Check overall condition
If you are looking at a used e-bike or pedelec, although both terms are now used in street sales for the same thing – you should first look at the overall condition. It says a lot about how the electric bike was treated and cared for and whether it had to endure a major accident or fall. Rusty spots, rough scratches, stubborn dirt or flat tires should tempt you to take a closer look, because they point to a somewhat neglected or at least very hard used bicycle, which can possibly entail some additional repair costs.
Check battery capacity and age
You should know this from batteries in general: over time lose capacity, drain more quickly, and thus must be charged more frequently. This is no different with a used e-bike battery. Modern e-bike batteries can withstand 600-700 full charge cycles, which means that lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries can be charged from 0 to 100 percent without worry. If you charge your battery only halfway, this will only count as half a cycle.
As a rule of thumb, you can keep in mind that an e-bike battery must be replaced every five to six years. So if you’re thinking about buying an e-bike that’s five years old but still has the first battery, you should check how expensive a new battery is and keep that in mind during price negotiations.
Batteries don’t last forever, even on e-bikes / © NextPit
Mileage vs. age
Most e-bikes have a built-in speedometer, which gives information about how many kilometers the electric bicycle has under its belt. This is important for the overall condition of the bike and should be reflected in the purchase price. The mileage is to be considered together with the age of the bicycle. Don’t let yourself be discouraged from buying an older e-bike per se – if it has only been ridden a few kilometres by comparison. This is the same logic that goes into buying a car, when it’s sensible to consider age and milage together to evaluate how ‘used’ it is.
Wear, parts and service
A bicycle has some parts that are subject to wear and tear that can be quite a money sink when they need to be replaced. Therefore you should check the brakes, tyres, chain, sprocket and chainring for their condition and, if necessary, have invoices presented to you which tell you when these things were last changed.
Expensive e-bikes and pedelecs, in particular, are often serviced and tracked with a logbook, just like cars. When buying a used e-bike, explicitly ask if the seller does not provide this information. An electric bicycle that has been checked and serviced regularly and expertly reduces the chances of getting caught out when buying used.
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Demand a test drive
This point should be self-explanatory. Don’t buy a used bike without a test drive! You will not only notice whether the frame size and geometry are suitable for you, but also how the components interact. Does something clatter, rattle or drag? Do the brakes work properly? Does the frame make a robust impression? Is the suspension extremely stiff or soft? You can only find out all these things if you ride the bike yourself. If possible, take the test drive on different surfaces, at least asphalt and cobblestone or unpaved road, and with a gradient or slope. It may take a quarter of an hour. If the seller is concerned that you are leaving with the bike, agree on a deposit that they can hang onto.
AndroidPIT VanMoof S2 David 3
Only a test ride will show whether the bike suits you / © NextPit
Purchase contract for private purchase
Bicycles are often bought and sold second-hand, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, as a buyer, you should insist on proof of ownership, i.e. you should want to see a proof of purchase of the e-bike before you buy it. In order to protect both you and the seller, it is advisable to draw up a short purchase contract and confirm the payment of the purchase price mutually. The Legal Templates website has a suitable sample purchase contract which you can create and download:
Legal Templates Agreement of Purchase example contract
- e bike
- United States