Questions To Ask When Buying A Used Motorcycle

Buying a used bike can be tricky, especially if it is your first bike. There are things that an avid bike owner would notice naturally but may be overlooked by a novice. To help you make the best out of your bike deal, we’ve curated a list of essential questions that you must ask when buying a used motorcycle.

You need to do your homework before you set out to buy a used motorcycle. Look for available options online and set a reasonable budget to get started. Familiarize yourself with the prevalent market prices, conditions, and extras that come with your preferred alike bikes. Once you are done with this preliminary research, shortlist a few bikes and follow the below-listed checklist while meeting the sellers.

Who is the Seller?

The first thing to check while buying a used motorcycle is the background of the seller. A casual conversation with the seller could reveal important information about the bike. Examine the ad, and do a cursory inspection about the seller’s contact details, mentioned price range, available pictures, and a good description.

To get a better picture, you can ask the seller these following questions:

  • When you bought the bike yourself, was it brand new or pre-owned?
  • Are you the owner of the bike?
  • Why do you want to sell the motorcycle?
  • When and where was your latest ride?
  • Has your bike ever been involved in an accident?
  • How often and where do you get your bike serviced?

How Does the Bike / Motorcycle Look?

Next, you need to assess the bike. You can do a thorough check of the motorcycle yourself or ask a motorcycle expert to do it for you. The seller must communicate the current condition of the bike honestly instead of painting a dreamy picture.

Firstly, ascertain whether the bike has been cleaned only recently or if it had been cleaned and cherished throughout. Check the hard-to-reach, tight spots for possible dirt.

Now pay considerable attention to individual components of the bike:

  • Is the exhaust mounted well?

Check for possible dents across the exhaust system and watch out for possible leaks. Ideally, the exhaust should be dent-free and solidly mounted for optimum performance. Vibrations from the bike engine may cause its pipe and mount to tamper.

  • Is the frame alright?

Look closely at the frame for scrapes, dents, cracks. Feel free to move your hands over the frame, and check for possible bumps or signs of an accident. Also, check the functioning of the steering head bearings.

  • Is the clutch smooth?

Hold the clutch and release it slowly. If you feel any pop or snags, it might spell trouble for the bike. However, a little slag can be adjusted easily. But overall, the bike should ride smoothly with little or no resistance when you engage the clutch in first gear.

  • How effective are the brakes?

To test the brakes, take them out of the gear and accelerate the bike. Now gently press the brake lever. You should be able to stop the bike without any resistance or noise, leaving the break lever to return smoothly back to its position. If, after releasing the breaks, its calipers drag, they need to be looked into.

  • Is the electrical circuit working well?

Survey and test all electrical connections. Switch on headlights on both low and high beams. Test all the switches, including the horn, blinkers, and hazard lights, to verify their working condition. While applying the brake, make sure that the brake lights lite up.

  • How are the tires & wheels?

While smooth even wear on tires is a common scene, severed tire wear on the center third of the back tire may indicate long-distance freeriding or burnouts. You may also notice flat spots on the tire caused by skidding and hard braking.

To check the manufacturing date of the tires, read out the 4-digit DOT number on the exterior of the tire. Week of manufacturing is represented by the first 2 digits, whereas the last 2 digits signify the year. Ideally, the tires should not be older than 6 years.

Carefully examine the wheel for any dent or bends, these may signal a road accident.

  • How do the fuel tank, oil, and coolant look like?

Take a flashlight and look through the fuel tank. In the best case, you’d see the light amber-colored fuel inside a clear metal tank. On the other hand, if you see a dark fuel, it may signify that it’s old and in need of replacement. Also, check for sediments inside the tank, if any. You could ask the owner to thoroughly clean the tank and change the filter before proceeding with the deal.

Generally, the coolant should appear neon green in color and emit a sweet smell. While the engine is still cold, have a look at the coolant. A brown rusty-colored coolant may mean that the oil or rust has afflicted the engine, which could cause you a sum in repair.

If your bike’s sight glass has turned brownish or is discoloring, it indicates that the oil is not changed frequently and may have varnished the engine.

  • Are the parts consistent?

Have a closer look at the different components of the bike. Check for OEM (original) parts replacements. For non-OEM, cheap-looking parts, ask the reason or the whereabouts.

Where has the motorcycle been?

Ask the seller to provide you with a vehicular history report. The said report may include damage disclosure, VIN decoding, information about titles, Odometer reading, manufacturer specifications, and manufacturer recall history, among other things.

Further, ask for the total miles covered by the bike until now and make a note of it. High miles may signify larger wear and tear.

Is the paperwork complete?

Ask the owner if he has receipts or maintenance records for the bike. More importantly, ask for the title, and verify each detail. Ensure that the registration tags are updated. Otherwise, it may cause you to shell money to keep them current. Ask for warranty cards, if any. Also, ascertain whether it is transferable or not.

In the end, verify the motorcycle’s license plate number and VIN with what is written on the title. There should be no errors or mismatches between the two.

Additional Tips

Ask for a Cold Start

Pre-communicate with the owner to not run the engine before you reach. This is because it is easier to start a warmed-up bike and may not show you the full picture. Get it started in front of you and look if it starts smoothly or produces some smoke and noise.

Get a Safety Check

Your safety should come first, regardless of whether you are getting a new or used bike. It is best to get a brief security check from a trained mechanic so that you are sure of its safety.

Go for a Test Ride

Finally, take your license and go for a test ride. Look how the handle feels. Is the seat comfortable? Is the engine running smoothly? How easy or difficult is it for the bike to pick up?

Go on a clear, smooth road at first and check for any noises or leakages. You can also try and test the bike on a busy road to see the real picture.

To Sum Up

In a nutshell, buying a used bike is not a child’s play. For your safety and to make the buy worth your money, you should do your research before exploring bike options. A beginner may find it tough to navigate through the nitty-gritty of bike essentials. But this brief guide will arm both beginner and an experienced biker with some handy questions and tips to keep in mind while buying a used motorcycle.

Tyler Williams reiterates that no one really likes cheap stuff; getting a new bike is a daunting task and it even becomes more complex if you are getting a second-hand deal. Well, there are so many complexities surrounding motorcycle acquisition, the reason why Tyler Williams came up with the extensive excerpts. Tyler insists that new bike owners, should take their time and check the exhaust of the machine, the clutch brakes and suspensions, the chain sprockets, and the wheels during purchase. What’s more, the overall look of the bike is equally important as it gives one a vivid idea of how it would look when not on the road. Tyler is a certified mechanic, safety instructor, and motorcycle trainer, when not working in his garage, he loves to read.

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