If you’ve been thinking about getting into mountain biking, you’ll need a good-quality mountain bike to get you started.
However, the bikes manufactured for this extreme sport often come with equally extreme price tags. Here at Bike Smarts, we believe that everybody should have access to the equipment they need to enjoy the unique health benefits of cycling and mountain biking, which is why we advocate for buying second-hand where you can.
With that being said, buying a used mountain bike can be tricky for a variety of reasons. You might wonder whether buying a used mountain bike is really worth the money, for instance.
Gauging the right price to pay for a used mountain bike can also be confusing, and many potential mountain bikers don’t know where to start when it comes to finding a high-quality, used mountain bike.
In this article, we will be covering all of these questions and concerns to help you find the perfect mountain bike for a price that works for you!
How Do I Get a Good Used Mountain Bike?
The first step towards finding a good, used mountain bike is knowing where and how to look.
When looking for a good-quality, used mountain bike, it’s important to remember that you should be looking for good value over ‘cheap’ price points.
Often, cheapness and good value are conflated as concepts, but while a ‘cheap’ bike simply means that the price is low, a good value bike will combine good quality with reasonable pricing to ensure that your purchase is worth it. So, the mindset to adopt going into your search for a used mountain bike is ‘value for money.’
Now, in terms of actually locating a good used mountain bike, you can go the online or in-person route. Either way, the process starts with doing your research. You will either need to look up bike shops in your local area that offer resale bikes or work out which sites offer the best value deals on used mountain bikes.
The main advantage to buying a second-hand mountain bike in person is that you can meet the seller(s) face to face and potentially inspect the bike yourself.
You may not be allowed to test-ride it, but you should still be able to spin the wheels, inspect the frame for cracks or dents, and test the strength of the joints and brackets. If possible, use a bright light, like your phone torch, for the inspection.
An in-person meeting will also give you the opportunity to look at the serial number on the bike for yourself and run it through a search engine to verify that the bike is not stolen.
If you choose to buy online (which is the easiest option), you will need to be extra-vigilant.
It’s much easier to be scammed out of your money on the internet, so it’s best to avoid suspiciously low prices, excessive pressure from the seller, and any details that don’t quite match up. These are all potential signs that the bike is damaged or stolen and that the seller is in a hurry to get rid of it.
The best sites for finding good-value, used mountain bikes are eBay, Craigslist, and Pinkbike. You can also find used mountain bikes through third-party sellers on Amazon.
How Much Should You Pay for a Used Mountain Bike?
Appropriate price points can be tricky to figure out when it comes to second-hand mountain bikes. Not only can mountain bikes vary significantly in terms of price based on brand names, features, and functionality.
Once a bike has been used, it’s also necessary to adjust the price based on this fact alone and on the amount of wear and tear.
The most important thing to remember is never to prioritize cheap price tags if you’re looking for quality. Of course, the main reason why potential mountain bikers seek bikes out on a second-hand basis is to save some money, but if you’re being offered a seemingly perfect mountain bike for $300, something is probably amiss.
Our recommendation, especially if you’re a beginner to the sport, would be to set your price target at roughly $1000. This would usually be enough to get you a new, decent-quality, entry-level bike. When buying second-hand, however, you may be able to get a good-quality, full-suspension mountain bike for the same price, albeit with some ‘cheaper’ components.
You’re unlikely to get a top-of-the-range used mountain bike for $1000, though. If you want a high-end second-hand bike, we would recommend setting your starting price at closer to $2000. This might all sound quite expensive, but considering that high-end mountain bikes can retail for up to $10,000, you’ll still be getting a great deal.
Are Older Mountain Bikes Still Good?
Older mountain bikes can still be worthwhile purchases as long as they have been kept in good condition by previous owners through regular maintenance.
It’s also important to define ‘old.’ If the bike is less than five years old, then chances are, as long as it’s been cared for properly, it’s still good enough to perform well. Even a lightly-ridden bike that’s ten years old, with proper maintenance, can remain in good condition.
However, a decade-old mountain bike will not have the same technological advancement as some of the newer models on the market. If you’re looking for a state-of-the-art mountain bike, you’ll obviously want to prioritize newer models made within the last couple of years.
If you’re only after a simple, single-speed mountain bike to introduce you to the sport, though, age within reason shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
Buying a used mountain bike can definitely be worth it if you do your research and set a reasonable budget.
Good-quality mountain bikes can be found second-hand through resale bike shops or online. Usually, you can expect to buy a well-made, entry-level mountain bike second-hand for around $1000. If you’re looking for higher quality, you may need to up your starting price.
When buying in-person, be sure to carry out a full inspection. During online transactions, limit your search to reputable websites and ask the seller for the bike’s serial number.