Find out what to expect when buying a mountain bike second hand.
Words: Mike Blewitt
In Australia, the value available in the second hard bike market is immense. Whether it is based on the inherent lack of trust we have for each other, or the high value that many new bikes represent, it is not uncommon to be able to pick up a really good deal on a second hand mountain bike. But this option is rife with traps and suits an experienced and savvy buyer.
While it is one thing to buy a bike of your mate when he upgrades, or from a bike shop staff member who is selling their pride and joy, normally buying a bike second hand involves a whole lot of unknowns. And we aren't talking about reading the ads in the Trading Post here, many buyers look at options across the country thanks to Gumtree, Ebay, Rotorburn and of course the expanding amounts of buy and sell pages on Facebook. There are some important points to consider when looking at second hand bikes.
What condition is the bike in?
A can of Mr Sheen and an old t-shirt can do wonders to a pretty tatty looking bike, so even if the photos look great, it's worth asking for some detailed images. Ask for detailed shots on some specific areas that could give a true indication of wear. Near the drivetrain, around welds, along the main tubes and of course the drive train and suspension items. Replacing some worn brake pads, a chain or tyres isn't a big deal, but trashed wheels, a damaged frame or abused suspension should set off alarm bells.
There will be some immaculate bikes for sale as well, you just need to use your judgement.
Does the seller own the bike?
Bike theft is a major problem, and while many stolen bikes will never appear again some do surface on buy and sell pages. It shouldn't be unreasonable to ask to see a proof of purchase and serial number if the seller claims to be the original owner. Could you sleep at night if you knew you bought someone else's stolen rig?