motorcycle 101 guides

What to Look for When Buying a Used Motorcycle

What to Look for When Buying a Used Motorcycle

Photo credit: @MorgueFile

Buying a used motorcycle is similar to purchasing a used vehicle. If you have cash that’s great! If not, one of the first things you need to do is go to the bank and make financing arrangements. Most dealers also offer financing on the spot. Check all your financing options.

You can find motorcycles for sale in your local paper, online, or even at auctions. However, many riders prefer to purchase their motorcycle from a dealer. If you find a bike that is for sale that interests you there are some things you need to look at.

Have a look at the general over all appearance of the motorcycle. Can you see any damage or scratches on the paint? Are all the body parts in good condition and aligned? Look at the foot pegs, are the ends intact, or scuffed? If you see any damage it may mean the motorcycle has been dropped or worse yet, the rider may have had a speed related fall with the bike. Be sure to check carefully.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Motorcycle

Photo credit: @Flickr

You should examine the signal lights for scuffing or damage. As well, look at the handgrips on the handlebars and the mirrors for any signs of damage. If there is damage, it is possible the motorcycle has taken a spill and you’ll want to investigate further.

Be sure to examine the forks for signs of leaky fork seals. Look closely at the engine for damage or oil stains. Even if the bike was washed, if it leaks oil normally you will find some evidence of this.

Is the tail pipe and muffler in good condition? Do the taillights and turn light work? Does the brake light work? As well, check the front and rear tires for cracking and scuffing on the sidewalls. If you find evidence of this, it could mean a bent rim. Try to wiggle the spokes if they move there is a problem with the rim.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Motorcycle

Photo credit: @RGB Stock

Looking from the front of the bike towards the back, is the front wheel in the center of the fender? If not, the rim or the front forks could be damaged or twisted, which could cause the motorcycle to veer one way or the other.

Start the bike. Does the motorcycle have an electric starter? Does the bike fire right up? If not their may be problems with the fuel system or the starter itself. If the bike is a kick-start style, it can some times require one or more kicks to start; however, more than three times might indicate there is a mechanical problem.

With the motorcycle running, put the bike into first gear then slowly release the clutch. Note where the clutch engages. If it grabs too high or too low there could be a problem. It may only be a cable in need of adjustment or it could be more serious. With the bike in first gear release the clutch and throttle the bike up to speed. Make sure it sounds good, no hesitation or missing.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Motorcycle

Photo credit: @Flickr

Engage the rear brakes and listen for any strange sounds of dragging or grinding. Did the bike stop as you applied the rear brakes and was it a smooth stop? Now do the same for the front brakes but do not apply to much throttle, because a fast stop on front brake alone can be very dangerous, and it could result in you having an accident. If all seems good with the brakes adjust the mirrors and take a short ride.

Put the bike through all gears. At what speed is the motorcycle easy to ride? While going through a corner can it travel in a straight line? If you feel no vibrations, and are comfortable on the motorcycle, it may be a good bike for you.

If you decide this could be the bike for you, set up a time when the shop can do a mechanical and structural inspection. This is worth the money. If the owner won’t let you do this, you should walk away from the bike, as you need to protect your investment.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Motorcycle

Photo credit: @Flickr

If everything checks out all that’s left to do is complete the purchase, insure it, and get ready to enjoy the sights and sounds as you cruise down the highway!

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