Buying a second hand bike in London

My first “London” bike purchase was a second hand bike when I was a student. I saved a ton of money and bought a bike I would not have been able to afford first hand. The two problems I faced were making sure the bike is not stolen and getting a good deal.

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Where to buy a second hand bike in London

How to be sure you are not buying stolen goods

You don’t have to be a criminal detective to know when the bike you are looking at is stolen. There are obvious signs to look out for:

  • See if the person who is selling the bike is suited to it.
  • Look for the bicycle frame number. This is located underneath the bike. If this has been scratched off it is a tell-tale sign of a bike theft.
  • Meet with the person at their house not in a location such as an underground station. If they refuse they may be selling stolen goods.
  • Ask for identification
  • Ask for an original receipt of when the bike was purchased. If there is no receipt then perhaps they have an original manual

Getting a good deal

It can be helpful to have someone with you who knows a thing or two about bikes. Also try and get a test ride. Here are some things you should be looking for:

  • Correct frame size – if it doesn’t fit you then there is no point in buying
  • Rust – on the chain and on the rest of the bike. The chain can cheaply be replaced but rust on the rest of the bike can be a problem.
  • Dents – both on the frame and forks
  • Tyres – Are they worn out? They will need to be replaced.
  • Sprockets and gears – do the gears keep skipping, do the components look worn out? Replacing them can be a costly exercise.
  • Do a full M check – check all the classic areas: bolts, buckled wheels etc should all be assessed. Some things can be fixed cheaply but can quickly raise the price of what seems like a good deal

Have you had any experiences with buying second hand bikes? Leave a comment..

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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10 Responses to Buying a second hand bike in London

  1. John 25/08/2010 at 9:48 am #

    Hi,

    I have never bought a second hand bike but have always where possible done a part ex with the bike shop I was buying the new bike from.
    They would tell me what the cost of any repairs to it might cost and I usually got about £40 for the old bike and the person buying my old bike got a good deal on a fully serviced bike.
    So a bike shop would be my advice to anyone thinking of getting a second hand bike.

    • Dip 08/03/2013 at 12:24 am #

      Call me I want

      • John Yong 11/12/2013 at 11:18 am #

        Hi, I own a bike which has been used only a couple of times so its almost as good as new. There is a basket attached together with a chain & lock. Pls call or if you email me I can provide a picture of it.

        John

        020 73512711

  2. Alex 25/08/2010 at 10:12 am #

    You forgot to mention Freecycle – that’s where I got all 3 of the bikes that I currently own. All of them needed some work, but I didn’t have to pay a thing!

  3. Jimmy 23/01/2012 at 12:28 pm #

    Hello, thanks for the info – buying second hand bikes is daunting if you don’t have technical knowledge.
    I bought a really nice second hand bike from Squeaky Chains. http://squeakychains.com

    They also have 4 vital tips for checking out if a second hand bike is good to go:

    http://squeakychains.com/tips-for-buying-second-hand-bikes/

    Hope you find this helpful.

  4. Bob 14/05/2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Go for it- first bike was second hand 3 or 4 speed Sturmey- Archer, second bike again second hand, paid a fiver, went from Newcastle to Inverness via Great Glen and back-

    first trip to France was on 10 speed second hand bike.

    Local papers often have a section in the back advertising pages-

    Carpe- Diem!!

  5. Teresa Stokes 06/07/2012 at 10:29 am #

    I might add look to see if the bike frame is postcoded the same as the seller’s address, and if not why not?

  6. George 08/11/2012 at 2:31 pm #

    If the bike is an old or vintage bike and the chain is rusty then replacing it might not be so cheap and easy. An old chain will wear down, and the cogs at the rear will wear down with it. This means a new chain will not match up to the gear teeth on the back and the chain will skip. This means that the cassette/freewheel and possible the whole back wheel will need replacing too.

    To be honest, if a chain is that rusty, it means the bike has most likely been stored outside the majority of the time.

  7. Seb 25/06/2014 at 3:39 pm #

    Bikesoup also seems like a decent second hand bike platform. Not loads of London classifieds on there yet but it has sweet functionality.

  8. Jiri 17/11/2014 at 9:43 am #

    I bought 2 of my bikes ( 1 city bike and 1 folding bike ) at http://www.bikestotown.com, they have hundreds of bikes and offer free delivery all over EU.

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