It’s as easy as riding one in the first place.

Whether you are looking to save money on your next bike or have been dreaming of a bike that’s a bit out of your price range, there’s a perfectly good solution out there: buying used. The used bike market is very healthy, and if you’re a smart shopper, opting for a used bike can lead to some great deals. If you aren’t sure where to start, our experts are here to offer advice on how to buy a used bike that you’ll love for years to come.

Here are our top four tips for buying a used bike…



How to buy a used bike

STEP 1: KNOW THYSELF

Savvy shoppers have an idea of what they want before they enter the bike market, whether it’s an award-winning Trek Madone, Domane, an e-bike, or anything else. The more you know about what you want, the better you’ll enjoy the shopping experience. That means a little research into the proper style, brand, parts, wheels, and accessories can go a long way. Do you want disc or rim brakes? What size cassette do you want? And color is always a critical component of the decision. To get some direction on whether you should choose a road bike, a hybrid, an e-bike, a mountain bike, or something else, check our Trek’s helpful bike finder. And remember that some of these choices potentially affect your future resale value if you plan to sell this bike on the used market eventually, too.

It may also go without saying, but before you start shopping, you should know your size requirements too. You may not be looking for a precision fit, and that’s fine, but it’s always important to know whether you should be riding a small, medium, large, or extra large. These sizes are relatively arbitrary across brands (they often refer the length of the top tube of the bike, but don’t always), but if you know your actual numeric size (50, 52, 56, 58, etc.), you can narrow your field of choices.

Tips for buying a used bike

STEP 2: FIND THE MARKETPLACE

There are so many places to buy used bikes these days, from Craigslist, to eBay, to Facebook Marketplace, to even your local bike shop (just call them and ask!). We’re partial to the Trek Travel used bike store as a great place to find a pre-owned, mechanic-refurbished ride, but if we don’t have the style or size you’re looking for, there are plenty of other places to purchase a used bicycle.

Each of these marketplaces come with their own set of risks and opportunities, so make sure you protect yourself accordingly. Craigslist is the least-regulated marketplace, which means it’s important to meet in neutral places to pick up the bike, inspect the bike closely, and try to pay with a third-party payment processor like PayPal for some added payment protection. However, you might be able to negotiate some fantastic pricing. On the other hand, a local bike dealer is typically going to be more reliable and will often complete an inspection to make sure the bike is in good working order. The price of the used bike from a dealer may be a little higher because of the added work care put into the bike.

How to buy a used road bike

STEP 3: INSPECT YOUR RIDE

When you finally see your bike online or in-person, do as much due diligence as possible. Don’t expect the seller to be completely forthcoming with information that could affect the sale price, so inform yourself before you negotiate. Things that affect price could include:

  • ● Nicks to paint or slight frame damage (normal wear and tear is fine) – an old trick is to “snap” the frame or flick your finger across all the tubes in the frame and listen for different sounds to see if cracks exist beyond the naked eye.
  • ● Chain life – Chain stretch can wear the cassette and/or chainrings. Make sure to inspect the chain visually for rust or damage, and if you can test-ride the bike, listen for squeaking or grinding, which indicate there repairs may be needed.
  • ● Wheel truing or adjustments – Take a look at the wheels from multiple angles to ensure they appear to be free of dents and bends that would make riding difficult and that they are aligned properly in the frame.
  • ● Specifications on groupsets – e.g. does a bike come with a varied parts spec (Ultegra and 105 or SRAM and Shimano)? Ask why. Has something been replaced?
  • ● What is included or not in the price? Many sellers may not include personal accessories like saddles, pedals, water bottle cages, or computer mounts. This is perfectly normal, but can also be a point of negotiation.

Used bike buying guide

STEP 4: AGREE ON A BOTTOM LINE

Many prices in online marketplaces are suggested prices, so make sure you do some due diligence on market price if possible. One of our top tips for buying a used bike is to use resources like eBay to understand the market value of a used bike and use services like BicycleBlueBlook.com to do some research on a specific model. You may also have to pay for shipping for interstate purchases, which you can calculate at USPS.com.

Buying a used bike can provide as much joy as getting something new. You’ll still get the same thrill when you ride it for the first time, and it can still take you to the same amazing places⁠—all at a fraction of the cost. If you’re interested in discovering what’s available in the Trek Travel used bike store, start here. Our used bikes are available at great prices and always come with a 52-point inspection to ensure everything is in working order.

Shop Used Bikes

Now that you’ve learned how to buy a used bike, visit our travel portfolio and plan your next great cycling adventure too! We’ll see you on the road!