How To Buy A Used Bike – What To Look For When Buying A Second Hand Road Bike

How To Buy A Used Bike – What To Look For When Buying A Second Hand Road Bike


– Buying a used, second-hand bike is potentially a great way of getting a better bike for your budget. Now this one isn’t gonna
win the Tour de France but we did pick it up for just 90 quid. So that’s like, 100 euros or 110 bucks. Now there is the risk, of course, that when buying a used bike you end up spending good money on a complete pile of rubbish. But let me assure you that buying a used bike is a far simpler process
than buying a used car. For a start, there’s much
less that can go wrong. But then, crucially, you can
actually check everything over before you buy it without
even needing tools. How you find the bike
is kind of up to you. You could look at Craig’s List or Gumtree, or your local paper or a
bike shop notice board, word-of-mouth which is particularly good, and then of course eBay, although that does require a
slightly different technique. But if we fast-forward
through the finding process we will get to the point where
at which you will go and see what is potentially your new bike. And it’s at this point
that I’m gonna show you how you can avoid buying
a complete turkey. Firstly, we’re gonna wanna check over probably the most
valuable part of the bike, the frame and forks. We wanna make sure that
it’s not bent, or cracked, or dented, or starting to rust. So, start at the front of the bike, and very thoroughly check it over. So we want to look for signs of bubbling under the paint work that might indicate that it’s becoming corroded. And then we also want to
look closely for dents, and, particularly if it’s
a carbon bike, cracks, even hairline cracks. And then, bending is
slightly harder to spot, or at least by eyeball, so what you want to do is
take the bike for a test ride and then try and take your
hands off the handlebars. If you can normally do that, but you’re struggling on the new bike, then the chances are that it
might be out of alignment. (cash register ringing) If you’re happy with the frame and forks, then we’re gonna start checking
over the other components. So, first up, we’re gonna begin by
pulling on the front brake and then rocking the bike
backwards and forwards. If you feel a knocking noise, then chances are that
it’s got a loose headset. So that’s just two bearings at the top and at the bottom here. Now, they are quite easily fixed and indeed not very expensive to replace. But, if the bike’s got a loose headset, it suggests to me that
the person who owns it hasn’t looked after it very well, in which case we’re gonna need to proceed with a bit more caution. (cash register ringing) Wheels. Pretty important I think you’ll agree. Give them a good spin. Make sure that they are straight. A couple of millimetres out, and you can easily get that trued up. Any more, you wanna start
thinking about raising the alarm. Also, check spoke tension. So grab ahold of the spokes. They should feel nice and tight. And then, whilst we’re still down here, have a look at the rim
braking surface itself. So it should be pretty much flat. If it’s concave then that
suggests that the rim itself is nearly worn out. And that’s pretty expensive. (cash register ringing) Grab the tyre, and try and move the
wheel from side to side. If there’s any play or knocking then it suggests that the
wheel bearings are worn out. They can be replaced but factor it in. (cash register ringing) Inspect the tyre as well. How worn out is it? Is there a flat spot down the middle? And are there any cuts
or holes that might mean that it needs to be replaced. This part of the bike here is called the drivetrain, and whilst each individual part of it might not be that be that expensive, because it’s all so well-linked, actually you’ll find that if
you need to replace one part, you might often need to replace more. So, it is worth checking the
condition of it really closely. We’re gonna start by looking at the chain. So pop the bike in the big
chain ring in the front. And then grab a link of chain
and try and pull it away from the chain ring. Now how far the chain moves shows how worn out it is. This one is actually in really good shape. If you can pull it away
much more than that, then you’re gonna need
to replace the chain, at then which point, we need to definitely look at the other bits too. (cash register ringing) A worn out chain is likely
to mean worn out chain rings, so these two bits here, and also a worn out cassete. They are unfortunately a
little bit harder to tell if they are on the way out, but what you’re looking for
are teeth that are uneven, so they’re more worn out on one side and it gives them a shark
tooth kind of profile. So these are alright but that one there gives you a bit of an idea
of what they might look like. (cash register ringing) Derailleurs. The actual parts that
change your gears for you. Important and also potentially
expensive to replace. To check them, we need
to actually change gears and see whether everything works smoothly. If it doesn’t, it may actually not be the
fault of the derailleur. It might that you have
worn or rusty gear cables. And that’s not serious. Those are very easy to replace. And so we also need to move
the derailleurs by hand, so literally grab them with
your thumb and forefingers. If they feel stiff, then they may well need some serious TLC. And then whilst we’re there, also give them a bit of a waggle. If there’s too much movement, then again that might show the
derailleur is on the way out. (cash register ringing) Before we leave the drivetrain, one last test, and that is to grab the crank, so the bit near the pedal and then just try and
move it from side to side. If there’s any play then that shows that the bottom bracket, which is the two bearings
that live inside the frame, is worn out. And that might need replacing. And that’s not a straightforward job. (cash register ringing) Believe it or not, we’re nearly there. Brakes though, incredibly
important obviously but just like with your gears, the cables could actually be misleading. So don’t squeeze the levers necessarily. You want to squeeze
the callipers directly. So they should move really quite easily and they should spring back instantly. Any stiffness and that could
then mean they need replacing. There are things on the
bike where actually, it doesn’t really matter that much so you shouldn’t let them
colour your impression of the overall bike itself. So right now I’m looking
at dirty bar tape. Absolutely revolting but easy to replace. And then, there’s also brake pads. So worn out brake pads are
relatively inexpensive. You’ve just got to remember to change them if you do buy the bike. And then also, as I’ve been talking about
the brake and gear cables, those are relatively inexpensive, straightforward to replace, but they can completely
transform the way the bike actually feels to ride, so
probably a good investment. In fact, pretty much everything on the
bike can indeed be replaced. You just have to factor it in to the cost of the bike itself, and therein, I suppose, lies the trick. You can get a complete bargain even if you need to replace the chain, the brake pads,
and the bar tape as well. But it does mean though, while buying a decent second-hand
bike is straightforward, it’s probably best done by
someone that has a little bit of mechanical know-how. And if you don’t have that
much mechanical know-how, then please make sure you set
aside a little bit of money to actually be able to take the bike into a local bike shop, and get them to have a look at it before you get it on the road, just to make sure that it is roadworthy. Now another option is of course GCN because we are quite the online resource for mechanical know-how. So your first port of
call should probably be to subscribe to the channel. It’s completely free. To do it you’ve just got
to click on the globe. And then right now, the two jobs I need to do
are changing the bar tape, so if you want to see a video on that you can click just up there, and reconditioning a rear derailleur. If you want to see that
video click just down there.