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3 great reasons you should never buy a used mountain bike

Buying a new mountain bike over a used one is a safer option

Four used mountain bikes lined up
Travis Reill / The Manual

There are a lot of different things to consider when you are considering getting a mountain bike. For many, the decision will ultimately come down to price. 

To save money, some may buy an entry-level mountain bike with cheaper components, intending to upgrade those components. Others turn to classified ads to find a good deal on a used mountain bike.

And while a used mountain bike will be cheaper than a new one, you could end up paying more in the long run. 

A mountain bike with damage to the paint

Warranties

A quality mountain bike typically isn’t cheap. Depending on the build level (how nice the components that come on the frame) you are considering, a new mountain bike can be upwards of $10,000. 

Spending several thousand dollars on a mountain bike may be hard to swallow, but fortunately, your new bike will have a warranty. Mountain bike warranties cover any manufacturer defects that result in damage to the frame. 

But, as you may have guessed, the warranty that covers a bike is, in most cases, only applicable to the original owner. That means that if you don’t have receipts showing that you purchased the mountain bike, the frame manufacturer won’t warranty damages.

This very thing happened to a friend. A few weeks after purchasing a used bike, he was mountain biking when he noticed a creak coming from the bottom bracket. He took it apart and regreased it, but the noise continued. Upon taking it apart again, he found the origin of the noise—a small crack in the frame around the bottom bracket. 

Since he wasn’t the original buyer, the manufacturer, who admitted it was a defect, couldn’t do anything for him.

A set of used carbon fiber mountain bike wheels

Safety

My friend found that this crack in the bottom bracket housing was not caused by him. He had only purchased the mountain bike a few weeks before and noticed the sound on his first ride. The damage was from the original owner, who sold him the bike.

And the original owner was likely unaware the mountain bike was damaged at all. The only way my friend found out was after he took it apart twice and carefully inspected the area. Creaks, groans, and other noises aren’t uncommon on a mountain bike.

Luckily, the damage was found before it worsened and caused a crash. There are many different working parts on a mountain bike that could all have issues. These issues may result from one mountain biking excursion but not show themselves until another. 

Simply put, when you buy a used mountain bike, you are taking a stranger’s word that the bike is “fine”—and it may not be. You could be rolling the dice.

My Specialized Stumpjumper with Forge + Bond 30AM carbon wheels

Price

There was a time when rolling the dice on a used mountain bike may have been worth it. A year-old bike in your local classifieds might save you over a thousand dollars. And, for the most part, the bike was in good working order.

Fast-forward to 2024, and that savings are pretty negligible. Let me explain.

During the pandemic, mountain biking saw a boom. People looked for an activity to get involved with, and mountain biking seemed like a great option. Demand for mountain bikes went through the roof, so much so that manufacturers couldn’t keep up. 

With high demand, mountain bike manufacturers continued to pump out supply, trying to hit the numbers they saw. The problem was the demand eventually went away, leaving manufacturers stuck with tons of products.

And what happens when production is high but demand drops? That product goes on sale. 

Right now, the mountain bike industry is offering sales like never before. We’ve seen 40% off, buy-one-get-one, and even 60% off deals on mountain bikes. This means that a brand-new mountain bike may only be a few hundred bucks more than one on the used market. 

It’s probably a good idea when considering buying a mountain bike to spend a few hundred more to get a new bike.

Preparing to wash 2 mountain bikes

Used vs. new mountain bikes

Buying a used mountain bike comes with a set of risks. While you can inspect the bike and perhaps even take it for a test ride or two, there is a chance you might miss something. And the thing that you may have missed may be the thing that causes a catastrophic crash.

That crash could result in an expensive repair/replacement of a component. Or, you could also have the police show up at your door because the mountain bike you bought was stolen.

Buying a new mountain bike doesn’t have any of those risks involved. If a part is faulty, the manufacturer’s warranty will cover you. In many cases, if you purchase from a bike shop, the shop will have an additional warranty.

But, what it comes down to most is price. You buy a used mountain bike because you can save money. 

In 2024, save your money for another week or so and buy new.

Editors' Recommendations

Travis Reill
Contributor
Hi! I'm Travis, a teacher turned stay-at-home dad turned freelance writer. Mountain biking is my passion. Fortunately, I've…
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