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.

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