Used mountain bike for sale – buyers guide

In this article we are going to talk about purchasing a used mountain bike.  Let’s face it, in most cases we buy any bike as long as it is in our budget and it looks semi-decent. 

In this post I will tell you a couple of things that you need know and pay attention to when searching for a used mountain bike for sale

Buying a used mountain bike is a great way to save some money or an opportunity to buy a bike that is on a level higher than you could’ve afford at a bike shop.


Frame and fork

We start the inspection with the frame. Pay attention to all the scratches and signs of impact. If you spot any cracks or dents than it’s a good reason not to buy.

Take a look at all the critical places on frame, such as welds near head tube, bottom bracket, dropouts and seat stay. If the frame is carbon make sure there are no scratches at all. If there are stickers on the frame ask to remove them, they might be hiding defects.

Now let’s check the head tube. Turn the handlebars at a 90 degrees angle, pull on the front brake and give it a little push. You will notice if there is side play in the bearings or stearer.

Now check the fork. Examine it closely. Make sure there is no tear and wear, scratches or dents. Check the wipers, press down on the fork a couple of times. There should be no dirt or oil traces, if there are, that means that the wipers are worn out and you’ll have to change them. Check the lockout, external compression adjuster and rebound adjusters. Check if there’s any play in the fork. Again, turn the handlebars at 90 degrees angle, pull on the brakes and give it a little push.

If the frame has a rear suspension examine it as well. Pay attention to any oil leakages dents and wear and tear. Check the adjusters and check if there is any play.

Drivetrain, brakes and wheels.

Now let’s check the drivetrain. Visually check the chain,chainrings and cassette. Make sure there’s no corrosion, broken teeth or wear and tear. Check if there’s any play in the bottom braket.

Check upper and lower pulley for any cracks and missing teeth. If you have a chain measuring tool, use it, it is a good way to check how worn the dive train really is. If the chain is worn badly than simply replacing it is not an option. You will have to purchase new cassette, new chain and new chainrings.

Now let’s check the wheels. Turn the bike upside down and check if rims need trueing.

Check tension of all spokes, it has to be the same (more or less) without any loose ones.

Check if there are any missing spokes. Check the hub by placing one arm on the frame and other on a wheel, and apply pressure. There should be no play. Give the wheel a good spin and listen to any excessive noises.

While the bike is still in the upside down position check the brakes. Take a look at a disc brake rotor. It has to be true and there should be no contact with brake pads.

Now lets check the brake levers. Pull on them and let go. They have to return quickly to their original position and not jam. To fully check the brakes you’ll need to ride a bike. Check the caliper. Make sure brake pads are moving simultaneously and do not jam.

Handlebars, seat and other.

Now let’s check handlebars, seat and seat stay. Make sure that the handlebars are not bent, without dents and cracks. If handlebars are made out of carbon even the smallest scratch can be a problem. Check the bottom of the saddle for dents. The saddle should be centered. If the seat stay has any cracks or dent’s it’s a good opportunity to start bargaining.

Last things we need to look at are handlebar grips, tires and other minor stuff. They are easily replaceable and don’t cost that much. In any case you are probably better of replacing them after you made a purchase. 

Bike inspection should be made during daytime and in a place where you can give it a ride. During a test ride pay attention to braking, shifting and fork. Listen to any excessive noises.

A checklist for buying a used road bike (same principle as mountain bike) 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I’d definitely be going with something in good to great condition. I think it all depends on the bike, but I’d definitely inspect the drivetrain, breaks, and wheels more than anything else. In my opinion, it’s what can make or break a bike. If the bike is still in good condition, I’d say go for it, but I’m one who would be choosy on buying a used bike.

    1. True dat 🙂

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