Guide: Buying a Used Motorbike

Buying a Used Motorbike

Where can you find used bikes?

• Check your local dealers first, their second-hand stock may hold a gem. These dealers are constantly getting used stock so keep checking back if you’re not in a rush to buy. Always haggle too, never pay the listed price. Some dealers will offer a warranty, insurance and free delivery as incentives.

• Look online, eBay, Bike Trader, Gumtree, Facebook and Scooter Trader are just a few online markets where you’ll find motorcycles for sale. Be care when you’re buying off a private seller. Don’t buy a bike off someone who comes off shifty (obviously). Again, never pay the listed price.

Be prepared

Ask questions. In fact, have a check list of what you’re looking for. You shouldn’t really buy a bike with more than 40,000 miles on the clock, not unless you’re buying a very old bike that you don’t intend to ride often. If you’re buying from a dealer, see what they can offer in terms of a service plan or warranty.

If a bike you really want is out of distance for you to view, you can pay a local mechanic to take a look at the frame/engine numbers and paperwork on your behalf. However, you will need a big budget for this.

What to look for when viewing

The Chain – it should be no slacker than about an inch and a half. If it’s any slacker make sure the adjustment nuts are not at their limit. If they are, you’ll need a new chain and sprocket.

Brakes – Roll the bike forwards and apply the front brake. Roll forwards again and apply the rear brake. If you hear a grinding noise then the drum needs cleaning or the shoes need replacing. Either way, it’s more money out of your pocket.

The Tappets – If you can hear a high frequency tapping sound from the engine (the cylinder head), this could mean the tappets are worn and need to be replaced or adjusting. Replacing these are costly.

Engine – If you can hear a low-frequency knocking sound from the bottom part of the engine, it might mean the big end has gone. This would require a full engine rebuild. Look elsewhere.

Bearings – Turn the bars both ways, check for grinding. If it’s noisy it could mean it needs new bearings.

Pistons – If you see dark smoke coming from the exhaust, it will probably mean the piston rings need replacing, again more money for you!

Tyre Tread – anything less than 1mm is illegal, check for cracking and perishing too. This is very important!

Cylinder Head – make sure there is no oil coming from the cylinder head.

Forks – Bounce the front end of the bike up and down. look for oil leaking on the suspension forks, if you see oil on the forks, the seals have gone and need replacing. Check the forks for pitting and rust too. You don’t need these sort of bike problems so walk away.

Test Ride – Accelerate through the gears, slow with the front brake, slow with the back brake, turn right and left and do a U-turn. Make sure you like the ride.

Suspect – If you suspect something is not quite right, don’t feel duped into buying the bike. Say you’ll think about it and walk from the sale. Never to return.

Buying the actual bike

• If you’re buying from a dealer and purchasing the bike through their in-house finance. Their rates can be competitive BUT try to haggle for a better rate. Always haggle.

• If you are buying from a dealer, they may offer deliver the bike to your door. This would usually be for a fee. Take advantage.

• Buying from a private seller is different. Make sure you feel comfortable with the payment method. If you can’t collect, make sure they are happy with third-party collection and delivery.

• If the motorcycle is too far for you to collect, hire the services of a motorcycle transport company. For a fee, they can check documents, check the appearance of the motorbike and arrange for payment on collection of the bike.

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