Buying a Used Bike? What to Look For

April 17, 2019
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Living in Idaho means you probably know a thing or two about enjoying the outdoors.

You have your camping gear, fishing gear, or your outdoor cooking gear, but you're missing your bike. Those thinking about getting a used bike may want to know what to look for when buying one.

The Frame Inspection

When searching for a used bike, do not overlook its frame or the fork. You want to inspect the frame and fork because these are like the foundation of your bike. They are also one of the only parts of a bike that cannot be replaced.

So, if you really want your bike to provide long-term Boise biking, inspect and look for the following signs of a damaged frame or fork before making your purchase:

  • Obvious cracks
  • Dents
  • Rust because it will only get worse
  • Bends that could mess with alignment

You may also want to look for bubbling under the paint of the bike because this could be telling you that there is some corrosion under there. It may even be a good idea to test your bike to make sure it can stay straight while riding.

Examine the Steerer and Headset

The headset is usually not too expensive to replace, but you should still check it because it is an expense you can avoid. What you want to do is press down on the brakes of the bike, and move the bike back and forth. You do not want to hear any knocking coming from the headset.

If you're thinking of getting a carbon steerer, take the following steps:

1. Remove the fork from the bike.
2. Look for corrosion around the crown or any other questionable issues.
3. Put the fork back.
4. Lift the front of the bike, and let the handlebars swing. Handlebars that stay put may have a problem.

A Closer Look at the Drivetrain

The drivetrain is another area you should check before purchasing a bike. Most people inspect the chain, but some do not know how to do it effectively. The following steps will help you check the chain:

1. Place the bike on a chainring with the largest rear cog.
2. Try to stretch the chain.
3. A chain that doesn't give much is okay, but a chain that gives too much may be a problem. More than 1/2 inch of space gap is no good.

You can always have your bike serviced if you feel like this is the bike for you because fixing it shouldn't be a big deal.

Wheel and Tire Check

Checking your bike's wheels is important because it could mean the difference between using it now or waiting until the wheels are fixed.

Check the following:

1. Lift the wheel (one at a time).
2. Spin the lifted wheel to check for wobbling. A millimeter of wobbling is okay, but anything more than that is not good.

You can check the tire by simply feeling it, making sure no air escapes. If the tire needs to be replaced, do so, and you'll be ready for some Boise biking.

Of course, these are just some of the things you need to inspect when purchasing a used bike. You should also make sure your brakes are working properly, or have them serviced if you want. Hopefully, some of these tips make your bike hunting more effective.

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