How to Buy a Used Bike

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How to Buy a Used Bike

Cycling is something that is beneficial in lots of different ways. As a mode of transport it is quick, convenient and environmentally friendly. It is also an effective form of exercise and one that can be done on a regular basis without too much effort. The main thing to consider is what type to buy. If you want to get the right type at an affordable price it is worth knowing how to buy a used bike at eBay.

What to Consider

The first step towards getting a new bike on eBay is to consider what type of bike is appropriately suited to your needs. While looking at pictures will help you gauge whether it is a colour you like or a suitable style that you want people to see you ride, there are other considerations that you have to make, especially if this is the first bike that you have bought for yourself.

If you are lucky enough to live near a wooded area then you ought to consider a mountain bike model with thick wheels that can handle any rough terrain such as rocky paths or for going up steep hills. If racing is more your thing then you may wish to consider buying a model with thinner racing wheels. This will also affect the amount of gears you need and may well also affect the condition of the bicycle.


Another thing to consider when comparing brands on eBay is the size of the bike. You need to consider your own height and a bike that will match your height. Knowing these specifications will make it easier to find a model that is ideal for your requirements. This sometimes causes confusion. For example a bike that is referred to as 26 inch will usually refer to the thickness of mountain bike wheels as opposed to the size of the bicycle itself and this is something that can result in purchasing bikes that are not a suitable fit.

Words and Pictures

An eBay seller will provide a detailed description that you will be able to compare with your particular needs. There also ought to be pictures that clearly indicate that it is the actual model shown. Multiple pictures that show the condition of the bike also help to give you an idea of whether you wish to bid for it. Ideally this ought to show the bike from a number of angles and give you enough of a look to inspect the quality of the bike.

Additionally it is worth looking at the feedback about the seller. If the feedback is largely positive then it is likely that the seller will be reliable, especially if these reviews come with detailed product descriptions and genuine photographs.

Measuring Up

One thing that can complicate purchasing a bike online is that different people may use different types of measurements to define the size of a bike. One measurement is centre to centre (note this may be shortened to C C to C T). This is so called because the measurement is taken from the centre of the bottom bracket to the centre part of the top tube of the bike.

Another form of measurement is measuring from centre to top, taken from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube. The reason that this is important is because a bike that is measured 60 cm centre to centre is bigger than one that is 60 cm centre to top.

Other things to look out for include

* Handlebar width

* Stem length

* Gears

* Frame size

* Bottom bracket size

* Seat post size

Frame Size

One way to find a frame size that fits you is to look for a frame size calculator. This allows you to see what type of frame fits a road, mountain, BMX or bike for a child. Measuring the inseam on your leg will allow you to get an idea of a suitable frame. The measurement varies according to the type of bike. For example someone who fits a 56 cm centre to centre road bike would need a 46 cm centre to centre mountain bike.

Seat Post Size

These are usually made from either steel or aluminium. These are measured by diameter and will normally be displayed on the seat post. Therefore if this is not clearly shown on the product description a seller should be able to check this and inform you of the size. The industry standard for seat post diameter is said to be 27.2mm. However if the seat post needs to be replaced it is possible to get custom fits.

Bottom Bracket Size

The bike should come with documentation indicating the size of the bottom bracket and so a seller ought to be able to tell you this. This can be checked by looking at the distance from the chainrings to the side of the seat tube. Fortunately these can be replaced if necessary.

Handlebar Width

Getting the handlebar width is important in order to be comfortably while riding your bike. If you are riding for long periods of time then you do not want to be constantly leaning over and hurting your back. An effective way to find a suitable handlebar width is by measuring the width of your shoulders. As a general rule it is advised to add an additional 2cm to your shoulder width in order to get suitable handlebar width.

Stem Length

Stems are adjustable and it is said that even a single centimetre can make a difference in terms of personal comfort. The steam ought to fit the frame. This is another reason why carefully measuring the frame is important.


Some people may wonder what the purpose of additional gears is on a bike. In simple terms it is about maintaining a consistent speed. It means you do not have to work excessively hard in order to climb up a hill and nor do you go too quickly while going down a hill. The variety of surfaces means that additional gears are often required in to compensate for human effort and maintain consistency in a way that is more difficult than in a car.

The general recommendation is to start off with a lower gear when first riding a bike and then move upwards through the gears. On flat surfaces it is usually recommended that you use high front gears and adjust the rear gears as low or as high as you feel comfortable.

When going uphill it is recommended that you change both your front and rear gears downwards. One combination you ought to avoid is one front gear and a 7 or 8 back top gear. The reason for this is that it can wear out the chain, something to be aware of when looking at used bikes.

Recommended Gear Combination

Not Recommended

Front 1 Back lower gears 1 to 3

Front 1 Back top gear 7 or 8

Front 2 Back middle gears 3 to 6

Front 3 Back lower gears 1 to 3

Front 3 Back higher gears 4 to 7

It is important to remember that large differences in gear combinations can wear out your chain

Questions and Answers

One of the major benefits of eBay is that you can contact a seller directly. Do not be afraid of asking them questions. They ought to fully disclose the condition of the bike and how it has been used. For example they should tell you if the bike has ever been used for racing or if it has ever been involved in a crash. Other things you should enquire about include

* The age of the tubes

* The age of the tyres

* The ease of switching gears

* Whether there are any signs of rust

* Whether the bike can be inspected for damage prior to sending it via a carrier

* Whether there is any insurance available to cover shipping and compensate for any damage


One thing you ought to check is if there are any additional items included with the bicycle. For example if the seller has any locks for the bike it is worth asking if they can include it. As with any other part of the bike you should be able to get a description of the extras and to get information on the condition to ensure these extras are useful and worth including with the bike.

Finding What You Want

eBay offers a wide array of options from sellers from all over the world. This allows you to compare all the different types of bikes available that are suited to what you want. Comparing the different options and checking the feedback on the sellers allows you to shop around and select a suitable choice for your individual requirements.

In short the most important things to remember in terms of knowing how to buy a used bike on eBay are to know what you are looking for and to ask suitable questions. While you want to ensure that you are buying something that looks good and you want to be seen riding it you have to be aware of what it is and whether it will be suitable for your cycling needs. If you are prepared to look carefully and get the right advice you will find one suitable for you.

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