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A Guide to Buying a Used Motorbike

Before you buy a used motorbike off eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree, read our advice, you could save yourself a lot of cash and a fair amount of hassle. Depending on the age of the bike there will be different things you should think about and focus on. This checklist gives you a set of points to run through, this could help you avoid buying someone else’s money pit, and will mean the seller knows you are a serious purchaser.

Buying a bike younger than 2 years old is your best bet. This will mean the previous owner has taken the brunt of the depreciation. Also, the bike won’t yet need an MOT and it may even have some of its warranty left. If you are buying a bike that is upto 2 years old, look at these aspects:

  • Corrosion: look for any signs of corrosion on the exhaust pipe, nuts and bolts, or the fork legs. Some corrosion is ok, but if it is worse under the body work this can cause issues further down the line.
  • Paperwork: The previous owner should have as much paperwork as possible, the original sales receipt, a fully stamped service book, the owner’s manual and the certificate of registration as well as both the master key and a spare key.
  • Mileage: very low mileage sports bike with scruffs and scrapes should be treated with suspicion. Also, tampered suspension adjusters suggest someone has been fiddling for the perfect set up.
  • Consumables: the chain should still have plenty of miles left in it, and it should be clean, oiled and properly adjusted. Suspension should be working smoothly, with no notchiness in the steering. Brakes should have plenty of pressure and lots of meat still left on the pads.
  • Tyres: check the tyres for tread depth, but also for squaring off. Endless motorway miles will flatten the tyre in the centre, giving the bike a jolty feel as you lean into corners. If the tyres look too worn, be prepared to pay for new ones if you are serious about the bike.

If you cannot buy a bike that is younger than 2 years old, we have a few more points to think about:

  • Paperwork: go through the paperwork and check the bike has been serviced regularly. Also, check if it has had any major repair work done that may cause problems later on.
  • Suspension: rear suspension can lose dampening by 15,000 miles. Replacing or rebuilding can cost £200-£800. You can check this by pushing down on the seat and seeing how well it rises back up, ideally this should bounce up quickly and settle immediately.
  • Battery: most batteries last 2-5 years, so hopefully it has been replaced before you buy it, if not budget around £60 to get it done.

Never forget your gut feeling when buying a used bike, regardless of whether you are an expert or not, you should be able to tell how genuine the person selling it is.