Your Guide to Buying Used Bike Parts

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Your Guide to Buying Used Bike Parts

Bicycles can be adapted and upgraded at home easily, by replacing and adding different parts.. Whether sourcing a frame to start building a hand-made bicycle or simply a new handlebar grip to replace one that has perished, online auction sites such as eBay represent a rich source of bike spares and offer a diverse range of parts at different prices.

Safety is of great importance when buying used bike parts,, with some elements such as chains, cables and tyres best bought new. However, the vast majority parts can confidently be bought used, and by buying through eBay you can be confident of ascertaining that the parts are undamaged and safe for use.

The Anatomy of a Bike

When broken down, a single bicycle is made up of hundreds of different parts, all of which influence each other. If any part is missing, broken, worn out or badly matched, it can throw the bike’s system out of balance and create greater wear and tear on otherwise strong parts.

Every bike is different so it is a good idea to understand the major physical traits of the bike that requires parts before making a purchase. For example, if buying parts for a heavy bike, then it is a good idea to buy particularly strong parts, since they will be under more strain than on a lightweight vehicle.


The frame of a bike is its foundation, and as such it is important that it is strong and durable. Compared with the complex mechanisms of some parts of the bicycle’s anatomy, the frame is relatively simple.

However, any online buyer of a second hand bike frame should be careful to inspect provided images, looking for nicks and dents that indicate the frame has not been well cared for.

Steel frames

Most old frames and many newer frames are made from steel because it is a durable material. The tubes of frames can either be lugged or welded.

  • Lugged frame: A smaller tube is fitted into a wider one.
  • Welded frame: Powerful heat is applied to the ends of the tubes to attach them together in a strong bond.

When looking to buy used welded frames it is important to make sure that the welds are still strong. When buying a used frame on eBay, check the photos carefully and ask the seller for a close-up of any concerning-looking welds.

Aluminium frames

Other frames are made from aluminium, which is a much lighter material than steel and is popular with used frame buyers because it does not rust. However, because aluminium dents more easily than steel it is important to check that the structure of the aluminium frame is sound by looking carefully at photos, when buying on eBay.

Titanium Frames

A few frames are made from titanium,, which also does not rust but which must, like steel and aluminium, have strong welds if it is to maintain its integrity once up and running as a new bicycle.

Carbon Fibre Frames

The lightest and often the most expensive frames are made from carbon fibre.. Suited to racing and other high-performance bicycles, they are light and high-tech, but easily damaged. Once carbon fibre is damaged its integrity is severely compromised, which means that when buying used frames on eBay it is vital to feel assured that the frame is intact.

It can be a good idea to visit the seller to see the frame before buying, which is possible if the seller lives within travelling distance of the potential buyer.


Wheels take the weight and pressure not only of the weight of the bike and rider, but also of the energetic forces of forward momentum. This, plus the fact that unlike the frame the wheels are made from many different components, makes it important to buy used wheels carefully, taking into account their age, mileage and condition.

Wheels are made up of several different parts – rim, tyre, hub, spokes and axle – which can be bought separately and then assembled, or replaced with spares when parts have become over-used. It is also possible to buy entire second hand wheels.


Check the condition of the rims by looking out for dents or fractures, since any problem with the rims will rapidly render them unusable.


Most bike builders or spare parts buyers prefer to invest in new tyres rather than buying second-hand.


Once added to the frame, check that the hub runs virtually silently. If there is any resistance this could mean that the ball bearings in the wheel’s hub need to be replaced.


Check check each spoke individually for damage, since a loose spoke can lead to a misshapen wheel.

When buying an entire wheel or wheelset from eBay, check that they run true once added to the frame.


There are several different types of brake, with the three most common being rim,, disc and drum brakes.. While it is advisable to buy brake pads and cables new, the brake mechanism may be bought second hand.


The drivetrain is made up of several elements that together transmit the power coming from the rider into forward momentum.


One of the simplest parts of a bike to buy second hand. Nevertheless, pedals should still be checked for battered ends.


Also a relatively simple part of a bike to buy second hand, although if a crank is bent then it will need to be replaced.


The cranks are attached to the chainwheel,, where it is more important to take care with observing damage when buying second hand. If the teeth on the chainwheel are nicked or bent then reject the drivetrain or the chainwheel as it is too worn.


Attached to the hubs on the rear and the front wheels are the gear derailleurs,, which move the chain from one cog or ‘chainring’ to another when the rider changes gear. Check in particular that the front derailleur has not received any serious damage, as the front one is more likely to show obvious damage than the rear derailleur when a bike (or a bike part) has been badly used by its owner. In this way, the front derailleur offers clues as to the overall condition of a bicycle.

Once the gears are on the bike, the real test of their health comes. Gear changes should happen smoothly, quickly and without too much noise. When cycling along in gear, there should be no clicking noises coming from the derailleurs.. If there are any noises, it is a good idea to tune the bike yourself or take it a professional to be tuned. 

Handlebars and Stem

Handlebars are usually made from particularly hard materials such as metal alloys or steel, since there is a lot of force put through them, especially if they are mountain bike or BMX handles.

When buying handlebars take the following into consideration:

  • · Handlebars must be symmetrical since they are used for steering and supporting the rider on the bike.
  • · Any bending or splitting of the metal should be looked out for in images of handlebars on eBay.
  • · Stickers should be removed that may hide damage, or obscure undesirable re-welded parts of the handlebars.
  • · Be sure to buy handlebars that are the right size for the bike and rider, since for stability they should be fitted into the stem above the minimum insertion mark.

Saddle and Seat Stem

The central contact point between rider and bike, the seat should be firmly attached, absolutely stable even when rocked, and well-upholstered. The seat is a common element to be bought second hand since many riders wish to change saddles for ones that they find more comfortable.

Built for strength, the seatpost is very durable, however inexpensive tubing could potentially be bent and cracked. Check for paint that has been rubbed-off since this indicates an area that has been worn-out.

How to Buy Used Bike Parts on eBay

To search for second-hand bike spares, type into the search box ‘used bike parts.. You can be specific in your search if you know the brand or size of what you are looking for, and using the search feature will help you find exactly what you want.

When searching through listings, carefully review all the data to ensure that what you are buying is what you need and is in adequate condition. Photographs will help you in assessing this and you can request further information or images through the Ask the & Seller function. Visit the BuyingTTips page for more information.

Once you are ready to buy, either place a Bid,, Buy& it Now, or put down your Best & Offer. Using PayPal means you are protected by eBay's Buyer Protection Program.


Bicycles are satisfying for the amateur to build and repair since they are relatively simple machines. The variety of materials and styles of bike parts available online make shopping for spare parts on eBay a rewarding experience. However, because bikes often share roads with larger mechanised vehicles it is vital to ensure the good condition and reliability of spare parts when purchasing.

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