A first-time buyer may find buying a used bike an overwhelming experience. What do I look for? What do I need to inquire about? How do I know I’m not getting a lemon? The following will cover some of the basic things that a new rider (and even experienced riders) should look for when purchasing a used motorcycle.
Let’s start from scratch. You’re approaching the bike for the first time. What was your initial reaction? Look at how shiny that bike is! This is exactly what you’re looking for. The appearance reflects the owner’s pride. Most riders take excellent care of their motorcycle’s exterior. You want to look good, don’t you? Let’s take a closer look.
Overall Visual Appeal
A happy bike is usually one that is clean. The seller must prioritize communication with you, disclosing all details about the bike. You can also take a look at the vin check to find out if there have been any serious breakdowns in the past.
Only you know what is acceptable in terms of appearance. You might be looking for an older “project or restoration” bike and are willing to overlook minor flaws in the finish. You’re looking at a “brush popper,” so a slightly rough appearance is expected.
Examine the bike thoroughly
It’s simple to tell the difference between a bike that’s been “quickly cleaned” for sale, and one that’s been garage kept and pampered by a true enthusiast. The “quick cleaner” won’t work. Examine all of the tight spots. You’re aware of the difficult-to-reach areas where dirt can accumulate. The enthusiast will devote time to these areas to keep his bike in showroom condition. He’s hoping that your excitement will overpower your logic and you won’t look too closely.
Pro Tip: Check the “tabs” that connect the plastic fairings to the frame if the bike has them. These connection points are usually the first to break when a bike is crashed, and shoddy repair attempts are easily detected. Use the vin decoder to understand if the motorcycle needs repair.
Let’s start with the exhaust. I know you want to rev the engine and hear it roar. There will be time for that later. For the initial inspection, you want the bike to be cold. Warm engines start more easily.
You’d probably hear exhaust leaks when you first start the bike, so you know where to look for them now. In fact, when you call the seller to ask where you can see the bike, tell him not to run it before you arrive. This is why. First, ensure that the exhaust is securely fastened. The engine causes a lot of vibration in the exhaust system, which can cause the mounts and pipe to fail. You may feel areas of corrosion that have rotted through on the exhaust that you do not have a clear view of.
Pro Tip: Dents in the exhaust header can cause performance problems. Make sure to inspect it from the bottom.
While you’re down there inspecting the exhaust, you might inspect the frame. Take a close look. You’re searching for dents, scrapes, and cracks. Is there any evidence that the bike has bottomed out, landed hard, or been in an accident? Get your hands on the frame as well. Slide your hands across as much of the frame as possible. You might sense something that you can’t see
Examine the steering wheel bearings. Rock the motorcycle from side to side while retaining the front brake lever. Feel the movement by placing your hand over the upper triple clamp and frame. If you feel movement or hear a clicking sound, it’s a good sign that the steering head bearings are loose or worn.
Pro Tip: Check the steering stops on the frame’s neck for tightness. The metal stop connects to the lower steering stem tabs to prevent the handlebars from turning. If the metal is bent, bulging, or excessively rusted, it could indicate that the bike was involved in a crash.