How to Purchase a Good New or Used Bicycle

David Hunt

The Internet provides some useful tools for finding a great deal on a new or used bicycle. One is www.ebay.com, which allows you to bid for bicycles in your area or all over the world. Another tool is a review site that gives feedback from others who have extensively tested the bike in question. www.roadbikereview.com is my favorite.

mountainbikedarkUsing these sites in combination, you can:

  1. Bid for a bicycle,
  2. Find its desirable and disenchanting features, and
  3. Discover the market value of a similar used model for sale locally.

A five-year-old bicycle will perform at 90 to 95 percent of the capability of a brand-new model, yet it can often be purchased for less than half the price of a new bike. Buying a used bike may mean missing out on a few mechanical advances, such as increased number of gears or added suspension, but those advances will have a minimal (or even detrimental) effect on the riding that most of us will encounter.

Which Bike Is the Best for Me?

Do you know what size bike to choose? Manufacturers do not all use the same standard. If possible, sit on a similar model at a local bike shop before you bid. Also, choose a design matched to the riding conditions you will experience most of the time. For example, don't buy a full-suspension model to ride on paved trails, nor a road-racing cycle if you will never race. The model in your size designed for your riding style will feel much more comfortable and fun! Two bicycle designs have enjoyed remarkable popularity this year due to their versatility. Cyclocross/hybrid bikes will nearly match the speed of a true road bike, but they can be ridden on smoother off-road trails with only a change of tires. Hardtail (front-suspension-only) mountain bikes can be converted from off-road to paved trail use by changing the tires to a smooth road tread, though speed will be limited due to lower gearing. Either model is a great choice for the person with only one bicycle.

A used bike is a great optionYou might want to know that lower weight generally indicates increased durability and speed. A 27-pound mountain bike will probably be far more durable and much easier to pedal than a 30-pound bike. A 3-pound difference in a road bike will be even more significant. This rule of thumb tends to hold true until you compare bicycles in the multi-thousand-dollar price range. An unassembled bicycle shipped to you from a distance can be purchased for a lower price, but do you have the mechanical inclination to reassemble the shipped bicycle? Since you do not know the exact condition of the bike until it arrives, bid confidently up to a price that still provides some room in case you have to pay someone to help fix it. A reasonable shipping rate adds another $50 to the purchase price. For more advanced repairs, try the roll-up tool kit made by Park tools or Pedro's (costing around $100). If you need some in-depth repair help, look up www.parktool.com.

A used bike is a great option, but if you want a new bike, your local bike shop is a good place to go. If you need help with repairs, the bike shop mechanic can provide a wealth of expertise. This is worth paying for. Many bike shops encourage you to increase your own bike repair skills by providing low-cost workshops. They know that there is no shortage of people ready to pay a mechanic to assemble, maintain, and repair their bicycles, because it is an acquired skill that takes years to refine. Keep on riding!

David was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and has worked for years in the Spanish translation and editing community. More recently he served the Hispanic community in the United States assisting local churches and pastors with financial decisions relating to church loans, pastor's retirement, personal investments, and tax issues. David and his wife Christina live in Missouri and enjoy riding their bicycles and studying languages together.