Problems to look for when buying used bike - Sportbike Forum: Sportbike Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-10-2008, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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Problems to look for when buying used bike

im pretty new to motorcycles and plan on purchasing one and taking the safety course before riding. I havent decided if i am going to buy my first bike from a dealership or a private seller. From what ive read on these forums, dealerships will try to sell you the bike no matter what, and the salesperson does not care for anything but making a sale. When i buy a first bike, i dont want to end up buying something with problems. I am curious about what are the most important things to look at and check for when looking at a used bike to buy. Remember that i have not much knowledge of the way a bike works so it may be hard. Thanks for your help, and if there is another thread on this topic, please inform me.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-10-2008, 02:09 AM Thread Starter
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i forgot to mention a few of the bikes i have been looking at on craigslist have minor rash on the side fairings. i know that i will drop my first bike anyways so i figure its a good way to get a bike for cheeper, however i am not sure how much damage drops can really cause to the bike besides the cosmetic damage
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-10-2008, 05:08 AM
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If you're eyeing one in the NW suburbs of Chicago let me know (PM) and I might be able to check it out for you as I'll be there for the holidays and some weekends in January.
  • Tire tread depth.
  • Frame and subframe damage of any kind.
  • Scraped bar ends and foot pegs.
  • Custom paint (usually an indicator of a crashed bike).
  • Uneven tire wear.
  • Oil seepage around the fork cartridges.
  • Ask to see maintenance records and ask whether the bike was maintained by the owner or a shop. If the latter you can check up on work that was done on it.

Evaluating body damage can tell you how fast the bike was traveling to some extent so it depends, unfortunately. However I agree that the way to go for you is to grab one that has some damage and don't bother fixing it at least until you've had it a year. Naturally the bodywork should be affixed securely, though.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-10-2008, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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thanks that helps alot kanwisch, i am glad that you guys are so helpful on these forums, i live in the NW suburbs so if i set my eye on a specific bike i will most definately pm you to see if your available to come take a look.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-11-2008, 06:49 PM
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Isn't there a really detailed used buyer guide sticky on this site somewhere? I know I've seen it before, and it is VERY good.

"Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son." - Vernon Wormer.- Dean, Faber College.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 01:19 PM
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Number one on my list is to check the engine oil. Sometimes you can talk the seller into getting a free oil change and then check the oil carefully. Drain it into an absolutely 'clean' pan then slowly run off most of the contents into another container. With just a cup or so remaining, you should see any tell-tail signs of bearing material. It's gold in color and can be a few pieces or a large amount of fine bearing dust. Large quantities mean run from this deal as fast as you can.
Ride the bike if possible and check for any handling problems. Handlebars crooked, shimmy, shifting problems, engine noises, etc all spell problems.
A good way to check for rod bearing problems is to lock down on the front brake and with about 1500 to 2000 RPM load the system (don't let the bike move forward). You're listening for a knocking sound that should be far more noticable under load. Here again, if you hear a rattle or knocking, PASS.
Don't forget to check the gap between the tank and the inside fairings. The space should be relitively equal. If they're not the spill has probably bent the front fairing stay. This us easily damaged even in a fall off the side stand. Some of these are really expensive ($150 to as much as $400)
kanwisch's list covers most of the lesser items.
Don't let the small stuff scare you off. Just don't gloss over the really big dollar threats.
Be especially careful of customization stuff. Chrome wheels are usually ruined. Custom paint jobs are usually impossible to touch up. Avoid the wild custom junk, such as oversized rear wheel, Exrensive chrome plating is always a bad sign. I'd rather buy a bike with a bad motor than one fully chromed out.
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