Buying a used motorcycle in 5 steps

Buying a used motorcycle in 5 steps

Assessing your find – Used Motorcycle Evaluation Guide for your cafe racer project

So you want to buy a used motorcycle for your cafe racer project? Well, let’s face the fact.

Buying a used motorcycle is not that easy. You can’t just wake up one day, go out, buy a motorcycle, and ride off into the sunset.

Whether it is your first time or fifth time, buying a used motorbike can be a risky affair. It takes a bit more effort than just walking into a showroom and picking a brand new motorbike.

Buying a used motorbike requires hands-on skills, tips, and guidelines to help you complete the deal without much hassle. In this article, we shall delve into assessing your find. Digging deeper into what you need to check in that bike you have been admiring for long before sealing that deal.


 step1 – Dealer or Private Party?

The first thing you need to consider in buying a used motorcycle is your budget. Of course, the fact that you are settling for a second-hand motorcycle means that you are working on a constricted budget. Nevertheless, whether your budget is flexible or fixed, you need to decide where and how you will get the bike in the first place.

Dealers are known to have a lot of knowledge and experience in motorcycle purchases. It goes without saying that after many years of completing such a deal as yours, they know where and how to get the right bike for you whenever you need it. However, they usually charge premiums that make purchasing second-hand bikes from them an expensive venture.

On the other hand, sealing the deal with a private party helps you have a personal experience with the owner. You will listen to nostalgic stories about the bike that can be of great help in making the purchase.


 step2 – Is There Room for Negotiation?

While working on budget-sensitive deals, chances are that you want to take the plunge for the motorbike that you have fallen in love with as long as you have the money to purchase it. The rule of thumb is, however, never to commit yourself to seal the deal until you are fully comfortable with the price.

Make sure you get what your money is worth. Again if you find a deal that is fair in price, be ready to step up the budget. There are many deals out there and they get completed fairly quickly.

Your bike might be out there waiting for you.


 step3 – Have a thorough inspection of the bike yourself

No one would like to spend hundreds probably thousands of dollars on bike maintenance.

Taking your time to carry out a thorough mechanical inspection of the motorcycle you intend to purchase will not only save you a fortune but also can keep you safe religiously.

Now you have the right bike right by your side and the deal appears to be fair. You have the money required to make the purchase and it’s your turn to take the deal to the next stage.

So what exactly do you inspect?

The drive chain and the sprocket:  ensure that the chain has around ¾” of play and that there are no obvious signs of tear and wear in the teeth of the sprocket. Make sure there no much movement by wiggling the chain side to side on the sprocket. Despite the fact that chains wear out over time, sprockets last longer, and any signs of a severely worn out sprocket mean that either the bike has an extremely old sprocket or it has had a poor maintenance schedule.

Tires: rarely do you find a second-hand motorbike on sale with brand new tires on it. If you anticipate a firm grip on the road as you cruise through the curves back home, you need to be keen on the tires. Ensure that they are well treaded and that they have no obvious signs of uneven wear or damage. If you are purchasing the bike from a daily driver, however, you expect the tires to have more tear and wear in the middle or on the trend. If the bike has been racing on the track all its life, you expect to see more wear at the edge of the tread. Nevertheless, ensure that the bike has tires good enough to get you back home safely.

I bet you don’t want to purchase a bike that has suffered an accident or a drop (lookout for any scratches in the engine cases, footpegs, or the exhaust pipe).

You want a bike that has good brakes and efficient clutch levers. The straightness of the bars and instrument cluster is a must check.  The bike should be strong enough and every part should be worth every penny. I’m sure you don’t want to seal a deal on a bike only to realize that the brakes are not functional while cruising down the highway at 140MPH! Make sure the handbrakes are working perfectly way before you turn on that ignition.

Inspecting a second-hand motorbike is as important as the deal itself. Don’t be in a hurry to complete the deal before you are convinced that the bike id strong enough to get you home safely. Remember to open the fuel tank and check for signs of rust using your flashlights; of course not using a lighter or a matchbox!


step4 – Check at the service history

After you have checked everything about the bike and you are satisfied beyond doubt that the bike is worth your every dime, take your time to inspect every record.

Ask the seller for any service records of the bike. If the motorbike has been maintained regularly, it will save you much money down the line.

Check for the last service date to ascertain that the bike has been maintained regularly.

Consider the mileage of the bike. It is important to note that bikes with extremely low mileage can be just as suspicious as those with higher mileage.  If the bike has been sitting around without proper storage techniques it can result in more serious problems in the long run.


step5 – Seal the deal

The last step in buying a used motorcycle is obviously sealing the deal.

There are many sellers out there willing to sell their used bikes. You should not commit to buy a bike that is not right for you.

If you need the best bike for your cafe racer project, you need to shop around. Inspect as many bikes as possible with contention. If you find one that really suits your needs, take it for a spin to make sure it is a perfect choice.

If you have followed every precaution discussed above, seal the deal, put on your safety gear, and enjoy your ride!


Images by Insomnia Cured Here and Charles SEGUY