So yea, touched on it briefly yesterday, and I understand my advice might seem somewhat jaded, suspect and self serving but I have to stress that a deal is NOT always a deal! Unfortunately, we have had two separate examples today alone! Both Schwinn's as a matter of point. The first one was bad enough! Bought at a local Pawn Shop, for $80.00, compared to the price of a new one (about 150.00) seemed like a good deal...until you take into consideration the rear derailleur was bent beyond repair, the frame mount was bent, the rear wheel needed to be replaced as it was too far out of whack AND the axel was broken in two! All total $60.00 to fix (anywhere else, that would have been triple!) so....$140.00 into a 5 year old Ranger!? Folks....these places DO NOT service their bikes, and in most cases have a "No Return" policy with NO Warranty!!
The next one was by FAR worse! Bought at a thrift store, they paid $69.99 for a 24" "Bottom of the rung" Wal-Mart Schwinn. Now this one sold New for about $99.00. Sad thing is, we hear far too often, that folks didn't find out the true scope of damage the bike they bought had, as many places, several bike shops included, DO NOT allow you to test ride them!? WHAT!?! How are you going to know if the bike works or feels right? Anywho. They got it home, took it out for a ride and in the first ten minuets the rear wheel started popping spokes. Badly corroded, they just didn't hold up! Initially, that's what she brought it in for, but by the time we did the full assessment she requested, we found that not only did she need the rear wheel replaced, but the front as well, as it had the same signs of erosion, as well as a bent and fused rear AND front derailleur, The chain had nine fused links, the shifters didn't work at all, the rear brake pads were down to metal, the front forks were bent, and the rear tire was separated from the bead seat in three places. SHEESH!!! She was looking at $104.00 to fix it all which we STRONGLY urged her NOT to do! We told her she could buy TWO new ones for the total investment!
So, here's a few tips for buying a used bike, ESPECIALLY when they won't let you ride it, and for the sake of time, I'm just covering the costly fixes!
WHEELS; Lift the bike, front and back, and spin. Any wobble left to right or more importantly up and down...gonna need replacing if it's bent up or down. Then wiggle the wheels, any play? Bad bearings.
CRANK ASSEMBLY; Grab a hold of a pedal arm and give it a wiggle. Any play? Bad bearings, which could lead to bottom bracket assembly replacement.
SHIFTERS: Make sure the derailleurs go into each change smooth, with no clicking or grinding or clunk. You hear anything bad...it could mean SEVERAL bad things!
BRAKES: Make sure they grab evenly when engaged, and open evenly when released, and they have good rubber!
Hope that helps keep you from getting shtupt!
Now I've done my civil service bit...back to work!