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Up-cycling an old bike made new, by you!

There is no doubt about it, during the COVID pandemic worldwide there has been a huge increase in people riding bikes.

One of Australia’s largest bike retailers 99Bikes, reported figures across the country in 2020 were up were up 43% on 2019 (and a whopping 75% in Victoria alone).

Personally, it's great seeing a huge increase in people out an about, utilising the city's bike paths and getting outside.

Have you wanted to buy a new bike lately? or get your current bike serviced over this period? It's hard!

With worldwide demand, bike manufacturers are struggling to keep up with orders and retailers having empty shelves, it's hard buy something brand new. For example, I've been waiting for an order to arrive in July 2021. At time of writing, it is now mid September.

Wherever you are, in your town and city, there are 100's (probably 1000's) of unused bikes waiting to be used, with owners that could use a few bucks for you to take it off their hands.

Here are some of the benefits you can tap into:

  • Loads of bikes are hardly used i.e. are still in near new condition

  • There are some great vintage models available for something a bit different

  • You're saving a lot of money when buying something second-hand

  • You're helping someone clear space out of their apartment/garage/shed and giving them some dollars in a time of need

  • Your recycling! No boxes and no plastic waste

  • Opportunity to flex your artistic flair if you want to pimp it out.

Sourcing a Bike

Through a friend

There is a good chance you have a friend that has multiple bikes or has one they don't use. Put the call out on Facebook/Instagram to your mates and see who comes back to you.

Online - Facebook Marketplace & Gumtree

Check out Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree for 100's of bikes. Being an online noticeboard you should expect a bit of back and forth, dodgy operators and all levels of quality. Here you can negotiate on price.

For a run of the mill basic bike you shouldn't need to spend more than $200 for an adult bike.

On the street

Who knows, you might find a banged up bicycle on the street that needs some love. Not a terrible option in all honesty as it may require a few simple and cost effective parts to get it back on the road.

Assessing the bike

You have your eye on something but what does it need to keep or get it on the road?

These are some of the things you should keep your eye on when looking for a second hand bike. Keep in mind, this is very high-level information for a basic bike. If you're spending $1000's on a used road or mountain bike I suggest you look further into this.

The frame

The frame is the absolute crux of the bike. After all absolutely every other component is somehow connected to the frame so its integrity needs to be sound. Look for excess rust, cracks, dents, chips and unusual bends.

You need to avoid issues like cracks and bends above all. Chips, dents and scratches aren't deal breakers if you're getting a steal (plus there is always the opportunity to give your bike a new paint job).

The wheels

Like the frame you want to look for cracks in the wheelset and loose spokes. Next, give the wheel a spin and assess any bowing and movements i.e wobbles.

If you're bike doesn't have disc brakes (most bikes under $200 probably won't) keep an eye on the rim braking surface. If there is a concave, it is worn down - deal breaker.

The brakes

If you squeeze the brake callipers (the part that mounts to the frame and contacts the wheel) and there is resistance, or they get stuck once closed, they may need to be replaced. Check out the cables and brake pads as well - easily replaced cost effectively but worth a close inspection.


Check out any wear and tear on the tyres. Any excessive wear could simply mean a relatively cost effective set of new tyres.

Other bits - seat, grips, etc

Scope out the seat and handlebar grips for wear and tear. When buying a used bike it's often nice to get a new saddle (seat) and bar grips. A way to make the bike feel like your own, transferring to you as the new owner.

Keep in mind you will need reflectors, helmet and a bell to be compliant with Aussie laws. Grab some decent front and back lights (USB rechargeable ones a great), a pump, spare tubes, bottle cage and bottle.

Need some help fixing it up?

Your local bike shop will be able to help you fit any new components you have bought or can source and fit the parts for you. Most bike stores charge an hourly fee for general maintenance and have packages available to get the bike serviced. Have a chat to them, they are a wealth of information.

Better yet, grab some tools and check out a few Youtube tutorials to do it yourself, it's half the fun!

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