Getting Started – When Buying a Used Motorcycle


So you are looking to buy a used motorcycle. It is certainly an economical way to try out a different ride. Or maybe you’ve ridden in the past but never owned your motorcycle. There are a hundred reasons to buy a used motorcycle and they are perfectly valid. The important thing, and what I am going to go over today is to make sure you know what you need before buying that previously owned motorcycle.

The number one thing I am going to tell you is that you have to know how the motorcycle has been modified. It doesn’t matter if you are a Harley fan decked out in your leather motorcycle pants and matching leather biker vest or if you are a racer with the corresponding motorcycle racing pants. We tinker on our rides. So first and foremost know how the ride has been molded.

Whether it is loud pipes or a custom paint job before you ever see the motorcycle ask what the mods have been. That way when you show up to take a look you know exactly what to look for to make sure the mods have been done properly. That is going to take some research if it’s new to you but that’s why you ask.

Looking at the Fine Print

The same line of thought suggests that you ask them to have the maintenance records available (as far as possible) when you go by to take a look. Every machine that has been ridden before has a story to tell and these records will give you the cliff notes. Take a close look at the motorcycle, look for pooling or leakage, pop the seat, examine the bar ends, lever and footpegs. Get in close and look at just how hard the motorcycle has been ridden. And I am going to tell you to do this twice. Once while the motorcycle is cold then do it again after the test ride. And yes, always do a test ride. Seems like common sense but never buy a vehicle without feeling the engine at work. Once you have taken it for a ride re-examine it, pay attention, and don’t get distracted with banter from the seller.

To know more about buying a used motorcycle, please read our 4 Red Flags to Watch Out for When Buying an Old Motorcycle.

If that all checks out and you couldn’t be happier then you still need to do your research and make sure you aren’t getting ripped off. To that end, you are going to have to insist on a used bill of sale and you are going to take a close look at the VINs (Look up images of the factory stamped VINs) make sure they haven’t been restamped. The last thing you want is to get pulled over a month down the line wearing your favorite textile motorcycle pants from Wicked Stock because your new favorite ride was boosted last spring. Get the bill of sale showing how you obtained the motorcycle and check the VINs.

Attention to Detail

Next up I am going to tell you to know and understand what you are looking at. Some motorcycles will spit out oil on startup and that is perfectly natural, for others it means it needs a trip to the ER. So do your homework and know what to look for when it comes to this particular model. If you aren’t certain then ask the seller (previous warnings aside not everyone is out to rob you). Ask about that noise you aren’t familiar with and see what they say.

If you’ve got a friend with a similar model then bring them with you for “expert advice”. If they aren’t in the mood you can always offer to buy them some new leather motorcycle gloves from (follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) and get yourself a pair while you are at it.

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