If a hefty price tag is preventing you from purchasing a new bike, then you will be pleased to know that there are plenty of cheaper alternatives available in the second-hand bicycle market – especially in London.
The used bike market can seem a daunting place at first, given the vast variety of bikes that the are available to purchase at any given time. With a few due diligence checks and small amount of background research, anybody can sieve out a top class bike from a lemon.
We’ve rounded up what we consider to be the best places to buy a second-hand bike, to ensure you avoid being stung by any shady sellers. If your knowledge of bikes is limited, we’ve also summarised a list of checks that you should complete when you eventually purchase a second-hand bike.
Where To Buy A Second-Hand Bike In London
Facebook Marketplace – Sellers are flocking to Facebook Marketplace to flog their unwanted gear for extra cash. What’s great about Facebook is that it focuses on your specific location, so only the bikes listed in your local community will appear. It’s easy: search for the item you want to buy – in this case ‘bike’ – and Facebook will return all the listings specific to your area.
Gumtree – Gumtree has built its reputation on being a go-to website for selling pretty much anything. Every month, Gumtree connects an impressive 15.3 million customers. With zero fees, Gumtree is still a popular marketplace where cyclists are choosing to list their bikes. Similar to Facebook, you can instantly narrow down your search by applying a filter which returns listings based in London. We highly recommend scouting Gumtree during your search, just to get a feel for what marketplaces can offer.
Bikesoup – Bikesoup is a marketplace built with one thing in the mind – helping customers find the bike of their dreams. If the endless listings on Facebook and Gumtree are putting you off slightly, why not check out Bikesoup? Sellers are required to detail a full specification when writing their listing. Bikesoup will also ensure that any deliveries are sent in a premium reusable box and offer free insurance just in case your package gets lost in the post.
eBay – The popular auction house is still very much a market leader when it comes to second-hand bike market. eBay’s firm regulations ensure that buyers are protected which makes the site a safe and secure auction house to purchase used bicycles. If you’re nervous about making a significant purchase online, eBays policies will hopefully put your mind at ease.
Independent Bike Shops – London has a variety of independent cycling businesses, each with their own cycling experts that will assist with any second-hand bike queries. The majority offer a full range of quality used and refurbished bikes. Why not buy a bike that supports a local business and gives you the comfort that you are buying from the experts. Here are some of our favourite shops:
Cycling Charities – TheBikeProject is a charity that refurbishes bikes and donates them to refugees based in London. Members of the public can also purchase a refurbishment for a fee, which the business then reinvest back into supporting refugees. When considering where to buy your next bike, why not contribute to potentially changing someones life by supporting a charity?
Classified Ads In Cycling Magazines – Popular cycling publications boast audiences of die-hard cycling fans where it can be guaranteed that any bike listing will come from a reliable home.
Freecycle – Believe it or not, there are now websites like Freecycle where people are giving away their unused possessions back to the community for absolutely free. The aim of the project is to rehouse unwanted items which will prevent them from being dumped in landfill. Who know’s what you may find listed here, but we definitely would recommend taking a punt.
Disclaimer – We advise anybody that wishes to buy a bike online to extra care by ensuring their purchase is from a reliable seller. Unfortunately, thieves use online market places and auction houses to to sell stolen goods.
How To Check You Are Not Buying A Stolen Bike
At this point in the article, we have to draw your attention to the fact that thieves are using the above marketplaces to sell stolen bikes. If you purchase a stolen bicycle, you may be obliged to return it to the original owner through no fault of your own. In this situation, you lose your bike and your initial investment. We therefore urge you to complete necessary due diligence checks by taking the following steps when purchasing an online bike:
Before purchasing any bike online, it’s essential you view it in person first. Do not under any circumstance send any funds to a seller without seeing the bike. If a seller is pressuring you to make a quick purchase online, we highly advise that you walk away from the deal.
When you eventually arrange to meet the seller, ask yourself the following questions:
Can you imagine the seller using the bike? – If the bike is not suited to the seller, it may be a red flag!
Does the seller thoroughly know the full specification of the bike? – Any seller should be able to walkthrough the components on the bike they are trying to sell.
Can you trust the seller? – Listen to your gut instinct. Does the seller come across as trustworthy?
Ask the seller for proof of purchase so you are comfortable that are dealing with the legitimate owner.
Check the Bike ID under the frame in the National Cycle Database. Reported stolen bikes will be marked as stolen here. The database can be viewed at CheckThatBike and BikeRegister.
What To Look For When Buying A Second-Hand Bike
If you’re new to the bike scene and looking to make a bike purchase, you need to be able to value a bike correctly. You do not under any circumstance want to end up paying well over the odds for an average bike. Furthermore, you do not want to be wasting your hard earned cash on a lemon. Please ensure you take the following steps to ensure that you are paying the right money for the bike on offer:
A reliable seller should always detail the bike components in their listing. If the components are not listed, do not hesitate – request the full specification of the bike. A bikes components essentially derives its value. As a buyer, you should research the individual parts listed by the seller, to understand if the value requested is correct.
Still struggling after completing research? Find a bike with a similar specification on the market. It’s highly likely a different seller will be listing a similar bike. Once you have found a reasonable match, compare the price with the listing that you are interested in. Is the price similar to the amount you are being asked to pay?
As stated previously, do not send any money for a bike you have not seen in person. You should always arrange to see the bike with your own eyes before sending any funds. The seller may argue it’s quicker and cheaper to buy online, however this is a red flag which should make you question the reliability of the buyer. ALWAYS meet the seller face to face.
Any faulty parts could potentially be a costly replacement further down the road. When you eventually arrange to see the bike in person, ensure that you check the following components for wear and tear:
Bike Frame – Is the top tube cracked? The handlebars could have potentially swung and cracked the frame.
Driveside Chainstay – Has the chain struck and damaged the chainstay?
Bottom Brackets – Are the bottom brackets in good condition?
Chain – Is the chain rusted or stretched. Use a chain checker tool to test out the condition of the chain.
Brake Pads – Do the brake pads look worn down? If so, breaking efficiency will be reduced significantly.
Gears/Cassette – Do the gears move smoothly through the cassette without skipping?
Bearings – Are the bearings making gritty noises when the bike moves.
Wheels – Are the wheels buckled in any way?