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First time buying used Motorcycle
#1
Hi I will be buying a used motorcycle for the first time.

What are the proper procedures and what to look for?

Thanks!
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#2
Check for rebuilt statuses, pricing against the bluebook, pricing compared to other ads.
Rebuilt statuses isn't necessarily a negative thing, but inquire into what was declared.
Check VIN# (added by Cody)

1st steps is to get a bike inspection done. That's the easiest! But if you don't go that route, some basics are to check for:
  • Signs of bike being dropped (no decals, repainted fairings, scratches on engine parts)
  • Leakage of all fluids on parts and hoses
  • Oil always flows downwards, check each portion of the engine case for leaks in the seals, kick stand, bottom of fairings, etc
  • Check for chain & sprocket wear. If the slack adjustment is near the end, you might need to replace it soon. Sprocket teeth should be a squar tipped pyramid.
  • Check brake pads for wear
  • Check brake rotors for uneven, or grooved lines
  • If you can ride the bike, go down the street (30-40km/h), pop the bike into neutral, carefully take your hands off the bars and see if the bike steers straight.
  • Check for leakage in the forks
  • Check the oil in the window if possible, is it clean? Also check other fluids (brake, coolant, clutch on some bikes)
  • See if the owner takes care of the bike. General cleanliness and care goes a long way
  • Has the bike been properly stored? Regular scheduled maintenance? Logs?
  • Check tire wear
  • Has the bike been on the track?

That's all I can think of right now, if I think of more, I'll add to the list.
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Brose
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#3
Thanks Ambrose!

What if the bike have been on the track?
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#4
Leighton Wrote:What if the bike have been on the track?
You guys are into cars.. same thing with Mazda3's that have been on the track. Engine is ridden hard, opened throttle at long periods of time, etc.

I actually like my bike because it's been on the track. It feels more "open" and "loose". Like it wants to go compared to a stock engine. But definitely not good for it. Smile I would still get a bike that's been on the track though, just need to assess it carefully.
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Brose
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#5
sorry, asking a lot of questions, nervous about getting my first bike haha Big Grin
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#6
Leighton Wrote:sorry, asking a lot of questions, nervous about getting my first bike haha Big Grin

Better than not asking..
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#7
Check the VIN # for claim history and for any lien against it.
Good food, good life.
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#8
I actually did a bit of research and wrote an extensive post on what to look for on my blog after buying my bike. Here you go:

OWNERSHIP and BIKE HISTORY
Ownership: Make sure the bike belongs to the seller! Ask to see the registration, you do not want to be buying something stolen

Theft: Compare the VIN number on the bike to the VIN number on the registration paper the owner shows you – if they don’t match, walk away (then call the police).

VIN History: If you can, ask for the VIN number in advance of seeing the bike and have it’s record checked. Your local insurers should be able to see if the bike has been in any major accidents, or has “rebuild status” – though sometimes this can be expensive. A bike that has ‘rebuild’ status was taken off the rode, uninsured, rebuilt to road standards, tested, and insured again. It’s up to you if you feel safe riding in one of those. The value of the bike should reflect that, so if someone is selling a rebuild for the price of a new/used bike, they’re scamming you.

Retail Value: Check the Kelly Blue Book for the retail value of the bike. It’ll offer high and low end pricing – does the bike you want to buy reflect the blue book values or is it way overpriced? Ask why if it is.

Bike Modifications: Look online for the stock features of the bike. Has anything been swapped out on the bike you’re looking at? Often people will make modifications to their bike: changing the mufflers, seats, fenders, etc. If there are mods, look up those parts and see whether they are a good fit for you.

Off Season: Where was the bike stored during the off season? Ask if it was in a covered garage, and if it was stored with a full tank of gas and stabilizer or an empty tank. If the answer is neither, then there may be rust in the tank – those are the only 2 ways to store your bike for a long period of no riding.

Insurance: was the bike properly insured? A good red flag for the bike being a scam is if the seller can’t tell you who it was insured with, or cites a bogus insurer.

Service History: When was she last serviced? Does the owner have the documentation? Where was she serviced? If she’s due for a new one soon, that might be something you can use during your price negotiation. Get copies of the maintenence records as well. Its good to see when and what has been done to the bike.

BIKE INSPECTION:
Wheels: look for impacts, dents, scratches, etc. on the rim. Bent wheels and spoke problems or cracks should be a red flag. If the bike has never been in an accident, there shouldn’t be any rim damage.

Tires: Look at the tread of the tires – is it deep enough, or do they need to be changed soon? This can affect your bargaining position. Check to ensure the tires don’t have any cracks or damage, patch jobs can be fine as long as they’ve been done properly – I’m not sure I would trust someone else’s patch job over taking it to a licensed mechanic to have it done.

Brakes: Get down there and look at the disc pads: are they worn out and need to be replaced? Look at the bike’s specs online, it should tell you the minimum brake pad allowance. My ninja allows for 1mm before safety becomes affected – you don’t want to get there. If the brake pads need changing, the price of the bike should reflect that. Check the pressure in the cables and the smoothness of the brakes when you go for your test ride of the bike.

Suspension: Check to make sure the coil springs and fork legs have no damage. When you test ride, do an emergency brake. Are the fork legs leaking after the pump? Ensure that the bike steers smoothly and check for any vibrations.

Gauges: Are they working? Be sure that they actually move when the bike is on and you’re riding it.

Engine: Make sure you start the engine and take a test ride. Try to get a cold engine warm and then let it run without choke. Also check the exhaust, belt drives, chains, oil battery etc. Look for signs of leaking. Oil in strange places, around sections where the engine parts connect, caked on dirt is often a sign of grease. Cleaning a bike well can cover this up though. If they are not keeping the bike clean, it may not be well maintained.

Bike Drive: Check the condition of the chain (if it is a chain driven bike) or belt if it is belt driven. Look for wear and rear, missing teeth on the sprocket, rust, etc. These things can be replaced but it helps with bargaining and will, for most people, require a visit to the mechanic.

Cosmetic: has the bike been laid down? If there are scratches on the edge of the handle bars and the foot pegs, it would suggest it has. Ask the seller, they should be honest about whether the bike has been dropped. If they say no but the signs point to yes, decide whether or not you’re alright with that. A cracked signal light is a good sign of a fall as well: they are usually expensive to replace (for OEM parts) so check to make sure they are original and for any scuffs etc. Check for dents on the tank and scratched farings – if the bike hasn’t been in an accident there should be no damage. If there is – see if you can use that in your bargaining.

Tank: Bring a flashlight and open up the fuel lid. Look inside the tank – is there rust? If the bike was stored with fuel in it for the winter (improperly, without stabilizer) there may be rust. You don’t want a bike with rust in it, rust weakens the structural integrity.

Hoses and Lines: Inspect all lines and hoses possible to ensure they are not brittle or cracking. Lots of these materials can break down over time if they are exposed to direct sunlight (tires too). It typically takes years, but its worth looking for.
Lights: Check to ensure all signal, brake, head and auxiliary lights work.

TEST RIDE:
Take her for a spin – how does she handle? Does the weight of the bike work for you?
Be sure to find an empty street and open her up a fair bit. Shift gears, how smooth is the shift? How is the clutch’s friction point. Try to get as high up on the gears as safely possible in the space you are testing her.

Turn. How does the bike handle turns, and does everything feel ‘right’ when turning? If the balance feels off to you, this might not be the bike for you.

BUYING:
Bring enough cash to cover the asking price, as most sellers will only let you test ride with cash in hand.
After inspecting the bike – is anything not right? Has the seller been honest? If you still want the bike, see what you can bargain.

You’re good to go- check and double check your checklist, and then take your girl home with you.
Don’t forget to bring appropriate gear for test riding – you can’t expect the seller to loan you their helmet, jacket, boots and gloves!
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#9
Very helpful! Thanks a lot!
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#10
Continuing this topic, I was wondering what's the standard procedure in the transfer of bike and cash.

Do most sellers expect $20 bills non-sequential or more realistically, bank draft... certified cheques or would they prefer to come to a bank with you and wire it over directly?

Also, then do you sign some paper to transfer the insurance over or would I have to buy the insurance first? I've never purchased a vehicle from another person before so I'm hazy about the procedure and I don't want to show up empty handed and unprepared!
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#11
emifee Wrote:Do most sellers expect $20 bills non-sequential or more realistically, bank draft... certified cheques or would they prefer to come to a bank with you and wire it over directly?

Also, then do you sign some paper to transfer the insurance over or would I have to buy the insurance first? I've never purchased a vehicle from another person before so I'm hazy about the procedure and I don't want to show up empty handed and unprepared!
Monetary option is to the discretion the seller. Most prefer cash, others don't mind a certified cheque. I've purchased before using a personal cheque, showed my ID, but it's easier when my profile is plastered on the PRS site. :lol:

They have to fill out their portion of the transfer papers, and sign the transfer document. You also need their copy (or a copy) of ownership (stub portion of their ICBC insurance papers). Makes it easier for the ICBC agent to pull up the VIN/vehicle. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong?) That's what I usually get from the sellers.
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Brose
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#12
I was wondering if there are some tell tale signs for avoiding buying a used bikes.

The bike i was looking at has scratches on both ends of the handle bars and was told it was dropped once, hard enough to bend the clutch handle bar but it landed on the engine slider so no damage elsewhere. However, one of the rear view mirrors was snapped on when "someone walked by it in the garage" and a crack on the fender in the front when "something heavy in the garage landed on it".

Otherwise, the bike looks pretty perfect and well kept, runs well and I was told he does all the maintenance work himself premature to them being required.

It's a 2003 SV650 with 44k kilometres on the odometer, asking for $3300 despite the little scratches here and there. He seems like an honest bike enthusiast and even warned me that the KK race brakes he put on don't work as well when they're cold but work really well once they warm up.

I'm worried that the scratches are hiding a bigger accident, and that he's more concerned with getting rid of the bike than to worry about me being unable to handle the race brakes.
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#13
emifee Wrote:I was wondering if there are some tell tale signs for avoiding buying a used bikes.
Check out the first few posts.

emifee Wrote:The bike i was looking at has scratches on both ends of the handle bars and was told it was dropped once, hard enough to bend the clutch handle bar but it landed on the engine slider so no damage elsewhere. However, one of the rear view mirrors was snapped on when "someone walked by it in the garage" and a crack on the fender in the front when "something heavy in the garage landed on it".
Possible, someone's walked by my 636 and hit the mirrors which broke the metal piece of the upper frame and cracked the windscreen.

emifee Wrote:It's a 2003 SV650 with 44k kilometres on the odometer, asking for $3300 despite the little scratches here and there. He seems like an honest bike enthusiast and even warned me that the KK race brakes he put on don't work as well when they're cold but work really well once they warm up.
Check the blue book if that's a good price.. Seems alright.

emifee Wrote:I'm worried that the scratches are hiding a bigger accident, and that he's more concerned with getting rid of the bike than to worry about me being unable to handle the race brakes.
I'd change the brakes back to the stock ones. You'll never heat those brakes up like he does on the track.
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Brose
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#14
Thanks brose! I'll ask him for the stock brake pads with the bike... it's not like he has any use for them unless he attaches them to the sole of his shoes to make them last longer.
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#15
Hey guys, so i checked this bike i was looking at - a 2006 R6. Everything checks out okay but the mileage worries me, it's currently sitting at 32xxx km. Should i be worried?
Thanks!
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#16
njoytheride Wrote:Hey guys, so i checked this bike i was looking at - a 2006 R6. Everything checks out okay but the mileage worries me, it's currently sitting at 32xxx km. Should i be worried?
Thanks!
6000kms / year.. not too bad, means they ride their bike. Check when the next maintenance schedule is for that bike, that'll be your key to find out, and to ask the owner if it has been done.
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Brose
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#17
Cableguy Wrote:
njoytheride Wrote:Hey guys, so i checked this bike i was looking at - a 2006 R6. Everything checks out okay but the mileage worries me, it's currently sitting at 32xxx km. Should i be worried?
Thanks!
6000kms / year.. not too bad, means they ride their bike. Check when the next maintenance schedule is for that bike, that'll be your key to find out, and to ask the owner if it has been done.



Thanks brose!
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#18
Cableguy Wrote:
njoytheride Wrote:Hey guys, so i checked this bike i was looking at - a 2006 R6. Everything checks out okay but the mileage worries me, it's currently sitting at 32xxx km. Should i be worried?
Thanks!
6000kms / year.. not too bad, means they ride their bike. Check when the next maintenance schedule is for that bike, that'll be your key to find out, and to ask the owner if it has been done.

This is key to buying any bike!
If they can't rpovide service records, and their shop can't either, really question whether it's a good buy or not.
BC Children's Hospital Foundation Balding for Dollars

Email Bernie: PRSMechanic(at)hotmail(dot)com
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#19
This is the most detailed inspection guide I was able to find online while purchasing my bike:
http://www.clarity.net/adam/buying-bike.html
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