If you’re in the market for a new sweet ride but don’t have a ton of money to spend, it’s possible to get maximum bang-for-your-buck by purchasing a second-hand bike. There are risks associated with buying a bike online from sites like Craigslist or eBay perhaps you could look around Tayside Re-Users for one. Here are a few things to inspect as you sort through our bikes.
1. FRAME & FRONT FORK
A damaged frame or fork makes a used bike virtually useless. Since this is the one part of the bike that can’t be replaced, you’ll want to make sure it’s in good working order before you decide on a purchase. We check all of our frames thoroughly. But here are a few things to look for that would indicated issues:
- Bends in the tubing that can throw off alignment
- Bubbling under the paint, which is a sign of corrosion
Look over the bike very carefully for these signs of damage and if you’re feeling brave go for a test ride checking to make sure the bike can maintain a straight line of travel.
2. HANDLEBARS & HEADSET
Bearings themselves don’t cost that much, but it’s still a good idea to check the condition of the headset before a purchase. You can do this by applying pressure to both brake levers and rocking the bike back and forth. If you hear or feel a knocking noise around the headset, it could require some maintenance.
A problem such as this could also be a signal the owner hasn’t maintained the bike very well. Use caution as you proceed with the inspection and look out for other common signs of neglect (see number 1).
3. WHEELS & TIRES
While you can always use wheels from a different bike or upgrade them later, they are important to check if you don’t have the money for an additional set, as they’re more than likely the second most expensive single part of the bike.
You can check the wheels for trueness by lifting each wheel off the ground and watching it spin. A millimetre or two of wobble can be easily fixed, but be weary of any drastic side-to-side movement that could be an indication of a larger problem.
Check spoke tension by squeezing the spokes together. They should be tight and not have too much movement. Also check the braking surfaces for signs of extreme wear. If the brake track is concave instead of flat, the wheels have probably exceeded their lifespan.
Tires won’t be as expensive to replace as wheels, but while you’re inspecting, have a look at them to determine their overall condition. Look for cracks, bulges and gashes that signal the need for replacement.
When you inspect a drivetrain, it’s a good idea to check the chain first. While it isn’t necessarily the most expensive part of the drivetrain, problems with the chain could mean other parts of the drivetrain need to be replaced as well.
To check the chain, put the bike on the big chainring and the largest rear cog. Pull the chain away from the chainring. A very small amount of space means the chain is probably OK, but if there’s a large gap, over 1/2-inch or so, the chain and other parts of the drivetrain may be worn — like the cassette and chainrings on the front crank.
The next parts you should check are the front and rear derailleurs. Check these by shifting up and down the rear cassette and switching from the big chain ring in the front to the small. If the shifting is smooth, you should be good to go. If not, the parts or cables may need to be replaced.
5. BOTTOM BRACKET & BRAKES
Another fairly expensive part you may or may not have the money to replace right away is the bottom bracket. You can determine if this part needs to be replaced by grabbing one of the crank arms and moving it side to side. If there is excessive movement or a knocking sound, this part may be worn and need to be replaced.
When checking the function of the brakes, don’t squeeze the brake levers at the front of the bike since the problem could be the brake cables themselves, which are an easy fix. Instead squeeze the brake calipers together with your hand. The brake pads should contact the brake track easily and spring back to their original position without much effort.
Not all parts on the bike are a cause for concern. Tears in the saddle covering, dirty bar tape or stretched out cables can all be replaced relatively inexpensively and shouldn’t necessarily factor into your overall decision. The function of the bike, on the other hand, should be your primary concern.
Also, make sure the bike fits you relatively well and is within a range that can be adjusted to your height and reach. While the seat post can be raised and lowered and the reach of the handlebar can be adjusted slightly, if the frame is too large for you there isn’t a lot you can do.
Why not come in and check what we have on offer!