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2nd Hand Bike - Tips for buying

Discussion in 'Bicycle Mechanics and Repairs' started by barq, 7 Aug 2007.

  1. barq

    barq Senior Member

    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi

    At my place of work security are holding a sale of all the abandoned bikes they've collected over the years. No doubt it will mostly be rusty Apollo MTBs, but I'm planning on being first in the queue in case there is anything nice. ;) I don't have anything terribly specific in mind, but a cheap commuter, a rigid steel MTB or almost any kind of road bike would be ok.

    Although I do all my own wrenching I've never bought second hand before. I wondered if anyone had any tips on what to look for?

    I'm planning on taking a tape measure to check the sizing and a magnet to confirm what bikes are made of (for cases where it isn't obvious). I know how to check a frame for rust, bends and dents. I'll check bottom brackets and wheels for play. I can retrue wheels, adjust gears and brakes at home. Beyond that... we'll what else would you look for?

    Keep in mind I may not have long to examine each bike, so if anyone has a really methodical system of assessing bikes I'd be interested to hear it!
     
  2. alecstilleyedye

    alecstilleyedye nothing in moderation Staff Member

    just check that having to replace bits does not make the cost unviable. don't forget that you can get these apollo bikes cheap enough in halfords, so by the time you replace the chain, chainset tyres etc etc it may not become a bargain at all. check how much a new bike costs before committing to buy.

    i spent more upgrading a steel frame than on a sora-specced new bike from decathalon, even though i had a sora groupset to put on. that said it was a steel (not another alu) bike i wanted but…
     
  3. mosschops2

    mosschops2 New Member

    Location:
    Nottingham
    If it's stuff that has a) been left lying around and ;) was not wanted, I'd not look too hard for anything decent!!!
    You're most likely to pick up stuff for a tenner - but will need as an absolute minimum new chain, inner tubes, tyres, chain; then potentially wheels, gear / brake cables, gears..... By which time (unless you either have loads of spares or are going to add cheap components) you'll have been better off buying from new!

    That is unless you don't really want to use it / them much! If there's an Apollo there, which is rideable, needs an hour of tlc, and would do for when you want to pop down the shops, fair enough - £10 is cheap......

    On the other hand, you might be verrrrrry lucky!!!!
     
  4. OP
    OP
    barq

    barq Senior Member

    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    I won't be buying an Apollo! ;)

    I absolutely agree with you about the dangers of spending loads of money on a cheap bike. Certainly that's something to avoid. This is just a spare bike project, nothing flash. But it will have to be reasonably good quality or I'll never use it.
     
  5. mosschops2

    mosschops2 New Member

    Location:
    Nottingham
    I actually still have an Apollo hanging up in the Garage (Apollo Zermat !!! Ha Ha)

    It's the "sitting around for months" bit that I'd worry about as much as anything...... in terms of needing replacements.... I'd be interested to know how you get on - could be you've got some potential ebay sales in your future!!!
     
  6. OP
    OP
    barq

    barq Senior Member

    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    I should just clarify my line of thinking: I'm not expecting to walk away with an amazing bike for a tenner (although it would be nice ;)). I've already got my posh bikes, this is just a project bike that hopefully will be suitable for messing around, going to the pub, leaving in places I'd be loathed to lock up any of my other bikes. You know the kind of thing...

    However, you'd be surprised what gets left around here - it is a university so when people finish their courses or go back overseas things do get abandoned. Much of the cycle parking is covered so there is hope that not everything will be rusty. Ok, most of them are gonna be piles of junk from Halfords, but it might be worth a look - I've seen one steel framed Kona which I'm sure is abandoned.

    Fortunately I've got lots of spare parts: tyres, wheels, cables, etc... But I'm still interested in tips for giving bikes the once over.
     
  7. Check around the welds to make sure there are no cracks
    Feel underneath the down tube just as it joins the head tube. If there are ripples there it's had a prang
    Take a roll of cotton thread. Wrap one end around the left rear dropout, unwind it to the head tube, wrap around the head tube and then unwind to the right rear drop out. Tie it off. Then look at the frame from the top down (ie from the top of the top tube). If the line of the frame is centred in relation to the two lines of cotton then it's straight.
    If it's got any carbon bits (unlikely but hey), tap along the carbon tube with a 50p piece. It should make a clear 'tink' sound. If the sound becomes crunchy (for want of a better word) the carbon has delaminated and it's no good.
    Other than that check for play in all the bearings ie the bottom bracket and the headset. Also check the wheels are true.

    I only bought one out of five frames from new - can you tell?
     
  8. OP
    OP
    barq

    barq Senior Member

    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    Oh I did have an Apollo but it got stolen. Amazingly the thief who broke in took the 100 pound Halfords bike rather than my Kona or my Trek. I really don't know what the matter is with some people!

    Good point about sitting around for a while. I'm not sure that is necessarily fatal but I can see I'm going to need to take a can of GT85 to the office that day, I'll also need to check if the seatpost is seized in the frame (something I hadn't previously thought of, so cheers for that).

    I could well end up with a few parts for ebay. It always amazes me how much individual second hand bike parts sell for on there so who knows... might end up covering some of the costs which would be nice.

    Anyway, I'll let you know what happens. Might be an interesting project to distract me from work for a while. ;)
     
  9. OP
    OP
    barq

    barq Senior Member

    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    ;) Ah, all have mine have been new so I've only had to inspect my own crash damage.

    Ah yes, the string trick... I'd forgotten that one (*mental note: take string*). Yep I'll do that - bet I get some funny looks! I'm not sure I would buy carbon second hand if I didn't know the provenance of it - but I'm certain there won't be carbon there anyhow.

    I'm pretty much assuming the wheels won't be true, but as long as the rim isn't buckled (or too worn - so I need to pack my rim gauge as well) I can rebuild the wheels.

    Thanks!
     
  10. giant man

    giant man New Member

    Location:
    Essex innit?
    Good luck in finding that elusive 70s steel Colnago eh? : )
     
  11. hubgearfreak

    hubgearfreak Über Member

    if there is a raleigh three speed in the right size (and possibly colour) for you, get that.

    they are invisible to bike thieves, surprisingly comfy and tough as old boots.

    just the job for falling off on the way back from a pub:thumbsup:
     
  12. OP
    OP
    barq

    barq Senior Member

    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    That sounds good, although I suspect from your username you might be a bit biased towards them? ;):ohmy: It's not a bad idea though - will have to see what crops up.
     
  13. hubgearfreak

    hubgearfreak Über Member


    i am, but the low maintaine & bombproofness of the transmission must be a good thing for a pub bike:biggrin:
     
  14. Mortiroloboy

    Mortiroloboy New Member

    Oh I did have an Apollo but it got stolen. Amazingly the thief who broke in took the 100 pound Halfords bike rather than my Kona or my Trek. I really don't know what the matter is with some people!
    Good point about sitting around for a while. I'm not sure that is necessarily fatal but I can see I'm going to need to take a can of GT85 to the office that day, I'll also need to check if the seatpost is seized in the frame (something I hadn't previously thought of, so cheers for that).

    I could well end up with a few parts for ebay. It always amazes me how much individual second hand bike parts sell for on there so who knows... might end up covering some of the costs which would be nice.

    Anyway, I'll let you know what happens. Might be an interesting project to distract me from work for a while. ;)[/QUOTE]


    That's because he was a scummy, thieving, lowlife piece of cr*p, he recognised the Appollo because his mates probably ride round on ones they've nicked, and because he has very little brain power, he thinks it's a good bike, "says Appollo on it, innit" Probably never heard of Kona or Trek.
     
  15. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    Location:
    S of Kendal
    These ideas have helped me when bin diving at our local tip.

    Have a look at the front and rear drop outs on any steel bikes you might find. If they look like they are simply cut out of 4mm sheet steel and welded into slots cut into the tubing, it's a sign you are at the rubbish end of the market. If they have a bit of substance about them (do they look 'cast' ?) this is a good sign.

    How many 'braze ons' does it have ? Clamped on down tube shifters on a bike less then 15 years old is not good. Having more specialised braze ons, such as for the front mech, is a good sign.

    Weigh the bike. Interpreted with care, this can be a way of discounting total junk. Generally over 30 lbs is an indication of very poor quality for a fully rigid bike, even with mud guards.

    Steel or Alloy rims?

    Free hub or Freewheel? (only on recent bikes is this any indication of quality)

    Cotter pins or square taper cranks?

    Replaceable front chain rings or riveted together one piece chainset?