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Video:How to Buy a Used Bike

with Mike Olivenza

Buy a used bike to save money while lessening your environmental impact and increasing your exercise. Learn what to look for when you buy a used bike.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Buy a Used Bike

Hello, I'm Milo Olivenza for About.com, and today I'll be talking to you about how to buy a used bike.

Inspect the Wheels When You Buy a Used Bike

First let's start with the wheels. Go ahead and spin the wheels. You want to check for the trueness of the wheel going up and down and side to side using the break pads as a reference. If you don't have friction break pads, you can use your thumb and finger as a point of reference being careful not to hit it on the spokes.

After you've done that, you can check the tension on the spokes. Check for any loose spokes and also any loose spoke nipples. That will be an indicator. If any of them are loose, the trueness will be off.

For rim breaks, the break surface should be smooth and flat. If there's excessive wear, you'll feel a dish to the rim wall.

Now take the wheels off the bike and hold one upright. Hold on the to axel and spin the wheel gently. It should be smooth. If there's any wear in the axels and or bearings, you will feel grinding. That will be cause for concern.

Check the Frame For Cracks When You Buy a Used Bike

Look at the frame for any cracks or dents in the joints indicating any stress fractures. Do this also along the tube lengths. You'll also do this along the fork blades. Also spin the fork and feel for any grinding in the bearings. You also want to go slightly up and down and feel for any play in the fork and headset.

On a mountain bike frame, look underneath the down tube and the bottom bracket where a lot of rocks can kick up and damage the frame and or the bottom bracket.

On carbon-fiber frames, paint chips can be normal wear and tear. However, when lines come out from the paint chip, they can be an indicator of frame damage.

When inspecting the drive chain, go ahead and shift the gears and make sure it shifts through all the gears smoothly.

Look for Rear Damage When You Buy a Used Bike

Another thing to take note of for the rear derailleur is damage to the rear derailleur body. It there's any scratches on here, it's an indicator that the bike has taken a fall, in which case it could also cause damage to the rear derailleur hanger, which is what it's mounted to. If there is damage to that, you can replace the rear derailleur hanger on a carbon-fiber frame or an aluminum frame. On a steel frame, it's non-replaceable.

When inspecting the front chain rings, you want to look for any missing teeth or excessive wear. Be especially careful with the middle ring as that takes the most abuse.

When looking at the chain, keep in mind that grease and dirt can easily be cleaned off. However, any excessive rust or any binding that prevents the links from flexing properly will require replacement of the chain.

When inspecting the brake pads for a rim break, check for excessive wear in the pads and even wear. Keep in mind that they can be replaced.

When inspecting the brakes of a disc brake system, go ahead and spin the wheels and check the trueness of the brake rotor using the caliper as a reference point.

To see if the bike has been crashed, some points to look for any damage or scratches are on the brake hoods, brake-lever ends, handlebar ends, axel skewer ends, on the sides of the pedals, sides of the saddle, and rear derailleur.

Be sure to take the bike for a test ride. Shift through all the gears, check the front and rear brakes, and make sure that it rides comfortably.

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