‘If it’s an easy fix, why hasn’t it been fixed?’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage - Neil Mur­ray makes a liv­ing buy­ing & sell­ing pre-loved metal

The ad says it’s a non-run­ner, and you won­der whether it’s worth tak­ing the plunge. It’s cheap and could be a bar­gain, but equally, the fault could be some­thing ter­mi­nal and it’s a money pit.

The big ques­tion is: why isn’t it go­ing? Ide­ally, it’s be­cause it’s been laid up for a few years with­out proper stor­age pre­cau­tions. In that case, the fuel in the carbs will have turned to sludge and it’ll need a com­plete carb strip and clean.

If you know your onions, you can do that your­self – buy an ul­tra­sonic cleaner on ebay and take your time. There are other costs with bikes that have just been stashed – the tyres are usu­ally dead, the brake fluid ditto, the bat­tery flat, the chain rusty and there’ll be a mouse nest in the air­box.

What you ab­so­lutely do not want to buy is some­thing de­scribed as an ‘easy fix’, or a project bike that some­one else has given up on. If it’s an easy fix, why hasn’t it been fixed? It’s like say­ing ‘will pass MOT’. Bloody well MOT it, then, be­fore sale.

As for a project bike, the chances are a hun­dred-to-one that the seller has tried to get it go­ing, re­alised it’s a lost cause, and is of­fload­ing it to an­other mug. That’ll be you. Don’t do it.

You can get lucky. I once bought an old Honda that didn’t go be­cause the guy sell­ing it had put the carb slide in the wrong way round, and I re­alised what he’d done when I tried twist­ing the throt­tle. And I bought an­other be­cause it kicked over and I just knew I could re­sus­ci­tate it. But best to leave non-run­ners alone.

Next week

How I bought my BMW for £ 500 less than it’s worth

Ad says it will pass an MOT, so why hasn’t it got one al­ready?

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