Just like kids clothes and kids shoes, children’s bicycles (at least quality kids bikes) are outgrown much sooner than their useful life is complete. 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. (It’s also the eco-friendly thing to do)!
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.
Our go-to strategy for finding used kids bikes is to figure out what size bike your child needs, have a handful of brands you’re searching for, and then search both locally and online. In this article, we’ll walk you thru each of these steps.
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 that you should measure your child to know what size bike they need AND have a good idea of what brands you are looking for.
To figure out what size bike your child needs, you’ll want to measure their inseam and their height. You can then use the chart below to get a rough estimate of the bike size you’ll be searching for. For even more help with this process, check out our guide to kids bike sizes.
We HIGHLY recommend brands like Woom, Prevelo, Guardian, and Cleary. Their bikes are lightweight, have child-appropriate geometry, and are durable (even thru multiple children). For more on these brands and others we recommend, make sure to read our guide to the best kids bike brands.
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’ve also seen good bikes at Play Again Sports. You won’t always get 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 bikes, 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. Here are a few good places to look.
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.”
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.
There are several Facebook groups dedicated specifically to finding good used kids bikes. Here are a few:
You can also come join our Rascal Rides community group. We don’t post exclusively about second hand bikes, but good deals do pop up from time to time, and you’ll get to join in on the rest of the good stuff happening in the group.
Pinkbike is the world’s biggest mountain bike community and one of the best places to find used mountain bikes–including used KIDS mountain bikes. You won’t always find a good deal, but with a little patience, something’s sure to pop up.
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.
Go For A Test Ride Before Buying
If possible, arrange a test ride for your child before finalizing the purchase. (Obviously, you’ll have to skip this step if you’re buying from somebody out of town).
A test ride can help ensure the bike is a good fit for the child’s size and riding ability, and it’s also an opportunity to check for any issues not immediately apparent during a visual inspection. Ask to take the bike for a lap around the block, and it will give you some time to evaluate the bike without the seller standing over your shoulder.
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-sell 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-sell 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.
More Tips On Finding A Good Bike For Your Child
- 3 Tips To Help You Pick The Right Size Bike For Your Child
- Best Kids Bikes: How To Choose, Reviews, & More!
The Rascals are a family of three. Kristen (mom), Blair (dad), and Parker (kiddo). We started Rascal Rides when Parker was born and we didn’t want to give up our passion for biking. As we learned, we shared. Over the years, we’ve tested hundreds of kids bikes, helmets, bike trailers, and more.
Kristen is a USA Cycling certified coach and loves to share her passion for biking with other families. Blair is a bike geek, mechanic, and mountain bike junkie. Parker is our resident tester and inspiration.
If you see us out on the trail, make sure to say hi!