Looks can be de­cep­tive

Make sure you check out the story be­hind the ser­vice his­tory of a used bike

Motorcycle News (UK) - - BUYING & SELLING -

Some­times a ser­vice his­tory isn’t worth the pa­per it’s writ­ten on. I have come across a nice clean bike be­fore with a ser­vice book that has all the stamps in the right places and noth­ing else.

I’ve known peo­ple who’ve made up their own ser­vice stamps, and I’ve even known some­one who used to filch deal­ers’ stamps from off their ser­vice coun­ter­tops while the staff weren’t look­ing. Peo­ple are get­ting more imag­i­na­tive when it comes to disguising the his­tory of their bikes.

I am a keen pho­tog­ra­pher with an ex­ten­sive Nikon col­lec­tion. Peo­ple don’t care­fully wrap their cam­eras in tape just to pro­tect them against knocks. They do it be­cause it protects all the bits of the body that can ex­hibit wear on the edges and cor­ners. When it comes to sell­ing the cam­era, they pull off the tape.

Peo­ple do this with bikes as well. Plas­tic dip­ping is on the in­crease, and it’s not al­ways be­cause some­one likes the look of an eye-wa­ter­ing yel­low/ma­roon/green colour clash. It hides the mileage quite nicely.

With mod­ern bikes though (as with mod­ern dig­i­tal cam­eras) there’s an elec­tronic foot­print. The ser­vice records of my Kawasaki H2 (in­clud­ing, I sus­pect, the naughty bits like max­i­mum speeds and revs at­tained) are down­loaded at ser­vice time and kept in some elec­tronic repos­i­tory. It’s get­ting eas­ier to dou­ble check.

For older stuff though, you want to see re­ceipts. If there’s a ser­vice stamp for a 36,000-mile over­haul a year ago, and the seller owned the bike at the time, there ought to be a re­ceipt. Fol­low the pa­per trail and quiz the owner about things like tyre pres­sures and steer­ing head torque set­tings. A gen­uine seller will have the pa­per­work and, some­times, the an­swers. In short, don’t just go by ap­pear­ances. NEXT WEEK We talk bul­let-proof BMW ‘air­heads’

A dili­gent owner will have the an­swers to some sim­ple ques­tions

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