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Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Bike

author image Holly L. Roberts
Holly Roberts is an award-winning health and fitness writer whose work has appeared in health, lifestyle and fitness magazines. Roberts has also worked as an editor for health association publications and medical journals. She has been a professional writer for more than 10 years and holds a B.A. in English and an M.A. in literature.
Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Bike
A used bike can be a good investment if you ask the right questions. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images

If you're new to biking or looking for a bargain price on a higher-end bicycle, buying a used bike may be a preferable option. Bikes tend to have long lifespans if they're well cared for, and many old bikes can ride like new with the help of a few minor repairs. If you're in the market for a used bike, start with your local bicycle shop. You can also find used bikes in online classifieds, auction sites and even at garage sales.

Where Do You Buy Parts for Your Bike?

Routine repairs are a normal part of bike maintenance, so it's important to make sure parts for your used bike are readily available or to prepare for the potential hassle of having to track them down, says the Adventure Cycling Association. If you're planning to bike long distances, you may want to consider whether parts for your new bike will be commonly available on the road if you need to replace a shift lever or cassette. Specialized parts may mean longer wait times for repairs when your bike is out of commission.

How Many Miles Have You Put on the Bike Chain?

If a bike's chain and cassette have been working for more than a few thousand miles, you'll probably need to replace them in the near future, according to the Adventure Cycling Association. Since you need to replace the chain and cassette at the same time for the best results, you can expect to add between $50 and $100 to the cost of your bike.

Have You Ever Been in a Crash?

Clearly asking if the owner has ever been in a serious crash helps you understand the background of the bike. Carefully inspecting the bike's condition is also useful. While rust and chipped paint are nothing to worry about, dents can cause serious problems, according to Mother Nature Network's Green Tech. Also, look for cracks, uneven welding or a bent frame near the wheels, all of which can signal that the previous owner has had a serious crash.

Do You Mind If I Have My Bike Shop Check It Out?

If you're new to bike shopping or spot something that you're not sure about, ask your local cycle shop to evaluate the bike. Mechanics not only can quickly determine when a used bike comes with any potential safety problems, but they also can give you an idea of when you can expect to need replacements for brakes, tires and other parts so you know if you'll be spending more money on your purchase in the near future.

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