Just like kids clothes and kids shoes, children’s bicycles (at least quality kids bikes) are outgrown much sooner than their useful life is compete. A high-quality kids bicycle can be used by MANY children over MANY years before it is ready for the landfill. This is good news for parents of multiple children. Buy a good bike, and keep handing it down.
But what do you do about an oldest child or an only child? Of course, you can buy new, but if you are on a budget, the most economical option is to try to find a lightly-used, high-quality bicycle.
Unfortunately, finding a good used bike can be tricky. Many parents end up buying an expensive new bike, or a cheaper sub-par bicycle just to save time and energy. For that reason, we’ve compiled a few tips to help make the used-bike buying process easier.
Know Which Brands are Best and What Size Bike You Need
Before searching will-nilly for a used kids bike, know what you are actually looking for. This means you should measure your child to know what size bike they need AND have a good idea of what brands you are looking for.
Not sure how to do that? Study these two guides first thing:
- Guide to Buying a Quality Kids Bike: 6 Tips to Help you Chooose
- The Best Bikes for Kids: 9 Bike Brands that Deliver
Before turning to Ebay or other online classifieds, search locally. Unfortunately, the cost of shipping a kids bike is high enough that it is much cheaper to find one nearby. The easy first step is to look on Craigslist or other local classifieds. If you live in an active bicycling community, like Boulder, this might actually be a successful endeavor. Personally, I haven’t had a ton of luck with Craigslist. Here are a couple, slightly more labor-intensive places to look, but likely more productive.
Local Facebook Groups.
Here is where I’ve had the best luck in the past. Join a local mountain bike or cycling group in your area. Depending on the size of your community, there might even be a Swap and Sell type page
Local bike swaps.
Once or twice a year, bigger cities and towns will have a local bike swap. This is a great place to find a good deal on a kids bike.
I was recently at our local kids consignment shop when I saw a Cleary Gecko for sale at a great price. I don’t think its often you’ll get this lucky, but it is worth a shot.
Get involved in the local cycling community.
This might take a bit of effort, but often the best way to find a good used kids bike is via word of mouth. Hang out places where there are other cycling parents. This might be at a local pump track, BMX track, or at a local Kiddical Mass ride. Let folks know you are searching for a bike. Chances are, they have a too-small-bike just sitting in the garage.
Local bike shops.
Some bike shops accept trade-ins for kids bike, and may sell the used rides. Other shops, like Recycled Cycles in Seattle actually specialize in used bikes and bike parts.
If shopping locally fails you, head online. As research for this article, I spent some time seeing what I could come up with on Ebay. The best option, it would seem, is to search by brand name, and then filter to “used.” To speed things up for you, I’ve created some quick links to search results:
- Islabikes Ebay Search
- Woom Ebay Search
- Cleary Ebay Search
- Prevelo Ebay Search
- Early Rider Ebay Search
- Spawn Bikes Ebay Search
On the first day I searched, I came up empty handed for most of these, but found a good deal on an Islabikes Cnoc 16. A few days later, I found a Cleary Gecko. The key to finding a good deal is to search often and be patient.
Consider the condition before buying
Make sure to look over the bike (or the pictures) before buying. Check out the condition of the bike. Is the chain rusty? Are the tires bald? None of these things are game-stoppers, but make sure you consider how much the replacement and repair will cost.
All that said, the most important thing is to find a good-quality bicycle. If you find the right brand, like a Woom or an Islabike, the thing is going to last for YEARS. Worn tires, flat tires, or missing hand grips are easy and cheap things to replace. Don’t be worried about doing a little bit of repair work (or taking into to your local shop for repairs) if you find a bike with good bones.
A lot of people don’t buy a used kids bike because its not the right color. Let me break it to you: color doesn’t matter that much, especially to young kids. Below is a picture of my son rocking the hot pink. If color does matter to your child, consider adding a couple of colorful accessories. You can add a blue seat collar or green grips. Similarly, a used bike can easily feel new with a name decal, a kickstand, or a fun new bell.
Consider an up-sale program instead
Okay, this isn’t actually a way to buy a used kids bike, but if you are having difficulty finding one, consider joining an up-sale program instead. Brands like Woom and Prevelo offer programs where you can trade-in your child’s bike for the next size up once they’ve outgrown it. This is a cost-effective way to deal with fast growing kids.