When I was a kid lots of my friends had new bikes. That’s what I wanted – a shiny and bright new bike. Alas, my sister, brother and me had to make due with used bikes. Back then that was depressing. Now of course I realize that not only were used bikes cheaper but greener too.
Being that this is National Bike Month, maybe you’re considering biking more and driving less. That’s smart but if you have a big family getting everyone a bike might seem impossible. This is when going used is a great idea. However, you have to buy a good used bike. A poor quality used bike is not eco-friendly because you might just end up having to buy another. A bad bike is a total waste of money and worst of all a bad bike can be downright dangerious.
Safe used bike buying tips:
- Make sure the bike has not been recalled.
- Avoid bikes with cracked tires. New safe tires pretty much defeat the savings on a used bike. If the tires are deflated, that’s another story. Deflated tires can easily be inflated.
- If there’s rust, don’t buy the bike. Rust can mean corrosion which means an important screw could literally break off while your child is in mid-cycle (yikes).
- Fit the bike to the rider. If you’re buying used, and want to use it right away, only buy a bike that fits the person. If you find a killer deal on a child’s bike, but the bike is too big, go ahead and buy it, but wait until your child is bigger. The wrong size bike can be a major safety hazard.
- So long as the bike is rust-free, loose screws and bolts and other small parts may not be a problem. The bike might still be a good buy. A handy person or bike shop can fix loose items up fast and cheap.
- Ignore dirt. All a dirty bike needs is a little soap and water – or try a water-free wash. A dirty chain can be de-gunked with cleaners.
- Avoid a bike with bent parts. Pounding out bends, unless you’re a very handy and knowledgeable bike person, can be tough.
- A missing seat MIGHT be cost effective to replace. However, some bikes require very specific seat replacements so check around to make sure one is available before buying the bike.
*Note: Most studies note that helmets should be bought new. There hasn’t been some massive study on it, but most health and gear experts note that a used helmet may be less effective than a new one. If a helmet is cracked, you may not be able to see it, but that does make it unsafe. Plus, newer helmets meet current safety regulations, and most importantly, you want to make sure you buy the right size helmet – not all helmets note size right on them.
Bling that used bike:
If you’ve got a kid dreaming of a shiny new bike (like I used to) then a used bike can be a hard sell. Try these tips to make it easier on your kid…
Be honest – kids are smart. Most kids will realize that a used bike is better than NO bike. Talk about the family budget with your child. Discuss why it’s important for the family to save money by buying used. This is also a perfect way to bring up the “used is green” conversation.
Spare a little $ for some bling – a new bike basket, a cool horn or some fancy bike decals or stickers won’t cost much and can make an older bike feel a little more newish. A new coat of bike paint does wonders too. Sadly there aren’t many spray paint options that are also eco-friendly (here’s one kind of ok choice) BUT you buying a used bike, IMO, offsets some of the paint badness. If you need to strip old paint off of a bunch of bikes try an eco-friendly paint stripper.
UGLY your bike – oddly enough some kids might be drawn to the idea of really messing a bike up. It does sound sort of fun to trash a bike on purpose – see 10 DIY Tips for Making Your Bike the Ugliest on the Block (Camouflage Against Bike Thieves) to learn more.
- Bike safety myths and facts
- Used bike guide
- Recycle a bicycle
- AND just for fun – Bike Hacks – a super slick and awesome bike site.