Buying a used e-bike requires caution if you want to save money
Electric bicycle sales were in full swing even before the pandemic, but since the health crisis changed attitudes towards public transport, demand has exploded.
Demand exceeds supply, which means that many dealerships are running out of battery powered two-wheelers and customers often face a long waiting list for the model of their choice.
So, is buying a used electric bike a viable alternative?
“There is nothing wrong with buying a used electric bike and you can save money by doing it,” says Rene Filippek of the huge German cycling club ADFC.
However, there are many pitfalls and you might as well understand a little how electric bikes work if you want to avoid landing with a lemon. Many older electric bikes weren’t built to last, and in some cases the repairs they will undergo will exceed their value.
Benjamin Topf, who publishes the German e-bike magazine Downtown, finds it great that many people want to buy a used electric two-wheeler, but cautions that it is not easy to find a good deal. “Right now there is very little choice on the market.”
The battery is the heart of any electric bike and if its rechargeable batteries aren’t up to the job, any joy you find riding a bike to and from work will be shortlived.
Fillipek suggests buying a used electric bike from a reputable store or online dealer with at least one year warranty or money back clause in case of serious problems.
Expert colleague Topf cautions against buying privately because battery cells lose capacity over time, which the seller is unlikely to admit. This means that the battery will not hold a full charge for a long time and will run out quickly.
Expect an electric bike battery to last up to five years, but replacing a battery that has reached the end of its useful life can easily cost hundreds of dollars.
Buyers should also avoid electric bikes which may have been tuned to ride at higher speeds. Such modifications are illegal in many countries and void any warranty on the machine. The increase in power also causes excessive wear on the brakes and tires.
As with any bike, a test drive is essential and if you think the bike is right for you in terms of frame size and geometry, it’s time to listen to the telltale noises.
The gears should change smoothly, without jerking, and there should be no squeaking or rattling. Center-mounted motors make a constant whine when operating properly and any deviation from this is a sign of a potential problem.
Many e-bike dealers do not have the facilities to check motors, which in some cases must be returned to the manufacturer for repair. However, examining the health of the battery is possible.
The ADFC expert recommends asking the seller to provide a battery report, which will tell you how much life is left in the cells. Private sellers will generally not be able to offer this.
“The battery concept is even more important,” Topf says. Buyers have to ask themselves how much range they need between charges, both if they need a more powerful battery for the hills or if they mainly want to ride on the flat and also where they want to charge their bike. electric.
Batteries come in a myriad of sizes and buying an electric bike that has more power than you need usually means paying more in the first place and carrying excess weight.
A broken e-bike can also mean a long walk, as many machines are too heavy to be pedaled without electric assistance.
“On some models, the gearbox is also an integral part of the drivetrain, which means you have additional mechanical resistance when you pedal,” Topf explains. “It may be fine for short distances, but makes driving uncomfortable. “
So are there real savings to be made by buying second-hand?
The rule of thumb here is to pay as much as possible for a quality used e-bike, Topf says. “Buying cheap is paying twice.”
Filippek estimates that, like conventional bicycles, electric two-wheelers lose around a quarter of their value in the first two years and around 15% per year thereafter. “So a good mid-motor electric bike with a proven mid-motor will cost at least 1,500 euros (RM7,131).”
It’s still cheaper than many newer models, but as e-bike battery technology advances rapidly, older bikes can quickly become obsolete.
In some cases, a replacement battery or electrical accessories for an older electric bike may simply not be available.
“If you invest in a five-year-old electric bike and have to replace the battery three years later, that’s a bad buy,” says the expert.
Battery cells can be rejuvenated at a cost, but “swapping the original battery for one that isn’t designed to fit right off the bat can cause overheating and even start a fire.” – dpa