Buying and Renting Bikes
New Bikes, Used Bikes, Rental Bikes…Oh My!
As we’ve entered the modern bicycle boom it’s a good idea to consider some of your options.
Buying New or Used?
Buying used bikes is a great way to give an old bike some new life and certainly more environmentally friendly. However, particularly if you don’t find yourself comfortable with assessing the quality of a used bike, buying a new bike gives you a lot that buying used doesn’t. Just about any bike shop or even department store will offer some kind of warranty. This protects you should you experience a defect soon after purchase and may enable you to get the bike repaired for free, exchanged or returned for full purchase price. Many local bicycle shops also offer a great deal (or even complimentary) on adjustments of cables and components after a few months of riding or discounts on accessories at the time of purchase.
What if I want to buy a new bike?
Chances are there’s a great Local Bike Shop (LBS) near you! Minnesota bike shops are amazing resources for learning about area trails, cycling clubs, products, races, rides and more! Buying a bike locally helps your hyperlocal economy and gives you the piece of mind that your purchase will be protected by warranty or be able to be serviced by knowledgeable folks you purchased your bike from directly. Direct online sales are certainly a possibility too, especially if you don’t live near a bike shop. Make sure you size a bike carefully if you can’t test ride it first, consider having it assembled by a knowledgeable bike mechanic, and inspect the shipping package very carefully for any damages that may have occurred in transit.
Where to buy a used bike?
Answering one of the most common questions we get asked
Some towns already have a local community of bicyclists who host annual swap meets or allow buying and selling of bicycle related items on their website forum or social media groups. Some bike shops also sell used bikes that they’ve given a careful inspection of before placing on their sales floors. These are both great options since there’s more accountability during the purchase process and you might even find new riding buddies!
Facebook Marketplace, Online Classifieds, etc
If you’re a Facebook user, one group to check out is Twin Cities Bicycle Trading Post. Don’t let the “Twin Cities” part of the name scare you off if you live outside the metro area. This page sees buyers and sellers from all over the state and has nearly 40,000 members! For Women/Trans/Femme/Non-Binary bicyclists a great facebook group worth checking out is Twin Cities Bicycle WTFNB Trading Post.
Additionally, craigslist.org, ebay.com, and even your local Nextdoor.com may all be decent places to shop for a used bicycle.
Buyer (and sellers) Beware!
Unfortunately, as with the purchase of anything online from a private seller there are some considerations you should take into account before you hand anyone your cash or submit that Venmo payment.
Be wary of any too-good-to-be-true “deal”
If a bicycle’s listed price raises an eyebrow there’s always a chance it has been stolen. High end bikes with vague descriptions, no sizing info, or “must sell ASAP” can be hints that a stolen bicycle is being attempted to be sold. A quick search through bikeindex.org or Facebook group Twin Cities Stolen Bikes is a good starting point if something seems off.
Meet in a visible public location
Meeting up with strangers in a parking lot has inherent risks but some can be mitigated by picking a safe meet up location.
Inspect the bike carefully
Look for any rust, cracks, heavily worn parts etc. and make sure it matches the sellers original description.
Take a test ride
Seller’s may reasonably request you leave them some collateral (your cell phone, or something else to protect them from you riding their bike off into the sunset) before you take their bike for a spin. It’s a good idea to make sure everything seems to be functioning as it should or as the seller described originally. Some good questions to ask yourself on your test ride:
- Does it shift to all gears?
- Is the chain, or any other part of the bike rusty or making noises?
- Can you adjust the seatpost or is it rusted into the frame?
- Are the wheels spinning freely or are there major wobbles?
- Do the brakes work well?
- Does the bike seem to fit you correctly?
- If it’s a mountain bike, does the suspension system appear to be functioning correctly?
Consider using a “Bill of Sale” with your purchase
This is at least some paper trail of who is selling/buying the bike should anything come up in the future in the future.
Used Bike Buying Bottom Line
Yes, buying used bikes is a great way to give an old bike some new life and certainly more environmentally friendly. However, particularly if you don’t find yourself comfortable with assessing the quality of a used bike, buying a new bike gives you a lot that buying used doesn’t. Just about any bike shop or even department store will offer some kind of warranty. This protects you should you experience a defect soon after purchase and may enable you to get the bike repaired for free, exchanged or returned for full purchase price. Many bicycle shops also offer a great deal (or even complimentary) on adjustments of cables and components after a few months of riding. Additionally many shops offer great accessory deals at the time of purchase for items you may want anyway like water bottle cages, helmets or lights. Finally, we have a LOT of great bike shops in our state working hard to keep us all rolling and they’d love to have your business.
Additional used bike resources:
- The Complete Guide to Buying a Used Bike – BikeRadar
- Buying a Used Touring Bike – Adventure Cycling
- How to Buy a Used Bike – Bicycling.com
- Tips for Buying a Used Bike – Cycling Weekly
What about renting a bike?
If you have a friend in town who is looking to rent a bike to ride with you we definitely recommend you check with your local bike shop (Capital Deals – Saint Paul, Tonka Cycle & Ski – Hopkins, Angry Catfish – Minneapolis, Tangletown Bike Shop – Minneapolis, Spokengear – Two Harbors, etc) to see if they offer bike rentals as well. Just like when looking over a used bike for sale, make sure you inspect a bicycle carefully that you’re going to rent so that if there’s any noticeable damage you aren’t held responsible for it when you return it. Or ask around between family, friends and neighbors and see if someone has a bike they can lend!
A great online resource for bike rental is spinlister.com. This site shows many of the local bike shops that rent out bikes as well as private individuals who have listed bikes for rent. Just a quick browsing of their map you’ll see there are bikes for rent in Ely, Moorhead, Duluth, Fergus Falls, the Twin Cities and more!
If you’re looking to go on a short cruise in Minneapolis you can hop on a Nice Ride bicycle to cruise around. They even have e-bikes and e-scooters now! They have both member and non-member subscription plans and charge by the minute. A great option if you want to ride around the lakes, to get to the lightrail, to a concert, sporting event or just for fun!