Finding A Bicycle On ebay

When looking for a bargain, it is likely these days that you will turn to eBay for a second-hand bike. While there are bargains to be had, when buying a second-hand bike, you need to be careful, because you may have a large repair bill to go with the bargain price. Even if the person is not intending to be dishonest, their idea of the perfect condition may mean clean but worn out. In recent weeks two of our repairers have given out bills of well over £100 to make a bike usable, even though they were described as "good as new".

"Buying a bicycle on eBay, usually means you are buying someone else's problem"

There are a few things you should do when considering buying on eBay:

1) Never pay cash - always use one of the schemes that gives you protection.
2) Always collect in person - do not have it posted to you, and do not meet in some car park halfway.
3) Always ride the bike. Here is a quick road test checklist:
- Pedal quite hard in every gear front and rear. If there are any skipping and banging, assume that you are going to need a new chain, cassette, and chainrings. That is a big bill.
- If there is a grinding or wobble from the pedals that might mean another big bill.
- Check that the brakes work, especially that they release and apply evenly. Hydraulic brakes should work perfectly. While a new set of pads for a standard bike are usually a few pounds, disc brake pads are expensive.
- Does the steering feel free? Stiff or lumpy steering could a major repair.
4) Examine the tyres. Is the rubber perished? Are there odd bulges or cracks. Is there tread left?
5) If you are buying a bike with suspension, does it seem right - does the bike rock about with the front brake applied? If you are buying a bike with expensive forks, these are supposed to be serviced regularly and this usually means sending them away to the manufacturer - but most people don't bother. Forks often are 1/3 of the cost of a bike, so any suspicions, walk away.
6) Spin the wheels - are they straight? Minor wobbles can usually be sorted out, but it needs someone who knows to judge. Can you wobble them from side to side - loose wheels that have been left often end up with damage.
7) A clean bike does not mean it is a well maintained bike.

A close inspection will save you money, this Marian has only minor problems.  

Over time there are parts of bikes that do wear out, including wheels, bearings, cables and the whole drivetrain. For example, a chain usually lasts 2000 miles or less, and if it is not changed causes a lot of damage, so be wary of commuter bikes, even if they are carefully maintained. Off-roading and BMX are bikes designed to be abused, but therefore are prone to accident damage - the bargain is the mountain bike that is used on road, not the one owned by the expert who knows how to ride it, even if perfectly maintained!

To get the used bike back into a good condition, factor in replacing parts such as bearings, gear cables, brake pads, tyres and drive-chain 

The other thing to bear in mind is that if you are buying an expensive bike at a bargain price when it comes to repairs, you need to decide whether you are going to maintain that quality or whether you are going to put cheaper parts on. Also, old some bikes can be difficult to get spares for, even if they are only a few years old.

It's always a good idea to have your bike checked over after buying on ebay by a mechanic for safety and wear of any parts.

Buying A New Bicycle

Is something which is well worth spending some time on. Whatever level of experience you have as a cyclist, choosing a bike which is right for your physique, requirements and the type of cycling which you intend to do is essential.

With today's easy to buy online sales and cheap deals, it's always worth noting where will you turn to for customer support when things go wrong? buying a bike online, normally means the bike has been flat packed into a box and will need assembling and setting up. Also how easy is it to send back in case of warranty and always search online for reviews about the bike you intend to buy and about the company selling before you part with your money should things go wrong.

What else you should think about:
Determine what your current and near future use of the bike will be.
Set a budget, but be flexible, as spending a bit more you give you a lot more. If you haven't bought a bike for a long time you may be surprised at the price and accessories you will need. 

There are many types, styles of a bicycle which all have many different uses. Touring Bikes, Folding Bikes, Electric Bikes and so on. The frames can be made from different materials, Aluminium, Light weight Steel, Carbon, titanium or a combination of aluminum and carbon that all give a different feel for the rider. The choice of components is so wide, this can be determined by the price you pay. Or you can have a bicycle built to your own requirements. 

Broadly speaking, the three most popular types of a bicycle from which you can choose; these are road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrid bikes. All three types have certain specialties when it comes to handling different types of terrain and kinds of riding. Make a choice according to a sensible evaluation of your likely needs, rather than simply buying something which you think might make you look cool or fashionable.

Road bikes are the most popular and probably the most specialised of the different machines available. Designed for going fast on smooth road surfaces, they are lightweight and have thin wheels. Tyre grip is designed for tarmac, not for mud and gravel. The handlebars are at an angle and height which is designed to help the rider stay aerodynamic and this can often be uncomfortable for those who are not used to it. 

A road bike is a choice to make if you want to put in the distance along the roads. You can go impressively fast and does great fitness work with a machine such as this, but it is not a wise choice for either off-road riding or for handling commuter or shopping journeys. Basically, imagine this kind of bike as a sporty two-seater car capable of great speed and you will not go far wrong in visualising what kind of things it can cope with. 

The best road bikes tend to be Italian, with high-end frames still being made in Italy. The UK is known for making high-end steel frames for road, touring and tandems. 

Mountain bikes are probably a default machine for most people. These are excellent off-road vehicles and their wide tyres, great grip and excellent suspension, as well as ruggedness, make them the choice of bike for the adventurous cyclist. They are also robust enough to cope with daily commutes and shopping runs. Be aware, however, that if you have a lot of money to spend on a bike, but only intend to use it for mundane activities rather than trail adventuring, that you may end up with a machine with a whole load of off-road features that you never use. A bit like a 4X4 car used only for the school run. 

Video - Finding a good beginner mountain bike 

Hybrid bikes are a nice compromise between the two other types of bike and suit the rider who is serious about travelling using their bicycle, rather than the serious sports cyclist. The tyres on the bike are smooth, allowing for good speed on road surfaces, but the wheels are wide, meaning that it can cope with any unforeseen obstacles and alternative surfaces it might encounter. The rugged frame means that you can carry shopping if needed and the upright stance suits less serious riders who are after comfort rather than speed. 

Size matters, getting the right size bike is the one of the most important things when choosing your bike. The best place to head for advice about bike buying is your local bike shop, where the staff, like most cycling enthusiasts, will usually only be too happy to share their expertise and advice. (You will not have this service when buying online. And if you are overweight then the bike might not be fit for your purpose, with many road bikes built for riders up to 13 1/2 stone) It’s always best to see and try by sitting on the bicycle and have a feel for it. If you are unlucky enough to live in a town with no bike shop, then buying online is the only way. Then one of our qualified mobile bicycle mechanics would be able to help assemble or bike build and set up your new bike to current safety standards at your home. 

Bicycles can be also brought through the Cycle To Work Scheme, as a Tax free incentive. Many manufacturers price their bikes just under the £1000.00 mark, as this is the maximum value employees are limited to when buying a new bike through the scheme. The downside is that many bikes at £1000.00 are now having cheaper components fitted such as hubs, cranksets and front derailleurs fitted to keep the value in this range and you may find that you will have to make an upgrade of wheels in less than a year of buying your new bicycle. 
Generally, the manufacturers only make the frame and forks and then fit components, you probably pay more for a brand name with lower quality components than a less known brand with better components. 
On-line bikes are sold via the scheme including Halfords Wiggle and Evans. Some companies only offer a narrow selection thus limiting your choice. Once delivered you should always take care to inspect your new bike for correct assembly, or, have it assembled correctly by a trained mechanic. An unsatisfactory on-line bike can pose a problem if it needs to be returned and may result in a higher than expected cost. If you find you have a problem our mobile bicycle mechanics can carry out repair work once authorised by the supplier, give you an invoice and you can claim back the money. (The maximum amount varies with the supplier.) Once your bike is on the road Cycle Tech UK can provide a high standard of service cover for the life of your bike. 

Buying a new bicycle on-line: "You wouldn't marry someone you met online, without first meeting them" Everyone want's bargain, but make sure it's not false accompany buying online when something goes wrong. But this seems to be the future. 

Quick Guide: 

Note For 2013/2014:
  • Road bikes have become very popular and there are manufacturers who are now making very cheap and poor quality bikes. If you can't afford £750.00 for a road bike, have a look at buying a hybrid, as these cheap road bikes are heavy and like food labels, they will have misleading Shimano labels on the frame. If you are new to cycling or road bikes, you may find the riding position uncomfortable, talking with a professional bike shop will make sure you have the right size bike and setup. Woman and young riders with small hands need to make sure they can work the brake levers and feel comfortable
  • 29er's is still under debate but there is a market for 26" 650b 7 29er's  The market will be flooded with cheaply made 29er bikes, these bikes priced under £500.00 will have poorly made frames, which are heavy with poorly made wheels and components.   
The label says "Powered By Shimano"
Shimano makes a wide range of parts and the good name is used to help sell poor quality bikes.

Bicycles are not all created built equally:

Bicycle Shaped Objects Known in the trade as "BSO's" Found at Argos, Supermarkets and from catalogs- Not safe to ride, no customer care and no professional mechanic will touch them. 

Cheaply built bikes from Halfords under £250 - "Apollo" Poor quality parts, poorly assembled, with very little backup/support, no one wants to work on these bikes. Not an enjoyable bike to ride at this level as it will be heavy, have plastic pedals and brake levers which can break easily, cheap twist shift gears with poor gear parts making a poor un-smooth gear change and brakes feel spongy even when setup correctly if at all possible. Along with poor quality galvanised brake and gear wires, that soon corrode and make using brakes and gears impossible. 
Read Watchdogs article on BSO's Bicycle Shaped Objects  

Bikes around £350 "Hybrids & Mountain bikes" - Look for bikes with Shimano Altus/Alivio 8 speed Ez Fire gear shifters, Altus/Alivio rear derailleur. Giving easy use and more of an enjoyable ride. Only buy with front suspension at this level. Will have low-end wheels/hubs, chain, cassette and square taper bottom bracket. Upgrading parts may not be compatible. Fitted with V-brakes that work well (Keep away from cable operated disc brakes.) 

Bikes around £500 Hybrids & Mountain bikes (Hardtail) - Will have slightly better, wheels, tyres, chain, cassette and good quality gears with Deore/Sora rear 9-speed derailleur.

Bikes from £650 - £799 "Mountain bikes (Hardtail), Entry level Road Bikes". Group sets will have a mix match of parts, better tyres fitted. 

Note: Marketing and branding - Each year new specification groupsets will become available and what was the latest thing last year, will be fitted to lower-priced bike the next, to help sell more.

Bikes around £1200 "Mountain bikes &  Road Bikes" -  Alloy frames, some road bikes Low-quality carbon frames. Road bikes will have 10-speed gears. Avoid Avid brakes and Sram gears at this level. Wheels will be cheaply made at this price range, many parts will need upgrading in less than a year. The well-known brands and their marketing make these bikes sound like a bargain. 

Bikes around £1700 "Mountain bikes Hardtail & Full sus with aluminum frame & mid-end Road Bikes" - Road bikes Alloy frames with Carbon forks and the start of some carbon frames. 

Bikes around £2000 plusMid-end Mountain bikes &  full suspension bikes with carbon frames & Road Bikes" - Better quality Carbon frames, Road bikes have a choice of gears: Campagnolo Veloce & Shimano Ultegra groupsets. Better built wheels. Mountain bikes better quality of suspension forks and XT groupsets. Spend a bit more for Ultegra DI2

Bikes from £3000 - Better built frames fitted with high-end components. 

Bikes from £5000 - Fitted Dura Ace DI2 gears

Bikes up to £8000 - Lightweight frame and components for top professional riders  

Bike builds From £2000 to £20,000 - Buy your own style of frame or even have your frame taylormade and fitted with the finest parts available. This will cost more than most complete bikes but will be a dream custom bike. See some of my bike builds

You may also like to read: Finding A Bicycle On ebay

"You will not find the quality of parts and group-sets on bikes like you did 5 years ago" 
Lower-end parts will be used from China, to help keep the prices low. Also, you may see a high-end group-set fitted as makes it attractive to potential customers but will have poorly built carbon or alloy frame.  (Buy Cheap Buy twice!)
Always read the Spec; to see exactly what quality of components you will get for your money. 

As with any machine, a bicycle will require servicing and maintenance at regular intervals depending on usage and conditions. Adjustment of gears, replacement of tyres and chains are things that require inspecting at regular intervals. This will help your bicycle last longer and give you more pleasure. 

As with choosing the right bike, is choosing the right set of wheels as you will soon find there are many designs and prices. Spending 30% of the bikes total value on wheels is a good guide.

Frame Comparison from Velogic Fit

Wheel spoke count per riders weight: