Here at the Brantford Cyclepath, we quite often get asked whether or not we sell used bikes. As consumers ourselves, we get it. There aren’t very many people that don’t like the idea of paying the lowest price for a given item. When it comes to buying previously owned things, you’re usually fairly safe when it comes to stuff like furniture or swing sets. Once you start looking at products that have a mechanical component to them, such as appliances, cars and bikes, then the entire venture becomes a pretty good example of buyer beware.
Of course, there are some good bargains to be had by buying a used bike, but it seems that as of late the instances of people discovering that their used purchase was not quite “as advertised” is on the increase. This might begin when a customer brings in a new-to-them purchase for a minor adjustment or two. Our radar usually goes off the moment we hear the words “The guy hardly rode it and so I got it for a really good deal….”. Let’s face it. Bicycles get ridden. Even the most casual of recreational cyclists will eventually wear out drive train components, tires and brake shoes. Which all leads to why our Spidey sense starts tingling….
Here’s how it often goes with the events leading up to the transaction. The previous owner rides the bike on a regular basis. Normal wear takes place on components such as the chain, freewheel, tires, cables and brake pads. The bike is taken to a shop to be tuned up. The repair bill is usually more than the owner wants to spend, taking into account the number of parts that now need replacing. A new bike is not that far off of the repair price, they were toying with the idea anyways, and so the decision is made to put the old bike up for sale.
This is where you come in.
You find a great used bike and arrange to buy it. While out on your first few rides you decide that the bike seems to need a few adjustments here and there and so into the local bike shop it goes. This is where you discover that it needs a list of replacement parts in order to get it into shape again. The news that the original owner was given has now been passed on to you.
Don’t get me wrong. Used bikes need to go somewhere. I’d much rather see them enjoyed or put to a new purpose instead of taking up space in a landfill or quietly rusting away in the corner of some garage. Just be aware that in most cases a used bike will need a new chain and rear freewheel along with one or two cables, at the very least. It would be conservative to factor in another $150 to $300 on top of what you are paying for the bike. For this reason, it might be wise to find out whether you could take the bike in to your local shop for an assessment before committing to the deal.
There are a couple of other things to bear in mind when buying a used bicycle. When it comes time for any adjustments on your bike, you pay for the work since any shop service plan is usually not transferable from owner to owner. The same thing holds true for any warranty on the bike. Factory warranties are never transferable. This is an important thing to consider. Manufacturers require more and more documented proof of original ownership when handling warranties concerning frame failures. We’ve seen several instances where someone has been left with the proposition of buying a new bike due to a denied warranty claim on a used purchase.
If you know what you’re buying, the price is reasonable for the amount of wear on the bike and the owner is being up front about the history, then it might be safe to proceed. If not, then a new bike purchase could possibly be the least expensive route in the long run. As was previously stated, in the end it all comes down to buyer beware.