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Buying a used bike - what to look for

Monolithic_DomeMonolithic_Dome Registered User regular
edited June 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm going to go either today or tomorrow to look at a used bike on craigslist. It's an older bike but from the picture it looks likes its in pretty good shape (no visible signs of rust or dents). I don't really know much about bikes - what should I look for to make sure that it's not gonna be a junker?

[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
Monolithic_Dome on

Posts

  • ArikadoArikado Southern CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    edited June 2008
    We talking about normal bikes or motor bikes?

    Arikado on
    BNet: Arikado#1153 | Steam | LoL: Anzen
  • Monolithic_DomeMonolithic_Dome Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    A bicycle. Two wheels and pedals. Used on the roads, not the mountains.

    Monolithic_Dome on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • ArikadoArikado Southern CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Normal street bikes are pretty easy to shop for. If you're not bothered about the multi-geared ones, I'd make sure to look for a well oiled chain without any rust and working hand brakes. You should also be sure the handles aren't warped for whatever reason, my last one had slightly bent handlebars.

    Tires, brake pad thingos, and the paint job are easy to fix up on your own. However, a rusted chain is a bitch to fix.

    Arikado on
    BNet: Arikado#1153 | Steam | LoL: Anzen
  • Monolithic_DomeMonolithic_Dome Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Arikado wrote: »
    Normal street bikes are pretty easy to shop for. If you're not bothered about the multi-geared ones, I'd make sure to look for a well oiled chain without any rust and working hand brakes. You should also be sure the handles aren't warped for whatever reason, my last one had slightly bent handlebars.

    Tires, brake pad thingos, and the paint job are easy to fix up on your own. However, a rusted chain is a bitch to fix.

    Wait, I thought all bikes were "mutli-geared ones"... or maybe I misunderstand you. I haven't had a bike with only one gear since I was like 10. The one I'm looking at is a 10-speed.

    Monolithic_Dome on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2008
    No rust, make sure the derailleurs (the things that make the chain shift) work correctly. Make sure that the brakes work well; you should be able to either dead stop or start skidding if you apply them all the way.

    Also, spin the tires. Does the distance between the tire and the brake pad change at all as it goes around? That means you need to get the wheels rebalanced. It's not expensive, but it needs to be done.

    Doc on
  • The_Glad_HatterThe_Glad_Hatter Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    The things i'd look out for:
    -frame in descent shape (no rust should be visible).
    -Check the wheel's profile while spinning to see if there's a "wobble" to it. a small flowing wobble can be fixed very easily by a bike mechanic, if it's too steep, don't take it.
    -i'd choose either old with no multigears or, if you want multi-gears, cough up a little extra for a newer bike. if you've never used 'em, you're not goint to miss them. (been biking 8 km every day for 6 years; no gears, no mess)
    -there shouldn't be too much drag/ lag on the brakes.

    But apart from brakes, wheels, gears and frame, almost anything on a bike is relatively easy and cheap to get replaced.
    so if it looks good, i'd say take it..

    The_Glad_Hatter on
  • ProtoProto Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Frame:
    • Look for a frame with little to no rust. If there is rust everywhere on the bike, it's been left outside and the rest of the components are probably no good. If there is some rust on the frame but the rest of the bike is clean you'll probably be ok.
    Drivetrain:
    • Make sure the gears on the back (the cassette) aren't rusted or worn down. Moderate/expensive to replace.
    • Make sure the gears on the front (the chainrings) aren't rusted or worn down. Moderate/expensive to replace.
    • Look at the derailers, make sure they aren't rusted and are in working condition. Moderate/expensive to replace.
    • Check the cables for rust. Cheap to replace.
    • Take it for a ride, make sure it shifts well through the entire range of gears (poor shifting can usually be fixed with a tune up)
    • Check the chain for rust/wear. These aren't too expensive to replace.
    Wheels:
    • Check the rims, make sure they aren't dented or warped. If you see a wobble when spinning the wheel (watch the space between the brake pads and the rim) that just means the wheel is out of true. Easy fix.
    • Check the tires for wear. Easily replaceable if worn. Moderate cost.
    • Make sure the wheels spin freely with little effort. If they don't there is a problem with the hubs and they'll need to be rebuilt/replaced. Moderate cost.
    Brakes:
    • Check the brake calipers. See that they work well. These can be adjusted if they are a little off, but if they don't work at all you may need to replace them. Moderate expense.
    • Look at the brake pads, check the wear. These are easily replaced. Cheap.
    • Check the cables for rust. Cheap to replace.
    Other:
    • Look for rusted bolts/screws. Cheap to replace

    Most things on a bicycle can be fixed/replaced but look for a bike that needs as little of it as possible. Make a note of things you'll need to fix/replace and use it when negotiating a price. Any component that's rusted should be replaced before you ride it, so keep that in mind.

    Oh, and post the ad here if you want and a few of us that know bikes can take a look at it.

    Proto on
    and her knees up on the glove compartment
    took out her barrettes and her hair spilled out like rootbeer
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