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A Guide to Buying a Used Electric Bike

A Guide to Buying a Used Electric Bike

Electric bikes are expensive, and many of us simply cannot afford a new one. Buying a used electric bike can save you a lot of money and is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option. However, you need to be careful about certain things to make a more informed choice. For example, you need to make sure that the bike is properly stored and charged while it was in use by the previous owner. This article will guide you through the most important points to consider when buying a used electric bike.

Know your requirements for used e-bikes

The first, and perhaps most important, step in buying a used e-bike is understanding what you really need. During your search, you’ll come across hundreds of different models, making it difficult to choose the right one. That’s why it’s best to narrow down your options by asking yourself some questions, including:

How many miles per ride? More miles per charge means bigger batteries and higher prices.
What terrain do you plan to ride on most of the time? Tarmac, trails, hills, etc.
Do you need full suspension for off-road riding? Or just the front suspension; or you don’t need any suspension at all?

Do you like upright seats?
Are you looking for a hybrid bike or a stepper bike?
Do you often need to carry a lot of cargo?
Are replacement batteries for the bike you plan to buy readily available in your area?
Do you need a lot of gear to get uphill easier?

Are you looking for a direct drive or gear motor in a hub motor e-bike?
Do you just need pedal assist, or do you need the throttle as well?
Can you maintain your e-bike yourself, or do you want a professional to do it for you? More on that later.
Are you looking for a simple, economical electric bike, or want all the best of modern technology? More sophisticated technology means higher prices and can also lead to more potential problems.

What to Check When Buying a Used Electric Bike?

Battery
The battery pack is the key component that differentiates an e-bike from a regular bike, so you need to pay special attention to the age and capacity of the battery.

Note that the battery pack is the most expensive part of an e-bike, so you need to be careful when buying a used e-bike. If you can’t properly check the battery health and other components yourself, it’s best to seek professional help, or buy from a reputable seller that offers you some sort of warranty.

Rechargeable batteries lose capacity over time and eventually begin to drain very quickly. Very old bikes may have working batteries, but chances are they have reached the end of their useful life (e-bike batteries usually need to be replaced after 5 to 6 years of extensive use).

E-bike batteries may still work after 600 to 700 full charge cycles (this is the limit specified by most manufacturers), but by then they may have reached the end of their useful life. If you’ve purchased an e-bike that’s more than four years old, there’s a good chance you’ll have to replace its battery. You might consider buying these old bikes, but be sure to investigate the cost and availability of replacement battery packs first.

Keep in mind that a new battery is almost half the price of a new bike, so you need to be very careful about the health of your battery when buying a used e-bike.

How to Check for an Old Battery on an Electric Bike

An easy way to check the health of your battery is to measure the voltage (fully charged) with a multimeter. The exact number depends on the battery pack, but for reference, a new battery should give you 41.7V. As the battery ages, the voltage drops, so this should give you a general idea of the battery’s overall health.

The Overall Condition of Used Electric Bikes
While you may see some scratches on a used e-bike, keep an eye on the overall condition. Watch for signs of major falls/accidents. If the owner claims to have maintained the bike well, this should be reflected in the condition of the bike. Dent marks, deep scratches, rust spots, and flat tires are all signs of misuse and should keep you on your toes. Failure to do so could mean additional repair costs and other problems.

When buying a used e-bike, be sure to inspect all important and expensive parts, especially moving parts that are prone to wear such as tires, brakes, chains, sprockets, gears, and sprockets.

You should also ask the seller for service records/logs and invoices for service and bike shop repairs. This can help you ensure your bike has been well serviced and regularly inspected in the past, while also giving you an idea of what to expect in the future (including components and costs).

Electric bike mileage

Most e-bikes have a built-in odometer, which is the easiest way to know how much your bike is being used. Mileage should match overall condition and asking price.

On the other hand, very low mileage on older bikes is also bad news. Regular charging and discharging keep the battery pack going strong, and the battery can become useless if not used for a long time.

The best strategy is to consider both age and mileage, since people who spend thousands of dollars on an e-bike usually don’t buy it for nothing. Low-mileage used bikes aren’t always the best electric bikes. The bike might last a long time, but a battery that’s not used for a long time might not.

Availability of spare parts and services
There is a good chance that you will need spare parts at some point in the future. This is why it is highly recommended that you choose an e-bike for which you can easily find spare parts in your area. This is especially true for battery packs.

Test drive the electric bike

While a test drive of a used e-bike may not give the hobbyist the full picture, it can give you a rough idea of the geometry and size and whether it’s right for you. Switch the engine on and off a few times. Ride your bikes with varying degrees of help and see how they feel about you. Most e-bikes offer at least three levels of assistance. You should be able to clearly feel the difference as you ride.

Look for any signs of dragging, rattling, and clicking. Check the brakes, shift gears and try to feel if the suspension is very soft or stiff.

If possible, try cycling on different surfaces, including sloped ones. All of this may take some time, but it will save you from future troubles.

Request proof of ownership
There is nothing wrong with buying and selling used bikes, but sellers should be able to provide proof of ownership/purchase. It is strongly recommended that you document the transaction in the purchase contract and confirm payment in writing. All you need to do is download the template from the Internet and fill in the required information.

Where should you buy a used electric bike from?
There are many options for buying a used e-bike. You can look for it on the internet or buy it from a brick and mortar store. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Buying from a dealer is usually a safer method, but they are usually more expensive. On the other hand, buying online from strangers may be a cheaper option, but there are a lot of things you have to think carefully about, which can be a problem if you’re a newbie.

Other resources

There are many useful resources on the internet, including videos, reviews, and detailed guides for choosing the right bike. Our book on how to buy the best e-bike is designed to make it easier for beginners who want to buy a used e-bike but feel overwhelmed by the options available to them. It also includes detailed reviews of some of the best e-bikes that might already include the bikes you’ve got your eye on.

Tips for Maintaining Your Electric Bike

Avoid using a steam cleaner/high pressure water to wash your e-bike; water may get into the motor bearings, rear frame or hub.
Use bike shampoos that won’t corrode seals and plastics from specialty stores.

Clean your bike when necessary, even after every trip, to prevent dust buildup.

Avoid contaminating the brake disc when lubricating the chain. Spray lubricating oil while the chain is running, wipe off excess lubricating oil with a soft cloth
Before winter storage, lightly lubricate and clean the bike and treat the aluminum parts with appropriate care products.

After charging the battery to 40-60%, store it in a cool, dry place. Make sure to check the charge level from time to time and recharge it to 40-60% when it reaches 20%.

If you can, buy a programmable timer so the battery can be charged for about 30 minutes per week. This will keep the battery in good condition if you forget to check it.

Charge the battery to 85% and try not to let it go below 30% to maximize battery life
Avoid pushing the bike to the limit all the time, use acceleration mode only when needed
Avoid parking your e-bike in the sun or in very hot and humid places
If you have paddle assist, use it whenever possible.

In conclusion

When buying a used e-bike, the battery pack is the most important component to check. That’s because replacing it costs almost half the cost of a new e-bike. If you don’t know how an e-bike works to properly check it yourself, it’s best to seek professional help. Alternatively, buy from a source that provides you with warranty and/or after-sales service.

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