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8 Tips for Buying Second-Hand Gravel Bikes

By Adam Marsal

Second-hand bikes are cheaper and more appropriate for the environment. Sound good? Read on.

New or used? You probably want to get your hands on the latest gravel bike, but it makes sense to look into quality used bikes as well. Buying a used bike not only saves money but also helps reduce waste. If you are trying to save money or care about sustainability, acquiring a second-hand gravel bike is a good option. These tips might help you find the best bike for you.

Buy online or find one in person?

Where to buy? Online seems easiest, since the owner sends the bike to your address. At the same time, a second-hand online purchase carries significantly more risk. For example, you are not as legally protected with a second-hand private purchase as you are with a new purchase from an official shop. So it’s a good idea to pick up the bike in person. This way, you can inspect the new bike directly and agree on a test ride. Even if you find the bike online, always ask the bike’s owner to meet face to face.

Think carefully about what you are looking for

Before you buy a used gravel bike, decide what you need. Are you looking for an inexpensive entry-level model? Or do you need a bike intended for bikepacking adventures? Will a race gravel bike be the best choice? Also consider the size of the frame.

Bikepacking friends
Are you looking for a bike to accompany you on your bikepacking adventures? © Profimedia

Set yourself a price ceiling

To prevent disappointment, set a budget limit. Exceeding it too much may push the price tag towards the price of a new gravel bike of equal value.

Keep your eyes open

Where can you buy used gravel bikes? There are many options: Online marketplaces such as eBay Classifieds and Facebook Marketplace are worth checking to get an idea of prices and options. You can also find good deals in internet forums and social media groups dedicated to gravel biking. Visiting local bike shops could also help, since the owners and shop assistants are usually aware of people who are trying to sell old bikes.

Give it time

If you want to find a good deal, take your time. Start by getting an overview of the prices on the market for used gravel bikes.

Check for wear and tear

Chips or scratches in the paint are fine, but once you see a crack, that frame is done. Especially with carbon frames, even small cracks can grow through the tube. For metal bikes, pay attention to dents. Carbon tubes do not dent at all — they  crack. Usually, dents in metal tubes don’t matter and can be disregarded. On the other hand, a deeper dent might make the frame fold under pressure. A lot of stress concentrates wherever two tubes join. These segments should have no flaws.

Always take a test ride

A short trip around the block tells you more than a thousand words. Always insist on taking a test ride. You will see if the frame geometry and size fit you. You can sniff out a perfect bike, but if the size does not suit you, you’ll feel unsteady and most likely won’t like the bike in the long run. At the same time, pay attention to the functionality of the components. If something looks wrong, don’t buy it!

Old or new?

Especially at the end of the season with winter sales, many dealers offer new gravel bikes for low prices to empty their stocks. That’s actually a great time to buy a new bike!