1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Used bike concerns - here's mine, what are yours?

    HI,
    I am looking for some suggestions/rules for buying a used mountain bike. (Half the battle is learning to ask the right questions, then validating the answers.) Please write them in. Here are a few of mine.
    1) I have seen some 1-2 year old bikes where they ask 80&-100% of MSRP. HA!
    a) NFW: how do I know how many hours off road they were used
    b) No warranty
    c) No fitting/sizing - no tuning before purchase and after using for a month.
    d) Dangerous for newbie, cause components could be switched.
    2) Seen bikes older than two years where they are asking 60% - even for 10 year old bikes.

    Seriously though... If I am looking at a $600-$700 bike that is a 2011 or 2012 bike two years old, how much should I expect to pay before the risk of losing money on it is too high?

    How about an $800 to $1000 bike?

    3) Is there any way to know if the forks will need to be tuned or replaced. I hear that 100 hours of dirt riding is the limit before they should be checked and often they can be worn where they cannot be seen.? Would hate to buy a bike and find out the forks need to be replaced costing @200 +?

    Thanks,
    Looking forward to some good advice.
    (thinking used may not be an option for me.)

  2. #2
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    If you show up to look at a used bike there are a couple things that hit me right off the bat.

    1) If the seller looks like a regular guy or out of shape and the bike is pretty clean with no major scratches or dings and it's said to be lightly used you can bet it's probably not been abused and has barely been ridden. Believe him/her.

    2) If you show up and the guy looks like Adonis with ripped calf and leg muscles the size of a tree and his garage has bike stands and looks like a bike repair shop. Don't buy it. It's likely been ridden pretty hard.

    No Warranty is one thing I'd be worried about. Lifetime Frame Warranty is a huge piece of mind to me.
    There are some very good deals out there where people have bought a new MTB and after riding realize it isn't for them. They have no idea how hard it really is.
    See #1

  3. #3
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    I've posted this formula before but it seems appropriate to this thread..

    When trying to come up with a ballpark figure for the base price of a used bike I'll take the original MSRP of the bike in question and immediately take 30% off of that (to compensate for the typical sales pricing available on most bikes) even if it were this year's model.

    After that, I'd knock another 10% off the remaining price for every year older the bike is:

    Example:

    XYZ Superbike : MSRP: $1000

    Model Year
    2012: ---------- $700
    2011: ---------- $630
    2010: ---------- $567
    2009: ---------- $510
    2008: ---------- $459
    2007: ---------- $414
    2006: ---------- $372
    2005: ---------- $335
    ..Etc.

    Just as a baseline to get a ballpark to start with. Of course condition, maintenance (or lack thereof), upgrades (if any) and other factors can alter this considerably.
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  4. #4
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    If you don't have a decent tool collection and mechanical ability, then you might want to stick with a new bike. I've bought a few used bikes this year and:

    - Both needed cable replacement
    - One had a new chain ... but it was 4 inches too long
    - One fork was leaking oil
    - Disc brakes needed to be trued and adjusted
    - Wheels needed to be trued
    - Derailleurs needed adjustments
    - Cassette freehubs needed lubrication

    I view most of these issues as basic maintenance items. None are dealbreakers to me because I have the tools, workspace and know-how to take care of them on the cheap. But if wrenching isn't your thing, then I'd say buy a new bike.
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  5. #5
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    As far as condition and abuse you can tell by he amount of scratches, and by how they feel when u ride it. Abused components have a rough feel and oftwn make noises.

  6. #6
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    If one doesn't know the seller one doesn't know how the bike was rode nor how the bike was maintained. Period.

    If one is new to this sport, shopping for a used bike is a crap shoot because of the lack of experience and knowledge. To even your odds, bring someone that is knowledgable of what to look for with you.

    Beware of sellers that say "The fork is due for routine maintenance" or any similar statements. I have friends and have heard from others that they bought bikes/parts after hearing such statements only to find out much more than routine maintenance was required to get the bike/part to function properly.
    The suspension of your bike sucks if it's different than mine. Really. It sucks. Big time.

  7. #7
    T.W.O.
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    Simple rules of buying used bike. Know what you are buying, and how the bike fit.

    There's no easy way around it, if you are buying an XYZ you should do your homework. you should know when the model was offer and spec, as well as the current price some old new stock can be had at a very good deal.

    Shop around for the avg used price ask yourself why some are priced so high and so low. Some are genuinely low because the seller wants to get rid of the bike. Also, check other comparible models in the same price range.

    Some bikes hold their dollar value better than others and it does not mean that it's a performing bike. Buyers set that price.

    Most newbie buyers make the mistake of buying the bike without doing necessary homework and after the purchase came here and post a thread asking for opinions. It should be another way around. If you know what to expect from the bike you are buying when you go to see the bike just by looking at the component you can tell already if anything is out of spec.

  8. #8
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    I am not afraid to pass on what is even a good deal. I try to find what is obviously a great deal, but I am a tough shopper that owns a few bikes already.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by excaliber View Post
    If you show up to look at a used bike there are a couple things that hit me right off the bat.

    1) If the seller looks like a regular guy or out of shape and the bike is pretty clean with no major scratches or dings and it's said to be lightly used you can bet it's probably not been abused and has barely been ridden. Believe him/her.

    2) If you show up and the guy looks like Adonis with ripped calf and leg muscles the size of a tree and his garage has bike stands and looks like a bike repair shop. Don't buy it. It's likely been ridden pretty hard.

    No Warranty is one thing I'd be worried about. Lifetime Frame Warranty is a huge piece of mind to me.
    There are some very good deals out there where people have bought a new MTB and after riding realize it isn't for them. They have no idea how hard it really is.
    See #1
    This I have to disagree with, I like buying bikes off of people who know bikes and can service bikes. If the guy you are buying the bike off is a true mountain biker with stands, tools, ect... than I normally can say that the bike has been serviced well and taken care of.

    On the other hand if your buying a bike from a guy who doesn't know a schrader valve from a presta valve, chances are that bike was never properly lubed, serviced, or adjusted.

    Case and point being I bought my current bike from an avid mountain biker, had the bike serviced before and after ever season, fork, wheels trued, the whole nine yards. I would much rather have a 5 year old bike like that than buy a 3 year old bike that has never been serviced, especially when you start dealing with hydraulic disk brakes, and air forks.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wraiththe View Post
    (thinking used may not be an option for me.)
    To the op...

    If the frame is the right size, check out a Costco bike, they are very decent bikes and cost less than the same lbs bike.

    If you don't like it for any reason, you can take it back for a full refund and an apology...that's a 100% warranty...no risk going that route.

  11. #11
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    I bought a used bike with basically no previous experience. In my situation, the best thing was patience. Watch for ads on craigslist, and don't go over your budget - it will take a while. Watch for a bike that is less than a year old if you're really concerned about wear and tear. I think you also need to be excited to do your own maintenance, which I am.

    I found a 2012 xcal for $900 - came with extra tires, tubes and clipless pedals. But i had to pass up a lot of average deals to find it.

    The fact that you're here is good - you should be researching bike builds and components. You should know if components have been swapped when you see the bike. Sure, I don't know how the guy really rode it, but it looked clean, and i gave it a test ride - everything seemed like the new models I tried (except the howling brakes!)

  12. #12
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    i mean honestly, the main mistake that people make is rushing because they feel like they're wasting the seller's time looking over everything, but that's what you have to do. if i go to buy a bike, i'm starting at their asking price if its reasonable (which it never is these days), and i'm taking off money for the time its going to take to fix something as i see it broken. not tuned i don't care about, its not their job to tune the bike and make sure it shifts ok... that takes 5 minutes. but if its going to need this or that, the fork needs a rebuild, etc... i'm telling them my opinion, and i'm giving them a dollar amount that i think its worth. if we don't happen to agree on that, then there's no sale. generally, if you explain why you think something should be cheaper, and they're a reasonable person... you can come to an agreement. most people however think that their 15 year old pos is worth more than the same model new for some reason. i paid 500 dollars for this in 1995, so i want 450 now. are you kidding me? after your kids trashed it and left it in the rain for 10+ years, or it was left to rot in a leaking shed? seriously? but yeah there are those people.

  13. #13
    Flow like water
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    The best comment is "thinking used may not be an option for me".

    If you are new to the sport, you will not have the experience to evaluate the condition of used parts or a modified (custom) bike. The bargains are out there, but they require experience to check out. For a new MTBer, I would recommend taking a safe route for that first bike purchase. Safe is always relative, but would include buying a new bike, or a used bike from a bike shop or reputable seller.

    Another poster made a good point. It is sometimes hard to take the time to fully inspect a used bike in a craigslist buy situation. If you are too timid to turn the bike upside down and look for cracks near the bottom bracket, you could miss something important.

    It is all financial risk, though. If a bad purchase will not put you in the hole, then it is not significant. If you have to be really careful with your money, it may make more sense to buy a new bike or a used one from a shop.

    I like the comments already posted, even the ones which contradict each other. Good food for thought. The Bedouins were said to have a saying, "When buying a camel, look more to the seller than to the beast.".

  14. #14
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    If you are mechanically inclined definitely go used. I recently purchased two bikes and ended up having to fix one just so I could resell it. I believe the first one was gobbled together since it had a creaky BB and a 9 speed cassette/ 8 speed shifters. After changing the cassette and removing the crank/BB for a good cleaning/lube/retorquing it was fine.

    Second bike was good to pass up. It was like new, BUT almost every bolt needed to be torqued. The guy purchased it for a local shop and never had it back for service. Everything was pretty loose, but nothing was damaged.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by excaliber View Post

    2) If you show up and the guy looks like Adonis with ripped calf and leg muscles the size of a tree and his garage has bike stands and looks like a bike repair shop. Don't buy it. It's likely been ridden pretty hard.
    Hey that's not true man...My calves are all genetic and got nothing to do with my riding

  16. #16
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    Look at frame, wheels, shocks, and forks first. Then hydraulics and drive train. These are the most expensive things to replace. All other parts of the bike are essentially cheap to replace (relatively) : cables/housing, brake pads, tires, grips, seat, bars...etc.

    I sell my bike every year, I race it and maintain it a lot and feel good about hooking people up with a good deal. I never make a dime on it and sell for my price, which is essentially a pro/team deal. My bikes are essentially 3 months old when being sold. I think if you find a good deal on high end bikes you should consider them based on the seller. Most average cyclists do not maintain their stuff and their bikes suffer abuse more from how they are stored and traveled with, than how they were ridden.
    ATV = fat A$$

  17. #17
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    If you have the time and wherewithal to use the internet, you'll be alright.
    Step one: Find bike in your size and price range.
    Step two: research the ever-loving bejesus out of the bike. Ask seller for a complete list of components and accessories on the bike. Look all of those up. See what was stock and what--if anything--was changed.
    Step three: look at bike in person, does condition look good?
    Step four: decide, based on your research and ideas about the bike if it is a good bargain.
    Step five: purchase or do not purchase bike.

    I'm sure zebrahum will have a much more comprehensive and intelligent opinion on the matter.

    That's how I got mine and learned a bit about bikes in the process.

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