What To Check When Buying A Used Bike | PedalChef

If you are looking to buy a used bike, you should inspect it first. In this article, we will walk you through what to check when buying a used bike.

Are you planning to buy a used bike but you don’t know where to start? Or you are wondering what to look for when buying a used bike? This guide has the answers to all these questions.

When buying a used bike, you should check its overall condition, the frame and the fork, the wheels and tires, the steering, the drivetrain components, bearings, and brakes. You should also check the suspensions if it comes with them as well as whether it has been repainted.

In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the questions to ask when buying a used bike, what to check for when buying a used bike as well as tips for buying a used bike. And with the information we’ve provided in this guide, you will have all the information you need to help you buy a used bike.

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Whether you are looking to purchase a bike for work, leisure or both, buying a used one can help you to save money. Also, going for a second-hand bike can help you to acquire a bike from one of the leading brands, which may be out of your reach if new.

But, while buying a used bike provide an affordable means of being a bike owner, it also comes with some risks. For instance, you may end up buying one that’s beyond repair, meaning you will have spent your money with nothing to show in return. So, how do you make sure you purchase a decent quality used bike? Read on to find out.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Bike

When buying a second-hand bike, you shouldn’t do it blindly. You need to ask the seller as many relevant questions, to ensure the bike you are getting will deliver value for your money.

Some of the questions to ask the seller include the reasons why they are selling the bike, how long they’ve had the bike, its usage history, and the parts they’ve changed on the bike.

Other relevant and useful questions that you should ask the seller include whether it has ever crashed, whether there’s any part in the bike not currently working as well as where they purchased the bike, just to list a few.

The more information you have about the bike, the better. So, before you proceed to make arrangements for viewing the bike, you should ensure you ask the above questions.

You should also ask the seller to send you a couple of the bike’s photos so that you can make a preliminary assessment. If the seller is hesitant to answer any of these questions or isn’t ready to provide you with photos, you should consider shopping elsewhere.

What to Check When Buying a Used Bike

If the seller has convincingly answered the questions that you’ve asked above, you can make arrangements to see the bike in person, so that you can undertake a thorough inspection

This inspection will help you to determine the bike’s current condition. And based on its condition, you can decide whether to proceed with the purchase or not. So, what should you check when buying a used bike? Here is what to check when buying a used bike.

Overall Condition

Before you proceed to undertake an in-depth assessment of the bike, you should first check its overall condition or appearance. This initial assessment will help to give you an idea of the bike’s condition, and to decide whether to undertake a comprehensive assessment or not. Also, checking its general condition will help to give you an idea of whether that bike has been in use and well maintained or whether it has been sitting in the garage for years.

Its frame and fork should be clean. While it may have a few marks here and there, they shouldn’t be too big. It shouldn’t have cracks, dents, big chips or severe corrosion.

Another key area that you should check when assessing its overall condition are the touch-down points. As the name suggests, these are places where the bike will come into contact with the ground when crashed or dropped. So, check the sides of the handlebars, side of the seat, rear derailleur, and pedals.

If the bike in question has gouges, cracks, gouges or large chips, there’s a high chance the bike has been dropped severally or it may have crashed. And as a result, the bike may have severe structural damage, which may not be visible.

In case the bike’s frame appears severely damaged, it will be highly advisable to avoid purchasing such a bike. If you proceed to buy such a bike, you may end up spending hundreds of dollars trying to fix it. And, the overall amount that you spend on the bike may end up being equal or close to the amount you may have spent buying a new one.

Check the Wheels and Tires

After undertaking a general assessment of the bike to ascertain its condition, you should then proceed to the wheels. Wheels are among the most expensive components of a bike. Therefore, you will need to pay close attention to them during the inspection process.

When checking the wheels, you should first give each one of them a thorough spin. And when spinning, check whether they are running straight or they are wobbling. If the wheels are wobbling, it’s an indication that they will need some work.

If the bike comes with rim brakes, you should check the areas of the rims that come into contact with the brakes when brakes are applied. If these areas are deeply grooved, it’s an indication that you will need to replace the bike’s rims soon.

Apart from the rims, you also need to check the bike’s tires. As much as you can replace the tires, doing so will come at a cost. And this will push the cost of purchasing the bike higher. So, the bike’s tires should be in decent condition at the time of the purchase.

Most bike tires come with wear indicators. The wear indicator is usually a small hole positioned somewhere in the center. In case you can’t see this hole, then it’s a sign that the remaining tread on the tire is inadequate, meaning you will have to replace them after buying the bike.


A bike’s drivetrain consists of several components, which work together to propel it. They include cranks, chain, front cogs, rear cogs, shifters, and derailleurs. Considering that these parts usually work together, they also tend to wear together.

And as much as one worn component doesn’t mean that the entire unit is damaged, there’s a high chance that if you have to replace one component, you will also need to replace the others.

And as you may expect, replacing the entire drive train will be quite costly. Therefore, it will be highly advisable to purchase a used bike whose drive train is in good condition.

For the drivetrain, you should begin by checking the cranks. You should check for any forms of damage such as dents, bends, scratches and chips. If the cranks have any sign of damage, it means you will need to replace them soon.

After the cranks, you should proceed to the front and rear cogs. For the cogs, you should check whether they have sharpened teeth. If their teeth appear sharpened, it’s a sign of excessive wear and tear.

And if the teeth are severely worn, there will be poor chain engagement, thus causing the gears to slip. Again, you will be forced to replace these cogs.

You should then proceed to the chain. For the chain, you will check its stretch. And one of the easiest methods of checking the stretch is by using a ruler. With this method, you simply need to position the ruler’s 0-inch mark directly in line with one of the chain’s pins.

From there, you should then count 24 rivets. The 24th rivet should be positioned at the ruler’s 12-inch mark. If the rivet is off by more than 1/16-inch, it’s a sign that the chain is severely damaged and needs to be replaced.

You should finally check the shifters and derailleurs. Both should be moving freely. You can check the functioning of the derailleurs by shifting gears. If they are not freely and easily or you notice any major dents or scratches, it’s highly likely they are damaged.


You also need to check the bike’s brakes thoroughly. Ideally, the brakes should be moving freely and easily without having to apply excessive force. Also, they shouldn’t be producing strange sounds when you apply them. If you have to apply excessive force or they are producing strange sounds, they may need a replacement.

You should also check the general condition of the brakes. The calipers should be in good shape, minus any scratches or bends. Also, the rubber component shouldn’t have serious wear or any form of superficial damage.


Some bikes also come with suspension. And, replacing suspension components is quite costly. So, if you are buying a used bike that comes with a suspension, you need to check this area carefully to ensure it’s in good working condition.

For the suspension, you should begin with the seals. The seals help to keep the suspension oil in. Also, they help to keep out debris and dust. If the seals are worn out, it’s highly likely that the oil has already leaked and the interior components have been worn out by dirt and dust. As a result, you may be forced to repair the entire suspension, if you were to buy such a bike.

Some of the other key areas of the suspension that you should check include the bearings and bushings. You should also lean on the bike’s handlebars with your body weight, to check whether the suspension is working smoothly or it has some sort of stickiness. Also, you should listen for strange noises or squeaks, which may signal damage.

Tips for Buying a Used Bike

At this point, you have a clear idea of what to check when buying a used bike, to ensure you get one that doesn’t have expensive repairs. In this section, we will give you some helpful tips for buying a used bike, to help make the entire process safer and easier:

  • Confirm it’s not stolen
  • Ensure it’s the right size for you
  • Bring a friend to meet the seller
  • Don’t buy a used bike from an unknown brand
  • Check parts availability
  • Look out for counterfeit bikes

Closing Remarks

If you desire to own a mountain bike but you are on a tight budget, you should consider buying a used one. By buying a used bike, you will end up saving hundreds of dollars. And as long as you conduct thorough due diligence, you should be able to get a high-quality used bike that will offer value for your money.