Buying a Used E-Bike & Tips and Tricks


Many people are going down the preloved route, and nowadays, it is fast becoming an option for electric bikes as well. Whether this is your first time buying one or, have been out for a while and trying to revive your cycling activities, buying a secondhand e-bike is something you can consider, especially if you have a tight budget.

If you follow the succeeding guidelines that I will share in this article, your used e-bike could very well be your one of your best purchases ever.

Buying basics

Before you even consider a used option, you should know the following details so that your money is well spent.

The kind of e-bike you like

When you’ve got the liberty of having choices, would you prefer a folding e-bike for portability or simply, a city e-bike? Are you buying it for recreational purposes or, as a means of transport to work? Depending on your use, choose the one used e-bike that will cater to your needs.

The distance of your trips

If you will be traveling for under 10 miles, you can settle with an average e-bike that will be affordable for you. On the other hand, if your trips will entail more than 10 miles at a time, especially if you will be going uphill very often, you should get a two-wheeler that is a bit on the higher end, quality-wise and pricewise.

How you will use it

Will you depend on the convenience of e-bikes such as its throttle-assist motion? If yes, you must be aware of your bike’s range, which is categorized as Class 2 at the minimum, when you are the type of rider that will solely rely on its electric power. Given this type of cycling, you will be running from under 20 miles per hour, offering a comfortable and safe speed to the rider.

Meanwhile, you should choose a Class 3 e-bike which will provide you the option of going faster by supplementing it with your own manual pedaling. Such a bike will come with a speedometer and maxes out at 32 miles per hour.

Other things you might have preferences for include:

  • suspension type
  • style of seating
  • weight capacity
  • geared hub motor
  • throttle assist
  • hybrid type
  • motor location
  • storage capabilities

Advantages of buying used ebikes

The goal of this endeavor is to get more bang for your buck from your used e-bike that will presumably have a lot of life left in it for you to enjoy. Here are several reasons why it can be a great option for those looking to buy an e-bike.

Keep some dollars to yourself

In other words, savings! Everybody would want to stretch his dollar and expect to make a good buy at the same time. In the bicycle world, e-bikes depreciate faster than its old school version. This is why a lot of buyers have scored deals by being able to acquire used e-bikes in excellent condition at less than half its original retail value.

However, just like in a rummage sale, getting a good used e-bike is similar to searching for that needle in the haystack. It is not an easy task, but when you do, it’s going to feel like you’ve hit the jackpot. You pay less which allows you to have a few more extra in your pocket that you can use to buy other stuff.

Pay even less for insurance (and tax)

You got the e-bike for cheap and it goes without saying that you will also be shelling out much less than you would if you bought your two-wheeled companion brand new. Overall, you will ideally get more by giving less.

There are a myriad of choices and sources

You would think that in the secondhand market of e-bikes, there will be very few options. On the contrary, you will find thousands of used e-bike listings posted on Craig’s list, eBay, and other online shops. That does not even include brick and mortar bike stores and contacts from the e-bike network.

There are pros to buying from a local bike shop such as having a service center and knowledgeable staff who can assist you with technical inquiries.

Benefit from the remaining warranty

If you buy your e-bike that is only a couple of years old, chances are it is still covered within the manufacturer’s warranty, which typically ranges from three to 5 years. Don’t forget to get this from your seller during the purchase transaction.

Reduce waste

Yes, this practice of recycling and buying used items in general help maximize them instead of just throwing them away, which will only add to the huge pile of non-biodegradable trash. Aside from huge savings, you get to do your share in caring for the environment while enjoying the ride in your used e-bike.

The takeaway

Let’s face it, there are products that are quite pointless to pay full price for. An e-bike may not be exactly one of them, but it is an option available for those who have limited funds.

A second hand e-bike is exactly what it is, hence it will come with imperfections, which you might be uncomfortable with. The huge savings can be very attractive, but always remember that something’s got to give. In any case, you must have some concessions without compromising your money with a bad purchase.

The disadvantages

It goes without saying that there are cons to not buy an electric bike in brand new condition. As such, it is very crucial to pay attention to what you’re getting in order to manage the drawbacks that come with such purchase. In any case, you should take the following possibilities into consideration before deciding to go for it.

You might have to pay extra

You probably thought you paid a lot less, but it’s possible that after your purchase, the real problems would start to show. Before you know it, you find yourself bringing the e-bike to a repair shop and paying more in the process. Once again, you should meticulously check what you’re buying in the first place so you will less likely have to deal with issues like this one.

A shorter lifespan, perhaps

The e-bike you plan to buy has been used after all hence, you should be realistic with your expectations. Although you will have a good idea of what you’re getting if you look at it closely in person, you still don’t know how it’s been ridden by the previous owner. If you’re not so lucky, the item you have just acquired may die on you only a few days or weeks from purchase. Well, that’s just one of the risks when delving into such a transaction.

The need to compromise

The secondhand e-bike you were eyeing is being sold for only 500 dollars, but the color is not to your liking. And the saddle could use a better shape. While there are a good number of options in the market, you might have to settle with something that has those nitty-gritties, which otherwise you wouldn’t prefer just because it is the only type your budget can afford.

If it’s not major or anything that will jeopardize the integrity of the product, then go for practicality and ignore the minor issues.

Most important: The Battery

When you’re on the hunt for a good used electric two-wheeler such as an e-bike, the battery condition is the first thing the buyer should check. Any gadget or appliance that runs on battery power, no matter how nice and shiny its outer appearance is, will lose its sellability if the battery itself is already shot.

Generally, batteries of e-bikes may last up to 5 or 6 years with proper usage. Over time though, it loses its original capacity and drains up pretty quickly than it used to. As such, it requires to be charged every so often, leaving the user with less time to ride the bike after a charge. This would mean that the battery might be nearing its last legs, especially if you’re buying an e-bike that’s more than three years old and with considerable mileage.

In order to help you be more discriminating in your purchase, you can check the serial number, which you can find on the bottom bracket frame, if not on the head tube itself. The information will provide you the actual age of the bike as well as the battery. Needless to say, any surface damage you see is a red flag because it could be a fire hazard.

Also, ask for the battery key which will enable you to remove it for close inspection. This will indicate if the e-bike is what the seller says it is and not a stolen vehicle. Thieves would not normally have this key for obvious reasons.

In case the seller is offering the item at an attractively low price, you have to verify that the battery pack is replaceable and how much the additional setback on your end would be. Once you’ve done the math, you can decide whether to proceed with the purchase or not.

How fast can e-bikes go

Contrary to what many would think, the speed of e-bikes is nothing to be sneezed at. Depending on their type, these two-wheeled vehicles can get pretty fast, you know. For their size, going up to 28 miles per hour is not so bad. You can even propel it to go even faster when you compliment the electric power with your own manual pedaling.

E-bikes that have throttle assist are great when you take steep inclines and hilly roads as it allows you to go a little faster with less strain from your legs and knees.

The fastest e-bikes

E-bikes are classified into three according to speed. Class 1 and Class 2 have 20 mph tops, with the difference being the presence of throttle assist in Class 2. Class 3 has e-bikes that run up to 32 mph. However, it seems there is a need to add another classification given there are now bikes in production that can go up to an impressive 45 mph. One example is the HPC Scout Pro. At a hefty price tag of almost 7 thousand dollars, it makes you wonder if you might as well just buy a cheap motorbike if you want something that fast.

Looking at what you’re buying up close

When your option is being sold online, it is best to pay the seller a visit so that you will get an actual visual of the vehicle. Try to bring somebody with you who knows about e-bikes in case you are that person who has zero knowledge on the subject. His feedback and comments will definitely help you find the e-bike that will be good to buy.

Mileage

All Class 3 and a number of Class 2 e-bikes will have their integrated speedometer which will indicate the mileage it has racked up on the road. An e-bike that has been used frequently would typically be resold at a lower price compared to a slightly used but older model.

Gears and suspension

Check if your gears are transitioning smoothly such that they don’t skip whenever you go up or down a notch. Your suspension forks should be free from rust, leaks and corrosion. Should there be some dents and scratches, make sure they don’t affect the functioning of components altogether.

Wear and tear

When scrutinizing an e-bike, you would like to see the condition of the chain, tires, brakes, among others, as there are parts that will reflect how used the vehicle has been. How about the tire pressure? And its tread, do you see any cracks on the sidewalls?

Another issue you want to determine is if the bike has been in an accident or, has fallen hard which could have affected its integrity as a whole. Remember that anything with a motor that has taken a bad fall is bad news as well. One way to check if this has happened in case the seller tells you nothing of that sort took place is to look at the derailleur. Is is bent? You might notice some metal fatigue when you look closely with the presence of crinkled lines. At most, you can get a diagnostic at a shop with the approval of the owner.

Overall state

An e-bike that is well taken care of will show on its appearance. Offhand, you will notice its maintenance if it only has minor dings and scratches, and will generally look clean and somewhat spotless. Are the nuts and bolts too rusty? If they are, and they are less than three years old, it would tell you that the owner has been slacking in the cleaning department or, it is not being stored properly.

History

It would be nice to ask the seller details about the item such as where it was bought, how the battery performs, why it is being resold, and any bit of information you should be aware of. Engage the seller such that he will share his experiences that will help you in case you will eventually buy his e-bike.

Road test

You should ride it while you’re at it! This way, you’ll have a feel of its running condition. You’ll also determine if it suits you, given the size of its frame and geometry. Ride it for up to 20 minutes, so it will indicate how well it runs using its battery and motor. Take it to different terrains as much as possible. Listen for any drag or unusual sound. Most importantly, hit the brakes every now and then to see if they are still working as they should.

A few more tips to get the most out of a used ebike

Do your research

So you might be that person who buys things but doesn’t know jack about them. It will help if you do your part by learning more about the subject. Nowadays, it’s a lot easier because you have the Internet to turn to at your disposal. For as long as you use credible online references, you should be able to learn more about the product you are planning to buy. The information you will gather will help you form the item you want for yourself. There are even tons of YouTube videos you can watch to provide you a good visual of the topic.

Negotiate a good price

It is often that buyers do not accept the sticker price as they always want to feel that they have gotten a good deal. They will negotiate with the seller who in turn, is most likely prepared in this scenario. Ideally, both parties would meet halfway with an agreed selling price.

Final thoughts

Now that you have been equipped with enough wisdom on e-bikes that are sold as used, don’t despair if you’ve become too meticulous in your quest. Ultimately though, you want to make the best purchase for yourself under the circumstances. No matter how long it takes, you will surely find the right two-wheeler that won’t cost you an arm and a leg yet with plenty of life left for you to enjoy.

Ruben

I always had a thing for bike sports and love almost anything that involves bikes and boards. I work part-time as a designer in the tech industry and work on my blogs whenever I can.

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