11. April, 23:18 Uhr
Alright, so with posts regularly asking about whether you should buy an used bike or not, I decided to write this thread to give some advice.
I bought my first road bike, it was a Ribble Winter Audax with Campagnolo Veloce and it cost me a little over a 100 quid. Even now I'd say it was a decent deal, but having inspected it in full and fixing all of its problems over the past year, there were many headaches that could have been avoided.
* Before you decide to look at it in person - do you want the bike? Is it **reasonably priced**? Is it a good bike for your **needs** (a time trial bike may be inappropriate commuting/touring!)? How are the **components**? Note the differences in r**epairing/replacing capabilities and costs** between different components and brands. For example, if it turns out that your purchased 11 speed shifters, then it's too bad 11 speed shifters are much more expensive to replace than say 8 speed shifters! Was your Campagnolo cassette excessively worn? Shame there are way less options to choose from compared to Shimano/SRAM. Did your shifter levers break off? You can forget about servicing them if they're from Shimano. Do you want **rim brakes/disc brakes?** I won't go into detail about hydraulic/disk brakes as I have no experience with them. Looking to **upgrade your parts in the future?** You might want to look to see if you'd be able to reuse your wheels/chainsets/derailleurs etc. Do you want convenient integrated brake/shifter levers, or are you fine with good old downtube and stem shifters? Another to look out for is the **cable routing** - I tend to find bikes with shifter cables coming out of the side and into the space in front of the bike to be unappealing, prefering the under-the-bartape concealed routing.
* Inspect the bike fully before buying. Try to arrange a time in the day to look at the bike. Some sellers will try to arrange a time when it's dark where it can be harder to see faults.
* **Take your time, don't be rushed**. **Being extra careful now may prevent headaches down the road.**
* **Initial Assessment** - take a look at the bike. Unless you know what you are doing, avoid rust buckets that look to be very poorly maintained. Check the **paint job**. **Large gashes** on the sides of cranks, shifter levers and pedals indicate the bike was in a **crash**. Make sure the frame is **structurally intact** - no **cracks**, especially on carbon forks (I have no experience with carbon frames, but buying used carbon is much riskier than aluminium/steel). You're gonna be pretty pissed if you discover that the frame is toast and unrideable later down the road.
* **Test ride** - it's highly suggested you get to test ride the bike. It will indicate glaring issues an allow you to assess braking and shifting, as well as if you'd enjoy riding it. Does the **bike fit well?** How is the **geometry?** Are you too cramped up or stretched out? A badly fitting bike is a no-go, you can change ** stem lengths** but this will only help to certain degree as well as cost ££. Also, while you're at it, check the **drop of the handlebars**. Is it too deep? Can you stay comfortably in it, and grip the shifters?
* **Shifting** - Shifters are quite **expensive** and are also common to break. How does it feel when you brake and shift? A **gummy feeling** may indicate a built up of grime. Does the shifter shift properly? Shift through the **whole range of the cassette and onto both chainrings.** Check if the **rear derailleur hanger is bent** - this piece of metal that holds the derailleur is designed to bend in a crash/drop to protect the frame. A bent hanger indicates a **possible crash** occured on the drive side of the bike, and will degrade shifting performance, even sometimes causing the derailleur to move into the rear wheel spokes, causing a lot of damage. You can also check the state of the brake and shifter cables and see if there's any obvious contamination/corrrosion meaning you might have to replace them.* My right shifter turned out to have its mechanism fatally worn, where upshifting would always drop the chain to the smallest cassette. I had to replace it, which costed ££.*
* **Brakes** - Do the brakes grip well? Check if the **pads are excessively worn** - the vast majority of pads have a **'wear line'** to help you. If they are caliper brakes, try and push and pull on the brake arm to see if it's stiff or wobbly. If it's the latter, there will be issues with braking. *An arm on my brakes were loose, and upon trying to tighten the bolt that holds the arm, it rounded off, leaving me to have to replace the set.*
* **Bottom bracket** - check for wear! If it **grinds** or you feel a **rumbling sensation** when you rotate the cranks, the **bearings might be worn** and have to be replaced. If you push and pull the crank arm, can you feel **play** in the bottom bracket? If so, the bearings might have to be replaced. *My square taper bottom bracket turned out to be worn and had to be replaced. Fortunately the square taper BB and the BB tool was cheap!*
* **Chain** - Chains are a wear item, and are pretty cheap to replace but you should look at the state of it. A degrease and lubing will take care of a dirty, grimy chain, but **rust** less so. Looking at the chain will give you an indication of how the bike was treated and where it was kept. If you want to measure chain wear, you can use one of those handy no-go **chain wear tools** to quickly check, or use a **12" ruler** - from **center to center of the pin between 12 links it should measure 12"**. If it's 1/16" worn, it's quite worn and if it's 1/8" worn it should have been replaced already. A **worn chain will cause the chainrings and cassette to wear excessively**, so let a very worn chain be a warning.
* **Chainring/Cassette** - Make sure the cassette is in the ratio you want. It's difficult to assess wear on these items. **Shark-fin shaped teeth** are symptoms of high wear.
* **Wheels** - Ensure they are in good condition. Look for **bent spokes**. Spin the wheel and look for **radial and lateral runouts** - whether the wheel **wobbles side to side** or **hops up and down**. Large runouts mean that the wheels must be **trued**, which you will have to pay a bike shop to do unless you can do it yourself. In worst case scenarios you may discover the **rim itself is bent** beyond repair. *I had to retrue my wheels after I discovered a wheel was not adequately* **dished (centered between the dropouts)**. Assess the **brake tracks**. If they are **too thin or concave**, they might be too worn, and you might risk blowing out the sidewalls soon. **Does the wheel spin freely?** If it feels **rough or gritty** to spin, the **bearings might be worn** and have to be replaced. *I had to use a lot of time to replace the worn cartridge bearings - thankfully you can DIY removal and press tools with dynabolts and a length of allthread and nuts/washers, but the costs add up and can be a major headache.*
* **Tires** - Check for **excessive wear on the tread and sidewalls**. Tires are wear items but buying new pairs can quickly become expensive.
* You might want to look at the different **bolts and nuts** of the bike, such as the **seatpost clamp bolt, brake bolt, bottle cage holders, crank bolt,** as well the **nipples** on the wheels. If these are **stripped or rounded off** (wrench can no longer grip the flats or tool cannot enter/turn the bolt) or **cross threaded** (threads have been damaged and things don't screw in properly) it can be major headache to deal with later. This is difficult to assess when inspecting a bike before purchase, it may be sufficient to look for **rust/corrosion** near bolts. You can try slightly loosening/tightening some bolts - if they're seized/gritty, it might suggest something about the state of other bolts on the bike.
If you find problems you feel you can handle, feel free to possibly negotiate and bring down the price by using issues as leverage. Feel free to walk away. You can always come back if you change your mind later or want to inspect it more, but once you carry/ride it off it may be difficult to recover your money. A very bad bike may pose a danger to yourself when you ride it. The most important thing is your safety and enjoyment!
This may seem daunting, but these are thing I would definitely look out for if I bought a used bike again. Undoubtedly fixing these things gave me a ton of experience and enjoyment but of course there were many frustrating moments too. If you buy from a shop not only is the quality of the bike guaranteed, the shop may fix issues that crop up within the first few months/year of buying the bike. Some people cherish this relationship with the LBS. Don't let this take your mind off buying used though, if you are careful you can get very good bikes for much less than new!
Thanks for reading, These are just the things I have in mind at the moment, feel free to add your own advice!