Buying a used electric bike can be a great way to save money on a high-priced purchase.
However, it’s important to do your research before making a decision.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buying a used eBike, from checking the condition and brand to considering the age, mileage, and battery capacity:
1. Check the Condition
The first thing you should do when looking at a used electric bike is to review its condition.
Look at everything from the tires to the brakes to the battery to the seat.
Of course, you can also check to see if the bike is dirty. If so, you’ll want to investigate further the condition of the various parts of the bike.
Don’t be afraid to search for dents or scratches on the bike’s frame to learn if it got in an accident. When shopping online, look at all of the pictures the seller includes.
However, you should meet up in person to look at the bike in more detail. If you notice any issues, that could be a sign that the bike isn’t going to work very well.
2. Don’t Forget the Brand
Another thing to keep in mind is the eBike brand.
Some brands are much better than others, so you can trust that their bikes will be in good condition.
However, it may not be as dependable if you go with a super cheap brand or a brand named after a big box store.
I’d read many reviews of bikes from different brands to help find the right company and bike for me.
Sure, a cheaper bike could help you save money now. But it may not last very long, so the cost per ride could increase significantly.
Check out our article, Is Gazelle the best electric bike brand? – we tested it!
3. Note That Warranties Don’t Transfer
Many of the best electric bikes come with warranties that protect against damage.
For better or worse, these warranties only apply to the original owner of a bike.
That means the seller can’t transfer it to you, even if the bike is still under the warranty period. However, the existence of a bike warranty in the first place can be a good thing.
It’s a sign that the bike manufacturer trusts the quality of their products. So while they may not pay to repair your bike, you could have a lower risk of needing repairs in the first place.
4. Consider the Age
Another thing to keep in mind is how old the electric bike is. Some people may sell their eBikes after a few months, such as if they find it’s not for them.
Other used bikes may be a few years old and not in the best condition. They could still be rideable, so don’t discount older bikes.
However, it’s worth knowing the age, especially regarding factors like mileage and battery capacity.
If an older bike has gotten a lot of use, it should have a lower sale price than a newer bike in better shape.
5. Look at the Mileage
You should be able to ask the seller how many miles their eBike has, but it’s easy to lie.
Check the odometer on the bike to ensure you get an accurate number.
Even if the bike is a few years old, it could still work very well if the seller hasn’t ridden it very much.
On the other hand, a newer bike might have more problems if the owner has ridden it a ton.
Just like a car, the mileage on a used electric bike can help you negotiate the best possible price. Then, you can keep from overpaying for a bike that will need a ton of repairs soon after the purchase.
6. Review the Battery Capacity
One of the things that could significantly affect the cost of a used eBike is the battery.
If the bike is older or has been ridden often, the battery capacity probably isn’t what it once was.
Battery performance can drop after around 700 full charge cycles, which can happen faster than you think. For example, you’d reach 700 cycles in less than two years if you charged the battery completely every day.
If the battery capacity is relatively low, you’ll need to buy a new battery soon. That can increase the cost of the bike, so it may be better to find a different bike with a higher battery capacity.
You’ll still need to get a new battery at some point, but you can at least get more charges out of the current one.
7. Look at the Other Parts
Of course, you also want to inspect the other parts of the bike, such as the tires, brakes, and chain.
Consider whether the tread has worn down on the tires or whether the brakes work properly.
Sure, replacing these parts isn’t going to be as expensive as replacing a battery. However, it can still add up, so you may spend more to get your bike in good condition.
And if you’re buying a top-of-the-line eBike, ask for access to its repair logbook.
Some expensive bikes have a similar log to a car that details all of the repairs and maintenance, which can tell you more about the bike’s history.
8. Research Parts Availability
Whether or not you need parts right away, you should consider how easy it will be to get replacement tires or brakes.
Think about how expensive the parts will be as well.
Especially if the model you’re looking at is older, finding parts may not be as easy. Or if the parts are out there, they could be more expensive than replacement parts for newer models.
It’s best to know this before you buy a used bike to avoid any repair issues.
8. Ask About Storage and Usage
You should ask the seller how often and how far they rode the electric bike they’re selling.
That can give you an idea of the condition, but you’ll still need to check it out for yourself.
However, I’d also ask how the seller stored their eBike and for how long. It’s okay if they didn’t ride the bike for months, but they should have kept the bike somewhere safe, like a garage.
If the bike was outside during a rainy season, there’s a chance the rain could have damaged the battery.
The rain may have also caused other problems with the chain, brakes, or even the bike seat.
9. Make Sure You Get the Charger
In all the excitement of buying a “new-to-you” electric bike, it can be easy to forget the accessories.
Most notably, you need to get your hands on the original charger.
If the seller doesn’t have it, ask them what charger they’ve been using. You should avoid electric bikes without the factory charger or a similar replacement.
When you charge a bike with a cheap knockoff, there’s a chance it could cause a fire. It could also ruin the battery, so you should look elsewhere if the seller can’t provide you with a good charging brick.
10. Give It a Test Ride
Before you decide to buy a used eBike, make sure you get a chance to ride it. Ask the seller if you can take it around the block to make sure the bike runs well.
Try to take it up and down hills as well as on different types of terrain. That way, you can understand how riding on your daily routes will feel.
One of the biggest red flags is when a seller refuses to let you try the bike.
There’s a good chance they’re trying to hide something, so move on from any bike that you can’t test yourself.
11. Compare Prices
I’d also recommend researching how much various used electric bikes cost. Specifically, look for bikes that are similar to the one you want to purchase.
Consider the differences regarding age, condition, and price. If the bike you’re looking at is selling for way less than the average, it might have a lot of issues.
On the other hand, if the price is much higher, it could be that the seller is trying to scam you out of your money.
Either way, make sure the cost makes sense based on the other factors of the used bike.
Please also read our article about how much new electric bikes cost.
12. Ask to Negotiate
If you find the price doesn’t make sense based on the bike’s condition, you should be able to negotiate.
Tell the seller why you think their asking price is too high.
Then, you can offer them and negotiate until you find a price that works for both of you. Now, if the seller isn’t willing to negotiate, you have two options.
First, you can decide to give them the amount of money they’re asking for.
However, you may decide it’s not worth it, so you can look at other bikes.
13. Get a Purchase Contract
Buying an electric bike from another individual may not seem like you need a contract.
It never hurts to have one just in case someone tries to reclaim their bike, or something else goes wrong.
First, I’d ask the seller for proof that they own the bike, such as a receipt. That way, you can make sure you aren’t buying a stolen eBike.
Afterward, you can get a lawyer to draft a contract or find a contract template online.
Make sure it includes the price you’re paying and any other terms to cover your bases.
14. Meet in Public
Whether you’re just looking to do a test ride or are ready to buy the bike, meet somewhere in public.
Meeting outside of your home can help you feel safer, especially if you’re alone.
Plus, you can ask to meet in front of a bike shop and get one of the shop’s mechanics to look at the bike. That way, you can kill two birds with one stone and save yourself from buying a poor-quality bike.
Don’t do this if the seller insists on meeting somewhere private, like their residence or yours.
It’s also a red flag if they don’t want a professional to inspect the bike.
Buying a used electric bike can help you save money, and you can get a good quality bike.
However, you have much to consider before pulling out your wallet.
Be sure you research the market and inspect the bike in question. Then, you can ensure you’ll get a good deal and avoid a scam.