What to look for when buying a second hand electric bike

Tips for buying second hand e-bikes

If you are tempted to get a second hand electric bike then there are a few things you should be aware of before you buy it. 

Yes, you can pay a lot less for a second hand bike but there is a reason why it is cheaper. If you are not careful your ‘bargain’ can end up being a dud and costing you a lot more money than if you’d just paid a bit more money from the outset and bought a new one.

There is no warranty on second hand electric bikes

There is no warranty with a second hand electric bike. The warranty ceases once the ebike transfers ownership from the original buyer. This means that if, for example, there is a battery failure you will need to pay the full cost for replacing it and any labour associated with diagnostics and installation.

Why is the ebike being sold?

With ebikes, be cautious that the bike is not being sold because it has a tricky electrical problem or has been in an accident. This can end up being very expensive for you to repair.

Also be cautious that the bike has not been stolen. Frame numbers and bike details for stolen bikes are kept on a register for police. If it is traced to you it will be repossessed as stolen goods and you will not get your money back.

Was it purchased from a reputable retailer?

If you can, request to see the original proof of purchase to validate that the seller is genuine and that they originally bought the electric bike from a reputable retailer. This will be important if you need to get parts for your bike further down the track.

Are replacement parts for the ebike readily available?  

The older the ebike is the harder it might be to get replacement parts, particularly the electrical parts. Also, if the ebike has a drive system that is not so widely used it may be very expensive to source parts. Check if it has a drive system that is currently sold in regular bike shops.

Has the ebike been regularly used and well maintained?

A well used ebike is not necessarily a problem bike. We have ebikes in our workshop that have over 20,000km on their odometers and they still work perfectly. Those ebikes have been regularly serviced and well maintained by their owners.

A bike that has had little use can sometimes be more problematic if it has sat there unused for long periods of time. That is generally when the most electrical and battery faults develop.

Similarly if the bike has been in an accident it can also develop major faults. Check the battery case for marks or signs of it being dropped. Check the brake levers, frame and motor casing for scratches and dents too.

Ask about the servicing history of the bike – where it is usually serviced? When was it last serviced? Has it been regularly serviced by a workshop that is experienced with ebikes?

Standard things to look out before you buy a second hand electric bike - a checklist

We strongly encourage you to inspect and ride the ebike before you buy it.

As well as the tips above, here is a checklist of things to look out for:

  • Ride the ebike up a hill – if the battery is ok it will deliver full power going uphill. If it doesn’t it could have a fault
  • Ride the bike in all power modes to make sure they work
  • Check the odometer? Do the km match the usage and condition of the bike? If not ask why not.
  • Check the battery and motor casing for evidence of being tampered with or damaged
  • Check that there are no fault lights showing
  • Listen for any knocking or friction noises beyond the normal functioning of the motor and the bike
  • Make sure that there is a charger and a key, and that they work with the bike
  • Check for the normal mechanical aspects
    • no play in the hubs, cranks, headset, handlebars etc;
    • no cracks in the frame or welds;
    • check for rust, and;
    • check for the right movement and function in things like forks, gears, brakes, chains and cables. 

Please note that this is just a guide and you should use your own judgement accordingly.

For a more expensive second hand bike such as a full suspension mountain bike with a modern drive system like Bosch or Shimano, you could also ask whether or not there is a diagnostic report available to show that the electrical drive system is in good working order.

Our top tip if you buy a second hand e-bike?

Book it in for a full service at an e-bike specialist! 

Book your ebike in here >> :)