Buying a dented DH bike

I’m looking to buy a downhill bike. I am currently looking at a stock 2007 demo 7 that’s going for 1500. The owner does say that there is a small dent on the down tube “an inch long and a third of an inch deep”. I am a light rider (130 lbs) and I’m wondering if this will affect the integrity of the frame, and if the asking price is reasonable.

Hey Joseph,

That price sounds decent, but — dude — be careful.

Specialized Demos are burly. You could probably drill out half that down tube and be OK. Wait, I didn’t say that.

Get a photo of the dent. Take the photo to your local dealer and ask their opinion. Wait, don’t do that! They might know it’s a fatal flaw and send you to Whistler anyway.

If the dent is in the middle of the tube, it might not be a major issue. I’ve ridden bikes with dents like this, no problem. Wait, I didn’t say that.

When you buy a used DH bike — especially one with a visible dent — you’re taking a risk. If the frame is dented, how are the other components doing? “Bargain” bikes can get expensive.

Balance the costs and benefits. On the cost side, you might get a catastrophic failure (in Whistler, with a possible injury), an unrideable bike or a POS that’s a pain in the A. On the benefit side, you might get a great bike that you’ll really enjoy.

The potential benefit is pretty cool. The potential cost is very bad. I wouldn’t do it.

If you’re still wanting this bike, ask about the bike’s overall condition and how the dent happened. Get that photo so you can make a more informed decision.

Just in case: Tape your health insurance card and ER copay under your helmet visor.

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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7 replies
  1. Estes says:

    I 2nd that- Purchase from someone you know or purchase new is my rule of thumb and ride a DH with health insurance. You play with fire, your gonna get burnt.

  2. electric says:

    Unless you honestly know a bit more about the history of the dent, i’m not sure i would be eager to jump on it, so to speak. Haha.

    I don’t think anybody has/could tell you it’s fine. If it approaches $1500 for the components alone, well maybe it’s worth it. The wheels probably have taken a thrashing also. All this stuff eventually fatigues and breaks. With my money I would wait a bit longer,buy new or better condition, season is almost over here anyways.

  3. Jonathan says:

    *All* dents affect frame integrity. At least, I have yet to see a bike having gratuitous tubing that bears no load whatsoever. It’s just a matter of degree.

    That said, I’m not sure I’d have anything left if I threw out all of my dented, nicked, or otherwise damaged frames.

    But 1/3rd inch deep strikes me as pretty darn deep.

  4. mzeatwzad says:

    oooooooooooo…… how to be diplomatic about this. hell. NO!!1 i wouldn’t buy an XC frame with a dent, much less a DH rig. my advice would be to check site mash or searchtempest RELIGOUSLY and stay patient. someone out there somewhere has a DEMO out in the garage collecting dust, and they may even be willing to ship.

  5. Eric says:

    I’ve had a bunch of experience buying used bikes over the past few years. I’ve found that they always end up costing me more than new bikes, as the components or something fails so much faster. I would only recommend a used bike if you really know who you are buying from, or if you are looking to test the waters for DH, before committing to a nice new bike. I think you’ll find if you buy this bike, within a year you will have spent more on keeping the bike running (broken spokes, new tires, brake pads, etc.) than you would have on a new bike. The new Specialized Big hits are comparable to the old Demos in terms of performance and not that much more expensive (my local shop had one on sale for under $2k).

  6. Amardeep says:

    I know a friend who dented the down tube of his New Cannondale after bailing through some rock gardens at a local trail a month after he bought it, he’s been riding it hard for the past 4 years. On the flip side, I dented my down tube after a linkage piece broke on my meta 55 and 6 months later my commencal had to be put down due to a developing crack.

    It’s the luck of the draw, a dented frame may last you a lifetime but why take the risk if you don’t have to?

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