When I was recently looking to get a new electric bike I considered getting a used one due to their much lower price. There are a number of important things to look for when getting a used e-bike that I will detail in this post.
So, what to consider when getting an electric bike? The most important thing is to ensure that the battery is in good condition. Ideally, you would be able to find out the range that it currently has. You’ll also want to check that there are no loose bolts, the brakes are in good condition and that there is no rust on the chain.
There are actually a lot of things to look for when getting a used e-bike and just because the bike might look good it might not be a good buy.
What to Look For When Buying a Used E-Bike
When buying a used electric bike, the first thing that you are going to want to do is to consider the type of electric bike that you should get. I have written in-depth about how to choose an electric bike in the past but I will mention the main parts below.
- Pedal or throttle assist?
There are two main types of electric bike that you can get and they are pedal assist and throttle assist. Pedal assist electric bikes work by giving you assistance as you pedal and throttle assist electric bikes work by turning one of the wheels when you twist the throttle. The right one for you will depend on your needs. If you’re looking to get fitter then pedal assist is for you. If you just want to be able to get to work without being hot and sweaty then you’ll probably prefer throttle assist.
- Motor placement
You’ll also need to consider where you want the motor to be. The motors on electric bikes can be on the front, middle or rear of the bike. Front motor hubs are normally cheaper but give a less enjoyable riding experience, rear hubs are ideal for throttle e-bikes and mid-drive hubs are best for pedal assist e-bikes.
If you decide to get a rear or front motor hub then be aware there are two different types that you can get, geared or direct drive. Geared hubs are louder but they are more efficient especially at lower speeds. Direct drive hubs are very quiet but they are not as good at lower speeds and they can’t be freewheeled.
- Motor power
The power of the motor will affect how quickly you can get up to speed and the range of your battery. If you live in a hilly area and don’t expect to be traveling long distances then get a motor with more power. If you need more range then get one with less power.
- Storage space
If you do not have a lot of space available to store the bike then you might want to get one that can be folded.
- Intended use
If you think that you might be using it on and off-road then you should look at getting a mountain e-bike since they can cope with both. If you just want to use it on the road to commute to work then get a commuter e-bike.
- Intended range
When getting a used e-bike it can be very hard to tell what the actual range of the battery is. But it will be important that the e-bike will be able to take you on your intended journeys. You can figure out what the range of the bike might be by finding out what the range was when the bike was new and then finding out how much the e-bike has been used since then. You could also take the e-bike out for a test run.
The amount of weight that you will be placing on the bike is also a consideration to make. Electric bikes have weight limits and it’s important to know that the bike will be able to handle the weight that you will be putting on it. You’ll also want to consider the weight of the bike itself. If you plan on carrying it up stairs then you’re going to want to get one that is lighter.
The hardest part in getting a used electric bike will be to determine the condition of the battery. It is important that you figure out the range that it has since you will need to know whether or not it will last long enough for your intended use.
E-bikes have serial numbers on the headtube or on the frame on the bottom bracket. Finding this number out can help you to determine the bikes age as well as the battery. This can help to give you an idea of what the range of the battery was when it was new.
Make sure that the battery has no obvious signs of damage if it has damage then it could be a potential fire hazard. You should then ask about its age, condition and range. It can be hard to tell how far the battery will actually be able to take you so the best thing to do would be to test it out if you can. You should also make sure the owner has the key to remove the battery if there is one and that they have the charger. If they do not have those things then it could be stolen. You should also remove the battery and check for burning, dirt and corrosion on the batteries mount and on the battery itself.
You should also find out if you can replace the battery and how much it will cost. You can normally buy a battery from the manufacturer of the bike. The batteries will normally last for 500 full charging cycles before it becomes worse than 60-70% as good as it was new.
Things to Look at on the Bike
Since an electric bike still has all of the same parts that an ordinary bike has you’ll still want to check the same things that you would as if it were an ordinary bike.
This means that you should take measures to find out the bikes age, how far it has been ridden and how often it has been serviced.
You should also try to find out if any of the parts have been replaced. While parts having been replaced is to be expected it is important to be sure that they were replaced properly so that you will be able to rely on them.
You’ll also want to know why the bike is being sold. The seller might just not want to use the e-bike any more or the bike could be damaged and the seller is trying to pass the problem on to someone else.
Another important thing is to find out if the bike has been tampered with especially if the limiter has been removed from the bike. Not only will this void any guarantees from the manufacturer but it will also mean that the bike has been placed under more stress than it is meant to be.
- Check the frame
When you get to see the bike it will be important to check that the frame doesn’t show any signs of damage. If there are large scratch marks or the frame appears to be deformed then it could have been dropped or crashed which could mean that it won’t be functioning how it should be.
When you take the bike out for a test ride cycle through all of the gears make sure that it doesn’t skip any and that the gear changes are smooth.
- Pedal assist and motor
When testing the e-bike go through all of the pedal assist settings to make sure that they all work properly. Listen to the noise of the motor. Some sound is normal but it shouldn’t be very loud.
The brakes can wear down quickly on electric bikes but they are not too difficult to replace. You should, however, make sure that they are functioning properly.
- Wheels and tires
Make sure that the wheels spin freely and that they are not buckled since that would signal that the bike has been dropped and damaged. Make sure that there is sufficient tread on the tires.
Make sure that the suspension forks are free from corrosion and that they are not leaking. Make sure that there is no rust, scratching or any dents since they can signal that the bike has been poorly looked after.
Above all, the most important thing is to take the bike out for a test ride and to make sure that the bike is functioning properly when you are trying it out.
You should also consider getting a used e-bike from a bike shop since you might be able to get one with a return policy.
Finally, remember to try to negotiate on price even if it is a bike shop. You’ll often find that you will be able to get a lower price if you try to get one. If you think that you’re going to have to replace the battery then you can use that as an excuse to get a lower price.
How long do electric bike batteries last for? The batteries on e-bikes are normally rated to be able to last for 500 full charging cycles before becoming noticeably worse than they were new normally it’s when they have 60-70% of their original capacity.