What To Look For When Buying A Used Bike

If you’re not a mechanic, shopping for a used bike is pretty intimidating, but Global Cycling Network lays down some simple things to look out for.

The video runs through a number of tips, some more obvious then others. Here are some highlights:

  • Give the bike a once over, looking for dents, bending and rust. If it’s a carbon bike, look closely for cracks. Test for any weird bends by taking it for test ride then take your hands off the handlebars (assuming you can ride no handed). If the bike wobbles a lot, it might be out of alignment.
  • Check the headset by holding down the brakes and moving the bike back and forth. If you feel a knocking noise, it has a loose headset which, while a cheap fix, also suggests the owner hasn’t looked after it very well.
  • Check your brakes by squeezing the calipers directly instead of pulling on the brake levers. If they spring back, they’re good.

There’s lots more in the video, including everything you need to look at on the drivetrain, and knowing what’s safe to ignore, like a gunky chain or gross bar tape. Once you do settle on a used bike, be sure to take it into your local bike shop for a once-over if you’re not mechanically inclined yourself.

How to Buy a Used Bike [YouTube]


  • Unless you are buying it for the components, don’t buy a used bike. New bikes are really good value. You can get a new carbon frame bike with Shimano 105 components for $1400. You may be able to buy a used bike for less than this but it may not be your size and its unlikely to have superior components.

    If you are looking to upgrade your groupset, wheels, pedals, then buying used can provide good value but I would stay away from buying your first bike second hand.

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