How To Buy A Used Bike – What To Look For When Buying A Second Hand Road Bike


– Buying a used, second-hand bike is potentially a great way of getting a better bike for your budget. Now this one isn’t gonna
win the Tour de France but we did pick it up for just 90 quid. So that’s like, 100 euros or 110 bucks. Now there is the risk, of course, that when buying a used bike you end up spending good money on a complete pile of rubbish. But let me assure you that buying a used bike is a far simpler process
than buying a used car. For a start, there’s much
less that can go wrong. But then, crucially, you can
actually check everything over before you buy it without
even needing tools. How you find the bike
is kind of up to you. You could look at Craig’s List or Gumtree, or your local paper or a
bike shop notice board, word-of-mouth which is particularly good, and then of course eBay, although that does require a
slightly different technique. But if we fast-forward
through the finding process we will get to the point where
at which you will go and see what is potentially your new bike. And it’s at this point
that I’m gonna show you how you can avoid buying
a complete turkey. Firstly, we’re gonna wanna check over probably the most
valuable part of the bike, the frame and forks. We wanna make sure that
it’s not bent, or cracked, or dented, or starting to rust. So, start at the front of the bike, and very thoroughly check it over. So we want to look for signs of bubbling under the paint work that might indicate that it’s becoming corroded. And then we also want to
look closely for dents, and, particularly if it’s
a carbon bike, cracks, even hairline cracks. And then, bending is
slightly harder to spot, or at least by eyeball, so what you want to do is
take the bike for a test ride and then try and take your
hands off the handlebars. If you can normally do that, but you’re struggling on the new bike, then the chances are that it
might be out of alignment. (cash register ringing) If you’re happy with the frame and forks, then we’re gonna start checking
over the other components. So, first up, we’re gonna begin by
pulling on the front brake and then rocking the bike
backwards and forwards. If you feel a knocking noise, then chances are that
it’s got a loose headset. So that’s just two bearings at the top and at the bottom here. Now, they are quite easily fixed and indeed not very expensive to replace. But, if the bike’s got a loose headset, it suggests to me that
the person who owns it hasn’t looked after it very well, in which case we’re gonna need to proceed with a bit more caution. (cash register ringing) Wheels. Pretty important I think you’ll agree. Give them a good spin. Make sure that they are straight. A couple of millimetres out, and you can easily get that trued up. Any more, you wanna start
thinking about raising the alarm. Also, check spoke tension. So grab ahold of the spokes. They should feel nice and tight. And then, whilst we’re still down here, have a look at the rim
braking surface itself. So it should be pretty much flat. If it’s concave then that
suggests that the rim itself is nearly worn out. And that’s pretty expensive. (cash register ringing) Grab the tyre, and try and move the
wheel from side to side. If there’s any play or knocking then it suggests that the
wheel bearings are worn out. They can be replaced but factor it in. (cash register ringing) Inspect the tyre as well. How worn out is it? Is there a flat spot down the middle? And are there any cuts
or holes that might mean that it needs to be replaced. This part of the bike here is called the drivetrain, and whilst each individual part of it might not be that be that expensive, because it’s all so well-linked, actually you’ll find that if
you need to replace one part, you might often need to replace more. So, it is worth checking the
condition of it really closely. We’re gonna start by looking at the chain. So pop the bike in the big
chain ring in the front. And then grab a link of chain
and try and pull it away from the chain ring. Now how far the chain moves shows how worn out it is. This one is actually in really good shape. If you can pull it away
much more than that, then you’re gonna need
to replace the chain, at then which point, we need to definitely look at the other bits too. (cash register ringing) A worn out chain is likely
to mean worn out chain rings, so these two bits here, and also a worn out cassete. They are unfortunately a
little bit harder to tell if they are on the way out, but what you’re looking for
are teeth that are uneven, so they’re more worn out on one side and it gives them a shark
tooth kind of profile. So these are alright but that one there gives you a bit of an idea
of what they might look like. (cash register ringing) Derailleurs. The actual parts that
change your gears for you. Important and also potentially
expensive to replace. To check them, we need
to actually change gears and see whether everything works smoothly. If it doesn’t, it may actually not be the
fault of the derailleur. It might that you have
worn or rusty gear cables. And that’s not serious. Those are very easy to replace. And so we also need to move
the derailleurs by hand, so literally grab them with
your thumb and forefingers. If they feel stiff, then they may well need some serious TLC. And then whilst we’re there, also give them a bit of a waggle. If there’s too much movement, then again that might show the
derailleur is on the way out. (cash register ringing) Before we leave the drivetrain, one last test, and that is to grab the crank, so the bit near the pedal and then just try and
move it from side to side. If there’s any play then that shows that the bottom bracket, which is the two bearings
that live inside the frame, is worn out. And that might need replacing. And that’s not a straightforward job. (cash register ringing) Believe it or not, we’re nearly there. Brakes though, incredibly
important obviously but just like with your gears, the cables could actually be misleading. So don’t squeeze the levers necessarily. You want to squeeze
the callipers directly. So they should move really quite easily and they should spring back instantly. Any stiffness and that could
then mean they need replacing. There are things on the
bike where actually, it doesn’t really matter that much so you shouldn’t let them
colour your impression of the overall bike itself. So right now I’m looking
at dirty bar tape. Absolutely revolting but easy to replace. And then, there’s also brake pads. So worn out brake pads are
relatively inexpensive. You’ve just got to remember to change them if you do buy the bike. And then also, as I’ve been talking about
the brake and gear cables, those are relatively inexpensive, straightforward to replace, but they can completely
transform the way the bike actually feels to ride, so
probably a good investment. In fact, pretty much everything on the
bike can indeed be replaced. You just have to factor it in to the cost of the bike itself, and therein, I suppose, lies the trick. You can get a complete bargain even if you need to replace the chain, the brake pads,
and the bar tape as well. But it does mean though, while buying a decent second-hand
bike is straightforward, it’s probably best done by
someone that has a little bit of mechanical know-how. And if you don’t have that
much mechanical know-how, then please make sure you set
aside a little bit of money to actually be able to take the bike into a local bike shop, and get them to have a look at it before you get it on the road, just to make sure that it is roadworthy. Now another option is of course GCN because we are quite the online resource for mechanical know-how. So your first port of
call should probably be to subscribe to the channel. It’s completely free. To do it you’ve just got
to click on the globe. And then right now, the two jobs I need to do
are changing the bar tape, so if you want to see a video on that you can click just up there, and reconditioning a rear derailleur. If you want to see that
video click just down there.

100 Comments

  • Let us know if you've bought a second-hand bike and any tips you've got for others! 👇

  • The first road bike I bought cost me £550 and it was rubbish (defy 5). I wish you had made this video few years ago, It would have saved me a lot of money.

  • Thank you, Great video. It should be noted thought that chainring teeth are not even by design around the ring, so it's very difficult by your description to judge their condition…

  • Ive bought several second hand bikes from either eBay or through word of mouth. both have their risks. If you are buying from an individual or a friend go with a set price and don't end up doing them a favour and giving them more money than the bike is worth.

    Ebay is good but I urge people to be careful with cash on collection deals. I nearly bought a Focus CX bike from a guy who turned out to be dodgy (changing the deal post purchase etc). I suspect there might not have even been a bike for me to pick up. Most importantly, try and gauge whether the person is trustworthy by looking at their feedback and seller history. you can learn a lot from it.

  • I bought a second hand bike for £40 and rebuilt it using Maintenance Monday videos. At some point I'll do a video of my journey. I painted it matt black with red cable housing. It looks great. First time I've done anything like this. Thanks GCN.

  • Dude , you forgot about one very important check : always check that the seatpost isn't seized up inside the downtube !

  • Do a bike build, one episode a week and do detailed videos of what you are doing and why you bought each product. Do it like a vlog

  • Excellent job, Si (& GCN)! Another great vid; perfect for it's intended market.

  • How about checking if the seat post has seized or not?

  • I got my GT R Series 4 at Cash Converters for $400 Australian dollars. It's done about 40 000 kms so far. Every moving part has been replaced a number of times of course. I love that piece of crap.

  • Hope you washed your hands after touching that bar tape.

  • 英語分からないけど面白い。

  • Feeling a noise. That's new!

  • Great find for $110 that Raleigh

  • I'm from Sweden and bought a CBoardman road sport 2014 second hand from Ebay, Britain for £200! And it was as new. I don't think you can get a better deal. The guy selling the bike was very nice and I got a friend testing it before I bought it. That is ofc the most important thing to do – test it. For the fit and to make sure that everything is right. I wasn't able to test if it fit (it had the right frame size), but as a beginner I don't think that matters too much. You can always make smaller adjustments and buy new parts afterwards. I also got the serial number so I could check that it wasn't stolen. If you're going to ship a bike I really recommend using BikeFlights.com! They specialize in sending just bikes and is overall a very reliable company. They guarantee that your bike will arrive on time or you will get £100 for every new day the bike is late. It took 5 days before the had arrived, and it was also fairly cheap. £70 to Gothenburg from London.

  • another thing to check – if the chain (or bike) smells of WD-40 you know it's been well looked after…

  • hi gcn I a. having a Indian road bike so can you tell how to ride fast on Indian road bike plsss

  • Ich habe mir ein Rennrad vor 2 jahren für 70€ gekauft ein Aluminium batavus

  • i have a question
    Can i remove a Compression Pro UD carbon from my steering on my bike? it weight to much so… hope anybody will answer!

  • all i buy are faded and surface rusting road bikes off friends or gumtree (Australian for craigslist) and them fix them to a working condition for as little as i can!

  • @torqueback How long (in time or distance) would you recommend training on a new bike before an upcoming event?

  • As far as the wheel bearings go, if there is any knocking from side to side, if it's minimal, you can often adjust without any problem. If it is major, then new wheel bearings won't fix the problem, as it's only one third of the problem…. you also have the cups (which are in intrinsic part of the hub) and the cones, to consider, the parts which the bearings run on….
    also I like the way you specify a rear derailleur is £30, when an entry level Shimano is £12.99, and some of the high-end stuff is well over £100……

  • You forgot one of the most important and common problems on used bikes. Ceased seatposts.

  • If an advert claims Reynolds 531 or other type, check first the seller knows what they're on about, and secondly do your homework. There's tonnes of people out there selling supposedly high-end steel bikes that are simply stickered up.

  • $110???

  • i just bought an older carbon bike for 20 quid, got it from a very trusted local bike shop.

  • #askGCN Hey guys, do all bikes in the UK have the rear brake levers on the left? As an American I find this disturbing. What is the reasoning behind this?

  • A year ago I bought a used 2013 specialized tarmac with the 105 groupset. I got it for around 750 dollars, and it also came with a whole bunch of accessories. A tip I have for anyone looking to buy a used bike is that you should look at those that are usually priced a bit higher but not extremely high and try to negotiate down… Better chance the bike is in good condition if the seller was trying to get a grand for it.

  • I scored a very lightly used well maintained Trek 5200 oclv for $250.00 gentleman had all the original books, purchase receipt, and maintenance receipts as well. I had a set of 1500 grams wheels from my other bike. Scored Bonti XXX lite carbon bars,stem, and seat post off ebay for $125.00 all in prestine condition, just scored a Reynolds ultra light fork for $150.00. I will have a 17lb Ultegra equipped machine for $525.00, a pretty smoking deal I think.
    I visually inspected every inch of the frame with a magnifying glass looking for any paint ripples for indication of fibre cracking also did all inspections GCN recommended. A cool story to this find to me is, I was traveling (as I always am) happened to peak at Craigslist in Lacrosse, Wi and as most of us know the U.S.A made Treks are made in Waterloo, Wi. This bike spent it's most of it's life only 144 miles from where it was manufactured, now it is traveling the country with me inside my 18 wheeler (yes it does get out to play). It has now been ridden in 15 to 18 different states I lose count.

  • i buy bikes from the flea market all the time nice ones too and i dont pay more than 20 dollars for them i refuse to pay more

  • This video made me want to buy a second-hand bike as my daily work horse. I did just that. It cost me about £160. I got a bike with a carbon fork, aluminium frame and full Ultegra (minus the pedals). The only issues were a few scuff marks on of the hoods and some slight chip marks on the back of the frame, nothing bad. Other than that it just needed a new chain and some new bar tape. I might get some new cables as well 🙂

  • I got a 1984 Raleigh Pulsar Aerospace Contour for free, it had been sitting in a family members shed for 20 years. They kept on insisting that I take it to the scrap yard. I restored it for less than £50 and now it looks and feels great

  • Just a quick comment: carbon doesn't crack, metals do. Should actually check metals for cracks and carbon for peeling issues.

  • Better idea. But a brand new bike. No faults to worry about, and fully manufacturers warranty. 😊👍🏻

  • Just bought my first modern road bike. It is a second-hand Fuji Team. Not the fanciest of bikes but I can make some long controlled HR trainings with it better than with my mtb.

  • I love Raleigh bikes.

  • This is a pretty neat video. Cheers for info and making it.

  • walmart bike is decent but it's about a hundred dollars
    i just want to be able to get around town and go off-road where possible

  • Amazingly informative video man. Good work!

  • I hope I can a bike like you guys….meet it on gcn

  • $110 ?!?! i guess you probably have a lot more bikes for sale in your area 🙂

  • After my 2012 Specialized Allez got stolen in broad daylight in front of my college, I was stuck in a void. I worked at my LBS in hopes to save money to buy a newer and better bike. Didn't work out so well but I strolled through Craigslist for bikes one day and I saw it, a 2007 Roubaix Comp for $560 in a Chicago suburb. This was a $2200 bike when it was new. My heart told me to go for it. So I made the 1 hr and 20 min drive to meet with the seller and test rode the bike. It ran without a flaw. I bought it then and there, took it to my LBS for a basic tune up and the rest is history. It rides so comfortably although the Allez had snappier handling. Its easily at home on a fine gravel trail or a silky smooth road. It just eats up the miles when I'm really cranking it out. As of this writing the front derailleur either snapped in two or was tampered with (I had it locked up in Downtown Chicago at the time so I don't know) but other than that, this has been the most reliable bike I've ever owned. I don't remember the last time I had a flat and I still have the 28c Espoir Sports that came with the bike on Fulcrum Racing 3s that I bought. Fantastic bike for the money.

  • I love your channel its great

  • Stay away from BicycleBlueBook.com.… They totally screwed me on a used bike… Description read "in perfect condition"… IT was dirty, cables broken,,, tires worn out, chain stretched, ect… It was pos…..

  • hav any spare road bikes? T_T

  • Thanks for the video GCN, very helpful. Can you make one about buying used wheels/wheelsets?

  • WHAT A CHEAP BRAKE

  • Another one to check is the seat pillar. I’ve come across a few seizes seat pillars, especially aluminium ones in steel frames. I had to turn down a very lovely bargain Reynolds 753 frame because it had a seized seat pillar.

  • How do you ride with your seat so high? It's like a foot higher than your waist when standing. How do you possibly put your feet on the ground or even get on it? Is it comfortable like that? Is that how you're supposed to be positioned?

  • don't forget to take a good look at the shifters, they cost a butt-ton to replace

  • You bought that bike for basically 130 bucks (about the equivalent of 90 pounds)? You probably didn't buy off craiglist then. People there charge twice as much for a walmart bike.

  • Absolutely revolting!!!!

  • The bicycle I ride now to university is a pile of trash. It's almost as old as me, it sat in a garage for years, and pretty much everything is broken in some way. The brakes screech horribly and don't actually slow the bike down very much, which has almost gotten me killed a few times, the derailleur doesn't work, the shifter works sometimes, and the seat occasionally comes loose. Also the handle was designed to twist for easy storage, and this means that I can't even take my hands of the handles without falling off at high speed. Also the shocks have been rusted in place and they don't actually absorb shocks.

    Oh and the derailleur cover fell of and the gears chew up all my pants.

    So I've been thinking of getting a new bike. Well "new" to me anyway. I would like a lightweight road bike for easier pedaling, but the sidewalks are terrible where I live. So I also feel like perhaps I need something with shock absorbers. What used bikes could I look into? Anyone have something to recommend me? I don't know much about bikes, so links rather than incomplete names would be appreciated, thanks!

  • I just bought a specialized secteur with tiagra set in good condition no scratches for 240 from ebay . i think its a bargain

  • I can get a refurbished BALEIGH for a 100 dollors…should this be a red flag lol

  • Lmfao that bike new is probably 3x times more expensive than my Training bike LOL
    GMC Denali 6061 48 cm frame bike. It's 32 lbs Alloy but man it's tough as hell and I ride it way more than my Sava Carbon which I use mainly for Amateur races to have an close equal weight with the other rider bikes which some go crazy into the $6000 lol.

  • 1:48
    What does it mean for the bike to be 'out of alignment'? Does this suggest a misshapen frame which would best be avoided, or is it repairable?

  • obnoxious bike snobs everywhere the eye can see

  • wow thanks so much , this is super helpful! Subscribed today!

  • i didn't bye one but i did fix one recently and for tips just watch other GCN vids or parktool vids

  • Pedals..check the pedals

  • I was given a Gary Fisher (China) MTB. Lot of problems, but I am enjoying the heck out of it. I haven't ridden in years. I will be buying a few good used bikes soon. Simon is a great presenter BTW.

  • great video, could have mentioned volunteer run community bike shops, we one sell cheap used bike shop quality bikes plus we help people with all the maintenance you talked about. im going to watch the conditioning a derailuer now as im not sure what that is.

  • Which is a better choice? A 2010 trek mad one 6.9 project one with dura ace 7970 di2 groupset, or a new trek Emonda alr5? The madone has less than 200 miles on it, Shimano had 4 of them built, 2 are on display at Shimano headquarters in japan, comes with Bontrager computer?

  • Looking into getting a used road bike myself. I found a 2015 Specialized Roubaix SL4 with Roval Carbon Wheels for about $1,700 USD. Looking to maybe get it for cheaper. Is that a good deal? Bike has only about 200 miles on it according to the owner. Thanks for the help!

  • raleigh is a pile of crap

  • that bike is atleast 150,- euro, but probably around 200,- euro.

  • Bout to (hopefully) buy a cube agree gtc with aero bars and seattube and ultegra. 650 quid i reckon its a great deal

  • Would a Carrera vengeance be worth for a about 110£. The bike looks fine other than the fact that it's a bit dirty as they didn't bother cleaning it before putting it up for display.

  • I got an old raleigh road bike from the 80s to replace my stolen bike. It cost 60 quid and needed tlc. My experience is that older bikes that survive tend to be very good, the components often just need complete disassembly and cleaning. The steel frame is nice because of how repairable it was, slight bends can be worked out. And the vintage look is beautiful. One thing to look out for is seaposts that have seized in the frame. I broke another raleigh trying to remove an aluminium seat post from the steel frame, so my two cents is : as long as everything moves and isn't cracked, it can be fixed up quite cheaply and nicely.

  • That bar tape is "absolutely revolting". Hahahaha!

  • How to buy a used bike:
    1. Spend 200 quid on a used bike.
    2. Spend another 200 quid to make it rideable again.
    3. Ponder why you thought buying used will save you money.

  • Apparently people here don't know how to remove a seized seatpost. It's easy: 1.spray wd40 all around the seatpost, including on the inside of the frame. 2. Wait 5 minutes. 3. Remove the saddle. 4. Mount the whole bike upside down and lock the seatpost end in a mandrill. Start rotating the whole frame until the seatpost moves. Continue rotating and lifting until the seatpost comes out.

  • hey. i have always bought used bikes instead of buying new bikes because im tight on money. but im also a teenager so i would have to be. i stay away from road bikes and bmx because mountain bikes are in my opinion the best bike to ride because of my uses. and im always fixing my bikes so they are perfect for either what im doing or so im comfortable. but im fixing a friends bmx for him and adjusted the bars and seat for him and tightened almost anything on that bike that was moving so it felt more safe and "rid-able" because nobody wants to ride a bike that feels "janky" and loose. but the brakes were in rlly bad condition and i had to take them off and i plan on puting new ones on there for him with new cables, cable covers, calipers, pads, and levers, plus rotors, but idk exactly what to get because im not used to working on bmx bikes. now i could try and fit on a different style of breaks but id rather find something that will fit what he has already and is cheep but durable. please try and contact me to give me advice for this because id rather not have him using his shoe as breaks for his bike.

  • I've bought a pretty bad second hand bike. Hope the tips from this video will help find a better bike next time:)

  • Video starts at 1:05

  • Hi! I just bought an old vintage bike and was wondering if anyone could help me out with some information about it. I'm no expert and want to know a little about what I bought. It has "Cavallo" written on the frame. Thanks!

  • sell me that bike GCN looking for a decent priced bike
    love your videos !!!!

  • The seat post, some folks tighten to strip point, on a carbon ufff, much more delicate…

  • You can buy a road bike in really good shape for as mutch as 15 or 20 dollars

  • just a second hand bike from a shop, didnt see this video. i drove it for 5min and it seemed ok, hadnt eaten and had a slight headache so i didnt think of the lack of speed. but after riding it the next day it was slow and with a lot of rolling brakes friction. luckily the shop took it back with full cash return. moral of the story, shops are safer if you regret the purchase.

  • GAYYYYYYY

  • Great video!

  • If you're buying from a bike shop do you need to do all this?

  • I now know not to buy the bike in my garage.

  • Want a bike

  • i got a giant escape r2 for 240$ it is an 2008 model but the fork is carbon, the drivetrain is sram x-5 and the original cost is 660$.

  • Excelente vídeo

  • could you please explain wha do i need to do with the derailleurs..explain what movement do i need to do with my hand and what should they feel like..i didnt understand at all that part

  • Hmm… https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/threelly-ai-for-youtube/dfohlnjmjiipcppekkbhbabjbnikkibo

  • Hi! Could I send you a picture of a used bike I'm thinking of buying, so you could give me your opinion on it? Thanks!

  • Hi! Could I send you a picture of a used bike I'm thinking of buying, so you could give me your opinion on it? Thanks!

  • Hi! Could I send you a picture of a used bike I'm thinking of buying, so you could give me your opinion on it? Thanks!

  • Excellent information (as usual)…I would have missed checking several things you mentioned.

  • "If they feel stiff, then they may well need some serious TLC", yep they do.

  • Another excellent and necessary video. Thanks.

  • Bike hacks for theofs

  • If I'm searching for a second hand gravel bike with disc brakes would be there a difference?

  • Can u make a video on which bike to buy? Like specific models and tires and stuff? Im new at this and looking for a new bike mine is old.

  • I look for a bike that has the seat lower than the handlebars possibly with the seat mounted at a strange angle. This tells me that the previous owner probably didn’t put many miles on it. If the stem is slammed and the seat/stem has a large drop the previous owner was probably a racer…stay away from that bike, it’s been down the road a few times.

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