How to buy second hand MTB bike without a headache?

So how to buy second hand MTB bike without a headache?

You want to buy MTB bike, but after browsing few catalogs it turns out that your budget won’t hold it? No problem, as there are great second hand MTB alternatives available. Be prepared that searching might take a while, but your patience will pay off. Sometimes you can find real treasures on secondary market, but you have to know how to fish them out of the sea of rubbish. After all, your new bike should be a source of fun instead of bringing you never-ending worries. We encourage you to read this article before you arrange a meeting with the first seller. It contains a few suggestions on what should be taken into consideration when buying a second hand MTB.

Don’t buy a money pit! Buy a second hand MTB!

Over the Internet you will find lots of second hand MTB offers, but we recommend to narrow your search only to those sellers who you can meet in person. Sadly, honest sellers are not so easy to find nowadays. If the bike turns out to be different from description after you have already accepted the delivery, proving your case might be difficult and time-consuming. Even if for some reasons you decide to buy via the Internet, at least speak with the seller over the phone. Ask about bike’s condition and manner in which it was used. Request photos of frame serial number and all crucial areas. If there are any problems at this stage, back out from the transaction.

Below you will find a short description of bike elements to be checked before you decide to buy it.

Second hand MTB frame - Bike Builders Used but Shiny

Flaws are more evident on clean bike

Seller offers you a bike with mud still sticking to it? Dirty bike should always give you some thought. For one thing, it indicates that bike’s owner is not especially devoted to caring for his or her equipment, for another, this might be an attempt to hide some flaws. Any damages and flaws are much more clearly visible on a clean bike, so ask the owner to clean the bike thoroughly and arrange another meeting. Otherwise, you might fall prey to this dirty trick (pun intended) and throw your money down the drain.


Frame is the most expensive part of the bike, so be sure to check it thoroughly from every side and preferably touch the tubes with your fingers so that no flaw escapes your attention. Especially exposed to damage is the bottom part of the frame near the crank, therefore it is often protected with special cover. Take a closer look at the head tube (don’t forget to look at its underside), joining of top tube with seat tube and area of chain. Back out from transaction if you notice cracks in the weldings and pay special attention to indents, particularly in case of carbon frames.


You may perform basic assessment of front and rear damper in the MTB bike by yourself, but in case of any doubts we recommend a visit to bike service center. Take a close look at the shins — if any part of their surface is uneven, this indicates owner’s negligence and can have negative impact on the performance of dampers. Check the condition of dust seals — degree of their wear will tell you a lot about the intensity of damper usage. You can check if front dumper is running smoothly by clamping breaks and pressing front wheel to the ground. In order to check rear damper, press the seat to the ground. If you have found a seller who can document bike servicing and seal exchanges, you are very lucky.


Check, if pistons are clamping evenly. Take a ride and test how the brakes are working — if levers are running smoothly, but clamping them doesn’t have much effect, this might indicate that brakes require venting and replenishing brake fluid.

Bike Builders Used but Shiny
Bike Builders Used but Shiny


Check, if the wheel is appropriately centered by lifting the bike and spinning it. Next put your finger on the rim to feel out potential offsets — any offset of more than 5 mm will be difficult to remove. Move the wheel sideways to check its stability and detect any slacks. Check tension of spokes by pinching them in pairs. You should be alarmed by any unusual sounds of spinning wheels and cracks in the area of spoke holes.


While riding check the condition of derailleurs — shifters should run smoothly and gears should change without any resistance nor delay. Check degree of chain wear, preferably by using special measuring tool. Take a look at the gear racks on crank and cassette — you can tell they are worn out, when you see sharp teeth in shape resembling shark’s fin. It is worth remembering that signs of tear and wear show first on pulleys of derailleurs, so it will be best to start inspection from them.

Bike Builders Used but Shiny
Bike Builders Used but Shiny

Dropper seatpost

Dropper seat post is a delicate part of bikes belonging to MTB and Enduro segments. Check, if it lifts up and drops down smoothly and ensure it does not fall down under weight. Take a look at the seat post from every side to locate potential leaks.

Signs of wear are normal

Small flaws are not a reason to dismiss second-hand bike, but remember to make your final decision after some consideration, when your first emotions subside. Being too excited is no good. Note on a sheet of paper costs of exchange or repair of individual parts to see the overall real cost of the bike. A list of bike’s flaws will also be a good basis for price negotiations.

Second-hands from Bike Builders — checked bikes you can rely on

Your budget is too limited to buy a new bike and you don’t have time to spent on endless searching or don’t feel too confident in technical department? Visit Bike Builders website! In category Used but Shiny you will find carefully selected second hand MTB bikes that underwent a thorough professional servicing. Shopping with Bike Builders is easy and safe. You can see selected bike in person before you buy it, and thanks to start-up warranty you don’t have to worry about hidden flaws.