How to Buy a Used Road Bike

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How to Buy a Used Road Bike

Riding bicycles has been a popular form of transport since the inception of its current form in the nineteenth century. Thankfully the technology has significantly improved since the days of what were referred to as bone rattlers and now using bikes is a lot smoother and a lot more comfortable. If you want something that will be hitting tarmac on a regular basis then it is worth knowing how to buy a used road bike on eBay.


  • Cycling is a form of transport with few costs. Once you have purchased a bike you do not have to pay for petrol or renew passes like you would for public transport.
  • A number of public transports such as trains allow you to bring bikes with you and often have bicycle racks where you can store them. This is ideal if you want to enjoy a cycling holiday at home or abroad
  • It is a more environmentally friendly way to travel, reducing the amount of carbon emissions caused by unnecessary shorter car journeys
  • It is faster than walking making it a viable option for people who need to commute to work but wish to avoid rush hour traffic.
  • Cycling is an effective form of cardiovascular exercise, helping to burn calories and reduce the risk of long term health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, strokes and certain types of cancer.

Spot the difference

For some people looking for bikes on eBay it may not be immediately obvious what the difference is between a road bike and a bike meant for other forms of terrain. Often one of the clearest differences is the wheels. Road based bikes will tend to have thinner wheels, making them more suitable for flatter road surfaces rather than the bumpier terrain you tend to get while riding through woods or on dirt tracks.

Another thing about road bikes is that they tend to last longer than mountain or heavier terrain bikes as they tend to suffer less wear due to the fact there are less obstacles and fewer gear shifts while riding over flatter surfaces.

Quality guide

While price is an indicator of quality it is worth knowing broadly what you ought to be getting for your money. Equally this can be indicator if you are getting a bargain on eBay or whether you ought to double check the level of quality.



Bottom of the range

The most affordable but likely to be the most short term and may end up costing more in repairs

An older model

Likely to have been produced in the last year or so. Should have a solid frame, usually made from aluminium

Steel frame

Higher quality, more sturdy than aluminium

High quality steel or carbon fibre

Very high quality

Ultra light titanium or equivalent

Top of the range, the highest form of quality that you can expect


The material that a bike is made from will often indicate their sturdiness or manoeuvrability and whether it is appropriate for your particular road use.

Aluminium is often used by racers as it is very light. The problem is that while this makes it more affordable than other materials the ride may be a bit bumpier than heavier materials.

Steel frames tend to be more solid and are generally regarded as more comfortable for longer rides than aluminium. This may be more appropriate if you intend to cycle longer distances.

Carbon fibre models can vary depend on how the fibres are laid out. In this instance it is recommended that you check reviews in order to see what models flex more or less in order to see what models are more lightweight and which ones provide a more solid ride.

Titanium is the most expensive material as it is both very flexible and sturdy. This means these are at the top of the range and therefore are likely to cost more than the other types of road bike available.

A good fit

A bike ought to be suitable for your height. Ideally you do not want to be leaning over or reaching too far while you are riding and you should be able to easily access the brakes and gears on your bike. In terms of reach it is recommended that you measure an additional 2 cm away from your shoulders in order to calculate where to position yourself on a bike.

You also need to consider your height. Measuring your height before looking at product descriptions ought to give you a broad idea of what size of bike you need. You do not want one that is too high as it will be uncomfortable and this is also the case with one that is too low.

It is also important to check how this is measured. There are two main types of measurement that you need to check before you make your purchase.

Centre to centre is when you measure from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top tube of the bike. This may be represented by the shorthand CC to CC.

Centre to top represents the height measured from the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube. The shorthand for this is CC to CT.

Centre to top is the smaller measurement of the two. A 60cm centre to centre bike will be a bigger size than one that is 60cm centre to top.

There are also other forms of measurement to consider in order to ensure you get a bike that properly fits you.


How it is measured

Seat post diameter

Industry standard is 27.2mm

Bottom bracket

The distance between the chainrings and the side of the seat tube

Handlebar width

An additional 2cm from your shoulders

Stem length

Ought to be specified. Stems can be replaced if necessary.


The point of gears on a bike is to compensate for human effort while going up hills or along bumpier services which is why bikes tend to have a lot more gears than cars. Road bikes generally need fewer gears than all terrain or mountain bikes because they tend to ride on flatter surfaces. Therefore if you are looking for a more affordable bike then it is generally recommended to go with a model that uses fewer gears.


If you are riding a bike on the road then it is strongly recommended that you ensure your safety by wearing a helmet. High visibility jackets are also something you may wish to consider especially if you do a lot of cycling at night. Furthermore having the right lights is essential as this will ensure that cars will be able to see you at night and you will be able to see while riding your bike.


One thing that it is very important to be wary of is security. A thick lock is recommended as this will make it harder for people to steal your bike while it is parked. Ensure it is properly secured before you leave it as this will reduce the risk of your bike being stolen. When purchasing a bike on eBay it may be possible to get a lock included as part of the price. You ought to check this before making a purchase and if it is not specified you may wish to consider contacting the seller and asking for more details on this.

Storage space

One reason that people may not want to ride a bike into work or into town is that they may wish to bring shopping home with them or may have items they want stored and kept secure. Fortunately a number of bikes for sale on eBay have storage options and it is worth checking the pictures of the various bikes on offer to see if they have appropriate storage for your needs.

Buying on eBay

eBay prides itself on being secure, efficient and reliable. One way to ensure that you get what you want is to search the specific road bike category and research the various models available, comparing them against your own individual specifications. As you look try to think about what are the most important factors in your decision so that you ensure you get the one that is right for you.

The product description and photographs are two of the most important things to check. The description needs to clearly state the condition of the item as well as size and additional features. The photographs need to clearly show the item itself, preferably alongside a picture of the seller to indicate that the product is genuine. If you are unsure contact the seller so that you can ask them specific questions and they ought to be able to answer any of your queries.

It is also advisable to check feedback on individual sellers. Look for people who have positive ratings and reviews from other eBay users. They also ought to specify their shipping and returns policy.


There is a wide variety of options available when purchasing a used road bike, and by narrowing down what you're looking for you can easily find the right bike for you, whether this is for a daily commute, a family holiday, or simply occasional recreational use. With a careful approach and the right information you'll know how to buy a used road bike on eBay.

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