Everything You Need to Know When Buying a Second Hand Road Bike

Woman With Bicycle

Are you in the market for a road bike? Whether you’re cycling to work, want to get involved in long-distance cycling competitions, or are just looking for a fun way to exercise outdoors, the benefits of cycling are immense. Not only does cycling offer a fantastic cardiovascular workout, but it also allows you to truly connect with the world around you. Plus, let’s not forget the savings! With petrol prices on the rise, opting for two wheels instead of four can be a real boon for your wallet. 

Continue reading to learn more about the ins and outs of buying a second hand road bike, and how to find the best road bike to suit your lifestyle.

The Essence of a Road Bike

While mountain bikes are built for rugged terrains and hybrid bikes (a combination of a road bike and a mountain bike) are the jack-of-all-trades, road bikes are the thoroughbreds of the cycling world. 

Their slim tyres, aerodynamic design, and lightweight frames make them perfect for high-speed rides on sealed roads. The right road bike can truly feel like an extension of yourself, responding to your every movement and giving you an unmatched feeling of freedom. Road biking is more than just a mode of transport—it’s a lifestyle, a passion, and for many, an obsession. 

However, brand-new road bikes can often come with a hefty price tag. This is why looking at a used bike for sale can often be the perfect alternative, giving you great value for money.

Benefits of Buying a Used Bike

One of the most obvious benefits of buying a second hand bike is the cost. You could snag one of the best second hand road bikes at a fraction of the original price, giving you the chance to experience cycling like the pros. 

But it’s not just about savings. Opting for a used road bike gives you the freedom to customise and modify it to your heart’s content. Want to change the saddle, handlebars, or add some flashy decals? The choice is yours. 

Plus, let’s not forget the environmental benefits. Choosing pre-loved over brand new reduces waste and promotes a more sustainable approach to consumerism.

The Anatomy of a Road Bike

Choosing a road bike, whether new or used, is  a very personal choice. Whether you’re looking at a high-performance road bike for competition riding, or are just searching  for a fun way to exercise outdoors, each bicycle has been engineered with purpose and precision. From the kind of material right down to the types of brakes used—each component of a road bike has an important part to play

Let’s investigate the anatomy of a road bike to get a better idea of what you should look for when buying a bike. 

Road Bike Forms

At the heart of every road bike is its frame—the skeleton that holds everything together. But not all frames are created equal. The geometry of the frame determines the bike’s handling and ride quality. There are two types of road bike frames: sport frames and race frames. 

  • Sport frames: Sport bike frames offer a more relaxed geometry. They provide an upright riding position, prioritising comfort over sheer speed. This makes them ideal for leisurely rides, long-distance touring, or anyone who prefers a more laid-back cycling experience.
  • Race frames: Race bike frames are designed for speed and performance. They typically have a more aggressive geometry, which means a lower, more aerodynamic riding position. This design is perfect for competitive cyclists who are looking to shave seconds off their time. However, this aggressive posture might be uncomfortable for casual riders or those new to the sport.

Road Bike Frame Size

The size of your road bike matters. A bike that’s too big or too small can lead to discomfort and even injury. This is why it’s essential to choose a frame size that matches your body measurements, ensuring a comfortable and efficient ride.

Let’s start at the high end of the spectrum. If you are around 190-195cm tall, with an inside leg measurement of 86-91cm, then your frame should be 62cm. On the other end of the spectrum, someone who is 155-166cm tall with an inside leg of 69-74cm, should look for a bike frame that measures around 48cm. 

Frame and Fork Materials

The materials used in crafting a road bike’s frame and fork play a pivotal role in determining its weight, strength, ride quality, and price. Each material comes with its unique set of characteristics, offering cyclists a range of options based on their preferences and budget. Let’s delve into the most common materials used in road bike construction:

  • Steel: Renowned for their durability and smooth ride quality, steel frames have a classic feel. They are often heavier than other materials but provide a comfortable and resilient ride, making them ideal for long-distance touring and rough terrains.
  • Aluminium Alloy: A popular choice for its blend of strength and lightness, aluminium alloy frames are typically stiffer than steel. This results in a more responsive ride, especially during accelerations. They’re also corrosion-resistant and generally more affordable than carbon fibre or titanium frames.
  • Titanium: Combining the best of steel and aluminium, titanium frames offer a smooth ride with a lightweight profile. They are incredibly durable, resistant to corrosion, and have a natural flex that absorbs road vibrations, ensuring a plush ride.
  • Carbon Fibre: The go-to for high-performance bikes, carbon fibre frames are both lightweight and stiff. They can be moulded into aerodynamic shapes and offer excellent vibration damping. However, they tend to be on the pricier side and require careful handling to avoid damage.

Components and Groupsets

The heart of any road bike lies in its components, often referred to as the ‘groupset’. These are the moving parts of the bike: the gears, brakes, chain, and more. If you’re searching for second hand road bikes for sale, you’ll notice that there are three major players that dominate the scene: Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo. Each of these brands has its own hierarchy of groupsets, from entry-level to professional-grade. Your lifestyle and needs will determine which groupset best suits you. 


Wheels play a pivotal role in determining your bike’s responsiveness, acceleration, and overall ride feel. 

The weight, rim depth, and material of the wheel can significantly influence a bike’s performance. Lighter wheels offer quicker acceleration and make climbing easier, while deeper rims can provide aerodynamic advantages, cutting through the air more efficiently. However, it’s essential to strike a balance, as deeper rims might be affected more by crosswinds. When considering buying a second hand bikes for sale, it’s worth noting the condition and brand of the wheels, as they can be a key indicator of the bike’s previous usage and potential future performance.


When it comes to road biking, ensuring you have reliable brakes is paramount. Brakes are the unsung heroes of the cycling world, providing riders with the confidence to tackle descents and navigate through traffic. These are some of the types available on bikes and all of them serve a very specific purpose.

  • Calliper Brake: These breaks operate by clamping down on the bike’s metal rim. Sleek, dependable, and straightforward, calliper brakes are the standard on most road bikes.
  • Cantilever Brakes: These brakes are primarily found on cyclo-cross bikes, which are designed for racing across light off-road terrains. They are robust yet non-aerodynamic. To mount these brakes on a road-style bicycle, a special fork is necessary.
  • V-Brakes: Also known as “linear-pull” or “direct-pull” brakes, V-Brakes are very powerful. They’re most commonly seen on mountain and off-road bikes. Their strength lies in their ability to slow or even stop a wet or muddy wheel, making them perfect for off-road conditions. However, they are slightly heavier than either cantilever or caliper brakes.
  • Disc Brakes: These are the heavyweights in the braking world. More powerful than V-brakes, disc brakes operate not by clamping the rim but by applying force to a hub-fixed “rotor”. They come in two styles: Hydraulic and Mechanical cable-pull. Disc brakes are ideal for fast descents on off-road trails, handling high heat without damaging the tyre.

Pedals and Personalisation

When searching for a bike, you’ll probably notice that many road bikes are missing one critical feature: the pedals. Whether new or used, many road bikes are sold without pedals. The reason for this is that pedals tend to be a very personal choice for riders, especially road bike riders. The type of pedal you invest in is usually dependent on the type of shoes you wear and the kind of riding you do. 

Believe it or not, the right combination of pedals and shoes can significantly enhance your riding experience, offering better power transfer and more efficient pedaling. 

Inspecting a Second Hand Road Bike in 10 Steps

crossing road with bike

Purchasing a second hand road bike can be a fantastic way to get a quality ride without breaking the bank. However, it’s essential to ensure you’re getting a bike that’s in good condition and worth the investment. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you inspect a used road bike thoroughly:

  1. Frame Inspection: Begin with a visual inspection of the entire frame. Look for any cracks, dents, or signs of rust. Pay special attention to the areas around the joints and welds. A small crack can lead to significant problems down the road.
  2. Check the Wheels: Spin the wheels to ensure they rotate smoothly without wobbling. Check the rims for any dents or cracks. Ensure the spokes are intact and evenly tensioned.
  3. Brake Inspection: Test the brakes by squeezing the levers. They should feel firm and responsive. Look at the brake pads for wear; they should have an even amount of material left.
  4. Gear Shifting: Shift through all the gears while turning the pedals. Transitions should be smooth, and the chain shouldn’t jump off or get stuck.
  5. Inspect the Chain: A well-maintained chain is essential for smooth operation. It shouldn’t be rusty or overly dirty. Stretching can be a sign of wear, so consider replacing a chain that’s too elongated.
  6. Examine the Pedals and Cranks: Ensure the pedals spin freely without any grinding. The cranks should be firm and not wobble from side to side.
  7. Saddle and Post: Check the saddle for any tears or excessive wear. The seat post should adjust smoothly without any signs of rust.
  8. Tire Check: Look for any cuts, bulges, or signs of wear in the tires. They should be inflated to the recommended pressure and feel firm to the touch.
  9. Test Ride: If possible, take the bike for a short ride. This will give you a feel for its performance and any potential issues not visible during a stationary inspection.
  10. Ask About Maintenance History: Inquire about the bike’s service history. Regular maintenance is a good sign and can provide insights into any past issues or replacements.

Navigating Gumtree for Your Ideal Road Bike

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect ride, Gumtree is your one-stop shop. With a vast selection of used bicycles for sale, you’re spoilt for choice. Whether you’re after a vintage classic or a modern speedster, there’s something for every cyclist. 

But with such a wide range of options, how do you narrow down your search? The answer is to start with specific keywords. If you’re after a particular brand or model, type it in to the search bar at the top of the page to narrow down your search. You can also use filters to sort by price, location, or bike size. And here’s a golden tip: set up price alerts for your dream bike, ensuring you never miss a good deal. But remember, while photos and descriptions are the best way for you to discover your ideal bike, there’s nothing like a test ride. This is the best way to ensure the bike feels right and works for you. 

If you’re after bicycle parts and accessories to complete your biking experience, then you can find those on Gumtree, too. 

What are you waiting for? Jump online and find your dream bike and accessories today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *