Ebay is a great place to pick up a used bicycle frame. In this guide i will help you to avoid buying a frame that may just ruin your weekend riding plans.
These days it is very common for riders to upgrade to a new frame themselves and strip down their old bike simply swapping the parts over onto a new frame.
This opens up some plus and minus points for you the buyer.
On a plus side this means you can pick up a second hand frame cheaply as the seller will likely just want to sell it on to recoup some of the outlay they made on a new frame.
The downsides are mainly the unknown condition of the frame you are about to buy, especially if it has been stripped down by someone not so mechanically minded. It is important then to ask the seller specific questions about any areas of the frame which could be potentially damaged from removing the old components.
These main areas are the headtube, bottom bracket shell, mech hanger and brake mounts.
Lets start with the headtube - Ask the seller how the headset was removed. Ideally they will have used a headset cup remover but unfortunately a lot of sellers simply use a hammer and screwdriver to drive out the cups. Sure this will get the headset out but it will also create gauges on the inside of the
headtube which will effect the installation of a new headset. In addition to this top tube and down tube interfaces may become internally damaged.
Now onto the bottom bracket - It is very important that the BB shell threads are perfect. Ideally when the seller has removed the BB they will have "chased" the threads with a BB tap. This will ensure that all threads are clean and ready for a new BB. It is however quite unlikely that a seller will have done this unless they have access to a professional cycle workshop. Don’t panic though - as long as the bb was removed with the correct tools the threads should be fine. Its worth noting that a frame including a free BB may contain this free BB as it has seized into the frame. This could mean a cost at your end to get a mechanic to remove it.
The mech hanger - Again its important that these threads are in good condition. Make sure you ask. Not only this but you need the hanger to be straight or your gears will not run correctly. If you do purchase a frame then ask the seller to remove the hanger before postage as this will keep it nice
and straight if the box gets bashed around.
Brake mounts - The frame will have v-brake mounts, disc mounts or sometimes both. If the frame has v-brake mounts ask if the threads are ok, If it has disc mounts ask if they have been faced to ensure a good contact point with the disc caliper.
With these points clarified you now know that you will be able to bolt your parts onto the frame without any drama.
The only other issues facing you are structural and aesthetical conditions. What you are prepared to settle for as far as aesthetics go are obviously up to you. After all you can get the frame powdercoated at most paint shops for around £60.
Structurally you obviously want no cracks and no dents. A lot of frames have small dings and most of this will cause you no problems but if in a high load area on the frame they may lead to frame failure and even in a relatively safe area of the frame they will effect your resale value if you
yourself come to sell the frame.
Remember to get the seller to nip down the local bike shop to get a bike/frame box to ship it in, or at least make sure they use a suitable box.
Good luck finding a new frame and ill see you on the trails.