5 Tips for Buying A Used Motorcycle

Summer is winding down and more used motorcycles are turning up "For Sale" in neighborhood yards, parking lots and newspaper ads. It's a prime time to find a great deal on a good used bike. But, before you lay down your hard earned money for the "gently used" bike of your dreams, here are a few things to remember when considering a used bike:

1. Overall condition: This can tell a lot about how well the motorcycle was treated. Faded paint, a cracked or torn seat, bent clutch or brake levers, dented gas tank, and broken mirrors are a few signs the bike had a hard life with little care. Look carefully, an owner who ignores his bike's appearance, most likely ignored the oil level, valves, filters, chain, sprockets, and other important items.

There's are hot deal - or is it??
2. Lots of new parts: This may indicate the bike was hurriedly fix up to sell. New grips, seat, mirrors, brake or clutch lever, oddly placed new decals, or fresh paint are a few clues. When you see these, inspect the bike carefully and be suspicious about what lies beneath that shiny exterior. Always ask why the bike is for sale.

3. Safety items: Be sure the headlight (high and low beam), tail light, all turn signals, and the horn work. These are essential safety items that should be checked before every ride. If any of these do not work, the bike has been neglected and will need some work before you ride it.

Be sure the instruments and indicators work.
4. Leaks: Check under the bike for oil, coolant, or other fluid leaks. Rust in the area below the battery often occurs when the bike was dumped and acid leaked from the battery. A dark line below the cylinder head indicates oil seepage from the head gasket. Brake fluid leaks are bad news, ensure the brakes are working before you test ride any bike. Any leak will mean additional repair costs for you.

5. Brakes: For disc brakes, inspect the discs and pads for thickness, wear, and damage. Drum brakes have an adjustment lever that indicate the level of brake wear. Before a test ride, ensure the front and rear brakes are working properly. I said that earlier, but it bears repeating!

6. Tires: Look for cracks, cuts, or splits in the tread and sidewall area. Also, check the tire pressure before riding a strange bike. Low tire pressure causes handling problems. Running one new tire with a worn tire may cause handling issues. Many tire manufacturers warn against running mismatched tires. In spite of this, you see it a lot.

7. Starting and running: Touch the engine before starting the bike. If the bike is already warmed up, remember that it may start and run very differently when it is cold in your garage. The bike should start easily and idle smoothly. Hard starting or uneven (surging) idle may have many causes. If you are not a DIY individual, you will spend additional money (sometimes a lot) on repairs.

Scratches on the engine may mean this bike has been down.
8. Ask questions: Do not be afraid to ask about the bike's riding and maintenance history. Are there records of oil changes? Does it burn oil? How old is the battery? Have the valves been adjusted? Does it have a clean title? If you are buying a KLR, was the doo-hickey changed? Has the bike been modified in any way? If the seller's answers seem evasive, be careful. An honest seller will gladly show receipts for any major work done on the bike. But, many times, you will simply have to trust the seller. In that case, follow your instincts and if you have any doubts, walk away.

Ok, there 8 tips here, but there is no charge for the extra 3 tips! There are just a lot to consider when looking at a used bike. People often buy bikes and sell them a short time later for reasons that have nothing to do with the bike being a lemon. Their loss can be your gain, but be careful and know what you are looking for on a used bike. Finally, remember to never want anything too much or you will pay too much for it!!