Used Electric Bicycles

What to consider when buying a second-hand E-MTB

Being a little strapped for cash doesn't have to stop you from buying a new E-MTB, because used bikes are a viable alternative that is a little kinder to your budget. We've compiled the most important tips and tricks to look out for when buying a second-hand bike to make sure you don't get hit with a ton of unexpected repair costs!

Whether you are buying a new or second-hand bike, there are some questions that should not go unanswered. Where will I use this bicycle? How will I use it? Finally, what is my budget? Is a hardtail or a full-suspension better? It may seem like a minefield of choices, but our Buyer's Guide in Issue 009 provides some essential advice.
However, for those who have ruled out a new model, these are the essential criteria to consider for your new, old bike:

Which second-hand bike should I buy?

Finding a killer deal online for an E-MTB is useless if the bike doesn't fit your needs or meet your requirements. First, check exactly which model is on offer and do your research-our reviews should be your first point of reference. Over the years we have tested most of the market, which we have collected on our website.

But where to start looking for the right E-MTB?

There are several ways to find a secondhand E-MTB, such as through a local dealer, friends of friends or websites like Ebay or Gumtree. But regardless of where you find the bike of your dreams, don't hand over your money until you've had a test ride and a thorough inspection.

The pre-purchase checklist

Before you go splurging on your potential new motorcycle, it is worth clarifying the following questions with the seller:

How old is the bike?

The newer the better. E-MTBs are subject to rapid technological advances, so younger bikes tend to have slightly better geometry, better components, and even a better motor. This leads us to suggest that you stay away from anything that is already more than two years old. It sounds harsh, but it will be worth it.

How many kilometers have you driven?

The more it has been ridden, the more likely it is to have worn out. It is also worth finding out what kind of terrain the cyclist has ridden; many mountain climbs and descents will have taken their toll on gears, brakes and tires. If the bicycle has been ridden hard, the brake pads should be replaced every 500 to 1,000 km and the chain every 1,500 to 2,500 km.
When was the last maintenance performed?
Any motorcycle should be serviced at least once a year. This also applies to the suspension, for which the fluid should be changed, and the brakes with DOT fluid. In addition, engine software updates are likely to have been made available and should be done by qualified dealers.

Have worn parts already been replaced?

Although it is to be expected that the transmission, brakes, and tires will wear a little, it is essential that they be replaced properly.
Besides the worn parts, has anything else been changed?
Replacing an excessive number of parts on an E-MTB could render its CE code null and void. This could create a confusing legal situation for the dealer who replaced the parts, who would be legally considered the manufacturer and thus be susceptible to legal action in the event of an accident. As the end consumer, it is important that no inappropriate components have been added to the bicycle that could impact safety.

Why is the bicycle sold?

Follow your instincts. Does the seller want to get rid of the bike because there is a defect or is there a plausible reason?

Has the bike been tuned?

Tuning the engine is illegal and voids all manufacturer's warranties and operating license. Tuning also overstresses the battery and engine, which deteriorate more rapidly than under normal use. Tuned motorcycles are to be excluded!

Your on-site checklist!

Even though the salesman has you doubled over with laughter and may become your new best friend, don't forget the importance of a test ride and a thorough bike check. We suggest printing out the following checklist and keeping it in your pocket to remind you of what matters. First impressions also matter: if the bike is still dirty and hastily thrown on the ground, chances are that the owner has been rather negligent in maintenance as well. It is also easier to spot defects on a clean bike.

The frame

The frame is what the E-MTB lives and thrives on, so be careful to spot any damage to the paintwork or welds. You can never be 100% sure with carbon frames, but the absence of visible damage is definitely a good sign. Exposure to mud, dirt, and flying debris could have caused scratches and damage, which obviously means that the bike has been used extensively off-road and therefore may show signs of wear and tear. The battery and motor cover should be firmly seated in the frame without any shaking. Visually, there should be no signs of wear. Minor scratches on the cover can be overlooked, but any warped parts or cracks in the outside of the engine or battery housing should ring a bell.
Evidence number I: Lift and gently drop the bicycle from a height of about two inches. Any noise could indicate that the battery is loose in the mount, the suspension bushings are worn, or perhaps there is just a loose screw. Whatever the problem is, try to solve it.
Evidence II: here's a simple trick: push the rear wheel to the ground and pull the bicycle by the frame. Listen to how it moves; any clicks, creaks or rattles should set off alarm bells. Check the bolts with the salesperson if anything is rattling. Then if there is still play, chances are the bearings have seen a better day or the rear shock bushings have blown.

Motor and battery

First the good news: unlike combustion engines, engines on electric bikes do not require regular maintenance (only a belt change on BROSE units after 15,000 km) because they have far fewer moving parts subject to wear and tear. However, every time you charge the battery it has an impact, however small. Take a Bosch battery as an example: after 500 charges, it has only 60-70% of its original capacity (as stated by the manufacturer). The number of charge cycles of a battery can be determined by a qualified dealer. The same dealer can also tell how far the bike has been ridden. Specialized's Mission Control app gives users the ability to check battery status on their smartphone. Ask the dealer where he stored the battery in winter. Cold temperatures cause premature aging, so the ideal scenario is a moderately warm place with about 80% remaining battery life. It is not a good sign if the bicycle and battery are left for twelve months of the year in a wooden shed.

The gears

The transmission and gears are under enormous stress on an E-MTB, so wear and tear is virtually a given. Rely on a chain wear guide, which will tell you the true condition of the chain (since actual wear is often invisible to the eye). This little tool is a true verification of how much the bicycle has been used. If the chain is really worn, you can safely predict that the chainrings and cassette will also be wearing out. During the test ride, change all the gears and make sure that the chain does not slip between the gears-this would imply serious wear.


Brakes Are the most vulnerable part of an E-MTB. A quick look at the calipers will show how much is left on the pads. The rotors show their age through discoloration and marks. Pull them a few times to see how defined their bite point is. The bike really needs a 200 mm rotor at the front, but always set aside some of your budget for an upgrade: figure 50 € for the disc plus the adapter.

The wheels

Whatever the size of the rims, there is always the risk of denting rims, play in hub bearings, loss of spoke tension, cracked hub flanges, and problems with nipples. Fortunately, these are problems that can be detected before you reach into your pockets. Check that the wheel spins properly by putting a clamp around the chainstay and observing if the contact with the rim is smooth as the wheel turns. Sometimes it is the tires that are not straight and the wheel may still be in good condition.


Tires are always somewhat worn, but it is good to check that they have sufficient tread. Both the rolling surface and the sidewalls should be checked thoroughly for tears or damage.

The suspension

The check includes several aspects: first, make sure there are no fluid leaks from the bushings during compression; then check the stanchions for scratches or dents; turn to the red extension dials and rotate them to see their effect on the rebound rate of both suspension units; and finally, assess fork sensitivity and dry feel. Don't forget to ask for the latest maintenance.

The cockpit

In the event of a fall, it is the cockpit and other contact points that suffer the most, so they are usually the strongest. Check that the bars are wide enough, at least 740 mm.

The seatpost

In this case it is good to note if it sags under load. Observe the reliability and ease with which it rises and falls. Some side play is quite common, but make sure it is not excessive. If it struggles to extend or lower, perhaps the saddle clamp is too tight. Unscrew it and use a torque wrench to tighten it properly-has this improved the dropper function?

The test ride

Any car purchase goes hand in hand with a test ride, and the same goes for an E-MTB. Take note of the riding position and check how it feels. Don't be afraid to raise or lower the seat to make it fit better. Does the frame feel like the right size? A test ride is also an opportunity to check how the engine works, change gears and test the brakes. Listen carefully to the bike's acoustics: it's good to notice noises or rattling when starting or using the suspension.