How to buy a used motorcycle | Used bike checklist

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How to buy a used motorcycle | Used bike checklist

How to buy a used motorcycle?

Well, that is the million dollar question, or at least, we try very hard for it not to be.

Regardless if you are looking for a classic that came out of production already, or for the deal of a lifetime on a bike that is still in production, buying used may be a necessity, but how can we make sure we are not getting duped?

If you are one of those that have a trusted mechanic that you can bring to check the bike before you close the deal, this article might not be for you, but if you are a "self-made biker mechanic," let us try and help you out!

Let us share some general notes and a checklist you can use.

 

  • Engine:

In our opinion, there is a generalised wrong idea when it comes to used engines. 

We all search for the same, low millage bikes. So lets say for this example that we found a 10-year-old motorcycle that only has 1.000 miles on the clock.

Common belief would make us think that we will be buying a brand new engine, after all, it only has 1k on it, but is that the one we should make?

Let's think of an engine as a human heart.

Imagine you are picking friends for a weekend basketball game.

Would you prefer to pick that friend that has been doing a little jog three times a week for the past five years, or that friend that was the built of an olympic athlete but sits on the couch all day for the past decade?

An engine that runs consistently will have wear and tear, but it most likely will have a better overall health than one that has not run for years.

Gaskets and seals will not be lubed, oil and fuel deterioration may have installed themselves, bearings may have seized... its a gamble to know what the actual health of that engine is.

A used engine will have predictable wear and tear, one that hasn't run that often?...

Although there is not a perfect number to what is safe millage, keep in mind that you might be better off dealing with a devil you know - regular maintenance on a used engine - than with one you don't - seeing yourself forced to replace "good" parts that seized up from lack of use.

Used motorcycle engine checklist

 

  • Frame:

The frame is a hard one to judge, even if it is because it might be hidden under plastics or the fuel tank.

General rust, new patches of paint or damage to any of the major welds are usually a red flag, so bring a flashlight and pay attention to details.

Used motorcycle frame checklist

 

  • Suspension:

Good sense needs to be applied when talking about suspensions.

A used suspension might be in fantastic shape and still be unusable.

Remember that at the core of any suspension you have a spring and oil, and those require maintenance that due to gradual degradation, is easily forgotten.

Don't back out of a deal just because you felt the bike saggy if the overall condition of the suspension is excellent.

You might just need to do some maintenance to the forks and shock, or adjust the spring to your weight to get a perfect setup.

Used motorcycle suspension checklist

 

  • Bearings:

A quick look around with a flashlight on the bearings dust seals you can see, and a quick active test to specific parts may go a long way into understanding how healthy the bearings are.

Like the engine, bearings that don't run that often will tend to seize up, but always remember that even a new bearing may fail on you without warning.

Regardless of the state of the bearings on a used bike, its good policy to replace them as soon as possible and zero them out to you.

Used motorcycle bearing checklist

 

  • Drive train and brakes:

This part of the bike is probably the one every responsible rider will pay more attention too under regular use.

If many parts of your bike are purely in the hands of your mechanic - like the inside of the engine - even those that are not mechanically savvy will know how to look after their drive train and brakes.

Keeping the chain oiled and the brakes working correctly is a daily responsibility of all riders, so spotting problems on any of these items on a used bike may mean neglect and hidden issues somewhere else.

On the other hand, finding these well taken care off may be a sign that the bike has always been loved.

Used motorcycle drive train and brakes checklist

 

  • Wheels and tyres:


Although paying attention to the rim and spokes - if it's a spoked wheel - is very good practice, tire condition may be redundant.

Remember that even if the tires are brand new, it doesn't mean they will be the ones you will want to use, or that a state of tire degradation means the owner is hiding something from you.

It might just mean that he used the bike, the tires ran out, and he didn't invest more on something he is selling.

Used motorcycle wheels and tires checklist

 

  • Bodywork:

Don't be fooled by shiny graphics or a fresh coat of paint.

Look for strange gaps between the plastics, check for color differences between the inside and outside color of the fairings, and ask questions if it's an old bike and all the decals are new.

The overall state of the bodywork on a bike that has never crashed should be on par with the rest of the bike.

Used motorcycle bodywork and plastics checklist

 

  • The owner:

This point shouldn't be overlooked.

Profiling and judging without knowing isn't something we should do under any circumstance, but when buying used, we should definitely look beyond the bike.

If you find that the owner does not know how to answer basic questions about his bike, wants to meet up at a shady location, or even if you meet up at their place, you can't spot any bike related paraphernalia, be careful!

Bike owners tend to be bike geeks!

We know every inch of our bikes, useless information about the two-wheel world that will keep anyone talking for days, and our houses/garages? Well, those are just a temple of small parts and bits of bike related items, from toolkits to helmets and stickers.

Used motorcycle owner checklist

 

Always remember that a used bike is by definition not a new bike.

It is quite common for all of us to forget that as we always look for the most showroom state exemplar we can find, but that may not be the best purchase we can make.

Good judgment and keeping an eye out for red flags might just allow you to get a great price from the get go, and avoid any expensive surprises down the line.

Check out our complete checklist

 

 

How to buy a used motorcycle | Used bike checklist
 


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