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Guide to Buying a Used Electric Bike

Family biking in woods with electric books

The resurgence of cycling and the rapid development of lithium-ion batteries that are smaller, cheaper and more efficient are transforming urban transit and lowering commuters’ carbon footprint. In fact, research shows that e-bikes are outselling electric cars in the U.S., with 880,000 e-bikes sold in 2021 compared to just 608,000 electric cars. The projected market growth of electric bicycles indicates a promising future, with the globale-bikes market size expected to reach USD 55.34 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.5 percent from 2022 onwards.

If you have ever wondered should I get an electric bike, buying a used electric bike can be a smart and economical choice. It offers all the benefits of an e-bike — like less effort on hills, quicker commuting times and a lower environmental impact — without the hefty price tag. 

However, buying any used vehicle can be a bit of a minefield if you don’t know what to look for. Use this simple guide to help you avoid common pitfalls when buying a used electric bike.

Determine Your Needs

Start by identifying what you’ll use the e-bike for: commuting, off-road adventures, long-distance touring or leisurely neighborhood rides. Your usage determines the type of e-bike you need.

Consider factors such as your commute length, terrain, your physical condition and storage needs. E-bikes come in various types, like city bikes for urban commuting, mountain e-bikes for off-road cycling and folding e-bikes for compact storage.

Research E-Bike Brands and Models

Once you know what you’re looking for, research e-bike brands and models that match your needs, then look at reviews and reliability ratings. 

Certain brands, such as Cannondale, have established a reputation for their durable construction, whereas others, like Specialized, are known for their innovative technology. Additionally, Benno, Tern, and Urban Arrow are notable brands for their cargo bikes, offering practicality and functionality, while VanMoof stands out for its stylish line of bicycles. Gazelle and Riese & Müller are recognized for their sleek designs and employment of high-quality components. Stromer is celebrated for its advanced technology, while Serial 1 earns praise for its impeccable design.

Check Battery Capacity and Age

When buying a used electric bike, assessing the battery’s capacity and age is crucial. The capacity determines how far you can ride on a single charge, while the age will give you an idea of its remaining lifespan. 

The battery’s health can degrade over time, even more rapidly, if not properly cared for, reducing its range and performance. Typically, e-bike batteries, most of which are lithium-ion, last 500 to 1,000 full charge cycles (or 25,000) before losing around 20-30 percent of its capacity but this can vary based on usage and maintenance. 

Riding up steep inclines or rough terrain like mountain trails can deplete your battery faster. The way you use and charge your battery also affects its lifespan. For example, never run your battery until it is fully empty or leave it to charge for prolonged periods. 

If the battery is nearing its life end or its capacity is significantly reduced, you’ll need to factor the cost of a replacement into your budget. Replacing a battery can cost between $500 to more than $900. However, if you purchase your used electric bike through a reputable seller, you can rest assured that your bike will have an optimal battery life and won’t need replacement. 

Upway, your trusted refurbished e-bike seller, always tests any battery with more than 4,000 miles. This allows our technicians to assess whether it has lost any of its capacity and whether it needs to be changed or not. 

Mileage and Age

Mileage refers to how much the bike has been ridden, which can often be more telling than the bike’s chronological age. High mileage of more than 25,000 miles could mean more wear and tear on components, such as the chain, gears and tires and may also suggest that the battery has gone through more charge cycles, potentially reducing its capacity by up to 30 percent. 

However, an e-bike with low mileage but poor maintenance could also have issues. Therefore, it’s not just about the mileage but how the e-bike has been cared for during those miles.

Age relates to how old the e-bike is, which can impact the availability of replacement parts. Older e-bikes might not have the advanced features of newer models, like built-in navigation, Bluetooth connectivity or regenerative braking. Even if an older e-bike has low mileage, components like the battery can degrade over time, even without heavy use.

It’s crucial to look for a used e-bike vendor who performs diligent inspections, maintenance and repairs. If the bike is cared for properly, mileage and age won’t need to factor into your decision-making process. Upway inspects and professionally refurbishes every e-bike in its inventory to ensure that each component is in good condition and functioning optimally. 

Frame and Mechanical Components

When purchasing a used electric bike, pay close attention to the frame and mechanical components. Carefully inspect the frame for cracks or rust, as these issues can impact the bike’s safety and performance. Look for refurbished e-bikes with frames made from durable modern materials like carbon fiber, titanium and galvanized aluminum designed to resist the elements.

Thoroughly examine the brakes, tires, chain and gears for wear and tear, as these parts are prone to deterioration over time. Investing in an e-bike with well-maintained mechanical components can save you from unexpected repair expenses. At Upway, our technicians perform a 20-point inspection that includes an assessment of all mechanical components to ensure that your refurbished bike offers maximum performance and durability. 

Electrical Components

When buying a used e-bike, ensure all the electrical components are functional and performing optimally. Start by ensuring that the motor, controller, display and lights are all in working order. Test the motor’s responsiveness and smooth operation and ensure the controller effectively adjusts the power levels. Verify that the display accurately shows battery life, speed and other relevant information. 

Also, examine the wiring for any signs of damage or exposed wires; these could signal previous repairs or potential electrical issues. Being vigilant about the electrical components will help you avoid unexpected malfunctions or costly repairs in the future.

To ensure that all e-bikes in our inventory perform correctly and have electrical components in good condition, our technicians perform an in-depth assessment of the motor and assistance, battery, charger, display screen and lights.

Legal Considerations

E-bike laws vary from region to region, covering aspects like maximum speed, power and required safety equipment. Make sure the used e-bike complies with the laws in your area. Also, ensure it has not been stolen by checking its serial number on local or national bike registries.

Choose a Used Bike from Professionals

If you’re in the market for a used electric bike, Upway offers a high range of premium e-bikes for leading brands, including Giant, Aventon and Riese & Müller. With our expertise in refurbishing e-bikes and meticulous 20-point inspection, you can trust that you’ll be getting a high-quality product. Our 1-year warranty provides peace of mind and protection against unexpected issues. Explore the affordable electric bikes at Upway today and confidently embark on your e-bike adventure!

Ready to choose?

Upway offers the widest range of certified pre-owned electric bikes, reconditioned by professional mechanics. Thanks to Upway, you'll get a great electric bike at a price that's 20-60% off retail, with a one-year warranty!