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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry, not sure if this is where this belongs; please relocate if it needs a new home :D

I am going to be buying a used bike, I have never owned nor ridden one previously. I may or may not do my class prior to test driving; I have ridden dirt bikes before though.

What things should I look out for while looking at a used bike or test driving used bikes. What red flags are there to watch out for?

I wish I knew a bike savvy person to go with me!

Shawnee
 

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Thinking of buying a used 250 (or any other bike for that matter?) Here is a detailed list of things to check out when looking at a prospective bike:


Look for crash damage, (chipped paint on the frame at any joints or welds is a huge red flag), and signs of oil or coolant leaks.

Is the bike clean? I mean inside the fairings and around the engine too. If the engine or inside of the fairings are caked with dirt and oil then it shows lack of care and maintenance.

Look at the condition of the brake rotors and pads. Scoring, excessive wear or signs of overheating (blue tint to the rotors) are all signs the brakes will need repairs. Look at the brake fluid in the front master cylinder sight glass and rear brake reservoir..it should be pale yellow (unless some other brand was used..for example, the old Motul 300c was blue). If it is dark brown or black it hasn't been changed as needed, and not only is the fluid shot, but odds are good that all of the seals, master cylinder pistons and brake lines are shot too.

Check the condition of the tires. Excessive wear, flat center profile or signs of drying/cracking means you'll need to replace them.

Look at the engine oil in the sight glass. Ideally, in a well-maintained bike is should be fresh amber looking or slightly dark. If it is deep black (and leaves residue on the glass when the bike is returned to the side stand) beware, again that shows lack of proper maintenance.

Pull the clutch lever...it should be firm but smooth. Any roughness, cable is bad. Excessive lever play could be simply due to rider preference, or mean that the cable is stretched and worn out.

Check the condition of the chain and sprockets. A rusty or dirty chain will probably need replacing. Sprockets that are worn or missing tooth is a sign that maintenance was not done and should be a concern for you the potential buyer.

Check the condition of the suspension components. (front forks and rear shock). Look for signs of leakage around the fork tube and rear shock cylinder. Signs of rust or oil leakage can mean there are problems with the seals. Rust on the fork tubes can cause the forks seals to go bad quickly. Both the front and rear suspension should rebound nicely and not squeak, crackle or sound like hissing air. Push down on the front and rear, the bike should spring back up, but with a little resistance Any suspension component that is bent, out of alignment, binds or loose should be pointed out. These items are important to check before a test ride.


Check to ensure the choke and throttle cables operate smoothly and do not bind.

Check to make sure the headlights (high/low beam) work. If the headlight gets brighter or flickers as the engine revs, the battery could be discharged (or dead)or have loose terminals, though it's probably more likely that the rectifier is bad.

Make sure the turn signals work, make very sure that the oil pressure light comes on when you turn on the ignition, and goes out when the engine starts! Make sure the neutral indicator light works. Make sure the starter works. Make sure the brake levers light up the brake light. Make sure the horn works.

If the bike was stored outside, check the gas tank. Look for dents. Open it up, look for rust and/or loose sediment. Rust/sediment is bad, as it clogs carburetors. Bikes with rusty tanks need to have the rust removed. You should see light-amber colored gas and bare metal (not dark, coffee or tea-colored gas). If you see a milky paint-like coating on the insides of the tank, the bike has had rust removed and the inside of the tank has been treated.

Make sure the lock in the gas cap works and there is a matching spare key that fits the entire locking system. (ignition, seat, gas cap)


Ask the owner if the bike has been serviced according the manufacturer's specifications, and, if so, for service receipts or as verification. Also ask for any tool kits, owner's or instruction manuals. If you feel uncertain about the bike's condition, it's not unreasonable to request that the seller take the bike to a mechanic of your choosing for inspection -- at your expense. It's also not unreasonable to expect that the seller might to try to sell to someone who won't make him go through the added hassle of doing this.

Start up and run the bike. Be suspicious of anyone who warms up the bike before you arrive, they may be trying to hide cold start problems. The engine should run smoothly, and not hesitate or stumble.


Always ask if any modifications were done to the bike. Heavily modified bikes may be a bad deal for the average first time buyer.

Know what the bike is worth. you can look up bike values on the Kelley Blue Book web site's Motorcycle blue book values section, or NADAguides.com.

Make sure the bike has a good, clean title and the seller has it in hand and that the VIN numbers on the title and bike match. Make sure that the owner signs the title over to you. Make sure that the owner is the seller ... check the name on the title. Make sure there are no liens on the bike, or if there were, that they've been released. if the seller says the title is lost, make sure the seller applies for a lost title before you hand over the money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thinking of buying a used 250 (or any other bike for that matter?) Here is a detailed list of things to check out when looking at a prospective bike:


Look for crash damage, (chipped paint on the frame at any joints or welds is a huge red flag), and signs of oil or coolant leaks.

Is the bike clean? I mean inside the fairings and around the engine too. If the engine or inside of the fairings are caked with dirt and oil then it shows lack of care and maintenance.

Look at the condition of the brake rotors and pads. Scoring, excessive wear or signs of overheating (blue tint to the rotors) are all signs the brakes will need repairs. Look at the brake fluid in the front master cylinder sight glass and rear brake reservoir..it should be pale yellow (unless some other brand was used..for example, the old Motul 300c was blue). If it is dark brown or black it hasn't been changed as needed, and not only is the fluid shot, but odds are good that all of the seals, master cylinder pistons and brake lines are shot too.

Check the condition of the tires. Excessive wear, flat center profile or signs of drying/cracking means you'll need to replace them.

Look at the engine oil in the sight glass. Ideally, in a well-maintained bike is should be fresh amber looking or slightly dark. If it is deep black (and leaves residue on the glass when the bike is returned to the side stand) beware, again that shows lack of proper maintenance.

Pull the clutch lever...it should be firm but smooth. Any roughness, cable is bad. Excessive lever play could be simply due to rider preference, or mean that the cable is stretched and worn out.

Check the condition of the chain and sprockets. A rusty or dirty chain will probably need replacing. Sprockets that are worn or missing tooth is a sign that maintenance was not done and should be a concern for you the potential buyer.

Check the condition of the suspension components. (front forks and rear shock). Look for signs of leakage around the fork tube and rear shock cylinder. Signs of rust or oil leakage can mean there are problems with the seals. Rust on the fork tubes can cause the forks seals to go bad quickly. Both the front and rear suspension should rebound nicely and not squeak, crackle or sound like hissing air. Push down on the front and rear, the bike should spring back up, but with a little resistance Any suspension component that is bent, out of alignment, binds or loose should be pointed out. These items are important to check before a test ride.


Check to ensure the choke and throttle cables operate smoothly and do not bind.

Check to make sure the headlights (high/low beam) work. If the headlight gets brighter or flickers as the engine revs, the battery could be discharged (or dead)or have loose terminals, though it's probably more likely that the rectifier is bad.

Make sure the turn signals work, make very sure that the oil pressure light comes on when you turn on the ignition, and goes out when the engine starts! Make sure the neutral indicator light works. Make sure the starter works. Make sure the brake levers light up the brake light. Make sure the horn works.

If the bike was stored outside, check the gas tank. Look for dents. Open it up, look for rust and/or loose sediment. Rust/sediment is bad, as it clogs carburetors. Bikes with rusty tanks need to have the rust removed. You should see light-amber colored gas and bare metal (not dark, coffee or tea-colored gas). If you see a milky paint-like coating on the insides of the tank, the bike has had rust removed and the inside of the tank has been treated.

Make sure the lock in the gas cap works and there is a matching spare key that fits the entire locking system. (ignition, seat, gas cap)


Ask the owner if the bike has been serviced according the manufacturer's specifications, and, if so, for service receipts or as verification. Also ask for any tool kits, owner's or instruction manuals. If you feel uncertain about the bike's condition, it's not unreasonable to request that the seller take the bike to a mechanic of your choosing for inspection -- at your expense. It's also not unreasonable to expect that the seller might to try to sell to someone who won't make him go through the added hassle of doing this.

Start up and run the bike. Be suspicious of anyone who warms up the bike before you arrive, they may be trying to hide cold start problems. The engine should run smoothly, and not hesitate or stumble.


Always ask if any modifications were done to the bike. Heavily modified bikes may be a bad deal for the average first time buyer.

Know what the bike is worth. you can look up bike values on the Kelley Blue Book web site's Motorcycle blue book values section, or NADAguides.com.

Make sure the bike has a good, clean title and the seller has it in hand and that the VIN numbers on the title and bike match. Make sure that the owner signs the title over to you. Make sure that the owner is the seller ... check the name on the title. Make sure there are no liens on the bike, or if there were, that they've been released. if the seller says the title is lost, make sure the seller applies for a lost title before you hand over the money.
Wow, I greatly appreciate all of that! Definitely very useful information! Thank you!
 

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WOW. Great post! :thumb:

I'd like to add that you would want to check handlebar ends and the end of the clutch and brake levers when evaluating for crash damage. The ends of these are almost always scuffed when a bike has been laid down.

Also, a bike is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. KBB is a good starting point but I always look at comparable bikes on the market. I use craigslist to find my comps and then make adjustments as I go along to determine a fair market value of whatever I'm looking at. Finding bikes that have been sold and for how much is great.. because to someone that bike was worth that much.
 
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