What should I be looking for in a second-hand bike?

Want to upgrade your bike, but can't afford to buy new? Nik Cook shares some tips for buying second-hand bikes

Credit: Remy Whiting

There are some great second-hand deals to be had but, as with all purchases, it’s a case of buyer beware. Ideally buy your second-hand bike from trusted friends, club-mates or local riders but often, to find the bike you want, you’ll be forced to cast the net a bit wider.

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Always search for bikes on reputable sites that offer both protection for the buyer and accountability for the seller. Be suspicious of adverts/postings that mis-label or poorly describe a bike.

How do you inspect a used bike?

Never buy a bike unseen and, if you’re not confident or mechanically savvy, find a mate to go with you. Check the bike over thoroughly. Look for any obvious cracks but also tell-tale scuffs that might indicate that it’s been crashed. Are the bearings running smoothly? Is it clean? Is the chain rusty? Are the tyres pumped up? If it’s not presented in a well-maintained state for sale, you’ve got to question whether it will have ever been looked after.

If they’re the original owner, they should have some form of proof of purchase if the bike’s relatively new or, at the very least, they should be able to tell you a bit about its history; if they’re hesitant or vague, that’s a red flag. Always be prepared to walk away and don’t let your heart over-rule your head.

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220’s cycling guru Nik Cook Nik is a  competitive multisporter  who’s competed  for Team GB in duathlon