What To Look For When Buying A Used Motorcycle?


What to look for when buying a used motorcycle? If you are new to motorcycles, then that question is quite troublesome. There are a lot of reasons to own of motorcycles. For some, bikes offers the convenience that most four-wheel vehicles can't offer. Maybe some just don't want to get stuck inside the car and would just want to feel the breeze outside.

However, some still consider motorcycles to be a form of luxury. Therefore, they opt on buying used ones rather than purchasing a brand new unit. Some also consider buying different bikes as a part of their collection. Furthermore, there are also people who are hoarding second-hand motorcycles for customization purposes, such as bobbing and chopping.

If you have a limited budget, you just have to scrape the idea of purchasing a new bike. Yes, these units are a sure investment in the long run. However, for the meantime, just be frugal. If you are really craving for a good ride, then choose to buy used motorcycles. Economically speaking, these bikes are real friends of your pocket!

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However, there are considerations you should think before buying a used motorcycle. Just contemplate on the word "used." You need to figure out when a used bike was first used. Or if it had experienced any form of accidents. Is the unit you want has tuning issues? These are some of the questions that you should delve in before cashing in a new bike.

Of course, your preference is also necessary. Just because you are looking for an old unit doesn't mean that you have the least array of choices. It is just like looking for a new motorcycle. But this time, you just have to meticulous and extra careful.

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What To Look For When Buying A Used Motorcycle: 6 Basic Steps

Here is a comprehensive guide on how to choose a pre-owned motorcycle. You don't necessarily have to follow each step, as any of them can be situational. Just treat this guide as a tip so that you can have a clear grasp of what you are doing. Remember, you are looking for used motorcycles. Therefore, being cautious for the safety of yourself and your money is well justifiable.

1. The Type Of Motorcycle You Want

Each of us has guilty pleasures. We have cravings that we want to satisfy. It is okay. All of us can relate, one way or another. But you should exclude those feelings when buying a used motorcycle.

First, you should know what riding type you will be doing. You should be aware of this already, even before buying. Are you using the bike for racing, sporting, touring, or commuting? It is up to you. However, you should decide keenly and wisely. You won't be needing a 1000CC superbike if you are just the commuter type. In the same manner, a cruiser motorcycle is for leisure rides and not for racing.

Probably, your preference is the most critical factor when buying a used bike.

2. You Need To Look For A Dealership With Rapport

It is common for us to buy stuff from private individuals. However, in purchasing a pre-owned motorcycle, we recommend that you will look for a reputable dealer. Not only you can save money from doing this, but also, you can save yourself from future trouble.

Buying from a private party is okay. But most of the time, they won't offer you any warranty. What if the used motorcycle you want will break within a couple of months? Can you return it to them? No, right?

In this cases, you need to insist that the bike from the private party will be assessed by an identified dealer. They can thoroughly inspect and probe the parts of the used motorcycle--if it has broken parts or performance problems. Also, some dealerships can trace the history of a used bike. This service is crucial so that you can be sure that the motorcycle is not stolen or not on the list of an insurance company.

Since you will need the service of dealerships, spending a few more money is quite necessary. But don't worry about that.

3. The Parts Of The Motorcycle

Of course, the system of the unit itself! If you are eyeing a pre-owned bike, checking it for yourself is a must. You need to bring with you some simple tools such a flashlight and a multimeter (this one is important)

  • First of all, assess the performance of the sprocket and drive chain. Normally, the drive chain have 3.75 inches of play. The sprocket's teeth should also be in good condition. There should be no ubiquitous presence of wear and damage. Wiggle the chain side to side. You should not detect too much sways while swinging the chain.
  • When assessing the tire, you should see to it that is still has a good thread. Across the surface of the tires, you should see no hints of damage.
  • Try sitting on the motorcycle. Inspect the bar-end weights, instrument cluster, brake and clutch levers, and the evenness of the bars. If any of these have damages, that could be a sign of past accident. Are there scratches on the engine? That is also a sign of a previous drop! Press the handbrake and let it bounce. You need to fill its firmness.
  • Also, you need to see the fork tubes if there are rusting, oiling, and pitting.
  • Look for possible damages to the rim. Check the forks if there are dents on it.
  • Check the frame. To do this process, you need to remove the seat of the motorcycle. If you can see that there are obvious damages and dents, do not buy that bike.
  • Clip the multimeter to the terminals of the battery to check its voltage. The reading should not exceed 12 volts. When you start the engine, the reading should not go more than 14 volts. The result should be the same while running. If one or all of the reading exceeds, then the voltage regulator may be failing.
  • Remove a fuse and check if they are corroding. The same should be done with the engIne.
  • Look inside the fuel tank with the use of a flashlight. If there are rust and corrosion, turn that bike down.

4. The Performance

Its performance should be the top priority! And there is no better way to do this than taking the motorcycle on a test drive.

  • Just a pick a beautiful, sunny day. Get on a route where you are very familiar. The roads and traffic amenities should be in good condition since you are doing a test drive. If possible, look for a route with less traffic.
  • In doing a test drive, you need to check the brakes first. Make sure that there is no "pulsing" action. Any pulses can indicate that brakes have warped disks. You should not feel drastic or spongy grips.
  • Check how the used motorcycle accelerates. The transmission should still be firm; it should not be clunky.
  • Inspect the stability of the motorcycle by weaving it slightly from left to right. If you can quickly correct each curve, then that is a sign of a good bike.
  • Are there any engine sounds that makes you uncomfortable? Are there any rattling and screeching on the suspension? You should ask the owner or the dealer about any of these!

5. The Service History


The good hack to know the quality of a used motorcycle is looking through its service history. Some owners don't have this one. As an alternative, just ask the private party if the factory toolkit or service manual are still available.

6. Look For The Best Price


Negotiating is a skill. Unfortunately, each dealer and private party have their own terms and standard to meet. They also have their reasons why they are selling their motorcycle. As an advice, you need to research for the original price of the unit. Set that as a benchmark when you want to negotiate.

Final Thoughts


When buying a used motorcycle, it is important that you have a good technical knowledge of assessing the bike's condition. If you are still unfamiliar with this, you can bring a mechanic with you. Or a friend who is a geek when it comes to motorcycles.

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Lucas Knight

Over the past 10 years, Lucas Knight has been a motorcycle rider. He has built up an incredible passion for travelling by motorbike and always wishes to contribute to motorcyclist community. This is the reason why he created MotorManner.com where his passion is turned into useful and interesting information to the motorcycle lover. Follow his facebook and twitter or subcribe to his website to receive more useful information in motorcycle world.

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