Choosing a used bike over a brand new model could potentially save you a bundle, as long as you do your homework and only deal with trusted vendors. Below are a few things to be aware of when considering a preloved bike.
Check the overall condition
Even if the vendor really seems to know their stuff, and even if the bike appears to be pristine, it is still important to give the bike a thorough inspection. We all make mistakes and even the most honest vendor may have missed small amounts of damage which could impact the bike's value or performance.
Wheels and tyres
When assessing the condition of the bike, don't forget to inspect the condition of the wheels and tyres. If they are in poor shape, they will affect the handling and performance of the bike, as well as potentially causing you great expense further down the line. The wheel rim should not be concave and still smooth to touch. There should be no inappropriate movement in the hubs or grinding sound when the wheels spins a that means the bearings are worn. Tyres should have good tread left and no cracks, otherwise factor a new set in the price you are paying. Also check the pads for wear and make sure the cables aren't frayed.
Check the chain
A badly worn chain may mean that the sprockets are also worn down - a problem which can be expensive to correct. To check this, take hold of the chain at the front of the chainring, and pull. If the chain can be pulled almost clear of the teeth, it is a sign of heavy wear, and you may want to reconsider your purchase. For a really accurate gauge of wear, take a chain checker and anthing less than 50% should be replaced sometime soon, again factor that into the price you are paying.
Other moving parts to check; ensure fork and headset connections are sound ie no rusting and that there is no inappropriate movement or wobbling in the headset. Tip here is to pull th front brake and try and move the wheel around - it shouldn't rock.
Check the bottom bracket and crankset don't have any inappropriate movement by grabbing both crank arms and feeling for movement.
Check the frame
Be careful if you are buying carbon this can be fatal if there are crack. We'll run a seperate guide soon on specifically how to do test for carbon cracks or other issues with structure.
Take a test ride
Taking a bike for a spin is one of the best ways of telling if it is the one for you. This is also a great way to test the gears, steering, brakes, and ride comfort.
Perhaps the most valuable piece of advice when it comes to buying preloved bikes is this: buy from a trusted vendor. Genuine sellers will be happy to provide you with a receipt for your purchase, and may even offer a warranty. Find a dependable vendor, do some simple checks, and you could just bag yourself a bargain WITH peace of mind.