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.
Note: This is taken from the London Cyclist eBook: A guide to Cycling in London which is freely available to newsletter subscribers. Click here to find out more.
Where to buy a second hand bike in London
- GoingGoingBike is a newly launched website that sells second hand bikes
- Otherwise.. Gumtree classifieds in London and eBay are classics though be careful about stolen bikes
- In a bike shop – the LCC maintain a good list of bike shops in London that sell second hand bikes.
- In a police auction – Frank G Bowen run the London auctions
- Classified ads in newspapers and magazines
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.