Buying new VS. Buying used - Sportbike Forum: Sportbike Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-18-2006, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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Buying new VS. Buying used

As some of you (may or may not) know, I'm looking to buy a Ninja 250. I originally planned to buy used, because it was cheaper, won't depreciate as much, is already broken in (usually), might already be dropped or scratched-- meaning I won't feel as guilty if i do that myself. Unfortunately, it turned out a little harder than I expected. I cannot, for the life of me, find a used 250 anywhere local. I've tried cycletrader, ebay, 100motorcycles, the SBW classified section, the local newspaper, and dealerships, but the few that are available are usually pretty far out-of-state. So that got me thinking: maybe it's not such a bad idea to buy a new one. So to help my decision making, I've been pondering the benefits and drawbacks of new. Here's what I have:

The Good:
* Clean Mechanical Record - If I buy used, I can't guarantee that the bike is mechanically sound. I've read that the only way to see if a bike was broken in properly is to rip apart the engine. With a new bike, I'd have to break it in myself, that way I can ensure that it is done properly.
* Clean Maintinance Record - I'd have a fresh opertunity to perform all the scheduled maintinances on the bike. Also, I've read it's a good idea to keep a log of all the maintinances/upgrades/failiures of the bike. With used, especially if the seller got it to learn on and sell immediately afterwards, the bike might be neglected since it won't stay with the seller for long anyway.
* Dealer/Factory Warranty - A used bike might or might not still have the warranty in effect. With new, I have the choice of taking the standard 1-year warranty, or buy the extended 4-year warranty. Either way, there IS going to be a warranty.
* Availability and Selection - Before I go to detail here, I should explain that I bought all my riding gear ahead of time, so I wouldn't be tempted to go cheap later on after most of the money was spent on the bike. Well, my gear turned out to have a red/black color scheme. The only used ninja that I did actually find was LIME GREEN!!! Talk about Christmas in July... Anyway, when buying a new bike, I would get the ability to choose the color and, again, the warranty options. Not only that, but there will definetely be more new bikes around than there would be used 250's.
* Builds Credit History - This isn't universal for all people, but due to my current savings ammount, I would have to finance, which (assuming I make timely payments) would build my credit. Good credit means a possibly better financial future.

The Bad:
* More Expensive - Not only would I be paying more for the value of the bike, but I'd also have dealer fees. I have about 2,400 bucks in cash right now, about 2,000 of which would go as a down-payment, the rest towards insurance and registration. That would mean that, as stated above, I'd have to finance. Financing means the dealer, bank, or whoever is giving me the loan will collect interest from me, adding to the total cost.
* Break-In - The bike's odometer would read "1", meaning I'd have to ride it extra-gently for the first 500 (or so) miles, then just gently for the next 1000 (or so) miles. This isn't too big of a drawback... more like an annoyance than anything.
* Guilt - Hypothetically (knock on wood), if I drop the bike accidentally or (knock on wood again) I crash it, all that shiny plastic now scratched and broken will not only burn a hole in my pocket, but add to the guilt of ruining something brand new. If the used bike is already scratched, then I'd only be adding to the collection of scratches, and wouldn't feel as bad.
* If I Don't Like It - If I end up not liking the bike for whatever reason, I would lose more money getting rid of it than I would getting rid of a new one. I've read practically nothing but good reviews about the 250, it's comfortable to sit on, and I just plain like it, but things might be different after owning/riding it for a while.

This is what I have so far, and if any of you can think of any other benefits or drawbacks, please share. This applies to me and the Ninja 250, but now that I think about it, it also applies to other motorcycles (and cars maybe) as well.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-18-2006, 07:43 PM
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I think you worry too much about the used bike. All the bikes I have are second/third hand bikes, and because of their wonderful Japanese design, they are practically bulletproof. As long as the oil is changed on them, they'll keep running. Both, my '96 Bandit and '01 SV probably need valve clearences inspected, but I plan on doing that myself, not at the dealer. So the Maintenance/Mechanical Record/Warranty...I don't think are such a big deal.

As far as the worries about break in, there are plenty of good reasons people can cite why you SHOULD NOT go gently during break in, that in fact the rings seat better by having a wide range of RPM in the first thousands of miles of the engine. And if you don't like the bike? You will probalby take a hit on a brand new bike when it's time to sell. Used bikes, however, seem to reach a price plateau, and it is feasible to sell the bike in 2-3 years for what you paid, provided you did not trash it.

I understand what you are going through. I have been trying to justify a new cage for myself recently, but then I realized that my Camry can still make it another year or two, and although it needs some maintenance and repair money put in right now, those are one-time payments, rather than a series of monthly dues that are nearly impossible to postpone if you have an emergency. There is something to be said about a vehicle that is paid for.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-18-2006, 07:57 PM
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I agree with Veektor's 1st statment...most riders take very good care of their bikes, and to be honest, mostly newer riders buy the 250's, or people get em for short commutes..and those people tend to call, ot take their bikes to the dealer at the slighest quirk..Plus the 250's are pretty much bullet proof from what I've seen.

Having said all that, look for a used bike that's Clean, and shows NO signs of a hard crash...keep in mind that a light amount of rash on the plastic is no big deal, as people accidently drop their bikes all the time.

Some things to check for.

Clean oil

A well lubed chain...they get dirty easy, so don't take off point for dirt.

A well maintained bike is usually clean, dirty bikes get low marks in my book.

Check the front of the headers for any dents...usually means a crash.

Tires should be in good condition as well..never let them go bald.

Motor should run smooth and start right up.

Find a bike, if you have em up, we are here to help...

Old, Slow, but ...Smooth
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-18-2006, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Getting used was my first plan. But, as I've stated, it's been pretty damn impossible to find a used 250. If I did find one, i'd be all over it. That's why I'm trying to figure out if buying new is way worse than used. About 1,000 to 2,000 bucks more for new, and I'm just trying to convince myself that it's worth it. I could sit around and hope that I come accross a used one, or I could avoid the fuss and pay the extra money for a new one.

So is that extra 1-2k worth the time, hassle, and other tidbits mentioned above?
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-19-2006, 01:16 PM
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Sorry for I amnot good advise on buying used over new. For since sometime in the 70s I have been buying new bar a few occasions & in latter they were good buys. Also did the same thing from around '47 & on in being more new then used, but usually the used were good buys. Still I had the opportunity of being a m/c mechanic with lots of tools so in most cases of 'used' bikes I had spotted the wear or what needed to be replace, repaired or upgraded & did it myself.

New was basically because I would probably be the first one in my area to have that make or model.

Another factor is in so many cases the bikes are owned & riden by me for something like 4 or more yrs. For instance my '97 Yamaha YZF600r first ever in this area, the '00 Honda 929 again first & ever in this area, the '03 was in August '04 as I did not want the latest '04 Honda CB1000 for this one was still in its original crate so not on the floor room or used as a demo & yes still own all three bikes.

Last edited by Smitty; 01-19-2006 at 01:22 PM.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-19-2006, 09:48 PM
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Buy used. Let someone else take the depreciation hit.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 12:01 AM
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Originally posted by lateott_156
Getting used was my first plan. But, as I've stated, it's been pretty damn impossible to find a used 250. If I did find one, i'd be all over it. That's why I'm trying to figure out if buying new is way worse than used. About 1,000 to 2,000 bucks more for new, and I'm just trying to convince myself that it's worth it. I could sit around and hope that I come accross a used one, or I could avoid the fuss and pay the extra money for a new one.

So is that extra 1-2k worth the time, hassle, and other tidbits mentioned above?
For the reasons you just mentioned, it may be worth the while to expand your search to 500cc bikes. Many people agree that they are indeed acceptable as beginner bikes, and in addition to Kawasaki, Suzuki makes a 500 as well. More choices is always a good thing for you as a buyer.

Another option you may want to consider is buying a light cruiser for a first bike. Cruisers sit lower than sportbikes, which gives you the needed confidence at low speed turns and stops. Their power characteristics will keep your testasterone in check jst as well, or even better than a 250 Ninja, provided you don't get a VTX1800. My wife started on a Savage 650 (for sale, if you are interested), and after a year of riding she readily jumped on SV650, and is quite comfortable on it.

I know this probably sounds horrific to some people on this board, this is SPORTBIKE forum after all. But you can take my word that ANY bike you start with will give you a plethora of experience and endless grins in your first year.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 12:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. I have been looking at the 500s as well, but there is still a very limited selection. If I do run across one, I will definetely consider it. There are assloads of used 600cc+ bikes around here, but practically nothing below that (in the sportbike category). I have considered a cruiser, but it just didn't create that spark in my heart as much as a sportbike does . My best friend is going to get a cruiser along side, so I'm sure we'll trade bikes frequently. Basically, I have my heart set on a Ninja 250 because of its price, sportbikeness, and beginner-friendly power. The issue I'm struggling with is availability.

I had an interesting conversation with a coworker today. He said he's purchased many bikes before, and not one did he buy over MSRP. If the MSRP is $2,999, then how much does the dealer pay the factory per bike? Basically, how low can I go without making the dealer lose money?

I've compiled a list of 18 Kawasaki dealerships in my area (more or less). So tomorow... well, today I guess... I'll be calling them and haggling over the price. So, to add to the list of questions: Any tips on haggling/negotiating? Strategies to use when calling? When visiting? Maybe the most cost-efficient way to buy a used bike is to purchase a shotgun ahead of time and rob the dealer...

Last edited by lateott_156; 01-20-2006 at 12:38 AM.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 05:19 AM
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I have a hard time believing there are no used bikes in cali. Expand your choices, try to hunt down an sv650, there are plenty of them around...

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 09:41 AM
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have you tried craigslist? they'll usually have 250s and 500s for sale, though i just tried looking and couldn't rlly find any myself.

good luck w/ the search for a great addiction, but if you still decide to go and look for used bike, the most important advice I can give you is to be patient. the right bike will come along, and you don't have to be desperate to buy the first bike you come across. That was my mistake, and now i've got a bike that has tranny problems, most notable is not being able to shift to 2nd gear as it just slips back out to neutral
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