What to Ask Before You Buy a Used Bicycle

renee moore bikearlington program manager arlington county
Renée Moore Tweet Us @bikearlington@bikearlington August 16, 2019

Renée Moore is a former Program Manager for BikeArlington.

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Unsure about how to buy a used bicycle? Let BikeArlington help you find the perfect new-to-you bicycle.

You may have been thinking about biking as an option to get around town. You’ve used Capital Bikeshare and like it, but now you are ready to purchase your own bike. You’ve done some window shopping at a few bike shops and decide that the new bikes are out of your price range, but you are unsure about how to buy a used bike. Have no fear, BikeArlington is here to help you. 

  1. What do you want to do with your bike? Before you open your wallet, take a moment to think about what you want to do with your bike. Is it to commute a few miles a day to and from work? Is it to get groceries and run errands? Do you need to carry kids with you? These questions will determine what type of bike you should look for and ultimately buy.  
  2. Where will you ride your bike? This is similar to the first question, but this is more about the type of terrain you will be riding on. Will you be on gravel, paved trails, unpaved trails, or city roads? Each riding surface will call for a different type of bike, so it’s important to identify where you will spend the most time riding. 
  3. How much do you want to spend? Have an idea in mind of how much money you are willing to spend on a bicycle? Then check out bicyclebluebook.com to see if you are within range of your budget. A used bike should be about 40-80% of the retail price depending on the age and condition of the bike.  
  4. Where will you search for a used bike? There are a couple of brick and mortar places to buy a used bike such as Gearin’ Up Bicycles in DC and Phoenix Bikes in Arlington, VA. Both of these shops sell used bikes and help teach youth skills to become bike mechanics. There are also online sites such as CraigslistDC Used Bicycle Marketplace on Facebook, and Washington Bike Forum. 
  5. What should you be aware of before you buy a used bike? If you are buying the bike from someone online, check to make sure the bike isn’t stolen. You can do this through the DC Used Bicycle Marketplace or by checking with the police department to ensure that no one has reported it as stolen. Also, check the picture of the bike and make sure that the bike being advertised is the same bike that’s in the picture. Pay attention to where the bike is located. Is it being photographed in an alley, leaning against a trash can? Be cautious; this could mean it’s stolen.  
    If you are buying from someone you know, test ride the bike to make sure it is in working order. You also want to make sure it’s a good fit for you and is comfortable to ride. An uncomfortable bicycle will mean you won’t ride it very often, if at all.  Ask them questions about the bike such as maintenance, how much it’s been ridden and why they are selling the bike. 
  6. What if you are not sure if the bike is in working order? Ask the seller if they will meet you at Gearin’ Up Bicycles or Phoenix Bikes to check out the bike. You want to make sure you know if there is anything wrong with the bike and if it needs any extra attention. If so, you are in a position to bargain on the price.  
  7. You found a bike you love. Now what? That’s awesome! Get ready to ride and explore new places in Arlington and around the region by signing up for one of our upcoming bike workshops.

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