Depending on your budget, you may be able to afford one of the cheaper ebikes on the market brand new, or if you wish for some of the more luxurious aspects of a higher priced ebike, you may want to think about buying a used ebike. This way, you get the glitz you want, for the price of a budget model. How do you know though, if a used ebike has been looked after by the previous owner?
Obviously, if you buy second-hand from a respectable ebike dealer, then you should have a warranty in case difficulties arise, but if you buy from a member of the public, then you should take more care and check out the ebike you are proposing to buy in more detail.
Buying a used ebike can save you a great deal of money, but to be sure you are buying an ebike from the legal owner, ask if you can see their receipt, or other proof of ownership – warranties or registration details, for example, if the ebike is registered. You do not want to hand over a wad of cash then have the ebike confiscated a week or two later because it had been stolen. An owner of a legally bought ebike should have no qualms about you requesting this information. If they do get evasive and can’t, or won’t, show you proof, then walk away.
The most expensive replacement part on an ebike is the battery pack. The rechargeable batteries that ebikes use, lose efficiency over time and lose capacity to hold a full charge. This will affect the range of the ebike, and the frequency you will have to recharge the battery.
If the used ebike you are proposing to buy is under two years old, then the batteries should be fine for another three or four years, if they have been looked after. Lithium-Ion batteries that most ebikes tend to use these days are generally good for up to 1000 charging cycles.
“lithium batteries: tend to become widespread and may hold up to 1000 charge cycles.” (source).
If the ebike you are looking at though is four or five years old, and possibly has a high mileage, then cost buying a replacement battery pack for that model, and factor that into the price you are willing to pay for the ebike. It is no use paying a great deal of money for an ebike, and then discover a few months later, that the batteries have failed so much that the ebike is useless.
To accurately check an ebike battery, you will need a multimeter, and know how to use it. You will also need to know the original specifications of the battery from the owner manual, or from the support page on the ebike manufacturers website. If you do not have a multimeter, or know how to use one, then take along someone who does when you go to inspect the ebike you are proposing to buy. The informative videos below will help guide you if you want to learn to do this for yourself.
Video by Crusher Bikes that explains how to use a multimeter on a battery and charger.
Video by fuzzyfriendlydoggy
Ebike Wear and Tear
A used ebike will look used. That is, it will have lost that sheen of newness from the factory, and with constant use, will have paint scratches, wear and tear on the tires, and will have suffered a few knocks and scrapes over time. An ebike that has been looked after though, will look well maintained, clean and lubricated, and have no apparent signs of rust or neglect.
Badly worn and cracked tires, rust, especially on the drive chain, deep scratches and dents, well-worn brake pads, are all indications of a lack of care. These issues should be reflected in a lower price, bearing in mind, you may have to pay out more money to bring the ebike up to standard.
If the ebike looks good though, despite its age, and the owner has service records over time since new, then those are reassuring facts that the ebike has been cared for and looked after as it should.
Despite its age, an ebike showing a high mileage may require replacement parts sooner, though again, if the owner shows receipts for any expensive replacement parts recently bought, this can be another reassuring factor that the ebike has been well looked after.
See also: Ebike Motor Choice
If the ebike you are after is from a well-known manufacturer, then you can probably be safe in assuming that any replacement parts you may need in the future will be readily available. If the brand name of the ebike you are interested in though, is some obscure manufacturer you have never heard of, it may be wise to check out their website support pages, just to reassure yourself, that replacement parts unique to this model of ebike will be available if required.
Arrange a Test Drive
You would not buy a car without taking it for a test drive. Do not buy a used ebike either, unless you can give it a test drive.
A test drive will give you an idea of the suitability of the ebike for yourself. Is it comfortable to use and control? Does it feel right? Is it fun?
Check the various levels of assistance, and try to take in a hill or two on the test drive to get an indication of the power available under stress. Does it glide up hills, or start to struggle and slow right down?
Try the brakes and gears, note how the suspension rides over bumps. Feel for any juddering, and listen for any rattles.
On a decent test drive you should come back either knowing this is the ebike you want, or this is an ebike you can’t live with.
Negotiating the Sale
If you have found the ebike you want to buy and decided on a fair price, then ensure to get a receipt of the sale from the owner. If you are buying from an ebike store, then make sure a warranty is part of the deal.
Don’t rush to buy though unless the ebike feels right to you. It may take you a bit longer to get that ebike, but you will end up with one that you want instead of one you regret buying because you bought in haste.
15 Oct 2021