29 Nov 2010

Guide to Buying a Secondhand Road Bike – Part 1

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This is really all about working out how much money (if any) you are going to have to spend on your bike in the future, and when.

Part 1 of this guide is to focus on wheels and tires.

  1. Check your tires. These can be easily replaced, but will cost you £25 plus. Knackered old tires will have splits in them and be brittle to the touch/on the edges.
  2. Be aware that if you replace old tires you may have to replace inner tubes as well, as these are often pretty crusty when you get inside, and do not respond well to probing about with tire levers.
  3. Check wheel rims. If the rims are concave this means they have had a lot of use, and won’t stop particularly well.
  4. It sounds obvious, but check the wheel is straight. Turn the bike upside down and check it spins clear of the brake pads, without periodically rubbing. It may be a simple matter of tightening in some of the spokes, but then those spokes may be rusty and not tighten, or the rim may be bent in which case you may need a new wheel, which will be expensive..
  5. Check there is no ‘play’ in the hubs. If you put a little weight on whichever end of the bike you are looking at gently pull the wheel back and forth along its axle, there should be zero movement. If there is ‘play’ i.e. the wheel shifts in its axle, this means your wheel needs adjusting/throwing in the canal.
  6. Watch out for tubular tires. These were fitted to the lightest wheels available in their day, but are a bugger in London when you have to fix a puncture on the move. In fact, it’s near impossible not to do these (properly) in less than half a day.
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