Buying a used e-bike online is an excellent way to get a piece of the electric bike experience without draining your bank account.
Thanks to a recent surge in e-biking, there are more electric bikes out in the world than ever before, which also means there are more used e-bikes out there to buy. Even better, when you buy a used e-bike online, you can expand your options beyond your physical shopping radius.
Get what you want in an e-bike for a reasonable price – that’s your main goal. But achieving that goal requires some knowledge to support your choice. Knowing what to look for in an electric bike or how to spot scams are helpful bits of info for sure, let’s get you fully charged up with all you need to know for buying a used electric bike online.
|Through these tips you'll learn how to:
Determine your requirements for an e-bike: Conditions, watts, range, battery
Ask yourself if you should buy a new or used e-bike?
Get a good price
What are your requirements for an e-bike
E-bikes have literally mobilized entire populations, which is great for you because now there are more styles of e-bikes than ever before to keep up with diverse consumer demands.
You’ve got choices but it’s vital to know what your requirements are. Maybe first you want to know what an e-bike is. Then you’ll want to ask yourself, “Do I want an e-bike for commuting, mountain biking, hauling cargo, touring, or road riding?
Once you have your answer, you can explore your options.
Types of e-bikes
Good for getting from A to B and sturdy enough for hauling heavy loads.
Hardtail, full-suspension, downhill, and even fat e-mtb’s usually have beefy mid-drive motors integrated into the frame for better balance, traction, and load distribution.
Designed to haul large and/or heavy cargo (like groceries, furniture, and even people), these e-bikes usually have powerful motors and either front or rear-mounted cargo compartments.
These e-bikes electrify a “go anywhere” attitude and are just as much at home off-road as on asphalt, either loaded up with gear or liberated from luggage-hauling duty.
With its integrated motor and battery practically hidden inside the frame, e-bikes for road look nearly identical to traditional road bikes…only they’re faster.
How to check the condition of an e-bike
There are a few advantages to evaluating an e-bike as opposed to a traditional bike. For starters, the odometer will tell you how far the bike has been ridden, which is data a traditional bike just doesn’t have.
Most every e-bike comes with a two-year warranty that includes the motor, battery, and all the components so be sure and check if the bike is still under warranty from the manufacturer. What’s more, many e-bikes have companion apps that warn the user when service is needed, so it’s possible that an e-bike is better maintained than a traditional bike.
If the seller hasn’t provided images, ask for closeups of the motor, chain, chainrings, cogs, tires, and seatstays. What you’re looking for is wear and tear like rust, worn cog and chainring teeth, nicks and possible fractures to the frame, and dirt. If there’s evidence of poor maintenance, take notes because they’ll help when negotiating the price.
What you need to know about watts, range, and batteries
Power, distance, and energy – which are the rider’s responsibility on traditional bikes – are mostly the e-bike’s responsibility, which is why it’s key to know about watts, range, and batteries.
Watts are the measure of power that the motor can output. Most e-bikes range from 250 to 1000 watts. The more watts, the faster the bike can accelerate or the heavier the load it can carry. Range is the theoretical distance (in miles or kilometers) that an e-bike can travel on a full charge.
Of course, range is affected by how much power the e-bike is using (an e-bike using its full power will have less range than an e-bike used at a lower power setting).
The battery is an e-bike’s most expensive electrical component. It’s crucial to find out the battery’s age and capacity from the owner because batteries deteriorate over time and can cost from $500 on up to replace. Generally speaking, a battery should be replaced around five years so if you need to replace the battery shortly after you purchase the bike, figure that into your price negotiation. If this seems like more hassle than you want, ask yourself…
Should you buy a new or used e-bike?
New e-bikes can cost between $5000 and $15,000 (and more), which is an answer by itself if you have a limited budget for an e-bike.
A used e-bike can go for under $3000, which makes it pretty attractive – especially if the e-bike is in good condition. Of course, there’s more to buying an e-bike than just price.
Here are some pros and cons to buying a new or used electric bike.
Pros to buying a new electric bike
Cons to buying a new electric bike
- Has never been ridden before
- Usually comes with a 2-year warranty
- Get exactly the brand and model you want
- Guaranteed new battery
- Government may subsidize purchase
- Expensive initial investment
- Contributes to environmental impact
- Depreciation starts immediately
- May be subject to higher insurances rates and/or taxes
Pros to buying a used electric bike
Cons to buying a used electric bike
- Usually a cheaper option
- May still have some warranty left
- Pay less in taxes and insurance
- Has a lower environmental impact
- Will likely have a shorter lifespan
- May be out of warranty
- Limited to what’s in the used bike market
Both new and used e-bikes should ultimately meet your requirements – there are just different factors to consider during the buying process.
Choosing to buy an electric bike online isn’t without its challenges but neither is buying a bike in person. Shady sellers are as real as they are virtual so let’s get into how to spot a shady deal.
How to avoid scams
Despite safeguards in place to prevent cybercriminals from separating you from your money, necessity is the mother of invention and thieves are coming up with creative new scams all the time. To avoid getting scammed, take these actions to protect yourself:
Shop with trusted sites
Fake online stores often pop up around shopping holidays (i.e. Black Friday) or trends (whatever’s new from Apple) to take advantage of eager shoppers.
Google the seller to check reviews; navigate directly to the online marketplace using a web browser (don’t click on emailed or messaged links); and check the seller’s social media channels for comments and reviews.
Make sure your payment is secure
If the website URL doesn’t begin with “https” and have a closed padlock icon in the address field, move on. Your data may be vulnerable to interception and could end up in the hands of thieves.
Only make purchases through the online marketplace
If you’ve already gone through the payment process only to have the seller cancel the sale and request direct payment, it’s a scam. Report the seller.
Don’t get caught by phishing
The message changes but the game is the same. Avoid clicking on links sent via SMS for deals that seem too-good-to-be-true because they probably are.
Resist shopping on public Wi-Fi
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks (airports, hotel lobbies, shopping malls etc.) are great hunting grounds for cybercriminals who like to intercept your activities here. Never shop or bank online using public Wi-Fi.
Update yourself on the latest scams through official websites that track cybercrime. For instance, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre lets you search for scams by alphabetical order, by medium, or by target. Search for your government’s resource with the terms “scam watch” or “anti-fraud.”
Now that you’re armed with information about buying an electric bike, you’re ready to buy an e-bike.
How to get a better price
Whether buying your used e-bike from an individual or an online store, don’t be afraid to bargain for a better price. There’s an art to bargaining and it starts with having nothing to lose by asking. Start by asking the seller if that’s the best price he/she can do (you’ll find that there’s often room for a little price haggling).
Next put your negotiating skills to work by asking for a price that’s lower than what you’re willing to pay. This should set you up for a little back and forth price negotiation. Remember those notes you took about the bike’s condition? Now would be the time to reference them to leverage your bargaining position (be nice though!).
If the seller is unwilling to move on the price, feel free to accept the deal (if it’s within your budget) or keep shopping.
Stick to what you want from buying an E-bike
Buying a used e-bike online may be a significant investment but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Don’t forget why you’re shopping for an e-bike in the first place (you want to spend less time in traffic; there are far more adventures to be had on an electric bike; an e-bike is simply cleaner and greener etc.). Do your research and have a little fun, believe that your perfect used e-bike is out there, now go get it!