Mountain biking is incredibly fun. It can also be incredibly expensive, even prohibitively expensive. And around here, we hate the idea that there are people out there who would like to start riding but can’t afford to do so.
Buying a used bike can be a great way to get into the sport. But it can also be a great way to buy a piece of crap that will break down or perform poorly.
Having run bike shops for a decade, I have seen countless customers buy used bikes that need more work and repair than they are worth. It’s a shame. There are so many really nice, lightly used bikes out there, but many people miss out because they don’t know what to look for.
The goal in buying a good used bike should be to find either something as new as possible (expect to pay top dollar) or something that’s more heavily used but has been very well maintained (typically at a more attractive price). Knowing whether something has been well maintained or is in good shape, however, can be a bit more difficult—a bike that looks a little rough cosmetically might actually be in great mechanical condition.
It is really important to be able to identify some of the more common—and often expensive—problems with used bikes. Doing so will help you avoid purchasing a money-pit of a bike, or at least be able to negotiate a better deal.
What follows is a guide to identifying those common problems to help you find the best used bike for your money and avoid buying a total lemon.
I have also outlined general prices for parts and labor. These prices can vary wildly, but at the very minimum, what I’ve listed will give a general starting point of what might be involved to repair a given issue.
(And as you’re reading, if you think of any other tips, questions, or experiences you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section.)
FIRST UP: CASSETTE, CHAIN, AND CHAINRINGS