If you’re looking to acquire a bicycle (or a few of them!) to finally work on that new year resolution to get fit (albeit almost a year too late!), or for an easier ride to work on your own time, or any reason at all, there are a number of things you should consider before taking the plunge and investing.
First, do you really need a brand new one, or will a used bike do? Honestly it’s a personal choice, budget being an obvious consideration, but if it’s a used bicycle you are looking for, then read on.
Second, you need to be sure the bicycle fits your purpose. If all you want to do is cruise the boardwalks in your neighbourhood or the beautiful parks of ECP and Bedok Reservoir, you don’t need to be too fussed about which model to pick. Gears or no gears won’t make much of a difference when you are biking around in a leisurely fashion. If you want to get seriously active and bike to the top of Mount Faber, you’re going to need a mountain bike with a variety of gears and thick tyres.
Once you’ve decided what kind of bike you need to get around, there are a number of things to watch out for. Here is a list to help you make the right decision. Nothing here is overly complicated or tough to imagine, but equally it lists some of the obvious points people tend to overlook.
Looks can often be deceiving as you will well know; just because a bike looks top-notch in a picture, it may not be the case in reality. One of the most important things you’ll need to pay attention to are the tyres. Give them a squeeze and make sure that they are well inflated and hardly give way. A good way to test the condition of your tyres is by picking up the front wheel of the bike using the handle bars and pressing it down on the ground. This way you can get a feel of your wheel’s strength. You will also have to check the sidewalls, to make sure they are not cracked or rubbed completely bald. Replacing the tubes and tyres isn’t super expensive, but if you’re going to buy a bike, you might as well find one that is in good shape and won’t incur any extra costs.
Usually you will be able to spot any damage on the bicycle’s frame pretty easily, but sometimes dents are so subtle it takes a proper inspection to find them. On an aesthetic level, a few bumps and dents may not bother you too much – hey, they might even add a little character. However, these small details can be a safety hazard. A crooked or loose-fitting handle bar for example, can cause serious accidents. Make sure you take the bike out on a test spin; move the handle bars around and check the chain connection before purchasing a used bike.
The most important feature of any vehicle are, of course, the brakes. Take your time with inspecting the cables. Make sure that the cables are in top condition and slide back into position easily when you pull the brake levers. Should they be squeaky, it can be a sign of rust which can be fixed using an oil-free cleaner and an old rag. If worst comes to worst, you can always buy new brake pads; they aren’t too expensive and if you are at all handy, you can apply them yourself.
Is it stolen?
The last thing you want is a stolen bike and unfortunately, there are a lot out there. If you are looking at local ads on the internet, make sure that the pictures are original and not stock photos. If the previous owner was really as enthusiastic about the bike as claimed, surely there must be real pictures! If the appearance of the bike seems to have been altered with a fresh lick of paint or by exchanging parts, this should set off big pink and yellow warning signs in your head! Needless to say, you shouldn’t even consider bikes for sale from someone on the street.
With these things in mind you can rest assured that you will make a good purchase and can go on singing Queen’s Bicycle Race whilst happily peddling away!
Roxanne is a German/British Journalist/Author based in Spain who shares our passion for all things old and quirky.