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What to look for when buying a used mountain bike

mountain bikes can be a bit on the expensive side and it’s not just you, it’s the same for everyone else but used bikes can come with a risk of being defaulted or some parts just not working well, Here’s how to spot a good deal whether online or offline.

As the saying goes doubt before you trust.

So it’s ok to doubt since the other person is a stranger and he might be acting confident and friendly to just get you to buy his bike and get it out of his hands

Here’s what to look for when buying a used mountain bike.

  • replaceable parts(quick release lever)
  • pinch bolts on the handlebar
  • Cassette condition
  • welded parts
  • tires condition
  • forks condition
  • gears working
  • brake plates condition
  • Don’t be shy while asking questions
  • Meeting in the public place

These are the things you should check before you buy a used bike and here’s how to check if even with little upgrades how much they will cost you and what would a new model of the same bike would cost you.

Tires Condition:

Check if the tires are not worn out you can spot them easily but if the tires are in a condition that knobs are almost or completely gone that’s not a good sign it means either they have been using the bike for skiing on roads or if they used it on trails the bike must have been brutally abused if that is the case they might be selling it probably with some of the faults that don’t appear it would be best to give it a thorough examination.

If the tires are in better/good condition that’s a bonus but still, you might want to check if there’s not any problem that might appear in the future.

Pinch bolts on handlebars :

Pinch bolts on the handlebar mean that the handlebar is replaceable since all of the mountain bikes made in recent years have pinch bolts on them so if they are trying to sell you something that has a threaded handlebar on it don’t buy it they are not easily upgradeable and you won’t be able to find its spare parts even now and

it will just keep getting harder in the future, So be careful and don’t miss them they can be small but really important and buyers often miss them and later on realize they have been had.

Cassette condition :

Cassette is the most ignored part most of the buyers just look at tires to see if the gears are working and are off on their way later realizing their chain skipping or chain jumping if this is happening it’s most likely due to the cassette being seriously worn out or nearly worn out.

Cassettes have some special marking and their teeth are usually rubbed on an angle that’s not worn out they are factory-made this way for smoother shifting patterns and the angled teeth are there for the chain to jump down.

Welded parts :

This is really important always check for welded parts before even checking tires or anything some times they are hidden and if you don’t see them check for newly painted parts on the bike they are mostly welded and painted to hide the parts.

We see crashes every day on the trails its nothing new and we have seen the bikes welded and used again but sometimes they are just broken to the point where there’s no way they are left trail-worthy people try to flip them or even sell them.

I would say if the welded part is not a major weld then you can consider it but if it is bigger you are probably better off searching or waiting for a new bike.

The problem with welded parts is there’s no guarantee that it was welded with material compatibility and often welded bikes tend to not give the full experience either case I would advise you not to buy such a bike but that’s my opinion course.

Replaceable parts(quick release lever/through-axle) :

A quick-release or a through-axle are must-have parts in the new or old mountain bikes if it has threaded bolts it’s not worth it, you wouldn’t want to carry a wrench out on trails every time you have a flat tire and getting flats on the trails is inevitable.

So be really careful if they don’t have a through-axle or a quick-release lever do not buy it. the problem with the nuts or bolts is disassembly and assembly of the tires especially of mountain bikes is really important and very frequent so the process of opening and closing screws gets really annoying and time-consuming.

In case you don’t know what a quick release lever is, you can find it on the tires where there were nuts and bolts used in the past.

Forks condition :

forks condition is an important part to check forks ask them if you can do a little tour or do a bit of a spin try to adjust forks according to your weight and shift your weight on the wheels to see if they bounce back up or they are getting stuck or slowing down.

forks can be replaced so if you are getting a really sweet deal and you can buy new good forks in your budget then it’s worth it or you could always bargain and see where it goes.

Gears working :

Gear checking is an important part as well while everything might seem ok on the front but gear clips may be greased and stuck or when you try changing gears they are not jumping off or on again do a simple test try running the bike if the seller is legit he would be happy to say yes to your request so don’t be shy and ask them if you can take a quick spin.

Brake plates :

every mountain bike has disk brakes if it has something like a v-brake or anything else it’s not worth your time disc brakes provide more power and stability trails is harsh and braking is an important part of it as well so don’t take them lightly.

brake pads are of two types organic and steel but steel parts chew the brakes plate way more quickly so it’s better to give them a quick check as well if the brake plates are fine or not they are replaceable but don’t have an infinite amount of money a quick check can save the day.

Don’t be shy while asking questions

Well as a general rule of thumb don’t be shy while asking the seller questions you are buying something off of them so its only natural for the other person to ask them and usually if the seller’s arent trying to sell you something that has problems they do answer the questions and explain it to you so don’t hesitate to shoot some quick questions at them if there is some underperforming part they might even say that as well.

Asking questions just shows your authenticity and shows hows serious you are and how interested you are so it’s ok to ask sellers questions so don’t be shy and always ask that’s not being impolite it just shows concern for your money.

Last but not least don’t ask irrelevant questions stay on topic and just leave it there don’t try to indulge in chatter just be specific on what you want to know and how something is good or bad.

Meeting in a public place :

Always ask for a meet up in public places especially if you came in contact with the seller through internet its best to ask them to meet in a public area at least where there is foot traffic or people place like a post office or in a market place you don’t know the other person and they don’t know you either so it’s always best to ask for a meetup in a public place.

Dont pay cash/advance/insurance upfront :

If you encounter someone on the internet who’s asking you to pay them a little cash for the fair of transportation or some kind of insurance or any type of upfront cash don’t agree to it and never pay them its most definitely a scam I am sure you have already heard of them before as well but still there are all kind of different people out there who come up with all kind of different ideas to scam other always stay clear of them.

If they are asking for fuel cost/transportation fare it’s more than likely a scam stay clear stay safe. Only pay on the internet on trusted sources like a manufacturer’s website or Amazon or any other trusted company in case something feels shady research them on the internet ask friends or friends of friends before paying them.

While we can never be more careful but being as careful as we can plays a big part in making good decisions.

I tried to cover as much as I could but if I missed something let me know in the comment section below

and let me know was this article helpful to you in any way or do you have any other useful advice that could help someone?