How to buy a used motorcycle

Buying electronics or vehicles second-hand has always been a tricky business. And this should not come as a surprise because you are buying something that has already been used.

This is the major thing that puts off people. How to buy a used motorcycle is an article you should read if you have such in mind.

How to buy a used motorcycle
Photocredits: Ronald Saunders,

Many of us have thought about buying electronics or vehicles but most times we don’t because of cost. Because of the bad news that comes with second-hand buying, most people rather not buy at all. Some of us share that same sentiment too.

Video: How To Buy A Used Motorcycle

If you prefer learning by video, this article is also explained here:

We love to get everything delivered straight from the factory to our homes. Is that not good and wonderful life?

But life rarely affords us all the luxuries we want. Everyone wants the good life – a wonderful one. But herein lies the bummer, not everyone has the means to afford a good life. For some people, getting that gadget or vehicle would only ever remain a dream.

Ever heard of the adage, “when the desirable is not available, the available becomes desirable?” This is the case here.

When most people do not get that exact thing they want, there is a tendency to settle for less; to settle for something that may not be as glamourous as the initial choice.

This is why there is something called used or second-hand products.

What Are The Advantages Of Used Products?

The advantages of used products are:

1. Used products are usually less expensive than new ones. They are cheaper and more pocket-friendly than the new counterpart.

2. Used products encourage recycling and reduces the amount of debris generated when making or opening new products.

3. Buying used products helps you save money to get other things that are important to you.

The prices can go as low as 90% less. But on average, they are usually half the price of the new. Your cash would go a long way and you can use the rest of the cash to do other important things for yourself.

Second-hand products do not come with packagings such as shrink wrap, Styrofoam pellets, cardboard boxes, and plastic or steel casings. None of these come when you buy the products second-hand.

Buying used stuff aids recycling. When you buy a used product, you are recycling and doing the world a lot of good.

Buying used stuff gives you the option to get other varieties; it saves you some extra cash that you would have used in purchasing a new item. That extra cash can now be used to get any other thing that might be on your bucket list.

Where to get used products is not a problem as many stores are neck-deep into it. You can find them in a traditional market and thrift stores. Nowadays, thrift stores are also online. E-commerce sites also have sections where they show used products that still have some quality.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Buying Used Products?

The disadvantages of buying used products are:

1. Used products most times have low quality.

2. Used products do not last long.

There is one issue that is prevalent amongst used products – the drop in quality. There is no argument; the quality of new products is way higher than the quality of used products.

It is often said that before you put up your gadget, electronics, or vehicle for sale, something must be wrong with it.

However, there are some exceptions. You can put up stuff for sale because are relocating and have to sell off things you cannot move with; or because you are broke and in desperate need for cash.

Even when these are your reasons for selling, there is really a drop in quality. A new dishwasher cannot be the same as a dishwasher that has been used for five months. This does not just apply to dishwashers but to everything second-hand, even motorbikes.

Still, an offshoot of the drop in quality is the fact that used stuff would not last as long as the new one. The shelf life has already reduced before you bought it, so it won’t really last long before it tires completely.

Buying a new product is very easy. You can just walk to a store or shop, look for the motorbike you like, and purchase it. You can sit at the comfort of your home, check for new stuff online and have it delivered to your doorsteps, without stress or hassle.

But that is not the case with second-hand products. They are not easy to get, especially if you do not want to get one with such terrible quality that you end up buying a liability.

To get the ones with average quality requires time and lots of searches. You have to check out the motorbike and test run it if possible. All these take time, energy and sometimes, money.

There is also a high chance that what you will get would be below par; it will be bad. Unlike new products that come with some sort of return policy or warranty, the used products do not usually have that.

So, if something is not working right, you may not have options. You only have to deal with it, manage if you can, or go get another one. These are some or all of the things that scare people away from buying used motorbikes or any other stuff.

However, there is a way around this. First, you have to be patient and careful. Buying things second-hand like we said earlier would need you to be very vigilant and careful to avoid buying a liability.

If you are spending your hard-earned money on buying a used motorbike you may have regrets later. Therefore, it is better to be on the watch-out. There are things you would need to do and things you would need to check before buying.

You could check the mileage, the performance of the bike, especially during cold weather. The very first thing is to know the specific things to look at before rolling out your cash.

Photo credits: San Andreas,

What Are The Things To Consider Before Buying A Used Motorcycle?

The things to consider before buying a used motorcycle are:

1. If the motorcycle is suitable for your style if riding.

2. If the person you are buying from is a trusted dealer.

3. Have in mind the kind of bike you want to get. Use the internet to streamline your choice.

4. Research and know the cost of your motorbike.

5. Check the condition of the motorbike you want to buy.

6. Mount the bike and check out the suspension.

7. Check the tires and wheels.

8. Check the seat of the bike.

9. Check the oil tank.

10. Check the wiring of the motorbike.

11. Check battery.

12. Test-ride the bike.

13. Ask for the particulars of the motorbike and ensure all are complete and up to date.

14. Negotiate the dealer or seller’s price.

Look For A Motorcycle That Is Fitting For Your Choice Of Riding

Before you start talking about the price and comparing models of various motorbikes, it is important that you ask yourself, “what kind of ride would I be doing with the motorbike?” “What exactly would I do with this motorbike if I buy it?”

For most people, they buy the motorbike for fun and recreational purposes.

Some want them so that it could give them ease during transportation. Depending on public transportation can be a bummer, really. You have to waste a lot of time going to and from work. But the motorcycle makes it a whole lot easier.

There are some who would want to use the motorbike for tours, for competitions. There are also people who use it for more than one purpose. So, it is vital to know what exactly you would be doing with your motorbike as this helps you to tailor your choice effectively.

What sort of image do you want to conjure when you are on a motorbike? Is the motorbike a need or just something you want to play around with? Is there a plan or a time in the future where you would like to hop on the motorbike and ride away instead of using the normal car?

There are some motorbikes like the 1000cc superbike that is built for speed.  If you use it for racing competitions, you will have an edge over others who are competing with you. But it does not really make sense for someone to take such a motorbike to work.

It Is Important That You Buy From A Trusted Dealer

Most auto dealers who sell second-hand motorbikes, sell nice ones. This is because for them to make a profit, they would have to depend on the satisfaction of the customer.

If the customer is not satisfied, he would surely go around telling others that a particular dealer sells crappy motorcycles.

This is not hating; it is natural consumer behavior. On the other hand, if the customer is pleased, they would do free marketing and referral for the dealer. This is one major reason why most dealers sell used products that are good. These dealers usually stock up used yet well-maintained

These dealers usually stock up used yet well-maintained motorbikes. They also have some sort of return policy or a warranty that covers the initial months of use. This ensures that anyone who buys from them does not run into debt trying to repair the motorbikes; at least for the first six or eight months.

Most dealers also check the history of the motorbikes that they have put up for sale. This is to ensure that the motorbike they are selling was not stolen or has not been written off by insurance firms as a motorbike that cannot be re-sold.

Dealers may have motorbikes that are a bit more expensive than the ones put up for sale by private owners. While this is also taking the money that we are trying to manage and save, it is also better you buy something that has quality.

Video: 5 signs That The Used Motorbike Is Bad

This video gives smart tips on how to avoid buying badly used motorcycles.

Search For The Kind Of Motorbike You Want Online

The internet is your friend. In these times, ignorance is not much of an excuse as there are many ways one can garner information about various stuff, across various fields.

On the internet you can find many options, many models, and makes. Second-hand motorcycles are being listed daily on many e-commerce websites. eBay and the likes do this.

You could also go to cycle trader to get information on second-hand motorcycles directly from the first user.

There is also a section dedicated to motorcycles on Autotrader. On the website, there are filters that would help you refine your search. This depends on what you want, year of production, mileage, make, and model.

You can even cut the cost of delivery by look for the options that are available in your locale. This can be achieved through the Facebook market or Craigslist.

Make sure you are careful when choosing the motorbike. If the listing does not have vital details about the motorcycle, then we suggest you leave it.

Also, if you see that any part of the motorcycle is damaged, it is important that you leave that listing and move on.

Research For The Cost Of The Motorbike

The next thing you need to put into consideration is the price. Remember that the reason why we are taking this route is that we want to cut cost. What you need to do is find sites that sell motorbikes, compare their prices, and see who offers the best value.

You are not mandated to buy from the online stores. The prices will give you an idea of what to expect when you need to make a purchase from a private seller.

Maybe you are not ready to buy yet; the price would sort of give you an idea of how much cash you will spend. If you now encounter a dealer or a private seller, you can drive a good bargain.

This would help you not to be cheated. That way, you will not pay an outrageous amount of money for something that can be gotten for less.

Also, know that many things affect the price of a used motorbike. These factors can range from the condition of the bike, custom parts, condition, and year of initial purchase.

Check The Condition Of The Motorbike

Make sure you check the mileage on the odometer. Also, know that bad or good reading doesn’t actually exist. This is because motorcycles are different and are built for different uses and different specifications.

Another thing to consider is the look of the motorcycle in comparison with the mileage that is recorded on the motorbike. If they do not tally, it is better you make another choice.

When you encounter a motorbike that has thirty to fifty thousand miles, do not be discouraged from buying it. If the motorbike is well taken care of, they can last for a long time, just like cars with the same mileage.

How does the motorbike look in general?

Properly look around the motorbike. From bottom to the top and from back to the front. You would want to pay proper attention to vital parts of the motorbike. These include the fenders, the frame, the side covers, the headstock, and the windshield.

It is normal for a used motorcycle to have some tear and wear, especially if the year of initial purchase is far away. But this does not mean the motorbike should be rusty, filled with scratches, dents and dings, and obvious damage.

Additionally, if you will be checking out the bike at night or in a place with low lighting, do so with a torch.

It is ideal, however, for the check to be done in broad daylight so you can see what you are buying clearly. You should be suspicious of anyone who insists that you must test the motorbike in an unlit place.

Most importantly, be careful of a bike that is dirty or dusty. While dirt and dust themselves are not serious issues, they show that the owner neglects the well being of the motorbike. And who knows what other thing he is neglecting?

Mount The Motorcycle And Check Out Its Suspension

Climb the motorcycle and gently bounce on it. The suspension of the motorbike should cause the motorbike to quickly come back to normal shape after the motion has stopped. This should happen slowly and quietly.

The shock absorbers in the motorbike’s rear shock are not supposed to move.

Check for squeaking, cracks, dings, rusts, scrapes, and poor shock absorption. These damages show that the motorcycle has been abused or used roughly.

Check also if there are oil drips; this may be due to a seal being broken in the motorcycle.

Check The Tires

It is very common for the center of tires to be smoother than other areas. But if the entire tire looks too worn-out, then it may be because the owner rides roughly. It may also be that he has undesirable practices like skidding or braking hard.

These make the tires weak and end up straining other components of the motorbike which are costly to maintain.

Check The Seat

The seat is made of foam that is covered with leather and sometimes, rubber. These two materials – rubber and leather – can lose quality very quickly. The chances of this happening increase when the owner has used the motorbike for long.

Torn seats should not put you off. What should put you off is if the contact points are all torn and beat up.

If the motorbike has a saddlebag, make sure you look at the saddlebag thoroughly, in and out. The hard bags must be totally free of holes or cracks. The stitching and fabric of the soft bags must be intact. There should be no abrasions of rips or thin spots.

But if the bike you want to buy has some of these faults listed above, you can go ahead and make your purchase. This is on the condition that the general condition of the motorbike is good. The upholstery is not such an expensive to replace.

Check The Tank For Oil And Fuel

Make sure that the tank for oil and fuel is not filled with sediments and rust. The fuel should not have anything floating on it. The walls should not be rusted too.

You can also peer through the sight glass and check if the oil is syrup-like and clean. Dark oil suggests that it has been a long time since the oil was changed.

Shiny flakes of metal in oil means the oil has stayed in the oil for a really long time; it has also been peeling away the inside parts of the bike’s oil chamber.

Temptations would come for you to ignore this section of the check. Do not give in because fluid is the life of automobiles; it affects how they function too.

Remove Seat And Check The Wiring

Actually, you cannot know something is wrong here if you are not a professional electrician. But you can just quickly check the electrical box and see if everything looks alright.

You should also check for the fog lights, headlights, alternator, and battery.

Check Battery

Plug the multimeter to battery’s negative and positive terminals. This is to check the juice content. The battery should send out 12volts when off and 10.5 when on. If the value is less on either side, that is a huge red flag.

When there is no multimeter, start the bike then listen carefully to the sound of the engine. If the headlamp of the bike dims, this show battery isn’t supplying power enough to alternator or starter.

Do not purchase a motorbike with dead battery. It is a sign that the bike hasn’t been riding for long and has other issues due to unuse.

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Ride The Motorbike

This is one way to get a feel of the motorbike. You can listen for strange, un-motorcycle-like sounds. Ride the bike for some time. Check how it accelerates, brakes, shifts gears etc.

You can do all the inspections above or you can contact a dealer to do a proper inspection on the motorbike. You can also do both.

If the private seller hesitates the testing, then he may be hiding something.

So, the bike is in good condition? Bravo!

Now Ask For Papers Pertaining To The Motorbike

Check the VIN. Check the particulars.

Check receipts and records of the motorbike.

Negotiate And Pay

You can haggle reasonably and pay.

Sticking to these tips would reduce the chance of you purchasing a deadbeat motorcycle.

Here are some other posts that will interest you:

What Is the Fastest Motorcycle?

What is a scrambler motorcycle?

How to change a motorcycle tire

How Many Miles Does a Motorcycle Last

How Often to Change Motorcycle Oil

How Dangerous is Riding a Motorcycle

How to Buy A Used Motorcycle – Related Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Maintain A Used Motorcycle?

To maintain a used motorcycle, you have to do the following:

  1. Change the motorcycle oil regularly. This helps to preserve engine life and save repair costs.
  2. Regular cleaning of your motorcycle parts is vital in the maintenance of a used motorcycle. 
  3. Check the wellbeing of the motorcycle tire regularly. When the tire is punctured or cut, you should replace the tire.
  4. Check the wellbeing of your battery. Wet cell batteries need to get distilled water added to them regularly for proper functioning. Also, do not allow your motorcycle battery to discharge. When it does, endeavor to charge immediately either by riding the motorbike or by using a battery charger.

Where Can I Buy Used Motorcycles Online?

Below are some of the places where you can buy a used motorcycle online.

  1. Craigslist. There are a lot of motorbikes that are available for purchase on craigslist. The motorcycles are affordable, and you can even see the motorcycle before making final payments.
  2. Ebay. The benefit of ebay is that you can find rare motorbikes there. You do not have to talk with the seller directly. You can make use of the messaging system of ebay to get any information you want concerning the motorbike. Ebay will also deliver the motorbike to your doorsteps.
  3. Facebook MarketPlace. This is new but a popular place to find motorcycles. The marketplace can suggest sellers that are near you. This helps to eliminate shipping costs. You also get to see the pictures of the seller.
  4. Classifieds Ads. Online news sites normally publish ads on their sites. You can also get motorbikes from these sources.

What Are The Cheapest Used Motorcycles To Buy?

Here are the cheapest used motorcycles to buy: 

  1. Honda CBR600F2. The price of the 1994 Honda motorcycle ranges from $1500 to $1800. It is not just cheap; it is reliable too especially if the previous owner had taken care of it well. This is one of the most popular bikes that people buy second-hand.
  2. GSX-R750 Suzuki: The price of the 1996 Suzuki ranges from $2000- $2500. It is one bike you should consider if you are looking to get a used motorcycle. It has good second-hand value and a strong engine. The motorcycle also has a huge horsepower, 130 and is very lightweight.
  3. YZF-R1 Yamaha: The price of the 2002 Yamaha ranges from $3000- $4000. It was the first motorbike to have fuel injectors. For this price range, this motorbike is actually affordable. Most track motorbikes cost way more.
  4. Kawasaki VN1500: The price ranges from $3000-$3500. The motorbike has 69 horsepower and is incredibly strong.

What Paperwork Do You Need To Buy A Used Motorcycle?

The paperwork that you need to buy a used motorcycle are:

  1. The Title: The first document to show when you want to buy a used motorcycle from a private seller, or a dealer is the title from the bank. 
  2. The Motorcycle Maintenance Records: The second document you have to get is the copies of the motorcycle’s maintenance records. This is useful in that it helps you know when you need to take the motorcycle for another routine check. 
  3. The Bill of Sale: Lastly, you have to show a bill of sale when you are to register the motorbike. Make sure the seller gives you this document. It proves that you did not steal the bike but purchased it legally. The bill of sale has to include a name, an address, and the contact info of the seller and yourself. It also has to contain the amount the motorbike was sold, the make, year, model, and odometer reading.

Can You Ride A Used Motorcycle Home After Buying It?

You can ride a used motorcycle home after buying it. The bill of sale and title which has the exact date of the purchase gives you the right to ride your motorcycle home after you must have bought it. Law enforcement agents will not stop or fine you for not having a permit. Every state in the US has a specific amount of time it gives to everyone who buys a motorbike to register the motorbike. 

It is important though that you get insurance to cover the motorcycle immediately you buy it. This should be done even before you register the motorbike because anything can happen. Your motorcycle can get stolen or burnt. Your motorcycle may crash, and the insurance company will help you bear the losses especially when the fault of the crash was not yours.

How Do I Buy A Motorcycle With A Lien On It?

To buy a motorcycle with a lien on it, do the following:

  1. Find out from the holder of the lien and the seller how to resolve the lien.
  2. Settle the lien holder and get proof to show that the lien is settled. This proof should be gotten for you by the seller.
  3. Request the motorcycle seller to fill out the title change and then sign their names.
  4. Fill and submit the title transfer form to the local department of motor vehicles.
  5. Pay for the title change and get the motorbike and title within two weeks.