Top tips for buying a used motorbike

Top tips for buying a used motorbike

Thursday, 12 April 2012 5:27 PM

A used motorbike can be excellent value for money

A used motorbike can be excellent value for money

Buying a used motorcycle is a great way to get started on the roads, or perhaps just to save money. However, you need to ensure you purchase a high-quality machine, otherwise you run the risk of the total cost of ownership being more expensive than a new bike.

There are lots of things to consider before you shake hands on a deal to buy a second-hand motorbike and it is worth drawing up a checklist before you start your search, as it will help to make certain you do not forget anything important. There will be a number of factors specific to your choice on the list, but there are some general points that cannot be overlooked.

Research prices for bikes

The main reason people choose a used bike instead of a new one is the lower purchase price. It may be that you are still in the restricted period of your licence and do not want to spend much on a motorcycle that you only intend to keep for two years, or you might just want a cheap machine for commuting.

Spend some time thinking about the models you are keen on and then carry out thorough research into the price of them. Look at the adverts in publications such as Autotrader and Motorcycle News, and carry out internet searches. Don't forget to ring your local motorbike sales outlets, as they could have unadvertised or recently acquired machines that you may be interested in.

Once you have done all this, you will be in a position to know whether you are being offered a good deal and to negotiate a better one.

Dealership or private seller?

One of the biggest choices you will have to make is whether to buy your used machine from a dealership or a private seller. The prices set by some individuals who offer bikes for sale through classified ads or online auctions can look attractive, but it is sensible to adopt a negative way of thinking and ask yourself: "What would happen if something goes wrong with the motorcycle?"

While you may save a few pounds on the purchase price by going private, there is no onus on the seller to give you any kind of post-sales service. Reputable dealerships offer warranties with their used bikes and you can expect them to repair any major parts failure without charge.

Ask for expert assistance

Once you have found a machine you want, it can be tempting to just hand over the cash, sign the paperwork, strap on your Dainese helmet and ride off on the bike. One of the biggest mistakes people make when buying second-hand motorcycles is getting too excited and not carrying out thorough checks.

You need to inspect things like the forks, chain, handlebars, paintwork and tyres for signs of damage or wear, as replacing them can be costly and time consuming. Make sure you also sit on the bike to find out if it is comfortable and turn the engine on, so you can listen for any unusual sounds and see the colour of the exhaust fumes.

If you do not know what to look out for – and many people buying a used bike don't, as it is the first machine they have ever purchased – take someone who knows about motorcycles with you. Buying them a drink in return for their time will prove to be a good investment, particularly if they spot a potentially expensive problem and advise you against buying the machine.

Check the paperwork

Before you zip up your Dainese jacket and ride off on the bike, you must check all the paperwork is in order. You need to see the V5, to make sure the seller actually owns the motorcycle, and the MOT certificate, if the machine is more than three years old.

It is also a good idea to arrange a vehicle check to find out whether there is any outstanding finance on the bike. Reputable dealerships do this as standard, but if you opt for a private sale, you will need to factor the cost of it into your budget.