Buying a used bike: all you need to know
In this Article
Published on September 13, 2022 (updated on January 9, 2023)
There is no shortage of reasons to buy a used bike today. Shortage of new equipment, environmental and anti-waste commitments, low prices, good deals... There are many opportunities to buy a Specialized, Pinarello or Lapierre bike at a reduced price, as long as you don't neglect the second hand market.
If you don't find what you're looking for at The Cyclist House (which we highly doubt), you might be able to find it on online sales sites, but beware: to see your search succeed, you'd better be patient. Indeed, on sites such as Leboncoin or Troc-Vélo, you will find "food and drink", in other words, ads of very uneven quality, or even outright scams! In this article, we offer you our 7 tips for buying a used bike without stress.
Where to buy a used bike?
There are many ad sites among which the famous Leboncoin, Troc-Vélo, Biked, Decathlon Occasions (Trocathlon), etc. We will not launch here in a comparative study of these platforms, for the only reason... that they are very similar! They all offer, on the one hand, a large selection of bikes (road, Gravel, MTB, VAE, etc.), and on the other hand, quite elaborate filters to make an advanced search. So rather than favouring one site (it is not uncommon to find the same bike for sale on several of them), it is much better to train yourself to find the right ads.
Most sites try to structure the ads (by restricting the input by means of drop-down menus for example), but this is not enough to hide the extremely heterogeneous character of texts written by individuals... How to find then, in the mass of heterogeneous ads (presenting themselves products of variable quality), the bike of your dreams ? We take stock in this article.
7 points to check before buying a second hand bike online.
The process can seem laborious, but you will not escape it... Before falling on the the right ad (and to contact the seller), you will have to make an important selection. How do you go about it? For us, a good ad is above all detailed breathing the cyclist connoisseur. It contains precise information on a number of points that should be studied carefully.
1. The bike model
It's very simple, but a good ad is first of all a good title. If someone tries to sell you a "Cannondale road bike" or a "Trek Madone", let's not lie, it's not a good idea... It's all too vague! If the ad doesn't have the full model name of the bike in the title or in the first few lines, you're dealing with someone who doesn't know what they're selling, or who didn't think it was worthwhile to inform you. This is a bad sign.
2. The year of the bike
This is crucial information. If it is missing, you can always ask for it... or walk away! Because do you really want to do business with this person?
⚠️ Beware of the sometimes misunderstood term "bike year": it normally refers to the year the model was released, not the year the bike was purchased. In any case, make sure you speak the same language as your seller, as it is easy to cheat on this parameter. For example, they may try to sell you a 2018 bike bought used in 2020 in 2022, but only specify "2020"... When a bike is passed from hand to hand, it is always good to know its history!
💡 The Cyclist House has chosen the rigor. For us, "year of the bike = year of the model". Always.
3. The size of the bike
An ad that does not mention (or badly) the size of the bike does not deserve your attention; it has only one vocation: to end up in the trash.
Depending on the manufacturer, the size of the bike is either a number (54 cm, 56 cm, 58 cm, etc.) or a letter (M, L, XL, etc.), but rarely both! If it is a number AND a letter, it means that the seller has deduced one from the other... Did he make the right calculation? Nothing is less sure. Instead of venturing into such correspondences, it is better to indicate the rider's size (as a range). Most brands indicate this information on their website for each model.
⚠️ Leboncoin offers a categorization based on a letter, sometimes forcing advertisers to convert a frame size (the number) into just a size (the letter). Not great: errors abound. If you're between sizes, be prepared to be confused.
💡 The Cyclist House has chosen the clarity. The title of the ads is formatted as follows: Make - Model - Year - Size. No doubt, we know what we are talking about.
4. The condition of the bike
Unfortunately, this is often a very vague notion. Even though online sales sites are spreading definitions, the assessment of the bike's condition is left to the seller and this is not ideal. What distinguishes a "good condition" from a "very good condition"? Not easy. Even if the cycling community is largely supportive and benevolent, it's a good idea to praise/boost the quality of your product. Faced with the machine (always go and see before you buy), the disappointment is sometimes as great as that of a Thibaut Pinot finishing third in Mende (or elsewhere).
Even approximate, the mileage is an important piece of information, providing information on the degree of use of the bicycle and on the wear of its components (mainly chain and Cassette). If the ad does not mention it, we advise you to ask the seller.
💡 The Cyclist House has chosen theobjectivity. Unlike other platforms that only inspect bikes once they have been sold, all the bikes available on our site are Certified Pre-Owned in our workshop in Strasbourg before before being offered for sale. Our mechanic gives each bike in stock a grade ranging from 6/10 (average) to 10/10 (like new), awarded after a thorough 114-point inspection This score is broken down into 5 sub-scores on a condition graph. For more information, please refer to our guide.
An ad without information about the bike's components, at least the main ones, is not an ad! The reader of a decent ad will find information on the material of the frame the type of brakingt he type and model of the group the type of crankset and number of gears, the model, size and material of the wheels the model and size of the tires etc.
⚠️ A priori, the model and year of the bike are enough to find the complete list of its components (either on the manufacturer's website or on a dealer's website). But be careful! The bike may have been replaced, improved and/or repaired, which should obviously be taken into account!
💡 The Cyclist House has chosen to exhaustiveness. All the technical characteristics of the bike are presented in a dedicated section. No need to look elsewhere, everything is there.
6. The geometry
Hesitating on the size, you would like to check the length of a horizontal tube or a length of cranks? The overwhelming majority of ads do not contain information about the frame geometry, so you have two options: 1. ask the seller (but it's a bit risky); 2. ask Google yourself (but it's a bit of a pain, especially if the bike is old).
💡 The Cyclist House has chosen you simplify the task. The main frame geometry measurements (stack, reach, Seat tubeetc.) are provided as an indication. Thanks to whom?
7. The pictures
Photos, when taken by individuals, are often a source of frustration. Is the chain really clean? Are the teeth of the Cassette so well designed? Isn't there a scratch on the crankset? It is not always easy to see.
💡 The Cyclist House has chosen the transparency. Our bikes are professionally photographed from every angle; the interface allows you to zoom in on the smallest detail, which our mechanics have lovingly prepared for you.
Bonus: 3 tips to be sure to avoid scams
Check the seller's profile
It doesn't cost anything, I'd even say it doesn't eat bread! Keep your eyes open: you don't want to make a deal with someone who is plagued with bad ratings and reviews.
💡 At The Cyclist House, customer satisfaction is our priority. Our customers give us an average rating of 4.8/5.
Search away from home
It would be silly to miss a good deal for a few kilometers... Don't hesitate to widen the scope of your search: if you like a bike, you will always find a way to get it.
💡 The Cyclist House has chosen the efficiency. All our bikes are available immediately and we deliver to all countries in the European Union in less than 3 working days.
Try the bike
Since most of the websites do not allow the return of items, it is simply essential to go and try your future bike before closing the deal. In front of the product, you will check two main things:
1. That you like it! (It's silly, but a new bike should like it, you have to like its shapes and colors, dream about it at night, at the risk of losing interest in it very quickly - at the price it cost you, that would be a pity) ;
2. That the general and specific condition of its components (frame, steering, transmission, brakes, wheels, tires) is as advertised and as you expect (in other words, that everything looks clean and functional).
Once you've checked it out, ask the seller for permission to go for a ride, even a block or two, but please don't forget to drive it! This will ensure several things: 1. that you feel comfortable, that the position suits you (try them all, HandlebarThat the gears shift smoothly (try them all), that the shifts are smooth; 3. That the brakes work; 4. That there are no suspicious noises or other suspicious creaks.
💡 Make your purchase with confidence peace of mind with The Cyclist House. Once received, you will have 30 days to test your new bike. Don't like it? Send it back!
Now that this article is over, you are better equipped to find the right used bike. In order not to discourage you too quickly, we have seen that it is important to target detailed ads, giving the impression of having been written by experts. Be demanding and picky, don't overlook any aspect of things: information asymmetry usually plays nasty tricks.
If, in spite of our advice and your efforts, your research should not be successful, do not hesitate to turn to The Cyclist House, whose customer service has been designed following unsuccessful experiences on the ad sites. We will be happy to help you. See you soon!
You want to sell your bike? Read our article about the sale.