Buyers Guide 08-05-17

Second Hand Buyer’s Guide

The market is plenty of different models for every taste and level of skill. But what if you don’t have the cash for the bike you want to buy? You should probably take a look at the second-hand market where you can find an older model for much less. This will make you save a significant amount of money but if you don’t pay attention, it might cost you a lot more.

To avoid this mistake, we put together a list of things that you should keep in mind while you look for your next ride. We’re not going to cover any of the legal aspects because it changes from country to country and it deserves a separate article.

Before contacting the owner, do your homework

Which means you should spend time finding all the information you can get on the model you want to buy. Find out all the weak spots, when you’re there you should already know where to look and what to expect. For example, on many models, Ducati used cam belts instead of cam chains and they need to be replaced in time. If they ran more than 20,000 km or are just old they might snap which means “game over”. This is the specific notion that you have to keep in mind while checking your next motorcycle.

10 Things you need to know

#1 A matter of feeling

Like with people, it is important to have a good impression. This might sound weird, but if you don’t have a good feeling and if your gut is telling you “no” for some reason that you don’t get yet, you should probably leave the bike where it is.

#2 The way it looks

The general look of the bike matters. It tells you if the owner cares, which is an important information. If it looks dirty like he didn’t care much, the chances are, he might have also neglected the internal parts. Also, investigate for missing screws.

3# Check for traces of crashes

If it’s carefully repaired it might not be a problem but it is good to know what happened. Things like missing stickers, not matching fairing colors, ground carters or handlebars means bike went down.

4# Check the fluids

Not only you should check the level of all fluids like engine oil, the reservoir of the brakes, and of the coolant. You should also detect their condition.

5# Tires

If the clock shows 8,000 km but the rims look like they’ve seen more tires than a MotoGP bike, you have the right to be suspicious.


6# Brakes

See how much is left on the brake pads but even more important are the discs. They can tell you a lot about the real mileage of the bike. Check for irregular edges and grooves.

7# Suspensions

See if there is a leak of any sort, especially from the seals.

8# Bearings

If you don’t have a center stand just use the side one with the help of a friend. Then you need to find out if the bearings are loose or need to be replaced. Check the steering head, the swing arm, and the wheels.

9# The cold start

Be suspicious if the engine is already warmed up. You should try a cold start and hear if the engine makes any weird noise.

10# History and inspections

If the owner has all the bills of the inspections and repairs he made, it’s also a good sign of care and attention. Too many owners it’s also not a good sign but if you’re buying a barn find from the 70s, you should have also seen that coming.

The test ride

The motorcycle might also be in a good condition but if this is the first ride, you should also consider if this is the right one for you. It’s like a suit, you have to wear it to know if it fits.

A final word

You might fall in love with a flawed motorcycle but if you decide to buy it at least you should know what you get.


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Gasolist in chief, test-rider, and content writer. He began in the two-stroke era which makes him feel pretty old but gave him the chance to race everything from 125cc to 1000cc. All useless experiences when he got lost in the Sahara desert with nothing but a can of beans.

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