What to Look Out for When Buying a Used Motorcycle
As fuel prices worldwide continue rising to record levels, many motorists seek cost-saving alternatives to basic transportation. For some of these drivers, motorcycles present an economical transport solution. While buying a used motorcycle may appear to be a straightforward process, there are a few areas of concern for those interested in purchasing a used motorcycle.
Contact the Previous Owner, if Possible
Speaking with a previous owner can provide a wealth of information for anyone trying to find a used bike. Prior owners may be able to provide insight into the maintenance of the motorcycle and previous accidents or repairs. While you can learn much of this same background information by running a search of the motorcycle’s VIN, asking the owner up front tells you know how forthcoming they are with the bike’s history.
Private Seller, Local Dealer, or National Franchise?
Choosing where to shop for a used motorcycle can significantly impact the buying process. A bike from a private seller will probably provide the lowest upfront price. Still, private sellers are less likely to offer warranties and other guarantees of the bike’s condition, which could prove costly down the line for parts and repair. A dealership’s reputation in the community can be the most significant factor for a healthy bottom line. To maintain a good reputation, dealerships have a greater interest in keeping customers happy and are more likely to offer a guarantee of the bike’s quality.
Take It For a Test Ride
Test riding the motorcycle gives you valuable information and lets you know if this is a bike you’ll feel comfortable driving on the road. When test riding, listen to the engine when at idle and while accelerating. When stopping, do the brakes feel smooth? Pay attention to how the bike handles and whether the balance feels like a good fit. Most dealerships have test bikes available for select models.
Have a Professional Look It Over
Before agreeing to purchase a used motorcycle, it’s wise to have a mechanic inspect the bike, so you know what issues you’ll inherit after bringing it home. While a trained and experienced mechanic is the best person to complete the inspection, there are several things you can check out on your own. Also, look at the brake fluid and the air filter to check for cleanliness and signs of possible neglect.
The oil tank or dip stick are other places that are easy to check on some bikes and will provide clues to the bike’s upkeep. After the oil cools down, remove the dipstick and look at the oil clinging to the side of the stick. The oil dipstick should have one line for a low mark and another for a high level. The amount of oil in the tank should be between these two markings. The color of the oil is something else to check.
New engine oil is almost translucent in color and has the consistency of olive oil. With use, the oil becomes thicker and darker. Dirty or grainy-looking oil may indicate engine damage caused by contaminated oil. Decreased fuel efficiency and rough idling can also be signs of bad engine oil in the bike.
Buying your first motorcycle is an amazing experience. Take plenty of time to shop and do your homework to ensure you and your new bike have many miles to travel together.