View Full Version : Used bikes - what to check for pre-purchase?

01-07-2011, 10:31 PM

Searching for new road bikes for me and the wife. Considering both new and used. In the case of a used bike, what sorts of stuff should I be watching for?

I assume standard stuff like cracks anywhere on the frame, signs of damage in general, etc. But what other specific tell-tales might there be?

Also, in some cases a used bike will be older. Any age-related bugaboos I should be aware of?

Thanks in advance!

01-08-2011, 08:49 AM
Personally, I would focus on the drive train. Check the bottom bracket to see if it creaks---could just need cleaning and re-tightening or could be played out. Not hard to replace, you just want to factor in any such replacement costs. And---sorry if I'm telling you something you already know---if you think you are going to need to replace the chain, count on having to replace the chainring and cassette, too.
Good luck. Hope you both find the perfect bike.

01-09-2011, 11:58 AM
Another good thing to check are the tires. Even though they may have a decent amount to tread left, inspect the sidewalls for splits/cracks. Age will break down tires just as badly as usage/road wear, and can cost more than you think to replace.

Mark Blacknell
01-09-2011, 07:45 PM
Hard to give useful advice without knowing more. I think you're on the right track with paying attention to frame issues, and as 1/8th sorta suggests, you should factor in a chain/cassette replacement to your costs. If you're buying a bike with thoughts of upgrading pieces, make sure that you're aware off all of the pieces of the puzzle. Rarely will it be an easy component-out-component-in swap.

As to frame stuff, make sure you're looking at *clean* frame when you make that evaluation. Hairline cracks can be hard to ID in the best of situations. Give the places where the tubes come together extra attention (e.g., head tube, just below seat, bottom bracket, etc.).

01-18-2011, 06:36 PM
I assume that you're not looking at carbon fiber.

Always check where the top and down tubes connect to the head tube for evidence of a crash. I always check for alignment of the rear dropout (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/frame-spacing.html)s.

I always found it near impossible to tell if a bottom bracket is crunchy without taking off the crank. BBs are typically an easy fix anyway. Hubs are much easier.

Checking the cables (fraying?), brakes (springs and pads), and tires are straightforward.