MY GUIDE: Buying 2nd Hand - What You Should Look For

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MY GUIDE: Buying 2nd Hand - What You Should Look For
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Posted: Apr 20, 2011 at 13:18 Quote
So, if you're new to buying 2nd hand and want to know what to check for on a bike when giving it a look over, here are all of the things to look for.

-Check for dents which are usually on the top tube.

-Seat post seized.

-Bad rust, usually around the BB.

-BB isn't stiff or loose.

-If the BB is clean in all the nooks and crannies, if people clean behind the chainring properly its usually a sign they take care of it.

-Check the rim walls for brake wear.

-Check that the rims are not only true side to side, but up and down too.

-Try to make deductions on the price for every error you find, that pretty much always works to give you a good deal.

-Look for wear on the drivetrain.

-Check all of the weld beads for any signs of,paint flaking/creases and/or cracks and check the wheel alignment as this will indicate if the frame is twisted.

-If there's paint chipping behind the headset on the top tube its probably been crashed and its bent, and on the rear check the wheel is in line with the centre of the brake and in the middle of the chainstays, if its not the frames been bent sideways.

-Check the headtube for cracks.

-Headset bearings.

-Headset warping.

-Steerer tube.

-Bars for bending.

-Rim dents.

-Check wheels for spoke tension and side to side play along with true-ness. Thats another one where if someone neglects their wheels, its probably not the only thing they neglected

-Where the rear triangle meets the seat tube.

-Brakes and hoses, and seals on brakes or forks.

-Have a good feel for oil or wetness.

-Also inside the steerer tubes for rust, and inside the headtube, and seat tube.

-Fork pitting, and cracks on the sanction bridge.

-Never buy a component or bike if it is wet.

-Have some sort of idea for where and how the bike was ridden. The owner might not be alright with you doing some of these things, but that might show either lack of confidence in the bike. Or it might not mean anything at all.

-Check all bushings/bearings for play

-Take the rear shock off (if it's a full suspension) and cycle the linkage through it's travel. It should be smooth and there shouldn't be any sticky points. If there is, the hardware will probably need replaced.

-Check fork stanchions for scratches and make sure the fork seals are in good shape

-Dropouts

-Dents in the rim. If there's too many or they're too big, they'll cause tires to blow off.

-Make sure there's grease everywhere it should be (seatpost, headset, BB, chainring bolts...). It's an easy fix if nothing's seized and doesn't hurt the bike too much in certain areas, but it'll tell you a lot about how the bike was cared for.

-If you're buying a classic or project bike that's older and has been around, it's not a bad idea to take it to a shop and check the frame alignment. Get your shop to blow compressed air through carbon frames if you're wary of them. Metals fatigue, and it's been said that aluminium bikes have a "shelf life" of 15-20 years. Obviously if your ride bikes hard they'll break, but metals get weaker with time.

-Always be cautious when looking at a frame that is freshly powdercoated. You'd be shocked at the amount of cracked frames being hidden and sold on.

-Take the rear shock out and move the rear linkage through it's travel, make sure I is smooth with no sticking point, you don't want a warped frame.

-Check the chain guide mounts are straight. If they are bent or cracked the bike has been rag dolled and thrashed.

-Dents in the downtube are common on dh bikes but if you can still find one dent free.

-Never believe anything about a welded repair. Alloy has so many complex properties. Stay away from welded repaired frames, they will crack again, possibly fail.

-Stay away from raced frames, they may have been rag dolled down many a rocky hill, lots of stress on the headtube and links.

-Try and get the seller to deal with you on eBay. It may cost a extra 20 bucks but you will have buyer protection and can get a refund if anything goes wrong.

-You should definitely bring a rag with you as well... wipe down the fork and shock shaft and pedal it off a couple curbs at least and then check everything you just wiped for signs of oil


-Have a look around your surroundings when you go to a private residence but don't appear nosey. Ask yourself if they are genuine bike riders or not.

-Don't want to sound too stereotypical but take a look at the person who is selling, Is he/she is wearing a white matching shell suit or tracksuit, or has a staff terrier, sovereign ring, mobile phone hanging around their neck, trousers tucked into their socks, Baseball cap on back to front, - WALK AWAY.

-If the bike they are selling is stolen and you buy it off them then you can be sure that they will take your money before beating you up and taking it from you again to sell to some other poor mug. This applies more to the younger buyer.

-Save all the time and hassle and use eBay. Get buyer protection and when receiving the bike to your LBS to get it checked out. Any problems send it back within 14 days and get your cash back

Some things to look for when buying a used fork:

-Scratches on the stanchions (uppers) can destroy seals and cause oil leaks if they are too deep. They're not bad if taken care of right away, but be cautious of that.
- Seals: if they look clean, they most likely are. If they're roughed up and/or dirty, you'll probably need to replace them if you get that fork.
- Scratches on the lowers - doesn't structurally damage the fork usually, but it will give you a good idea of what kind of abuse the fork was put through.
- What bike did it come off of? Try to find out as much as you can about the riding style of the person who last owned the fork. Bike mechanics are a bonus, as you know they probably knew what was up with the fork, and replaced or fixed something that went wrong.
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Posted: Apr 20, 2011 at 13:31 Quote
Two things I'm really particular about are where scratches are located and how clean things like the underside of the front derailleur or under the hoods is.

The really detail cleaning; obviously someone who takes the extra time to clean all the little nooks and crannies that aren't even visible in a photo shoot is someone who takes good care of their ride.

The scratches; of course you can expect to have scratches but where they are says a lot about the mechanic servicing the bike. If there's marks around the edges of the rims from tire levers or if there's nicks around the top of the shifters under the hoods or around the seatpost collar nut it shows that the person working on the bike was careless and sloppy.

Posted: Apr 20, 2011 at 14:00 Quote
Headtube, for cracks, headset bearings, headset warping steer tube bars for bending rim dents, rim dishing, spoke tension where the rear triangle meets the seat tube, brakes , and hoses, and seals on brakes or forks, have a good feel for oil or wetness, also inside the steertubes for rust, and inside the headtube, and seatube, fork pitting, and cracks on the sanction bridge


Never buy a component or bike if it is wet !

Posted: Apr 20, 2011 at 15:31 Quote
ahhhh so much stuff

also drop the bike from a few inches if you hear a rattle from the front the forks are loose

Posted: Apr 20, 2011 at 15:38 Quote
Make sure it is the correct size first of all.

Posted: Apr 20, 2011 at 15:46 Quote
some things are just common sense...

Posted: Apr 20, 2011 at 16:07 Quote
You would be suprised by how many people do not buy a proper sized bike.

Posted: Apr 20, 2011 at 16:18 Quote
i wouldn't actually, half the people i see riding around are on the wrong size bike

Posted: Apr 20, 2011 at 20:58 Quote
You may also want to check that the stem (if its a quil-stem) is not siezed either. I always try to have atleast a bike multi tool when i looking at a bike to check certain things

Posted: Apr 20, 2011 at 22:03 Quote
I always check the headset for play, cables for any friction, crank for wobbles (especially OctaLink), hubs for lateral play, and the freehub for precise engagement. Also the obvious ones: drivetrain in perfect working order, no excessive wear on the chain (Park Tool makes an awesome chain checker) and also the cassette. Use your common sense and it is always a good idea to read some reviews online and find out what other people think of the bike.

Posted: Apr 21, 2011 at 2:34 Quote
wavo wrote:
You would be suprised by how many people do not buy a proper sized bike.

This is my biggest bugbear.

Posted: Apr 21, 2011 at 8:08 Quote
Have some sort of idea for where and how the bike was ridden. The owner might not be alright with you doing some of these things, but that might show either lack of confidence in the bike. Or it might not mean anything at all.

Check all bushings/bearings for play
Take the rear shock off (if it's a full suspension) and cycle the linkage through it's travel. It should be smooth and there shouldn't be any sticky points. If there is, the hardware will probably need replaced.
Check fork stanchions for scratches and make sure the fork seals are in good shape
Dropouts
Dents in the rim. If there's too many or they're too big, they'll cause tires to blow off.
Make sure there's grease everywhere it should be (seatpost, headset, BB, chainring bolts...). It's an easy fix if nothing's seized and doesn't hurt the bike too much in certain areas, but it'll tell you a lot about how the bike was cared for.

And lastly, if you're buying a classic or project bike that's older and has been around, it's not a bad idea to atke it to a shop and check the frame alignment. Get your shop to blow compressed air through carbon frames if you're wary of them. Metals fatigue, and it's been said that aluminum bikes have a "shelf life" of 15-20 years. Obviously if your ride bikes hard they'll break, but metals get weaker with time.

Posted: Apr 21, 2011 at 8:32 Quote
Always be cautious when looking at a frame that is freshly powdercoated. You'd be shocked at the ammount of cracked frames being hidden and sold on.

Take the rear shock out and move the rear linkage through it's travel, make sure I is smooth with no sticking point, you don't want a warped frame.

Check the chain guide mounts are straight. If they are bent or cracked the bike has been rag dolled and thrashed.

Dents in the downtube are common on dh bikes but you can still find one dent free.

Never believe anything about a welded repair. Alloy has so many complex properties. Stay away from welded repaired frames, they will crack again, possibly fail.

Stay away from raced frames, they may have been rag dolled down many a rocky hill, lots of stress on the headtube and links.

Try and ge the seller to deal with you on eBay. It may cost a extra 20 bucks but you will have buyer protection and gan get a refund if anything goes wrong.

Posted: Apr 21, 2011 at 9:05 Quote
mcmbike wrote:
Take the rear shock off (if it's a full suspension) and cycle the linkage through it's travel. It should be smooth and there shouldn't be any sticky points. If there is, the hardware will probably need replaced.
Along a similar note, you should definately bring a rag with you as well... wipe down the fork and shock shaft and pedal it off a couple curbs at least and then check everything you just wiped for signs of oil

Also, check wheels for spoke tension and side to side play along with true-ness. Thats another one where if someone neglects their wheels, its probably not the only thing they neglected.

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