The ultimate guide to buying a preowned e-bike.
Do you want to enjoy the benefits of cycling without breaking the bank or breaking a sweat? If so, consider buying a preowned electric bike (or e-bike for short). E-bikes are great for older adults because they help you stay independent and adventurous while saving money on gas and maintenance.
However, buying a new e-bike can be quite expensive, ranging from $1,000 to over $10,000. That’s why buying a preowned e-bike can be an intelligent option. You can find a quality e-bike for a fraction of the original price if you know what to look for and where to look. The effort will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.
This article will show you how to buy a preowned e-bike that suits your needs and budget. We’ll cover the following topics:
- Budget: How much should you spend on a preowned e-bike?
- Research: What are the different types and features of e-bikes?
- Sourcing: Where can you find preowned e-bikes for sale?
- Inspection: What should you check before buying a preowned e-bike?
- Test Ride: How should you test-ride a preowned e-bike?
- Negotiation: How can you get the best deal on a preowned e-bike?
- FAQ: What are some common questions and answers about preowned e-bikes?
By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information and confidence you need to buy a preowned e-bike that will make your life easier and more enjoyable.
I purchased my first used electric bike in 2009 on eBay. I bought a Montague Folding Bike with a Bionx Conversion kit. Many of these lessons I learned only after years of experience with my preowned electric bike.
The first thing you need to do before buying a preowned e-bike is to set a budget. This will help you narrow down your options and avoid overspending. Here are some factors to consider when setting your budget:
- The original price of the e-bike: The higher the original price, the more features and quality you can expect from the e-bike. However, this also means the depreciation will increase so that you can find some good bargains on high-end models.
- The age and condition of the e-bike: The older and more worn out the e-bike is, the lower the price will be. However, this also means you may need to spend more on repairs or replacements later.
- The battery life and capacity of the e-bike: The battery is the most critical and expensive component of an e-bike. It determines how far and how fast you can go on a single charge. The battery life and capacity will degrade over time and use, so you need to check how much juice is left in the battery before buying a preowned e-bike. You also need to find out how much a new battery would cost and if it is available for your model. Batteries do wear out, and you might consider purchasing a new battery to ensure you have one for the life of the electric bike.
- The accessories and upgrades of the e-bike: Some preowned e-bikes may have extra accessories or upgrades to enhance your riding experience or safety. For example, lights, fenders, racks, bags, locks, helmets, etc. These can add value to the e-bike but may also increase the price.
As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay anywhere from 30% to 70% of the original price for a preowned e-bike, depending on the factors above. For example, if an e-bike was originally $2,000 and is two years old with moderate use and good condition, you may be able to buy it for around $1,000 to $1,400.
The next thing you need to do before buying a preowned e-bike is research the different types and features of e-bikes. This will help you find an e-bike that matches your riding style and preferences. Here are some aspects to consider when researching e-bikes:
The type of e-bike:
There are many types of e-bikes available on the market, each designed for different purposes and terrains. For example:
- E-mountain bikes are rugged and powerful e-bikes that can handle off-road trails and steep hills. They usually have suspension forks, wide tires, disc brakes, and multiple gears.
- E-road bikes are sleek and fast e-bikes that can handle paved roads and long distances. They usually have drop handlebars, narrow tires, rim brakes, and fewer gears.
- E-city bikes are versatile and comfortable e-bikes that can handle urban environments and daily commutes. They usually have upright handlebars, medium tires, fenders, racks, lights, and gears. A good example is the Gazelle Medeo T9 City bike. My wife loves hers and rides it everywhere.
- E-folding bikes: These are compact and portable e-bikes that can fold up for easy storage and transport. They usually have small wheels, simple frames, and single or few gears. My first electric bike was the Montague Folding bike. Even after more than a decade, it is still a great ride.
- E-cargo bikes are heavy-duty and spacious e-bikes that can carry large loads or passengers. They usually have long frames, wide tires, powerful motors, and sturdy racks or baskets.
- E-recumbent bikes are ergonomic and relaxed e-bikes with a reclined seat and pedal in front of the rider. They usually have low frames, long wheelbases, and a variety of configurations.
The motor type and placement of the e-bike:
The motor is the heart of an e-bike. It provides electric assistance that makes pedaling easier. There are two main types of motors for e-bikes: hub motors and mid-drive motors. Hub motors are located in the center of the wheel, while mid-drive motors are located in the bottom bracket between the pedals. Each type has its pros and cons:
- Hub motors: These are simpler and cheaper to install and maintain. They also offer more options for wheel sizes and gears. However, they tend to be heavier and less efficient than mid-drive motors. They also affect the balance and handling of the e-bike, especially on rough terrain or steep hills. The Montague Folding Ebike + Bionx conversion kit was a hub motor on the front wheel a very peppy electric bike. However, it is more challenging to ride than a mid-drive motor.
- Mid-drive motors: These are more complex and expensive to install and maintain. They also limit the options for wheel sizes and gears. However, they tend to be lighter and more efficient than hub motors. They also offer better balance and handling of the e-bike, especially on rough terrain or steep hills. Mid-Drive models are better for new cyclists or people with balance issues.
The battery type and capacity of the e-bike:
The battery is the fuel tank of an e-bike. It determines how far and how fast you can go on a single charge. There are two main types of batteries for e-bikes: lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries.
- Lead-acid batteries are older and cheaper but are also heavier, bulkier, less durable, and less eco-friendly than lithium-ion batteries. I would NOT recommend buying a lead-acid battery in 2023.
- Lithium-ion batteries are newer and more expensive but are lighter, smaller, more durable, and more eco-friendly than lead-acid batteries. Make sure to choose a model with a UL-certified battery to avoid the risk of fires.
The capacity of the battery is measured in watt-hours (Wh), which is the product of the voltage (V) and the ampere-hours (Ah). For example, a 36V 10Ah battery has a capacity of 360Wh. The higher the capacity, the longer the range of the e-bike. However, the actual range will also depend on other factors such as your weight, speed, terrain, wind, temperature, etc.
The controller type and mode of the e-bike:
The controller is the brain of an e-bike. It regulates how much power is delivered from the battery to the motor based on your input. There are two main types of controllers for e-bikes: throttle controllers and pedal-assist controllers. Throttle controllers allow you to control the power by twisting or pressing a lever on the handlebar, like a motorcycle. Pedal-assist controllers allow you to control the power by pedaling harder or softer, like a regular bike. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages:
- Throttle controllers offer more convenience and flexibility for riders who want to adjust their speed without changing their pedaling effort. However, they also consume more battery power and may be illegal in some areas. Check our guide by state to see the rules in your area.
- Pedal-assist controllers offer more exercise and efficiency for riders who want to vary their pedaling effort according to speed. However, they also require more coordination and may be less responsive in some situations.
The mode of the controller refers to how many levels of assistance are available for the rider to choose from. Some e-bikes have only one mode (on or off), while others have multiple modes (low, medium, high). The more modes there are, the more customization and control there are for the rider to optimize their riding experience.
The display type and features of the e-bike:
The display is the interface of an e-bike. It shows you important information such as speed, distance, battery level, and mode. There are different types of displays for e-bikes, ranging from simple LED indicators to advanced LCD screens. Some displays are integrated into the controller, while others are separate and mounted on the handlebar. Some displays are also removable and can act as a key or a remote for the e-bike. The type and features of the display will affect the usability and functionality of the e-bike.
The third thing you need to do before buying a preowned e-bike is to source it from a reliable and reputable seller. This will help you avoid scams, frauds, or faulty products. Here are some places where you can find preowned e-bikes for sale:
Local bike shops: Many bike shops have used e-bikes for sale, either from trade-ins or rentals. This is usually the best source for preowned e-bikes, as they can offer service, warranty, and support. You can also inspect and test ride the e-bike in person before buying it. However, the selection may be limited, and the prices may be higher than other sources. This is my recommended first choice.
Online marketplaces: There are many online platforms where you can buy and sell preowned e-bikes, such as eBay, BikeExchange, Facebook Marketplace, or BicycleBlueBook. These platforms offer various options and prices for preowned e-bikes from different sellers. You can also compare and filter your search by zip code, brand, model, type, etc. However, you may be unable to inspect or test-ride the e-bike in person before buying it. You must also be careful of scams, frauds, or faulty products. Before purchasing, always check the seller’s feedback, ratings, and reviews.
Private sellers: You can also find preowned e-bikes for sale from private sellers in your area through word-of-mouth, classified ads, social media groups, etc. This can be an excellent way to find a bargain or a rare model you seek. You can also inspect and test ride the e-bike in person before buying it. However, after buying it, you may not have any service, warranty, or support. You must also be careful of scams, frauds, or faulty products. Ask for proof of ownership, receipts, manuals, etc., before purchasing.
The fourth thing you need to do before buying a preowned e-bike is to inspect it thoroughly for any signs of damage, wear, or malfunction. This will help you avoid buying a lemon or paying more than the e-bike is worth. Here are some things to check when inspecting a preowned e-bike:
The frame is the skeleton of an e-bike. It supports all the other components and determines the strength and stability of the e-bike. Carefully check the frame for any cracks, dents, bends, or rust that could compromise the integrity of the e-bike. Check the alignment and fit of the frame with the wheels, forks, and other parts. Avoid buying an e-bike with a damaged or poorly fitted frame, as it could be unsafe or costly to repair.
The motor is the heart of an e-bike. It provides electric assistance that makes pedaling easier. Check the motor for any signs of overheating, leaking, grinding, or rattling that could indicate a problem with the motor. Also check the motor’s type and placement and ensure it matches your preferences and needs. You should avoid buying an e-bike with a faulty or incompatible motor, as it could affect the performance or legality of the e-bike.
The battery is the fuel tank of an e-bike. It determines how far and how fast you can go on a single charge. Check the battery for any signs of swelling, cracking, leaking, or corrosion that could indicate a problem with the battery. Check the battery’s type and capacity and ensure it matches your expectations and requirements. It would help if you also asked for proof of purchase and warranty for the battery and how often and long it has been charged and used. Avoid buying an e-bike with a damaged or low-capacity battery, as it could limit your range or speed or require a replacement. Also, do not purchase an electric bike without a UL-certified battery.
The controller is the brain of an e-bike. It regulates how much power is delivered from the battery to the motor based on your input. Check the controller for any signs of burning, shorting, or malfunctioning that could indicate a problem with the controller. Also check the controller’s type and mode and ensure it matches your preferences and needs. Test the controller by switching between different assistance levels and ensuring they work correctly. Avoid buying an e-bike with a faulty or incompatible controller, as it could affect the usability or functionality of the e-bike.
The display is the interface of an e-bike. It shows you important information such as speed, distance, battery level, and mode. Check the display for any signs of cracking, fading, or glitching that could indicate a problem with the display. You should also check the display’s type and features and ensure they match your preferences and needs. You should also test the display by turning it on and off and making sure it shows accurate and precise information. Avoid buying an e-bike with a damaged or inadequate display, as it could affect your visibility or awareness of the e-bike.
The brakes are the safety devices of an e-bike. They allow you to stop or slow down when you need to. Check the brakes for any signs of wear, damage, or malfunction that could indicate a problem with the brakes. Also check the brakes’ type and quality and ensure they match your preferences and needs. You should also test the brakes by applying them gently and firmly, ensuring they work smoothly and effectively. Avoid buying an e-bike with faulty or poor-quality brakes, as they could compromise your safety or comfort on the e-bike.
The tires are the contact points of an e-bike. They provide traction and cushioning on different surfaces and conditions. You should check the tires for any signs of wear, damage, or puncture that could indicate a problem with the tires. Check the tires’ size and pressure and ensure they match your preferences and needs. You should also test the tires by spinning them and ensuring they roll smoothly and evenly. You should avoid buying an e-bike with worn-out or flat tires, as they could affect your stability or efficiency on the e-bike.
The gears are the transmission devices of an e-bike. They allow you to adjust your pedaling speed and effort according to your terrain and preference. Check the gears for any signs of wear, damage, or malfunction that could indicate a problem with the gears. Check the gears’ type and number and ensure they match your preferences and needs. You should also test the gears by shifting them up and down and ensuring they work smoothly and accurately. Avoid buying an e-bike with faulty or inadequate gears, as they could affect your performance or enjoyment of the e-bike.
The accessories are the optional extras of an e-bike. They can enhance your riding experience or safety on the e-bike. Some standard accessories include lights, fenders, racks, bags, locks, helmets, etc. You should check the accessories for any signs of wear, damage, or malfunction that could indicate a problem. You should also check the accessories’ type and quality and ensure they match your preferences and needs. Test all the accessories by turning them on and off and ensuring they work correctly. Avoid buying an e-bike with missing or broken accessories, as they could affect your convenience or security on the e-bike.
The fifth thing you need to do before buying a preowned e-bike is to test-ride it for at least 15 minutes on different terrains and conditions. This will help you understand how the e-bike rides and handles in real life. Here are some things to pay attention to when test-riding a preowned e-bike:
How well the e-bike fits your body and posture on the e-bike. Check the size and shape of the frame, the height, and angle of the seat and handlebar, the position and width of the pedals, etc. Also check the cushioning and suspension of the seat and fork, the grip and texture of the handlebar and saddle, the ventilation and padding of the helmet, etc. Adjust or replace any parts that are uncomfortable or unsuitable for you. You should avoid buying an e-bike that is too big or too small for you, as it could cause pain or injury on the e-bike. I would strongly recommend choosing a low step bike. These designs provide a far more comfortable experience. Low step, also called step through bicycles like the Gazelle helps you to enjoy the journey.
Stability is how well the e-bike balances and steers on different surfaces and conditions. Ride the bike to check the weight and distribution of the e-bike, the alignment, and tension of the wheels and forks, the traction and pressure of the tires, etc. Also check the responsiveness and smoothness of the brakes and gears, the power and consistency of the motor and battery, the accuracy and clarity of the display and controller, etc. You should avoid buying an e-bike that is too heavy or too light for you, as it could cause instability or difficulty on the e-bike.
Performance is how well the e-bike delivers speed and power on different terrains and preferences. Consider the speed and range of the e-bike, the level, and mode of assistance from the motor and battery, the number and quality of gears from the transmission, etc. You should also check your speed and effort on the e-bike, as well as your heart rate and breathing. You should avoid buying an e-bike that is too fast or too slow for you, as it could cause boredom or exhaustion on the e-bike.
How much fun you have on the e-bike. Check your mood and attitude on the e-bike, as well as your confidence and satisfaction. Consider your compatibility and connection with the e-bike and your curiosity and excitement. Avoid buying an e-bike you don’t like or don’t want to ride, as it could waste money or time.
The sixth thing you need to do before buying a preowned e-bike is to negotiate with the seller for a fair and reasonable price. This will help you save money and get a good deal on a preowned e-bike. Here are some tips for negotiating with a seller:
Do your homework:
Before you start negotiating, research the market value of the e-bike you are interested in. Use online platforms such as eBay, BikeExchange, or BicycleBlueBook to compare and contrast different prices and conditions of similar e-bikes. You can also use online calculators or guides to estimate the depreciation and value of the e-bike based on its age, condition, and features. Have a realistic and reasonable price range in mind before you start negotiating.
Be respectful and polite:
When you approach the seller, you should be respectful and polite. Greet them warmly and introduce yourself. Compliment them on their e-bike and express your interest in buying it. Thank them for their time and attention. You should avoid being rude or aggressive, as it could offend or intimidate the seller.
Ask questions and listen:
When you inspect and test ride the e-bike, you should ask questions and listen to the seller. Be sure to ask about the history and usage of the e-bike, such as when and where they bought it, how often and how long they used it, why they are selling it, etc. Ask about the condition and maintenance of the e-bike, such as if there are any problems or repairs, how often and how well they serviced it, what accessories or upgrades they added, etc. You should also ask for any documents or receipts that prove the ownership and warranty of the e-bike. <isten carefully to the seller’s answers and observe their body language and tone of voice. Do not interrupt or argue with the seller.
Make and justify an offer:
State it clearly and confidently when ready. You should also justify your offer by explaining how you arrived at it based on your research and inspection. You should also mention any flaws or issues you found with the e-bike that lower its value. Avoid making a lowball or unrealistic offer, as it could insult or annoy the seller.
Be flexible and willing to compromise:
When you make an offer, you should be prepared for a counteroffer from the seller. You should be flexible and willing to compromise on the price until you reach a mutually agreeable amount. Be ready to walk away if the seller is unwilling or unable to meet your expectations or needs. You should avoid being stubborn or desperate, as it could make you pay more than the e-bike is worth.
Here are some common questions and answers about preowned e-bikes:
Q: Are preowned e-bikes worth buying?
Preowned e-bikes can be worth buying if you want a budget-friendly, eco-friendly, and fun way to get around. However, it would help to be careful and diligent when buying a preowned e-bike, as risks and challenges are involved.
Q: What are the benefits of buying a preowned e-bike?
The benefits of buying a preowned e-bike include the following:
- Saving money: You can buy a quality e-bike for a fraction of the original price.
- Saving resources: You can reduce waste and emissions by reusing an existing e-bike.
- Saving time: You can skip waiting for a new e-bike to be delivered or assembled.
Q: What are the drawbacks of buying a preowned e-bike?
The drawbacks of buying a preowned e-bike include:
- Warranty: You may not have any warranty or support from the manufacturer or seller after buying a preowned e-bike.
- Quality: You may have to deal with wear and tear, damage, or malfunction of the e-bike or its components.
- Options: You may have limited choices for the brand, model, type, or features of the e-bike.
- Safety: You may have to deal with scams, frauds, or faulty products from dishonest or unreliable sellers.
Q: How can I avoid buying a stolen e-bike?
You can avoid buying a stolen e-bike by following these steps:
- Check the serial number: The serial number is a unique code identifying the e-bike. It is usually located on the bottom bracket or the head tube of the frame. You can use online databases such as Bike Index or Bike Register to check if the serial number matches the e-bike and if it has been reported as stolen. See this article for more information and how to look up a serial number to see if it was stolen.
- Check the proof of ownership: The proof of ownership is a document that shows that the seller is the legitimate owner of the e-bike. It can be a receipt, an invoice, a warranty card, a registration certificate, etc. You should ask for the original proof of ownership and verify its authenticity and validity.
- Check the seller’s identity: The seller’s identity is the personal information that shows that the seller is who they claim to be. It can be a driver’s license, a passport, a utility bill, etc. You should ask for the seller’s identity and compare it with their online profile and feedback.
Q: How can I maintain a preowned e-bike?
You can maintain a preowned e-bike by following these tips:
- Charge the battery regularly: You should charge it after every ride or at least once a week to keep it in good condition. You should also store the battery in a cool and dry place and avoid extreme temperatures or humidity.
- Clean the e-bike regularly: You should clean the e-bike after every ride or at least once a month to keep it in good shape. Use a soft cloth and mild soap to wipe down the frame, wheels, and components. You should also use a brush and degreaser to clean the chain, cassette, and derailleur. You should avoid using a hose or a pressure washer to avoid damaging the electrical parts.
- Lubricate the e-bike regularly: You should lubricate the e-bike after every cleaning or at least once every three months to keep it in good working order. Use a bike-specific lubricant to apply a thin layer on the chain, cassette, derailleur, brakes, and cables. You should avoid using too much or too little lubricant to avoid attracting dirt or causing friction.
- Check the e-bike regularly: You should check the e-bike before every ride or at least once every six months to keep it in good condition. You should check the tire pressure and tread, the brake pads and cables, the gear shifters and cables, the motor and battery, the display and controller, etc. You should also check for any loose or broken parts and fix or replace them immediately.
Q: How can I upgrade a preowned e-bike?
You can upgrade a preowned e-bike by following these steps:
- Identify your needs and goals: You should identify what you want to improve or change on your e-bike, such as speed, range, comfort, safety, etc. You should also set a budget and a timeline for your upgrade project.
- Research your options and compatibility: You should research the different options and compatibility of the parts or accessories you want to upgrade on your e-bike. It would help if you considered the parts or accessories brand, model, type, features, quality, price, availability, etc. It would be best to consider compatibility with your existing e-bike components and system.
- Buy or order your parts or accessories: You should buy or order your parts or accessories from a reliable and reputable source. You should compare and contrast different prices and conditions of the parts or accessories. You should also check the warranty and return policy of the parts or accessories.
- Install or attach your parts or accessories: You should install or attach your parts or accessories on your e-bike according to the instructions and specifications of the manufacturer or seller. You should use the appropriate tools and techniques to avoid damaging or voiding the warranty of the parts or accessories. You should also test and adjust your parts or accessories to ensure they work correctly and safely.
Buying a preowned e-bike can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for seniors who want to stay active, independent, and adventurous. However, it can also be challenging and risky, requiring careful and diligent preparation and execution. Following this guide to buying a preowned e-bike, you can buy a preowned e-bike that ensures safety, affordability, and freedom.
We hope you found this article helpful and informative. If you have any questions or comments about preowned e-bikes, please get in touch with us. We would love to hear from you.
Happy riding! 🚲
My experience with buying an e-bike on eBay in 2009 and using it for the next ten years
Conversation with Bing, 4/30/2023
(1) Electric Bikes for sale | eBay. https://www.ebay.com/b/Electric-Bikes/74469/bn_1968968.
(2) E-Bikes for Sale | BikeExchange. https://www.bikeexchange.com/s/electric-power-assisted-bikes.
(3) Used E-Bike Bikes For Sale – Marketplace – BicycleBlueBook.com. https://www.bicyclebluebook.com/marketplace/buy-now/e-bikes/.