How to Buy a Used Brompton? – 11 Tips to Avoid a Scam


If you’re looking for a Brompton, then you’ll already know how expensive these bikes can be. Not everybody has the money to buy a Brompton brand new because it can be pricey. One way of fixing this is to buy a used Brompton. 

You can buy a used Brompton on eBay, in bike shops, and in local ads. Make sure the bike is not stolen by asking for proof of purchase or at least being thorough when questioning. Check the condition of the components, especially the more expensive ones: rims, gear hub, and folding mechanisms.

But don’t worry, all that and more will be covered in-depth throughout this post so you can get the used Brompton you’ve been dreaming of!

Where To Buy A Used Brompton

The first step in buying a used Brompton is knowing where to find one. Below are the three most common ways:

eBay

An obvious first choice is eBay. People have been selling their old bikes here for years, and it’s often a very trustworthy site (although you should still exercise caution). 

Make sure you read every ad carefully for an idea about the Brompton’s condition, and always make sure clear pictures showing the bike’s quality are included in the ad. It might be rare, but scam artists exist on eBay, so just be careful when checking out what’s available.

Bike Shop

If you’re worried about a scam, then your local bike shop is a great place to start instead. If you’re friendly with your local bike shop owner, you could even leave your contact details to let them know to contact you if a Brompton ever shows up that’s used.

Bromptons are expensive and have a long life, so you might not find any in your local shop, but it’s always worth a look.

Local Ads

Another great place to look is your local ads. Check newspapers and social media sites to see if anybody is selling a used Brompton. 

If they are, arrange to view it in a public place with a friend before purchasing, so you can verify that everything is as it should be before you part with any cash.

How Do You Know If It’s Stolen?

When buying from eBay and local ads especially, you might unknowingly buy a Brompton that’s stolen. 

Thieves will look out for more expensive bikes like Bromptons because they know it has a much higher resale value. They’re good at lying and manipulating you too, but to reduce the chance of being sold a stolen Brompton, here’s what to do.

First of all, check the serial number and verify if it’s not reported as stolen.

Ask Questions

Anybody who is a genuine owner of a Brompton will be able to answer basic questions:

  • Where did you buy it?
  • How old is the bike?
  • How long have you owned it?
  • What model and year is it?
  • How much was it new?

Sometimes people can’t genuinely remember, but if they seem suspicious, it’s best to walk away and refuse purchase.

Ask For Proof Of Purchase

Another straight-to-the-point way of knowing if the Brompton is stolen is to ask if they have proof of purchase. 

A receipt, or bank statement showing when they bought the bike and how much for. Of course, we sometimes lose records, but you should be able to tell the difference between someone who has lost it and someone who is lying. 

As a rule of thumb, if they can answer the questions in the section above confidently, but don’t have proof of purchase, they will probably be telling you the truth. Use your judgment, though, and be careful.

Ask For Pictures

This might be an odd one, but it makes sense. 

Ask them for pictures of the bike when they first bought it. We’re all guilty of it, right? Whenever we get a new bike; we take a picture of us sitting on it or of the bike itself and post it to social media.

Parts and Components To Pay Attention To

Now, if you’ve found a used Brompton and established that it’s not stolen, these are the parts you need to pay attention to. They wear down over time and some of them are expensive to replace.

Joints and Folding Mechanism

Brompton’s are folding bikes, ergo, their folding mechanisms and joints are important. Try folding and unfolding the bike with the owner there. 

If it sticks, feels loose, or is any other way difficult to do, then leave the Brompton with the owner. 

Replacing the joints and folding mechanism will cost you, and unless you’re getting the bike for a steal, the cost involved might not be worth it.

Careful though! The rear part of the bicycle is firmly attached by a hinge, but the other attachment point is a somewhat springy latch. This second attachment point has quite a bit of play, enabling it to help absorb the shock of riding your bike over uneven terrain. 

Gearing

If the Brompton you’re looking at has gears like the 2007 3 gear model, for example, then make sure they work. 

Yes, you’ll need a test drive, even if it’s just on the street with the owner walking beside you. Replacing the gearing system on a Brompton is one of the more expensive jobs, so checking this is vital.

Rims

Rims on the Brompton wear down over time, and it’s important that you make sure they aren’t rusted or warped. 

If they’re in awful shape, you’ll need to replace them, and this extra cost might mean your bargain isn’t looking so hot anymore.

Brake Pads

All bikes’ brake pads will wear down over time because of the continued use. Check this by pressing the brakes and looking to see if the brake pads are flush with the tire. 

They shouldn’t look worn either, and if they do, they’ll need replacing for your own safety (and not so much for its cost) above anything else.

Tires

Check both the front and back tires. Brompton tires are unique to Brompton, as all parts are here because the whole bike is made up of proprietary parts, so there are no cheap alternatives. 

Look out for signs of obvious wear or damage. If you’re the sort of rider that would replace the tires anyway on any new used bike, then this step might not matter as much.

General Buying Advice

Before we leave you with our final word on buying a used Brompton, here are some general pieces of advice that are important to keep in mind, although they don’t relate to a specific part or component:

  • Keep the price in mind – that’s the price the owner is asking, as well as the costs of any upgrades or replacements you’ll need to make
  • Check the general condition – scratches on the frame, worn handlebars etc, to make sure it’s worth the asking price
  • Check out the model brand new – would you want it brand new? If not, don’t buy it used just because it’s cheap, hold out for another used Brompton model to come your way instead

A Final Word

Before you jump headfirst into shaking hands, departing with your cash, and riding away on your new used Brompton, remember to keep worth in mind. Is the bike worth the asking price? Is a new Brompton ultimately better because of the cost of upgrades? 

YOU need to decide if the Brompton you’re looking at is worth it. If it isn’t, don’t be afraid to negotiate the price, and walk away if you must. There are plenty of great-quality used Brompton bikes out there, and when you find the right one, it’ll be worth every cent you spent! 

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