Think­ing of buy­ing a used bike? Here’s how to avoid get­ting stung…

Fast Bikes - - FEATURE -

W e’ve all lusted af­ter bikes we couldn’t af­ford, but the great thing about pa­tience, and that price slash­ing thing called de­pre­ci­a­tion, is even­tu­ally un­achiev­able pur­chases be­come much, much more achiev­able.

But be­fore you let your ex­cite­ment get the bet­ter of you, and you hand a wedge of cash over to an un­known seller, take a good few sec­onds to weigh up the bike in front of you and work out if it re­ally is the dream pur­chase you’ve been lust­ing af­ter, be­cause, frankly, you’re pretty knack­ered if it’s not the bike you thought it was. Buy­ing used is a process that should be treated with fi­nite cau­tion to en­sure you’re not be­ing caught out, and to help you with that process we’ve come up with 10 ex­pert-in­spired steps to see you don’t get your pants pulled down…

1 Do the leg­work

Once you have de­cided on the model of bike you want, spend a few evenings do­ing a bit of back­ground re­search. Get on a ded­i­cated fo­rum and check for re­oc­cur­ring is­sues so that you know what faults you may need to watch out for. Fo­rum users are of­ten very knowl­edge­able and more than willing to help, so stick a post up ask­ing the ques­tion. Then re­search the ac­tual bike. Was the bike up­dated? Has it been re­called? En­sure you know as much as pos­si­ble so you can be 100% cer­tain it is the bike for you, and then write a check­list of is­sues to look for. Now it’s time to start look­ing for the bike.

2 Be pa­tient

Buy­ing a bike is ex­cit­ing and it is all too easy to get car­ried away and throw cash at the first one that pops up. There are hun­dreds of bikes for sale so there is no rush. Spend a few days check­ing the clas­si­fied ads to get a rough idea on the bike’s mar­ket value so you know if the one you even­tu­ally de­cide to view is un­der or over priced.

Be picky and also look very care­fully at what the bike comes with. Ac­ces­sories al­ways cost more to buy new than they are worth used, so if you want pan­niers buy a bike with them al­ready fit­ted. But re­mem­ber that while a race can sounds ace and a tail tidy cleans up the rear end, the MOT man may not be as ap­pre­cia­tive.

If pos­si­ble in­sist on get­ting any orig­i­nal equip­ment, es­pe­cially the ex­haust, in­cluded in the sale. Once you are happy you have se­lected the bike, it’s time to act.

Call the seller, ask as many ques­tions as pos­si­ble and only when you are 100% happy this is the bike for you, or­gan­ise a meet­ing.

3 Bring a friend

Buy­ing a bike is ex­cit­ing and it is very easy to get car­ried away in the mo­ment, so ask a mate to come along with you. Tell him he is there to be im­par­tial and be the voice of rea­son. They don’t need to know about the bike, that’s your job, you have done the re­search, but they are there as a calm­ing in­flu­ence. Get them to come with you when you view the bike and lis­ten to what they say.

4 Ar­rang­ing the view­ing

Some sell­ers are ner­vous about invit­ing peo­ple around to their house, which is un­der­stand­able. If the seller asks to meet you at a pub­lic lo­ca­tion this is okay, but never ac­tu­ally com­plete the deal there, just view the bike. Never, ever, view a bike in the dark or in the rain if it is out­side, you will be rush­ing to get dry and you will miss any is­sues. And give your­self plenty of time, don’t try and cram it into your thirty-minute lunch break!

5 Vis­ually in­spect­ing the bike

Take your time look­ing at the bike, run through the check­list of things that your re­search has high­lighted and ask the seller ques­tions. Does he have any ser­vice his­tory? How long has he owned it? What’s it like to in­sure? Take a torch with you to look in the bike’s re­cesses for signs of oil leaks. Be thor­ough and de­tailed and look for the vis­ual clues that hint at the bike’s past. Are the hero blobs scraped? Do the tyres have chick­en­strips? Is there any crash dam­age? Is it an af­ter­mar­ket fair­ing?

And ask your friend what they think – and lis­ten to their opin­ion, that’s what they are there for! If you are at all un­sure, now is the time to talk away.

6 Me­chan­i­cal check

Spot­ting ma­jor me­chan­i­cal is­sues is tricky, how­ever be­fore start­ing the bike en­sure it is cold as a pre-warmed bike may not smoke while a cold one will. Lis­ten to the starter (es­pe­cially on a V-twin) as that may hint at a dam­aged sprag clutch and when it is tick­ing over lis­ten out for the rat­tle of a cam chain ten­sioner on its way out.

Look for oil leaks, blip the throt­tle a few times to see if it re­sponds crisply and check the ex­haust valve is open­ing and shut­ting. Now, with the mo­tor off, go over the sus­pen­sion for oil leaks (wipe a bit of pa­per cloth around the seals), check the bear­ings for play and en­sure the sus­pen­sion link­ages aren’t seized, that the brake calipers aren’t stick­ing and that the discs aren’t warped.

If the bike has an alarm or im­mo­biliser, ask if the owner has the red ‘mas­ter’ key (es­pe­cially on Yamaha mod­els) and en­sure the tyres and chain/sprock­ets have a bit of life left in them. If all is well, it is time to move on to the pa­per­work.

7 Owner check

Check the ad­dress and name on the log­book match the owner’s name and ad­dress and ask for his ID. The ex­cuse ‘I’m sell­ing it for a mate’ should make alarm bells start to ring – walk away.

Check the engine and frame num­ber match the log­book and don’t look like they have been tam­pered with and in­spect the bike’s ser­vice his­tory. A file stuffed full of re­ceipts is a very good sign, a to­tal lack of ser­vice his­tory is a worry. Re­mem­ber, you don’t know the seller from Adam, so go with your gut, if some­thing feels wrong then it prob­a­bly is.

Again, con­firm with your mate that you are do­ing the right thing and if you are both happy, then it’s time to get se­ri­ous…

There’s lots of temp­ta­tions in the used mar­ket, but think care­fully be­fore you hand over your dough.

If a seller rocks up with a bike in a van, there’s a good chance some­thing’s not right.

Check engine and frame numbers cor­re­spond.

Look for rust in the tanks.

Scuffed fork legs are much harder to dis­guise.

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