Size is KeyYou don’t need a made to measure ride to enjoy yourself but it is important to make sure the bike you buy is the right size for you (see our size guide below). Once you have the right frame size it’s you’ll probably need to fine tune the fit. This can be done by adjusting the saddle. If the saddle height is right you should have a very slight bend in your knee when the ball of your foot is place on the pedal in the down position. When you push your heal down in this position your leg should be fully extended. Stems and handlebars can also be adjusted or changed to improve the fit. You should always be able to stand over the bike and feel comfortable on it without overstretching.
Second hand bikes come in all shapes, sizes and conditions. Our adverts with pictures should help you identify the condition of the bike before you see it but here’s what to look for when examining the bike (this should be done prior to purchase!).
Unfortunately, some makes & types (mountain/ road) of bikes are measured differently. In order to make finding the correct sized bike as easy as possible, we’ve made a handy size guide.
Condition of frame and forkScratches and small dents are all part of general wear and tear and nothing to be afraid of. Do however avoid bikes with excessive rust, large dents or cracks. Also to be avoided are frames or forks that appear bent or distorted. It’s notoriously difficult to repair frames so avoid any with these issues.
Component conditionIt’s relatively straightforward to swap out components on a bike but it can be expensive so make sure they are in decent condition and working well.
WheelsThese are the most important part of the bike and play a big part on the overall feel and handling of the bike. Make sure they are not buckled when you spin them. A slight wobble is fine but if the rim is hitting the brake pad they may wan truing. Also check the condition of the rim. If they are overly concave they may be worn out. This will result in poor braking performance and they will need replacing. Don’t worry too much about tyre condition. These are relatively cheap and simple to replace. You may want to get a reduction in price however if the tyres are worn.
Bottom BracketThe bottom bracket is what the cranks rotate around and it’s quick and easy to check its condition. Hold the cranks and push them side to side. Is there any movement? If there is it’s probably an indication of wear. Pedals should also rotate smoothly. Grinding or a rough feel when rotated is also an indication of wear. Don’t worry too much about a worn bottom bracket however as they are cheap to replace (starting price is around £20 plus fitting). You may be able to use this as a haggle factor though.
SeatpostThe seatpost can become stuck if it is not removed/adjusted for a few years so make sure you can move it up and down/left and right. To test this loosen the bolt or quick release lever. If you can’t adjust the seatpost it may be worth not buying the bike as it can be costly to work the seatpost free. Unless of course the seatpost is at the right height for you (this applies to road bikes only as mountain bike posts will need to be adjusted frequently).
Drive chain and brakesCheck the condition of the brake cable, pads, chain, rear cassette and derailleur jockey wheels. Again all these things can be replaced but at a cost. A good test is to change up and down through all of the gears and ensure each change is quick and smooth
Get the right priceOne of the main reasons to buy a second hand bike is that they offer great value. You can often pick up a top of the line machine for a fraction of its retails price. However it is worth having a look online to see what similar models are selling for elsewhere on the second hand market. Always offer below asking, the seller can only say no
Make sure the bike is not stolenAs passionate bike riders and victims of bike theft we at onceridden.com take bike theft very seriously. We do vet all ads to look for tell-tale signs of theft but it is always worth exercising caution when buying anything online. Always check to see if the serial/frame number is still in tact and not filed off. These are usually found on the underside of the bottom bracket. There are also a couple of bike registers available online that are worth checking out: bikerevolution.org and bikeregister.com. Also use your instincts when meeting the seller. If they are unwilling for you to visit their home or you have a bad feeling about them do not purchase the bike.
Ask questionsAsk lots of questions of the seller:
How long have they had it?
Did they buy it new?
Are they a fair weather rider or has it been thrashed in all weathers?
Do they store it inside or out. If outside is it in a dry or damp place?
When did they last have the bike serviced and has there been any recent upgrades?
If the bike is being purchased from a bikeshop see if they’ll throw in a warranty. Worth asking!