Are you looking to purchase a bicycle? The steep prices of new bikes can deter people from entering the world of cycling. Getting a good deal on a second-hand bike is a viable option.

There is nothing inherently negative about getting a used one. A simple tune-up can usually fix the wear and tear. The only potentially negative thing about getting a used bicycle is the chance it is stolen.

Bike theft is a big problem, especially in a big city.

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Read the Seller

Take a good account of the person that is selling you the bicycle. Is it the right size for him or her? Could it even be a possibility that this person was the previous owner?

Take note of the words the seller is using when describing different aspects of the bike. Feel free to ask very specific questions about it. If the person owned the bike, they should have no trouble answering these types of questions.

You can even do a little research beforehand to help verify if the seller knows what he or she is talking about.

Serial Number

Every bicycle has a unique serial number. To find the number you must look on the underside of the bike, underneath the pedals. The number is engraved on the bottom of the frame.

If the number has been scratched off, good chances are the bike has been stolen.

If the number has not been scratched off, be sure to write it down. There are websites with databases filled with bicycles and their serial numbers.

Run the bike’s serial number through some online databases in your country to see if the bike was ever reported stolen.

If you are in the United States, check out or

If you are in the United Kingdom, check out

Unusual Stickers

Sometimes police will engrave a police number on the cycle, to help track it if stolen. Keep an eye out for unusually placed stickers on the frame. People will use inconspicuous stickers to cover up these police numbers.

Spray Paint

Be weary of it being re-painted. People will spray paint a stolen bicycle to help conceal its identity. The paint not only hides the model and make of the bike but also the serial numbers and rust.

A good indicator that it has been spray painted is to look on the frame. If the frame looks as if it has a bumpy texture in some spots, it was probably spray painted.

Look at the areas that are difficult to spray paint. The areas in which two parts of the frame meet.

Damage from Thieves

The first step in stealing a bike is breaking the lock. Thieves are not particularly gentle when breaking locks. Sometimes they will bend the frame for leverage when cracking a lock.

When locks are broken off, it can cause damage to the frame or the spokes of the wheel. Keep an eye out for damage in these areas, as it can be an indicator that it has been stolen.


After you get the used bicycle, feel free to contact your local police department. Explain to them your situation, and have them run your serial number through their local database. It can’t hurt to see if something comes up in their records. You should also be able to register it in their database in case it gets stolen in the future.

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