How to buy a used bike

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How to buy a used bike

May is the official Bike Month. If you haven’t got a bike, get one. We promise it will make you happier. For a novice, getting outfitted by a reputable dealer (we patronize Wasatch Touring) will make your ride more comfortable, and you can spend as little as $400 for dependable wheels. More serious contenders will pay a lot more.
by Katherine Pioli

May is the official Bike Month. If you haven’t got a bike, get one. We promise it will make you happier. For a novice, getting outfitted by a reputable dealer (we patronize Wasatch Touring) will make your ride more comfortable, and you can spend as little as $400 for dependable wheels. More serious contenders will pay a lot more.

Whatever your price range, chances are you can find one cheaper, used. You know that word “gearhead”? Someone’s so-last-year’s model could be your new bike.

Where to find a used bike

Where to begin your hunt? craigslist.com and the outdoor and sporting section of the classifieds on ksl.com both list bikes for sale posted. Deseret Industries has them, too, but usually more of the beater variety, as well as kids’ bikes. Some local repair and retail shops in the area carry used bikes. Entrepreneur Johnny Barlow, also known as The Bike Guy, works out of his garage on 900 East repairing and reselling old bicycles. Another great stop is the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective, where people are always available to help folks find, and even build, a bike. Cyclesmith, near the University, is another good place to look.

Best bang for your buck

All bikes are not created equal. Not surprisingly, the brands that come from global chains and department stores are often of lower quality. They may look cute and be just as sturdy as the next, but experienced bikers recommend staying away from brands like Huffy, Pacifica, Road Master and Magna. Some of the best buys, when it comes to used bikes, include the Trek and Schwinn brands, but even the best brands can have problems. Schwinn, for instance, made good bikes for almost a century. In the 1980s the company fell on hard times, and in 1993 they filed for bankruptcy. About 10 years later Pacific Cycle bought the company; some say that the quality of the bikes has not been the same since then.

Warning signs

If the bike was a cheap buy 30 years ago,  odds are it’s still a cheap bike. So pay attention to the make. Then, look closely. Check the frame for damage, cracks and bulges in the metal. Look for rust; rust spreads and can completely corrode metal. If the rust is minimal and on the surface—–you can brush it away with a cloth—–there are some products that can help clean up the rust to keep it from spreading.

If you are unsure that a certain bike is worth your money, the kind folks at the Bicycle Collective are happy to advise, even if the bike does not come from their own stash. 

Location-specific

One last consideration when buying a bike, new or used, is where that person-powered machine might be taking you. If you stay around the flat zones of Salt Lake, or don’t mind taking public transportation (with your bike, of course) up the larger hills, then a fixed-gear might be fun to own. If you’re going to bike up those hills, look for a mountain bike, which has better tires and more speeds so you can gear down low. Cruisers for short rides, road bikes for long speedy rides—–you get the idea.

Now that you have your bike… every month is Bike Month!

Katherine Pioli rides her bike everywhere, even when it rains and snows and her cheeks are always rosy.

 
 
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