The only problem is that the cost of a new top-end machine is steep, which for many people is a deal breaker for getting a really great ride. As we’ve said before, we hate the idea that there are people out there who would like to start riding seriously but can’t afford to get off a recreational bike and truly get the most out of the sport.
One solution is to buy a used bike, which maximizes the value per dollar spent. But to the untrained eye, knowing what to look for can be overwhelming. Why can similar used bikes be priced anywhere from $500 to $2,000?
A used bike’s condition is one factor, of course. (We have prepared an in-depth look at how to evaluate a used bicycle, so that should help ensure that you end up with a smart purchase, mechanically.)
But some bikes were simply ahead of their time when they were new; they represent performance that is both readily available on the used market and can be found at a reasonable price.
What follows is a list put together by our bike reviewers of what we take to be some of the best used bikes available. It is designed to highlight some of our favorite bikes from years past that have stood the test of time in both performance and durability.
Purchasing one of these used bikes means you’re likely to get the most bike for your buck, and represents a bike that should offer long-term enjoyment—as opposed to leaving you wanting to buy another bike in six months.
We’ve also broken down the list by categories (Trail Bikes, Downhill Bikes, and Women’s Bikes), estimated expected price ($1,500 and under; and $1,500-$2,000), and included the specific model years to look for; their typical build kits; and any pertinent notes about the bike—be it things to look for, avoid, or just generally know about the bikes.
This list certainly isn’t definitive, and we encourage you to post your experiences with the bikes we’ve selected, or post alternate bikes that may not be included.
First Up: Trail Bikes
The Niner Bikes Carbon Rigid Fork steers great on hard-packed trails and climbs technical terrain incredibly well, but it didn’t offer the control or smoothness that reviewer Marshal Olson looks for when he decides to ride rigid.
Want to float for a fraction of the price? Look no further.
The Specialized SX Trail falls between a burly trail bike and DH rig, which, when dialed, will rail the downhill and will climb when you need it to.