TMS Parts’ Buyer Guide Series: What to Ask When Buying a Used Bike

What do you look for in used bikes? Perhaps something like this red and black beauty.

What to Look For Before You Buy a Used Bike

 

In a perfect world, motorcycle enthusiasts everywhere could have all the brand new or vintage bikes they dream of. However, many of us aren’t financially able to buy a brand new motorcycle; so instead, we often shop around for a quality used bike that we can work on and fix up. 

As you begin your search for a used bike, make sure to do your homework before you purchase any second-hand motorcycle. In order to make a well-rounded, informed choice, you definitely need to have an idea of what kind of bike you’re looking for and where you’re planning to buy your pre-owned bike. 

 

Man in all black riding a used bike that he fixed up.

First, Know What You Want in a Used Bike

 

Before you even begin your search, take a step back and figure out what type of used motorcycle you want to buy. Is there a specific bike make and model you want? Are you looking for something you can ride for long extended periods or one that’s more for show? Is there a specific brand you gravitate towards? What about the mileage? Are you looking for something that is under or over a specific mileage? Are you looking for a project with a donor used bike?

 

It’s easy as a shopper to focus on just the price when you first start looking, but a cheap bike may not give you what you want or need. When you have a better idea of what you’re looking for in a used bike, and what your goals as a rider are, you’ll know where to do the looking. 

 

Do Your Research Before Investing in a Used Bike

 

Know your budget and do your research! Research the kind of used bike that will best meet your needs, and understand the likely price-range you’ll be facing for it. This way, you’ll have a rough estimate of what you’ll be paying when you find your ideal pre-owned bike. “Only go above [your budget] if the bike is truly exceptional or comes with a massive list of useful aftermarket accessories or spares”, notes this site.

 

glove on top of a motorcycle from someone who was working on their used bike

 

Have a Used Bike Inspection Checklist

 

If you’re buying secondhand, the bike is probably not going to be without flaws. But it’s still important to have an idea of what potential problems may come up and how you’re willing to deal with them. Bikeexif has a great checklist for you to use while shopping for a used bike.

 

guy sitting on a Honda that was a pre-owned bike

 

The Checklist Broken Down

 

  1. Look at the bike
  2. Touch and listen
  3. Sit on the bike
  4. The road test

 

More Questions…

 

  1. How many miles are on the bike?
  2. What’s been serviced before?
  3. Has it been inspected, and if not, does your seller know if it will pass an inspection?
  4. Ask the seller not to start the bike before you look at it.

 

man replacing a tire on a used bike

 

Second, Know Who You Want to Buy a Pre-Owned Bike From

 

The next decision you make will be where you want to purchase the used bike from. Buying from a motorcycle dealership is probably your safest option, but there are perks to buying from a private seller, like someone from Craigslist, as well. Decide what’s best for you.

 

man handing over the keys to a pre-owned vehicle

 

Buying a Used Bike from a Dealership

 

Going with a dealer is a safer bet; “one of the main advantages is that if there are things wrong with the bike, you can get them to agree to sort them out [or alter the price to compensate for the fixes] if you intend to buy”, according to this site. They also point out that you have, “…theoretical legal protection if the bike you have bought turns out to be a complete lemon.” Buying from a dealer will give you consumer protection, as well as, “…access to dealer financing and maybe even a warranty.” 

 

The downside, they note, is that you’re more likely to pay more for the bike than you would through a private sale. “Motorcycle dealerships make far more money on trade-in bikes than they ever do on selling new machines, as they buy cheap and sell expensive…”, so if the price tag seems a bit too inexpensive in the shop, definitely make sure to ask a lot of questions about the secondhand bike. 

 

Buying a Used Bike in a Private Sale

 

Private sales pose a much larger risk for buying a bad used bike and/or getting ripped off. As you would at a motorcycle dealership, it’s still very important to have that checklist ready. Paying attention to the seller themselves is also key; if you can’t trust the seller, or you get a bad vibe, forget it.

 

Consider asking yourself these questions: Does the seller look like a motorcyclist? Can they answer all your questions about the bike? Do they know the history of the bike? For an initial understanding of the seller, ask the seller why they are selling and if they have a history of making successful purchases or sales before this. This gives you an idea behind their motivation to sell, as well as a peek at any issues the bike may have.

 

pre-owned bikes can be an excellent investment if you know what to look for, like this beauty here

Third, Make a Well-Rounded Decision

 

Just because the nearly-new bike looks nice, doesn’t mean that it’s roadworthy. You need to look at the engine, the machine, and the parts before you make your purchase. Otherwise, you might spend just as much to fix the bike as it cost to buy it! If you’re paying an exorbitant amount for the used motorcycle, knowing you’ll have to fix it, it’s just counterproductive. (Unless it’s that rare bike that you’ve been hunting for years and years, but that’s another story.) Be sure you’re considering the price vs the condition of the bike. Does the pricing justify the potential for more fixing?

 

black used bike at night with the headlight on

 

Know the risks, do your research, and buy from somewhere (or someone) you trust. If you keep these three things in mind, you’ll be ready to find, and buy, yourself an awesome used bike. Once you find the bike that best fits your needs, you’re good to go.

 

And, as always, if you need OEM parts, we have you covered.

 

Happy riding!

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