Probably after the house and the car, buying a bicycle is one of the most important and complicated decisions for a cyclist. It is not only a question of price, but many other factors intervene that complicate the decision: the geometry of the frame, the components, the size, the type of use that is going to be made, the type of routes that exist in the area where live… It is not easy to decide between one bike model or another.
Also, keep in mind that a bicycle is not sunglasses or socks that if within two months you stop liking or discover that they do not fit you, you can give them away and buy others. When a cyclist buys a bicycle, he does so to use it every weekend for at least one or two years. In many cases 3 and 4 times a week. This makes the process of deciding which bike to buy neither quick nor easy.
To add more complication to the decision, the process of buying a new bicycle in a store requires spending a lot of time visiting different stores to compare brands, models and prices. It is a process very similar to buying a car by visiting dealerships. Bicycle shops usually have a very limited offer of 2 or 3 brands. In practice this means that a cyclist spends a lot of time and travel going through different stores to find his ideal bicycle. What if in your locality there is no store that distributes the brand of bicycles you like?
This is why more and more cyclists search the Internet. Especially in second-hand forums, pages and applications, where the offer is very wide and the prices are more competitive. However, buying a second-hand bicycle online adds additional difficulty and endless risks.
Main risks between individuals
Buying a second-hand bicycle online is a complicated, uncomfortable and full of insecurities. If you buy it from an individual, you will have to stay with him and do the necessary kilometers to see different models. In addition, if the seller lives on the other side of the country, you will have to agree on the shipping method and the payment. And you will never know the actual condition of the bike until you get home and use it.
How do you know it’s not a stolen bike? What if what he is selling you is satisfaction? The seller says his bike is in perfect condition but… How can you tell? What if you send him the money by transfer and he doesn’t send you the bike? What if you receive the bike and the second time you go out with it, you discover that it has damage that the seller hid from you? What if they cheat on you?
In most cases you have to trust the seller’s word, and even if he is an honest seller in many cases not even he can know what the real condition of his bicycle is and even if he thinks that everything works correctly it may have damages and hidden wear that only a specialized mechanic can detect.
In addition, most second-hand websites and mobile applications do not inspect the products they sell and that increases the operations with stolen bikes, counterfeits or components in poor condition.
These types of pages and applications charge the seller to publish their ad or to upload it to the first positions of the catalog, but they do not inspect the bicycle to guarantee the buyer that it is in good condition, that it is not a fake or that it is not a stolen bike. . In case there is a problem with the transaction, they also do not offer guarantees and the complaint processes are unreliable.
If you are going to buy a second-hand bicycle online, we always recommend having some kind of guarantee on the condition of the bicycle. It’s like buying a car, you can take a look and everything looks fine, but the reality is that you will never have 100% reliability if it is not checked by a mechanic.
That is why in Tuvalum we facilitate the process of buying a used bicycle over the Internet without risks , since we take care of everything necessary for you to receive it at home with the guarantee that everything is correct. You do not have to worry about payment, shipping or the condition of the bike because we already take care of covering all these necessary operations for you.
Tips for a safe purchase
If you are going to buy a second-hand bicycle online, the main recommendation is to have some kind of guarantee on the condition of the bicycle. It’s like buying a car, you can take a look and everything looks fine, but the reality is that you will never be 100% sure of its condition if it is not checked by a mechanic. And the last thing you want is to go out with your bike and that after 10 kilometers of route you notice that it makes a strange noise when braking, that the change is not fine or that the direction turns badly.
1- Buy from sites that offer a mechanical certification
The example above is something that happens very frequently, so the main advice is to always buy a second-hand bike that has some type of mechanical certification to rule out hidden damage. That is why in Tuvalum we review all used bicycles to check their condition, verify that they are in the condition described by the seller in their advertisement and make a general overhaul of the transmission and braking system. In this way you have the guarantee that a professional mechanic has certified it for your peace of mind. It’s what sets us apart from other second-hand ad websites and mobile apps.
2- Make sure you are not buying a stolen bike
Many second-hand apps and websites that do not physically inspect the products being sold and it is easy for stolen bike transactions to occur. If you are not aware that this is not the case, after a few months you may end up having a problem with the police and the seller has disappeared.
That’s why in Tuvalum when we check a bike we take note of the serial number. In this way we avoid the sale of stolen and counterfeit bicycles. Thanks to our system we have helped to recover stolen bicycles.
If you buy a used bike on your own make sure it has the serial number visible. This reference, equivalent to the chassis number of cars, is usually indicated on the bottom of the bottom bracket. If the serial number is erased or that sticker has been removed, it is an indication not to trust.
3- Do not be seduced by the price
Even if you buy a bicycle depending on the budget you have, it is important that your choice between one or the other does not depend exclusively on the price. We are often seduced by the possibility of having found a bargain in the second-hand market and forget that sometimes cheap can be expensive.
When choosing which bicycle to buy it is important that you take into account the use that you are going to give the bicycle and how much value it can lose over time. Maybe you are looking for your first mountain bike and you may find that in 6 months you don’t like mountain biking anymore. Or you have improved your level so much in that time that you will need to change your bike for another of a higher range. In both cases you will have to sell it and it is good to buy something now that you can amortize within 6, 12 or 18 months in case you need to resell it.
4- Do not buy a bicycle with outdated components
Some second-hand bikes that are sold on the Internet have components that are out of date or will be soon and it is very likely that in a few months it will cost you to amortize it in case of resale.
In Tuvalum we recommend that, unless you are looking for a low-end bike, do not buy bikes with cassettes of 10 speeds or less. It is preferable to spend a little more on an 11 or 12-speed rear derailleur, which is what the market demands the most.
In road cycling it is also preferable to buy a bike with a Shimano 105 or higher gearbox, or its equivalent at SRAM or Campagnolo . Bicycles with lower-end gears sell worse and lose more value over time. When in doubt we also recommend choosing a bike with disc brakes instead of shoe brakes.
In mountain biking, better choose a bike with 29 “wheels – unless you want to practice enduro or downhill, where bikes with 27.5” wheels offer good performance. Don’t buy a bike with 26 ”wheels. If it falls within your budget, choose a bike with a single chainring.
5- Age is important before a possible resale
If you buy taking into account a possible resale of the bicycle in the future, we recommend buying a bicycle with less than 5 years of use if it is a mountain bike and with less than 7 years if it is a road one. In this way it will be easier for you to amortize it in a future resale than if it is an 8, 9 or 10 year old bicycle. In addition, it will have more current components and its maintenance condition will probably be better as well.
6- Take into account the type of routes you are going to do with the bicycle
You are going to buy a mountain bike and you hesitate between two options that have a similar level of equipment: one costs 1,000 euros and another 1,200 euros. Which one do you prefer? This question is very frequent and on many occasions the mistake is made of solving it based on the price.
It is very important that before going to the market you know very well what type of use you are going to do with the bicycle, because it is not the same to buy a mountain bike in an area where the routes you are going to do are enduro than to buy it if you live in an area of quiet paths with few technical demands.
Not all bicycles are the same and within the same segment there are different modalities and frame geometries adapted to a specific type of use.
If you buy a mountain bike it is important that you know if the routes you are going to do are cross-country, trail or enduro . If you buy a road bike, you should also know the differences between a cross country bike, a climber or an aero type .
Remember that the bicycle you buy will be used every weekend for the next 12, 18 or 24 months.
7- Do not expose your personal data
When you buy online at an online store, such as Amazon, you have the assurance that your payment details, your personal contact details or your address are processed safely. However, when you negotiate with a private seller in a forum or the chat of a web page, you run the risk that that unknown seller has access to your data: your email, your phone, the account number from where you make the payment by transfer, the address where the bike will send you …
On the Internet every day we are exposed to scam attempts and offering our data to anyone you do not know carries the risk that it may be used for phishing.
That is why when you buy in Tuvalum you have the assurance that your personal data will not be held by any private seller. Your shipping address will be confidential and will only be known to us and the shipping agency. And your payment details are encrypted by security protocols.
Basic checks you should do on a used bicycle before buying it
In Tuvalum we certify used bicycles to check their condition and make a tune-up before sending them to the buyer. But if you are going to buy a bike on your own and you prefer to meet the seller to see it in person, we recommend that you do some basic checks:
Visual inspection: check the bottom bracket and seatpost
A visual inspection is essential to rule out the possibility that the frame has fissures, cracks or bumps that have damaged the structure and could compromise its safe use. Finding cracks in a frame seems easy, but there are three areas that most buyers often forget to check and it is important to look closely, especially if you are buying a carbon bike.
Check that the lower part of the bottom bracket, and especially the area where the cranks are placed, does not have any cracks or fissures, no matter how small.
Also look at the clamp that is used to fix the seat post to the frame, cracks often occur in that area of the frame due to over-tightening of this piece.
If the bike has a bottle cage, check that the screws that secure this accessory to the frame have not caused a crack in the carbon.
Checking for play: wheels, steering and bottom bracket
Check that the wheels turn evenly without oscillations; Too much play can mean a bearing or wheel hub problem and will cost extra to repair if parts need to be replaced. Also note that the handlebar turns smoothly with no play in the direction. In the bottom bracket, looseness in the cranks is also frequent, sometimes it is an incidence that is fixed simply by greasing and tightening the cranks again but on other occasions it can be a reflection of serious damage to the bottom bracket. And repairing a bottom bracket is not cheap.
Transmission check – shifts without jumping or jerking
It is important that all gears shift synchronously without jerking or jerking. If jumps occur when operating the gear shift, it may be due to several factors: that the derailleur is out of adjustment, that the chain has exhausted its useful life, that the wiring is slack and needs to be replaced or that a part of the transmission needs to be replaced .
Brake check: no noise or vibrations
Another mechanical system that you should check is the brakes. Make sure that when you operate the brake lever it does not reach the end of its travel; If this happens, it is very likely that you will need to change the brake fluid (if you have hydraulic disc brakes) or a wiring change (if they are mechanical brakes or brake shoes). It is also important to check that the bicycle brakes effectively without emitting strange noises or vibrations. With a simple visual inspection you can check if the shoes have reached the end of their useful life or if the brake discs have grooves and have lost thickness, a sign that you will need to change the brake consumables.
Suspension check: locks in all positions
In a mountain bike, the suspension is one of the most sensitive mechanical elements, since its repair or replacement of its parts entails a significant economic expense. That is why it is important that you check that the suspension fork does not leak oil and that the bars are not scratched. You should also verify that the suspension lock works correctly in all positions.
Engine and battery diagnostics
If you are going to buy an electric bicycle, always ask for a diagnosis of the condition of the motor and the battery. It is important to check the load cycle that has been done. Make sure the motor is not out of limit.
In the European Union, electric bicycles cannot exceed 25 kilometers per hour in speed using only the assistance of the motor, otherwise they would fall into the category of mopeds. Some bikers limit the engine so that the force delivered by the electric assistance exceeds this speed. Doing so greatly reduces the life of the motor and batteries. If you buy an electric bicycle that has been manipulated to limit the motor, you run a greater risk of breakdown and replacing a motor or a battery is not cheap.
All these checks will help you rule out serious damage, although they do not prevent you from ruling out other hidden damage that the bike may have. As with the purchase of a car, to be 100% sure of its state of wear and use, the bicycle must be checked by a professional mechanic.