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Buying A Second Hand Motorbike

Are you raring to get your hands on a two wheeled machine, but don’t fancy paying the price for a new model? then a second hand motorbike might be a good option.

You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to used bikes, so here is an article on how to go about it and what to look out for.


Benefits of a used bike

The main benefit of buying a used bike is of course the price.

Brand new motorbikes drop in value the second they’re ridden away, meaning that you can bag some great deals buying second hand.

As second hand bikes are cheaper, this also means your insurance premium should be lower than insuring a brand new bike.

The down side to buying a used bike is that you often don’t get a warranty, the latest bike tech, and the knowledge that you are the only person to own and ride the bike.


Buying second hand through a dealer vs private sale

Your next decision is to buy from a motorbike dealer or get one through a private seller.

With a dealer, you usually get some kind of warranty on the motorbike, as well as some degree of legal protection. Nearly all dealers will also offer you part exchange for your old bike if you have one which will help reduce the cost even further for you.

The downside to this extra protection is that the motorbikes are often more expensive than when buying second hand from a private seller.

Dealers often have finance options available to make buying a second hand motorbike more affordable, though.

When buying from a private seller, you’re cutting out the middleman, meaning you’re in a better position to get the bike for a cheaper price. On the other hand, you don’t get any kind of warranty or protection if you find a major or minor problem with the bike.

Checks to make on the bike

When you see the bike, here are a few things you should look out for:

  • Does the mileage on the bike match its mot and service history readings?
  • Are the bodywork and tank in good condition e.g. no scratches, scuffs, dents or damage?

Take a very close look if the bike has stickers, as they’re often used to hide damage. Also, any dents to the handlebars & foot rests, or bent brake or clutch levers, may mean that the bike’s been dropped.

  • Does the steering move freely from lock to lock?
  • Bounce the bike to check the suspension front & rear
  • Are the brake discs unscored? Is there plenty of material on the pads?
  • Check the lights, indicators and horn all work?
  • Check the Chain & Sprocket For Wear
  • Check the Chassis for Corrosion

If there are any faults with any of these, you’re in a position to haggle for a lower price, if there are many faults, you might be better off walking away.

You should also check if the bike has had any modifications, anything that changes its performance or value may make your insurance premium higher.


Check the Documentation

As well as the bike itself, you should check that all of the documentation is ok

  • Valid V5 registration – genuine documents have a watermark
  • Do the details of the bike and seller match those on the document?
  • Do the engine and frame numbers match the bike?
  • Is there a valid MOT certificate?
  • Does the bike have a service history?

Before even going to see the bike, do a HPI check to make sure that it’s not previously been written off, stolen, or if there’s outstanding finance on it.  If there is any of these flagging up, its best to carry on your hunt for a bike elsewhere.


Taking it for a test ride

The best way to test it is to take it for a spin.  Make sure you and the owner have the correct insurance to do this! it’s best to check the documents beforehand.

As well as general road handling, be sure to check:

  • how easily the bike starts
  • how smooth the clutch, brake and throttle controls are
  • how easy the gear changes are
  • how well the suspension works