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I will be buying my first road bike (after 15 years with the same mountain bike) and I have found many for sale on Kijiji. When I go look at the bikes, what should be some red flags that turn me away from them?

I have already researched brands, but are there warning signs when looking at the bikes?

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Do your best to check it isn't stolen. Ideally, before you buy, get the frame number and check with the police. But that can be difficult of course. You could also see if the seller has the original invoice / user manual. Not foolproof but it helps. –  PeteH Jul 12 '13 at 17:39
    
Possible duplicate: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/743/… –  amcnabb Jul 12 '13 at 19:00
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Don't buy a bike that's clearly been left outside most of the time (lots of corrosion, rust on the chain, etc). Don't buy a bike that has any appearance of major abuse, or with alterations (cutting/drilling) to the frame or fork. Don't buy a bike that's stolen. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 12 '13 at 19:35
    
@amcnabb Initially it does seem to be a duplicate, but this question is inverted, and specific to road bikes. I think it will yield a different flavor of answers than the other question. –  Matt Jul 13 '13 at 5:09

1 Answer 1

  1. Make sure that the frame is not compromised. Looks for cracks or big dents, or any asymmetry in the forks.
  2. Make sure that there is no rust through the paint anywhere. If there is any chrome, make sure that any rust is only on the surface.
  3. Make sure that the seatpost isn't seized. This is pretty easy as you can just loosen the seatpost bolt and give the saddle a squiggle. If it moves, you're golden.
  4. If the bike has a quill stem, make sure it isn't seized up. This requires loosening the stem bolt, and whacking it with a hammer or preferably a soft-ended mallet.
  5. Check that the bottom bracket and hubs turn smoothly. If the motion is stiff or jerky it probably means the bearings or races are shot, and that they'll need work.
  6. Ensure that the cables work. Try the brakes and try the gears.
  7. Check the braking surfaces. Most wheels will have an indicator groove along the center of the braking surface. If this looks quite worn it means that the wheel is on its last legs.
  8. Don't worry about dust. Dust is a good sign, in my opinion. It means that the bike was probably stored indoors and by an owner who didn't use it much. These are good things.
  9. Don't worry too much about brakes pads or tires. You can replace those fairly cheaply.
  10. Some old road bikes have really gummy brake hoods that can be a pain to deal with. This isn't really a deal breaker though.
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1b. Look for rippled paint on the tops of the top tube and seat tube; that's a sign that the bike has T-boned something and those two tubes (and potentially the fork) are bent. –  alxndr Jul 18 '13 at 1:38
    
11. Look for the serial number; if it's been sanded off the bottom bracket, the bike's probably stolen. –  alxndr Jul 18 '13 at 1:38
    
12. Ask the seller why the bike's for sale; sometimes the answer will give you an idea of the bike's history and how well it was taken care of. –  alxndr Jul 18 '13 at 1:42

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