How to Buy a Used Mountain Bike on eBay

How to Buy a Used Mountain Bike on eBay

If you type in the search term "mountain bike" on eBay, there will probably be in the neighborhood of 5000 search results. Those results will include many high end bikes costing into the thousands of dollars all the way down to the kind of bikes you'd find in a department store for a couple hundred dollars.

So, you obviously have to narrow the search. But where to start?

Your local bike shop is a great place to start, obviously. If you have the money for a good new mountain bike, that is. There are many good reasons to buy local, from convenience to support and maintenance, to support of local business. But browsing new mountain bikes at your local bike shop can also produce some nasty sticker shock.

If a new mountain bike from your local bike shop is a bit much of a financial hurdle, we think that shopping for a good used bike on eBay is an excellence, and in many cases preferable, alternative. We came up with the "Bike Advisor" to help narrow your search results on eBay to help you get started finding a great used mountain bike.

Why eBay?

We think eBay is a good place to buy a mountain bike because we think that some of the best deals can be found in yesterday's high end bikes.

You don't have $5,000 (or more!) lying around to get a new top of the line mountain bike? We definitely understand! How about a well cared for used 3-4 year old $5000 bike for well under $2000? Or a top of the line 5 year old bike with a few extra scratches for under $1000? We think these are the kinds of sweet spot deals that can be found every day online. We've bought used bikes like this ourselves over the years, and we're convinced that the best deals can be found in yesterday's high end bikes. 

Bike Advisor

Our "Bike Advisor" is designed with preprogramed searches to help you narrow down your choices that weed out inferior and "cheap" bikes—ones that have a poor build quality and inferior components that cannot really stand up to the rigors of mountain biking. 

At any given time, a high majority of the mountain bikes listed on eBay are not bikes that we could ever recommend for actual mountain biking. These bikes look like mountain bikes, and many of them are from recognizable brands, but we don't recommend them because they are not really designed or intended for real mountain biking. They are actually "cruising" bikes intended for bike paths and greenways and are not even designed for the rigors of off-road mountain biking. These are the same type of bikes that you would find at a department store, and if it's mountain biking that you're interested in, you definitely, absolutely do not want to buy a Walmart bike.

It can be very confusing when you are looking at an eBay search result with hundreds of bikes to know what you are looking at and how to do an accurate comparison between them. This can be especially problematic if you do a sort by price, since a general search will yield page after page of relativity inexpensive bikes that are really "cruising" bikes and not real off-road mountain bikes.

If you're looking for a good used mountain bike—especially a high-end mountain bike that's in a used sweet spot price range—a bike that's not going to fall apart when you take it to an actual trail, our Bike Advisor will hopefully help you get started.

Our preconfigured searches are just a starting point. Each bike is unique: the age of the bike, the bike's condition--especially if it has major scratches and dents, and the quality of the components, all will factor into the overall quality and reasonable street price of the bike. The components of the bike themselves, such as the wheelset, brakes, drivetrain, suspension fork, etc. are as important as the bike frame. High quality components can easily double the value of the bike itself, whereas lower end components dramatically lessen its value.

Some things you want to know about a bike that our Bike Advisor will help you search are:

Frame Size

​It is essential that you know the appropriate frame size for you. While the various geometries of bike designs affect bike fit somewhat, there are general principles for determining the right size frame that are appropriate in most cases.

  • under $1000
  • between $1000-$2000
  • over $2000
Wheel Size
  • 26 inch
  • 27.5 inch
  • 29 inch
Suspension Type
  • full suspension
  • hardtail

​We've wanted our Bike Advisor to help sort by suspension type as well; unfortunately, it's very difficult to do an accurate search for suspension type on eBay, since, for whatever reason, only a minority of users who post used bikes bother to list this.

Check out our Bike Advisor here.

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