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Second Hand Mountain Bikes: What to Look for When Buying a Mountain Bike?

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What to Look for When Buying a Used Mountain Bike?

Over the past few years, the world has been experiencing a bicycle boom. More and more people are changing over to iron horses, some for pleasure, some to economize, and some for environmental reasons. True there is a bit, the prices of quality bikes are high and not everyone can afford to buy a new bike. So many future cyclists are looking for an opportunity to save money by paying attention to the used MTB bikes segment. After all, used MTN bikes are inexpensive and of higher quality than new bikes from the store for the same price. But when buying such bikes, you should consider many factors. But do not worry, we will discuss everything you should know in this article today. What we are going to talk about is what you should pay attention to and what to look for when buying a mountain bike, which has been previously used by someone. This is not a simple matter, and it is necessary to have at least some experience in operating bicycles. So, let’s go!

What to Keep in Mind When Buying a Used MTB Bike?

used mtb bikes

Many novice cyclists, when buying second-hand mountain bikes, forget that the price they pay is not the final price. Almost any used bike needs maintenance. Accordingly, the cost of the bike is added to the needed spending on all sorts of small things like replacing individual components or the entire system of the bicycle. So when buying a bike, consider these costs and consider whether you can’t buy a new bike with a warranty for the same money. Below we’ll tell you about the most common defects of used bikes and the approximate cost of repairing them. Our used bike guide, later on, can help you and this can be a great reason to bargain with the owner about bringing the price down.

What to Look for When Buying a Mountain Bike: The Appearance of the Bike

We could have skipped this point, as the first thing everyone looks at is the appearance and visual defects. But we would like to advise you to pay attention not only to bumps and scratches but also to cracks on used full suspension bikes. The truth is that they are not so common, but they are also not very rare. Most often, they can be found on the frame near the handlebar housing and in the area of the seat tube at the welding seam. The presence of a crack indicates the risk of frame breakage, which means it will have to be welded. Welding an aluminum frame will cost several times more, and there are not many specialists who know how to work with aluminum.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Mountain bike: Frame

The frame is the base of the bicycle, and it is the first place to start the inspection. Examine the used mountain bike frame carefully for cracks, dents, and non-factory welds. The latter will catch your eye immediately, the factory welds are always very neat and visible. By the way, cracks appear most often in the joints of pipes, that is either on or near the welds. There are cracks on the steering tube as well. Sometimes the cracks are not immediately visible, but the presence of an unpleasant creaking during driving gives it away. Ask the owner to ride a bike over the bumps in the road. At this time, listen for clicks, creaks, and crunches, which the used MTB frame may make. Inspect the bike from below by turning it over, rocks often fly into the bottom tube and can cause significant damage to the carbon. Dents anywhere in any material bode well for pipe failure at the most inopportune time. Feel free to ask for the seatpost to be removed completely. There are situations when it gets permanently stuck there because of corrosion. Even in carbon and aluminum, they corrode too. It also happens that the seatpost is simply not the right size and increases the likelihood of frame failure.


The chain, the system of the rear (cassette) and front sprockets, the derailleur, and the carriage unit are all parts of the bicycle transmission. It is a critical component of your bicycle, so your good used mountain bike’s performance depends on it. What kinds of problems can you encounter when buying a used bike?

Chain and Sprockets

First, it is the wear and tear of the chain. Actually, it is a consumable component and there is nothing terrible in its breakage or wear, but problems will begin if it is not replaced in time. The matter is that a stretched chain starts to “eat up” sprockets little by little. As a consequence, they will have to be replaced, and this can lead to serious additional costs.

  • How do you tell if the chain should be replaced? You can tell if your gears are worn by looking at the shape of the links in the cassette. If they have a pointy top, it means the wear is critical. These sprocket teeth can no longer work properly, causing the chain to skip while riding. This also indicates critical wear on the bike chain, which has actually destroyed the cogs of the cassette. Riding with such wear is very dangerous, first, the chain can break at the most inopportune moment, and secondly, you reduce your maneuverability and in a dangerous situation will not have time to pull away because of the slippage of the chain. There are also cases where the wear of the chain is not so critical, and it has not yet had time to do a lot of damage to the sprockets.

Carriage Unit

The bottom bracket, or carriage in common parlance, is another unit worth paying attention to. The carriage usually lasts longer than the wheel bushings, but it does not last forever, so it wears out as well.

  • How can you tell if it’s worn? Try to rock the cranks, a normal carriage should not squeak. There are also cases when there is no sound, but the carriage is nearing the end of its life and is about to squeak. To find this out, drop the system chain (front sprockets) and twist the crank arms by hooking it to the frame or holding it with your hand, so it doesn’t get in the way. If the carriage is in normal condition, you should not hear any unusual noises, but if you hear a distinct humming sound, the carriage unit is on its last gasp and if it doesn’t break yet, it will very soon.

What to Look for When Buying a Mountain Bike: Wheels

When it comes to wheels, the first thing everyone pays attention to is wheel deformations. Of course, they are also undesirable, although there are less noticeable but no less dangerous breakdowns.


Firstly, pay attention to the wear and tear on hubs. Budget and mid-priced bikes use bushings with bulk bearings that require regular maintenance. And if they are neglected, they start to wear quickly. As a consequence, the wheel begins to “play” (move horizontally). This causes vibration when driving. This is due to the wear and tear of the bushing cones.

  • How can you tell if there is any wear? Try to rock the wheel from side to side, if you feel that it moves a little in spite of the fact that the axle is fixed firmly, it means that the hub of the mountain bikes used is already very worn.

Sometimes you can replace the cones, but due to the fact that the manufacturer often changes the standard, it is very difficult, and often impossible, to find the right cone. In addition, in terms of price, the repair can cost as much as a new bushing, if we’re talking about budget models. There are also cases where the bushings do not backlash, but taper wear can be present. To make sure that the hub is not yet dead, remove the wheel and twist the axle by hand. If the movement is smooth and light, everything is fine, if the axle is turning bad, and it is clearly jammed, then it is at the end of its service life.

How to Buy a Used Mountain Bike: Rim Inspection

used mtb frame

It’s worth saying a few words about the rim. Naturally, the first thing that people pay attention to are the eights. Their presence is a reason to seriously bargain, and the bigger they are, the more it is worth knocking down the price. Because the big eight on the old rim can be a real quest. Also, when planning a used bike purchase, you may come across a rim that has been repaired after a serious deformation. It may look quite good, with a small figure of eight, but it has lost a lot of its strength. It is not a fact that after fixing such a rim will not bend on the first bump.

  • How can you check? There are two ways to determine such rims:
  • by hand-test the strength of the tension of the spokes, if in one place the spokes are tightened very much, and in another almost freely dangling, then most likely such a wheel has been repaired;
  • look at the spoke nipples, very often after trying to pull the rim back into shape, the nipples either “slip” or screw out.

If one or both of the above defects are present on the bicycle you are buying, it is better to refuse to buy it. After all, replacing the wheels can cost as much as a used bicycle. Let us continue with our used bike listings.

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