Ebikes obviously cost more than normal bikes. The battery, the motor, the sensors, and the onboard screen are all elements which contribute to raising the price substantially. You may be tempted to spend less by buying an used ebike.
In general, buying second-hand items is a great way to save money and help the environment, as it substantially reduces the amount of waste. The same argument can be put forward in favour of buying an used ebike: if somebody does not need an ebike anymore, both the seller and the buyer (not to speak of the environment) have an interest in completing the transaction. However, it is necessary to pay attention to what you are buying, in order not to risk buying a poor quality ebike or an ebike which is not suited to our needs.
First of all, read our general ebike buyer’s guide, to understand which kind of ebike is more useful to you, so that you are able to proceed with a first selection among the ads that you can find online or in local newspapers. Once you have selected a few used ebikes that seem interesting, contact the seller and aks him/her a few questions:
- why is he selling the ebike? Try to understand whether he is selling it because he does not use it anymore (therefore the ebike could be in bad shape, if it has not been used for a few months) or if he’s selling it because he wants to raise some cash to buy a new kind of ebike – in this case he is probably still using the ebike regularly, and therefore keeping it in good shape.
- how long has he had the ebike? Has it been used a lot?
- In which conditions are the mechanical and – especially – the electrical parts?
- What range can the battery deliver?
Have the seller tell you the exact model name of the used ebike, so that you can compare his price to the price of a new, similar ebike; you can also do a first research on the availability of spare parts for that ebike.
Of course, the seller may not answer those questions sincerely, but by contacting him/her and asking precise questions you can already have a general idea about how realiable he is.
What to pay attention to when buying an used ebike
The next step is about going to personally see, touch and try the ebike. Do not ever buy an used ebike if you cannot check it in this way. If you can, go with a friend who knows a lot about ebikes, and try the ebike accurately: are there any strange noises? What is its performance uphill? It is also important to perform a careful visual examination of the ebike, to note the possible presence of rust or oxidized contacts, a clear sign that the ebike has been stored carelessly: if that is the case, stay away from it. Remember that, while it is fairly easy and cheap to substitute simple mechanical components, that is often not the case for electrical ones. The most important thing to pay attention to, during your tests, is the range of the battery. If it is very short, you’ll have to take into account the cost of replacing it: remember that the battery is often the single most expensive component of an ebike.
Last but not least: be careful not to buy a stolen ebike! If the price is suspiciously low, if the seller is not able to answer the questions written above, or if he cannot show you the documents proving that he has bought the ebike, there is reason enough to be suspicious. Try to search on the Internet whether somebody has put out a warning over a stolen bike which is similar to the one that you are considering buying.
If you follow the advice given above, you can choose an used ebike and be reasonably safe that it is in good conditions. If on the other hand there is something that does not convince you fully, avoid buying the ebike: it is better to spend a few dollars more, and have a new ebike, with a perfectly functioning battery, and a valid warranty.