Posted April 14, 2012 by Adam in buying a mountain bike

Second Hand Mountain Bikes – Properly Check your Second Hand Mountain Bike

dirty dh bike
dirty dh bike

Buying second hand mountain bikes can be a risky business but if you take your time and know what to look for you can get a great bike at an even better price.

If you are looking to buy a second hand bike check out these useful tips on buying a second hand mountain bike.

When it comes to inspecting a used mountain bike there are certain qualities you should keep an eye out for.


The bike’s frame is obviously the most important part to consider. Start by checking for cracks in the headtube area. Then check for dents in the down-tube and top-tube and inspect all welds. If there is anything more than a few cosmetic scratches move on straight away.


Ask when the last service was and see if the seller has receipts to back this up. Leaks around the dust seals mean the suspension is due for a rebuild.

Any marks, scratches or nicks on the stanchions are going to be very expensive to repair. It is usually cheaper to replace a whole fork than replace the stanchions, so give this bike a miss.


Be suspicious of someone trying to sell a bike with a dirty drivetrain. It indicates that they don’t take care of their bike and the rest of the bike probably won’t be in much better condition.

Check for elongated gaps and sharper teeth on the cogs. These are a sign of wear and suggest that you will need to replace some or all of the drivetrain at some point in the future.

When you take the bike for a test ride, pedal really hard and see if the bike skips gears or indexes poorly. Problems may stem from bent derailleurs or worn out chains.

Depending on what spec you are looking at these may be worth replacing if the bike is a good deal.

Cranks/Bottom Bracket

Give the cranks a firm push backwards and see if they spin freely. The bottom bracket should be smooth and rotate a few times. If it stops after one revolution or is making noise and sounding crunchy then it’s gone.

Again pedal hard under load to see if the cranks are bent or the interface squeaks. This could indicate a serious and expensive upgrade is on the way.


It is simple to test the brakes – go for a ride and see if you stop. Further than that inspect the calliper, pads and rotor (if they are disc brakes) for excessive wear. Brakes are cheap to fix or replace but this shouldn’t be your problem.


Check the headset, pedals and all the pivot points for a nice smooth feel. Similar to brakes, bearings are not too expensive to replace but they are a pain and you shouldn’t have to waist your time or money.

Wheel and Tyres

All used mountain bikes will have some wear on the tyres and wheels that are a little bit distorted. They shouldn’t be bad enough to affect your ride though so give them a spin and check for dents, flat spots or a very noticeable wobble.

While you are at it give the spokes a quick check to make sure they are tight.

Other Parts

It should be fairly obvious to see if there is anything wrong with the handlebars, stem, seat, seatpost, grips, skewers and any other parts. Use your commonsense and if you have and concerns then ask the seller and if in doubt walk away.

Want to Find Your Perfect Bike?

Your Essential Bike Buying Guide

Want to buy a mountain bike? Then you must check out Your Essential Bike Buying Guide. It will take you step-by-step on the process of finding your perfect bike (and saving $$ in the process). Find out more.

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