Second-hand E-Bikes?

Sophisticated modern e-bikes need the same level of expert care as other ‘vehicles’ on the road, and should ideally have the same level of service history.

Buying e-bikes second-hand can be risky because of battery/electrical issues and potentially higher general wear and tear. 

Having said that, if you have the chance of a particularly promising used e-bike, here are some pointers:

  • Does the bike you are considering have a documented service history? Ask for a recent service report showing that the electrical drive system is in good working order – Ideally the seller will have a recent service record which will include battery condition/usage history and number of complete battery charges so far (good quality ones will do at least 500) and service receipts for electrical system service/diagnostics and history of system software updates.
  • You can also interrogate the National Cycle Database (aka Bike Register) to check if a bike you are thinking of purchasing is bona fide
  • What is the recorded mileage on the handlebar display odometer readout?

(Has the mileage counter had a reset at any point? – eg if the motor has been replaced under warranty – not uncommon.)

  • Does it match the bike’s appearance?
  • Does it have the correct (original) charger and does it work ok when connected to the battery?
  • Does the outer handlebar controller work OK, scrolling through power levels etc. 
  • Ditto the display unit.(usually separate and in the middle of the handlebars.)
  • Are there any fault codes showing in the display?
  • Does the battery take a full charge? (all lights glowing until they go off at full charge.) Is it the original battery? – If so how old is it (should be same as bike unless replaced)/how many miles has it done? (see odometer). Has it been maintained at a reasonable charge level (and not left flat for any time). Range naturally decays over time and with mileage covered, but a good quality battery should easily last 5 – 10 years+ if well looked after.

It is worth checking out replacement battery cost for the model you are considering, it will be of the order of £300 – £800 – so this really needs to be taken into account when deciding what you are prepared to pay, especially if you can’t be given good evidence of age/mileage/service history.

Be prepared to walk away if the bike, however smart, is too low mileage for its age. Only buy used bikes with decent mileage on them, indicating regular use.. 

 Are both keys present? (assuming it has a locking battery – most do.)

Does the seller have Documentation proving ownership?

You could consider, with the seller’s agreement, having a prospective used e-bike purchase looked over/a diagnostic report performed by a local authorised dealer or mobile service. (See section 23 above.)

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