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 Second Hand Bikes in London?
- 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
If the owner of the bike has also been smart enough to use BikeRegister then you can use their smartphone app to check the barcode or frame number.
Getting a Good deal on a Second Hand Bike
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.