Essential Info

row of bikesBefore trying to obtain a free bike it is very important to understand the economics of getting it running. You may be very lucky and find a bike that is in perfect working order and needs no work. More likely the bike will have numerous problems that need attended to. This will require time, effort and possibly monetary expense on parts and labour. These costs can swiftly eliminate the initial purchase savings. All things considered, free can be expensive when compared to buying, particularly where bikes are concerned.

You should also be aware that a free bike will be someone else’s property. You must be absolutely sure it is unwanted and that you are not stealing. The best way to do this is to speak to the owner of the bike. If this is not possible there are sometimes ways of determining if the bike has been truly abandoned and that you have a right to take it. However, this is a legal grey area and you should tread carefully. Find out more about claiming abandoned bikes.

Pros and Cons of Using a Free Bike


  • cost (though free can be a false economy)
  • environmentaly friendly
  • less worry about bike theft
  • occassionally quite decent bikes can be found


  • can be hazardous if you are not knowledgable about fixing bikes
  • can take a lot of work
  • can be more expensive when labour, replacement parts, opportunity costs, and possible dangers are taken into account

Here are some typical costs of things that commonly need replaced. This is for budget parts – high quality parts will be more expensive.

  • chain – £10
  • Sprockets £20
  • brake pads – £5 x 2
  • brake cables and housing – £5 x 2
  • Tyres – £10 x 2
  • Inner tubes – £5 x 2
  • Pedals – £10
  • Grips – £10

These costs don’t include labour, which could be double the cost of the part or more.

It is possible to pick up new bikes for not much over £100 and sometimes less. Such bikes will be poor quality and not worth maintaining in the long run but should be ok for light use. The advantage is that all the parts are new. Of course they will wear out but this is true for any bike, even expensive ones. It can actually work out cheaper to buy a cheap bike and simply replace it when the parts wear out. Find a cheap new bike on Amazon.

If you still want to go for a free bike here are some things to look out for.