Who doesn’t love a good deal? Buying second-hand may make sense if you’re in the market for an electric bike but have a set budget. It is a fantastic way to save some $$$ or grab a bargain on that model you’ve always wished for. Still, buying second-hand also carries some pitfalls and challenges that may make you think twice. For instance, buying blindly off the web is not wise, as you can buy a stolen bike, old technology, or someone else’s problem. Therefore, to be safe, we have put together a list of critical things to consider when buying a used electric bike.
Be clear about what you need
During your search, you will come across various e-bike models. And although having choices is generally thought of as a good thing, it can also make it more challenging to decide on the right one. For this reason, the first and perhaps the most important step in purchasing a second-hand electric bike is figuring out what you need. Asking yourself some questions and answering them will help you hone down on the most crucial features your bike needs to have and send you in the direction of the right one.
For instance, what do you need your e-bike for? How far do you expect your average ride will be? What kind of terrain will you be riding on regularly? What will it be: a cruiser or a trail bike? A pedal-assist or a full-on throttle capable? Direct drive or geared e-bike hub motor? Do you need a specific bike size? Is portability a concern?
Make sure to buy from a reputable e-bike shop
Although a cheaper option, purchasing blindly off the web could spell trouble. You only have the seller’s word to rely on, and there’s always a likelihood of unmentioned issues. In case you still decide to buy this way, it’s better that you and the seller meet in person rather than having your bike delivered by mail. This way, you’ll have an opportunity to see the bike in the flesh first and discuss any important considerations with the seller on the spot. Nevertheless, the best way to buy a used e-bike is from a physical store. Look for certified e-bike dealers that have been in the business for many years and have the know-how to check and service the bike before putting it on the market.
Check the e-bike’s history
If buying your e-bike secondhand, you will most definitely want to know why it is on sale. Some sellers simply want to upgrade to another model. Sometimes, they sell it because they don’t use it enough or no longer like it. And sometimes, there could be a fault or issues with the battery.
Ask questions and listen
Ensure everything is in good working order, including when the bike was last serviced, where, and what was carried out. You can even have the seller get a full-diagnostics report to ensure there aren’t any issues. Thirdly, learn if the seller is the original owner and ask for proof of ownership. You will also want to know how old the bike and its parts are (battery, tires, brakes, gears, etc.) and if they are original. As the bikes get older, the models may become outdated, and the spare parts are a nightmare to obtain. So, if anything goes wrong, you want to ensure the replacement parts and batteries are readily available. Check the mileage, how often it was ridden, and on what type of terrain.
If there’s any original paperwork that comes with the bike, that will make things significantly easier. If not, you can always use the serial number on the bike to check on any remaining warranties.
Finally, ask where the bike was kept. Proper maintenance and storage are crucial to keeping a bike in pristine condition for years. So, if you decide to buy the bike, just like most expensive gadgets, it should be stored away from the elements and moisture in a clean, dry, and cool environment, between 0 and 20 degrees Celsius. Naturally, you can keep it in a garage, shed, or even your apartment if you have the right conditions. If not, hiring moving services in Los Angeles is also a great option for both transport and storage. A moving team can help you out if you need to find a suitable and climate-controlled storage unit for your bike to keep it safe and in good condition.
Inspect the bike closely
Once you have the bike you are considering in front of you, look at its overall condition. A scratch here and there on a used electric bike is fine, but deep scratches, rusty spots, stubborn dirt, or flat tires are most likely signs of misuse, hard use, or an accident. That should tempt you to look closer, especially if the seller claims to have taken good care of the bike because you could be looking at a money pit. If the bike comes with a cracked or scratched battery case, this is an instant sign that you’d be better off buying a brand-new electric bike. A damaged battery is a major fire hazard.
Other than the battery pack, some standard used things to look out for when buying a used electric bike can include:
- bottom bracket,
- frame weld joins,
- brake block wear,
- chain wear,
- all cables,
- accessories fitted to the bike,
- battery charger,
- control buttons,
- brake levers,
- gear changers,
Always request a test drive
This point should be self-explanatory. Do not part from your hard-earned cash without a test drive. For starters, it will give you a fair idea of the frame size and geometry and whether it suits you. But, more importantly, you also see how the components interact. Start by switching the engine on and off a few times. Then, take it for a spin to check various levels of assistance, test all power modes, see if the handlebars are safe and tight, check the brakes, shift through the gears, and look for any signs of rattling, dragging, or clattering. If possible, cycle on different surfaces, including slopes and bumps, to see if the power remains steady.
Final thoughts on buying a used electric bike
There is always a risk in buying a used electric bike, especially if you don’t have past service records available, cannot obtain proof of ownership, the bike is older, or is unserviceable.
Nevertheless, if you know basic bike maintenance, can buddy up with a reputable bike mechanic, and can find spare parts, purchasing second-hand can be the right option. And, if the bike you get doesn’t quite work out the way you wanted it to, do not despair, especially if you have never owned one. Consider it a learning curve. But if it does, we hope you enjoy every moment of your adventure!