solution, but for someone tired of looking or just wants one quick this might be a great alternative.  See them all HERE!

National Bike Month!

May 18, 2009

I’m a little late to post this but better late than never…May is national bike month and bike-to-work week was last week and bike-to-work day was last Friday. Again, sorry for the late post. 😦   However, there are lots of other events and rides all month! Check out the League of American Bicyclists (excerpt below) for more info.

May is National Bike Month

The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week from May 11-15 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 15. Need some ideas? Use the League’s step by step guide on how to get started promoting your event. Help us Count Cyclists In this May, and every month!

This is the official site for National Bike Month. Check the events section often to see what bike month and bike to work week events are going on in your community. If you would like to submit your event information to be posted on this site, email it to Please make sure you write, “Bike Month Event” in the subject line of the email.

So get out and ride some this month and watch out for those that ARE riding if your having to drive.  I’ll be sure to post something about this again next year…a bit earlier!  Lastly, even if you’re not planning anything this month the League of American Bicyclists website is a very valuable source for all kinds of biking info (including local searches), check it out!

Fixed Gear Not Just for the Road

April 30, 2009

The road bike scene has been changing drastically over the past few years.  This is part of the reason it is more difficult to find used road bikes for cheap.  There is a whole new market for these bikes that keeps expanding and changing.  Bikes,  for a long time, have been for more than just transportation.  The video below is an example of how far it has come…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Fixed 3 on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

The reason I share this is because it helps show that there are a wide variety of uses for used road bikes other than just road based transportation.  And being a blog on used road bikes, it is only fair to cover any and all aspects. Also, knowing about the other uses of the bikes may help people to find one for themselves, which is the main topic of this blog.

I personally think that if a bike is being used and enjoyed, then it is of no concern how it is used.  Regardless, the many other uses of used road bikes stirs quite  a debate across different riding disciplines.  Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below!

Best Online Sources for Used Road Bikes

March 29, 2009

Although online isn’t necessarily the best or cheapest place to get a used road bike, it is the best alternative if you are having no luck finding one locally.  In this post I’ll list and describe the top sites I’ve had luck finding used road bikes on.   Most have a revolving inventory so if you don’t see anything right away keep checking back.  These sites are also listed from best to worst according to my experience with each.

First, is one I’ve mentioned before, which is Craigslist.  It’s really hit or miss.  But this one tends to have the most ‘inventory’ of bikes for sale, it’s just a matter of how much your willing to pay and how much you want to search.  You could really search any and all cities for used road bikes and if you find one you like ask the seller if they would be willing to ship it.  This would obviously cost more due to the shipping, but if the deals there it may be worth it.

Next, is Recycled Cyles.  They typically sell newer bikes and are often higher priced bikes.  Their bikes are decent deals, it’s again just a matter of whether you want to spend more to get a newer/nicer bike.

Last, is good ‘ol Ebay.  Ebay can produce good deals on occassion, but it could still take a while since there aren’t quite as many used road bikes on there as some other sources.  However, if you are diligent and again are willing to pay a bit more Ebay is a great source.  Also, if other people are bidding on it up to a certain point and you finally win you know you got the bike for very close to what it is actually worth.

That’s all for now!   If and/or when I find more I’ll be sure to add them to the list.  If you’ve had luck with any of these online sources for used road bikes or another not listed here, please share in the comments.

Make New Friends, Find Used Road Bikes!

February 19, 2009

Another way of finding used road bikes that I never thought of, because it is so obvious, is to get out to some races, rides, or communities and meet some other bike riders.  Not only is there a good chance they will have a bike you could use/buy/get parts from but they can also assist you in your search much better than anyone else.  Much like how I try help here but on a more local and personal level.  Most people who get addicted to bicycling end up with multiple bikes, many times of the same type (road bike for example).  So it’s a win-win for everyone.  You and others make new friends and find more people to ride with, you get a bike or advice or parts or whatever they can offer, and the other person gets to sell their bike or parts or help friends do the same.  There are lots of ways to find out who and where cyclists are and they meet.


The first place, obviously, is the net.  There are many forums for all types of cycling.  I’ve listed the top few below, but feel free to do your own search.  Many of them are have regional sections but just getting on and posting you’ll start to see active users in your area.  Send them a message and ask if you can meet or if they know anyone with a bike or parts.  Also, do a search for local cycling events, it’s not uncommon for county parks and other recreation facilities to put together rides/races/events.  The other search you could perform is for local ride groups such as Faster Mustache (one of Atlanta’s better cycling sites).

Local Bike Shops

Local bikes shops are another place to ask and look for events and races where you could meet other riders.  They commonly have calenders of events and sometimes even a e-mail newsletter list you could subscribe to to stay up to date on events.  This includes the larger box stores such as REI.

I’m sure there’s other ways as well.  If you’ve done any of these or have your own tips to share please add them in the comments.