How to Buy a Used Road Bike

Road bikes cost anywhere from $500 to more than $5,000. Purchasing a quality road bike is a significant investment. Buying a used bike is a frugal option if you are new to road cycling and looking for a cost-effective way to get started. Tracking down a great deal is similar to buying any second-hand item. You want to make sure the bike is in good condition, all the parts are in working order and that the bike is priced fairly. You'll need to do your research first.

  1. Decide what type of road bike is best for you. If you're interested in touring, you'll want to look for a touring bike. A beginner road bike is suitable if you are new to road biking and just want to get some exercise.

  2. Determine what type of frame best suits your needs. Frames made of steel are the most traditional. Entry level steel road bikes are often more affordable than frames made of other types of materials. Titanium frames last the longest but are also the most expensive. Carbon fiber is a sound option if you're seeking something light yet durable.

  3. Check into gearing systems and find one that is compatible with your fitness level and the type of terrain that you plan to ride on. For example, a road bike with an 11/21 gear cassette is suitable for strong competitive riders who are cycling on flat terrain. An 11/23 gear system is suitable if you are new to cycling or will be riding on varies terrain.

  4. Measure your inseam to determine what size road bike to get. Stand with your back against a wall and spread your feet about 6 inches apart. Place a book between your legs and up against the wall. Make sure to raise it until it is snugly into your crotch to mimic the pressure of the saddle. Have another person measure from the top of the book to the floor. Convert your inseam to centimeters and multiply it by .67 to get the frame size. For example, if you have an 85-centimeter inseam, you will need a 57 centimeter bike.

  5. Check the market price for the used road bike that you are interested in. A number of local and online shops as well as private dealers sell used road bikes. You'll want to find out what the average price range is for the bike you're interested in so that you can make sure it is priced fairly. Check your local online classifieds as well as local shops to get an idea of the average price.

  6. Inspect the bike that you are considering purchasing. Look over the frame. Look for dents, dings, cracks, scratches or rust. Check that the brakes function properly. Test the gears to make sure they shift correctly. They should shift smoothly. Look at the teeth of the gear cassette and make sure the teeth are not worn down. Check the bike chain over and make sure it is well oiled and not rusted. Spin the pedal to make sure the bearings are in good condition. Inspect the tires to see if they are worn.

  7. Talk to the owner and ask for the history of the bike. One-owner bikes are typically in better condition than bikes that have had several owners. Inquire about whether the bike has been involved in any serious accidents. Check the paint to determine if it is the original paint. Bikes that have been in accidents are often repainted.

About the Author

Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.