Re-cycling: How to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth when buying a used bike this summer


DES MOINES, Iowa – The demand for mid-to-lower-end bicycles remains high right now even as buyers are being told some orders won’t be filled until 2023. Alex Struelens, the Director of Bicycle Programs at the Des Moines Street Collective, spends much of his time with bikes that aren’t new. He shares some ideas on how to make a used bike purchase that will keep you happy for many pedaling miles.

The first stop might be an online search of Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay or some sites specializing in bicycles, like pinkbike and The Pros Closet. The usual buyer beware warnings apply.

Make sure the bike you’re looking at fits you. Look the bike over carefully with close attention paid to the tires, chain and brakes. Worn or broken parts can be replaced so budget for some expenses beyond the purchase price. And give the bike a test ride to make sure the fit is good. Struelens says: “If you buy a bike that’s the wrong size you’re not going to enjoy the experience….and then you won’t continue cycling.”

Another simple test described in a previous story is the drop test. Scott Willcox of Anywhere Bike Repair says “Take your bike just one inch off the ground and just kind of set it down, let it fall. It should feel like one piece. You shouldn’t hear any reverberations, you shouldn’t hear any rattling.”

Struelens also recommends a visit to the Des Moines Bike Collective where they refurbish and sell donated bicycles or all kinds. Besides the bikes they may also have the part, or parts, you need to get your online find back on the trail.

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