6 Tips for Buying a Used Motorcycle
Don’t go into your search for a second-hand motorcycle without these key tips, as the market can be confusing. You can find some great deals, but you want to make sure that you are getting a high-quality product. With this simple guide in hand, you will be ready to shop for the perfect, second-hand motorcycle.
Look for a Clean Bike
When looking for a second-hand bike, you may be initially more concerned with what’s inside rather than what the outside looks like. But, the outward appearance of the bike can give you some insight into how the bike has been treated over time. Some used motorcycle sellers pride themselves on offering clean bikes, like the American Motorcycle Trading Company.
To make sure the bike has been well cared over time rather than quickly cleaned after years of neglect, make sure to look at the tight crevices of the bike. If dirt and grime have accumulated in the crevices, the seller likely just wiped down the bike to present it for sale. A well-maintained bike will not have dirt, even in hard-to-reach spots.
Of course, this advice can be ignored if you are looking for a major repair project or restoration bike.
Check the Oil
Oil is incredibly important in a number of bike functions, from lubrication to cooling. It can also be the source of a number of bike issues. There are a few key things to check for in the bike’s oil.
If the bike has a sight glass on the side of the engine, use it to see the color of the oil. If the sight glass is hard to see through, the oil may have begun to varnish the engine.
If you are able to see through the sight glass, syrup-colored oil indicates that the oil has changed recently. Black oil means that the oil is old. If there is no sight glass, you can still check the color of the oil with a paper towel.
There are two other things to look for with a second-hand bike’s oil. If the oil has milky streaks in it, there is water getting into the engine. If the oil has metal flakes in it, the engine is slowly dissolving. Both of these are extremely bad signs, and you should only buy a bike with these issues if you are already planning on replacing the engine.
Check the Clutch and Brakes
The signs of excessive wear in the clutch and brakes might be harder to see than on other parts of the bike. Slack in a clutch cable isn’t anything to worry about. Excess slack can be easily fixed. But you should pay attention to how smooth the clutch is when you squeeze in and release it. Additionally, the clutch lever should have some freedom of movement before it engages. Lack of freedom of movement may indicate excessive wear.
If the brakes can be applied and released smoothly with minimal noise, even when the bike is out of gear, the brakes are good. If the brake calipers drag, they will need to be repaired. If the brake lever pulses when the bike is braked, there may be a bent rotor.
Examine the Levers and Footpegs
These are the best spots to examine to see if the bike has been in an accident. Repairs that may have been made to the frame of the bike may hide accidents that could have affected the quality of the bike. Levers and footpegs can give you clues to the true history of a second-hand bike.
Levers tend to curl when they hit the pavement. A seller may buff out the rash on the lever from when it hit the pavement, but the curved appearance is harder to hide. If a lever has been cut and re-shaped, this may have been an attempt to hide the damage.
Levers and footpegs that have been added aftermarket may be an indicator that the bike has been in a crash. Remember, these indicators don’t necessarily mean that the bike is in bad shape. However, if the seller attempts to hide this information, there may be other problems with the bike that they are hiding as well.
Examine the Fuel Tank
The first thing to look for in the fuel tank is the color of the fuel. With a flashlight, you should look for syrup-colored fuel and be able to see the metal bottom of the fuel tank. If the fuel is dark, then it will need to be drained and replaced. The system will also need to be flushed. You should also look for sediment, rust, and grit in the tank, which indicates wear-and-tear.
Choose a Reputable Dealer
One of the easiest ways to make sure you are receiving a quality second-hand bike is by buying it from a reputable dealer. While you should still check the other factors listed above, checking reviews from other buyers can point you in the right direction.
Private sellers, like people selling bikes on Craigslist, may offer cheaper prices than showrooms, but you are more likely to get a low-quality bike. You’ll receive no consumer protection, warranty, may have to pay in cash, and will likely have to handle the paperwork yourself. With no legal repercussions for misleading buyers and no warranty, private sellers don’t have a lot of motivation to provide a high-quality product.
Showrooms, on the other hand, are more discerning about the quality of the bikes they offer. You can be sure the bike has been previously inspected and will likely be offered a warranty. Showrooms also often have a wide selection, so you have more choices and will be able to find a bike that matches your preferences and price point.
Looking for a second-hand bike can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know what to look for, finding a bike that suits your tastes and fits your budget will be easy, and you will be certain to get a quality product.