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Thread: Buying a used motorcycle?

  1. #1
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    Buying a used motorcycle?

    this is a scary process..i sat down the other night and typed up a rough guide to help you all...

    ( see also on WikiHow - http://www.wikihow.com/Buy-a-Used-Motorcycle)








    1) Decide what type of riding you will be doing most of. Commuting, sports, touring, or a combination of all. This is the most important criteria you will need to look at. Be honest with yourself on this one.. Testosterone will have a major influence on what you buy. A 1000 cc superbike might make your heart skip a beat, but there is a very good chance that you will hate it on the commute, and that your pillion will be uncomfortable on it. Track-days on a cruiser may also be disappointing.

    2) When you can, buy from a reputable dealership. Private sales may be lower priced, but you will not have any comeback if the bike breaks down or blows up. Most dealerships offer some type of warranty, or at the very least, will work with you should anything go wrong in the first few months of buying. If you must buy from a private party, insist that you be able to take the bike to a reputable dealership to be assessed and inspected. A few dollars spent now could save you heaps of money and trouble in the future. In addition, dealerships can do an ownership history search for you to make sure the bike in question isn’t stolen or been listed as “written off” by an insurance company.

    3) If for some reason, you cannot get the bike to a dealership for an appraisal, there are ways you can check it out for yourself. Take some simple hand tools with you, including a flashlight and if you can, a multimeter

    a) Check the condition of the drive chain and sprocket. The chain should have around ¾” of play and the teeth of the sprocket should not show obvious damage or wear. Try to wiggle the chain side to side on the sprocket. There shouldn’t be much movement on a good set.

    b) The tires should have good tread all the way across the surface with no signs of uneven wear or damage.


    c) Sit on the bike. Look at the condition of the brake and clutch levers, bar-end weights, straightness of the bars and instrument cluster. These could be signs of an accident or drop. Others could be scratched engine cases, foot pegs or exhaust pipes. Hold the handbrake and bounce the front suspension. It should feel even and firm. Get off the bike and check the fork tubes for signs of rust, pitting and oil. These are signs of worn fork seals, or possible future expensive problems.

    d) While checking the forks, run a fingernail across the brake rotors, feeling for uneven wear or grooving. Look into the brake caliper to see how much of the pads are left. If the bike has spokes, check the overall condition of the individual spokes. For all types, look for dents or damage to the rim
    e) Put the bike n its center stand if so equipped; turn the bars side to side. Feel for any ‘notchy-ness’ or roughness in the steering head.

    f) If possible, check the visible frame; remove the seat to see underneath it also. There should be no dents, kinks or visible damage to the frame. If there is, walk away.

    g) While the seat is off and you can access the battery, clip the multi-meter across the battery terminals and check the voltage. It should read no less than 12 volts. Start the engine. The meter should read no more than 14 volts or so while running. If it does, that may be a sign of a dodgy voltage regulator and it may overcharge a battery and cause it to fail. Check the lights and indicators at this stage also. Pull a fuse or two out and check for corrosion. Do this with the engine off of course. (Also, check the battery terminals and overall appearance of the battery.) Replace the seat.

    h) Open the fuel tank and check for obvious signs of rust or corrosion using your flashlight (not a match or lighter…..)









    THE TEST RIDE


    1. Pick a nice day with dry roads and good visibility if possible. Bring your bike license and proper gear if you have it. Most dealers will have loaner gear available for you to use. If at a dealer, be prepared to sign an insurance waiver; if privately, be ready to leave your license with the seller as security.

    2. Pick a route that you are familiar with that has light traffic and good road conditions if possible. Start slowly and get used to the way the bike feels and responds.

    3. Test the brakes. They should not ‘pulse’. That is a sign of warped disks. They should engage smoothly and evenly and not grab violently or feel spongy.

    4. Accelerate through the gears. The transmission should feel firm and not slip out of gear under acceleration or feel ‘ clunky’

    5. While on a straight, clean patch of road, weave left and right slightly to see how the bike responds. It should feel stable and easy to correct.

    6. Listen for any unusual engine noises, suspension creaking or rattling and any undue vibrations. Ask questions about anything you have doubts about.

    7. When the ride is finished, inspect the bike again, looking for any leaks or drips. Check the oil, through either the sight glass or; when the engine cools, the dipstick if so equipped. Most semi or full synthetic oils will darken after only a few miles. That is completely normal.

    8. Request a service history. It is always a good thing to have, but for several reasons, they may not be available. Ask for an owner’s manual and factory toolkit if available.

    9. Insurance is never optional. You will come off eventually.




    When negotiating on the final price of the bike, be realistic. For a private seller, this may be his baby and insulting him now will ensure that you will not get a fair price. If at a dealership, realize that the salesperson may have targets to meet and a boss looking over his shoulder. Do some research online, used the retail pricing guides if available or read the bike classifieds to get a fair market value of the bike.. then set your buy price accordingly.

    Ride Safe;

    Sarge
    Last edited by SARGE; 7th May 2007 at 13:55.
    Life is tough. It's tougher when you're stupid

    SARGE
    represented by GCM

  2. #2
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    Thanks for that Sarge - there's a couple of things in there that I hadn't considered.
    They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old.
    Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the evening,
    we will remember them

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colapop
    Thanks for that Sarge - there's a couple of things in there that I hadn't considered.

    im a trained professional... dont try this at home...
    Life is tough. It's tougher when you're stupid

    SARGE
    represented by GCM

  4. #4
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    Cheers Sarge - sage advice that should avoid a few problems.

    One point - you can't leave your licence with a seller, as you're supposed to have it on your person at all times when piloting your vehicle of choice...and it would be that one time, wouldn't it...

    I'm sure you could negotiate other forms of security - car keys, spare kidney etc...
    Quote Originally Posted by xerxesdaphat View Post
    V4! VFR800s sound like some sort of alien rocket-ship coming to probe all of our women and destroy our cities

  5. #5
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    Good advice Sarge but a couple of comments.

    How do you discern a reputable dealer from a disreputable dealer?

    You mention brake rotors, however I think more emphasis should be placed on these, because if worn they are usually VERY expensive to replace.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tank
    You say "no one wants to fuck with some large bloke on a really angry sounding bike" but the truth of the matter is that you are a balding middle-aged ice-cream seller from Edgecume who wears a hello kitty t-shirt (in your profile pic) and your angry sounding bike is a fucken hyoshit - not some big assed harley with a human skull on the front.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaN
    Good advice Sarge but a couple of comments.

    How do you discern a reputable dealer from a disreputable dealer?

    You mention brake rotors, however I think more emphasis should be placed on these, because if worn they are usually VERY expensive to replace.

    just ask around .. bad service travels faster than the speed of light.


    you can usually tell shagged rotors with a fingernail and test ride..
    Life is tough. It's tougher when you're stupid

    SARGE
    represented by GCM

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SARGE
    h) Open the fuel tank and check for obvious signs of rust or corrosion using your flashlight (not a match or lighter…..)
    Spoilsport... nothing funnier than watching a dumbarse syphoning stolen petrol and using a match to see what he is doing....the look on his face when everything lights up... priceless!!!

  8. #8
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    Oh man... Wish I'd read that before I bought my Moto Guzzi..

    It has a clunk in the transmission and the engine has been making strange noises since day one... And the vibrating, odd suspension (paleolithic) and leaking.. aargh!

    But then... They all do that sir! ;-) It's called charcter (ah hem)

    ps - good effort Sarge!

    pps - one other thing I'd recommend, do a quick internet search and research the bike. There will be a users forum out there and any common faults will surface quickly so you can factor them in.

    pps - buying projects? Hah! The owner always values them highly 'cos they can see the finished product but it will cost you twice what the bike is worth to get it there. Only buy if it is a labour of love!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul in NZ
    Oh man... Wish I'd read that before I bought my Moto Guzzi..

    It has a clunk in the transmission and the engine has been making strange noises since day one... And the vibrating, odd suspension (paleolithic) and leaking.. aargh!

    But then... They all do that sir! ;-) It's called charcter (ah hem)
    !
    one bike's 'Character' is another bike's severe mechanical problem......

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul in NZ
    pps - one other thing I'd recommend, do a quick internet search and research the bike. There will be a users forum out there and any common faults will surface quickly so you can factor them in.

    yup..agree totally Paul.. the internet is useful for something besides porn.. true story...
    Life is tough. It's tougher when you're stupid

    SARGE
    represented by GCM

  10. #10
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    Good on ya Sarge, some good pointers in there for those out looking. That "Reputable" bit is the key word in your blurb about dealers - definately ask around before hand, and make sure that the bike is completely up to scratch before you hand over your dosh (applies for dealers and private sales).

    When buying privately, make sure that you get a VIR report on it, this will tell you A LOT about the history of the vehicle, including if it was stolen, has money owing, or was brought into the country with water damage. Check it out here.

    Also, check front and rear wheels for freeplay, check all pegs, levers, and switches for signs of wear and tear (including things like kickstarts, pillion grab rails, even the seats etc.). If looking for signs of crash damage, check things like the bar ends, the foot pegs, gear and brake levers, and the underside of the exhaust and can. These will get damaged in a crash but not necessarily replaced.

    You can get a fair idea of how well the bike has been looked after by the fluid levels (oil, water, brake fluid, etc) and condition, tyre pressures, also looking at the chain for tension and lubricant. If these basic maintenance points have been overlooked, then there is a good chance that the rest of the bike hasnt been well looked after either.

    If at all possible, get someone to go with you when looking at a bike (or any vehicle for that matter). Even if they arent a mechanic, they may still pick up on things that you miss. And what ever you do, dont be afraid to ask questions!
    I told him,
    "Son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?"

    He said,
    "Coach, I don't know and I don't care."


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SARGE
    one bike's 'Character' is another bike's severe mechanical problem.........
    True. But not all bikes conform to identical layouts and an inline motor running an engine speed clutch will feel totally differently to a UJM. One mans fault is another mans feature (good lord i sound like a software engineer) but it is important to have a realistic expectation before riding.

    Quote Originally Posted by SARGE
    yup..agree totally Paul.. the internet is useful for something besides porn.. true story...
    Hey cut that out! If it wasn't for porn I couldn't justify my PC at home (oops)

    No seriously, I doubt we would have an internet without it. I see vodafone is allowing porn downloads to their handsets. Clever lads! (my god, we are not really very civilised are we)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sniper
    Cheers you old bugger.

    old??????????
    Life is tough. It's tougher when you're stupid

    SARGE
    represented by GCM

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SARGE
    old??????????
    I mean young at heart with the body of an action man (Aged a few years)
    To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh sooner or late
    And how can a man die better
    Than facing fearful odds
    For the ashes of his fathers
    And the temples of his Gods

  14. #14
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    from the bikepoint.co.nz site

    uying a used bike

    Buying a used bike is an exercise of wits, faith, hope, charity and rat cunning. And the only thing you're risking is the entire contents of your wallet! Here are 20 top buying tips from the pages of Australian Motorcycle Trader.

    1. Appearance:
    Original paint, stickers, mufflers. Do you know what an original should look like? Custom everything is nice but not worth a pinch of the proverbial in the used market.

    Bikes that are red or black will resell easily. If it has aftermarket mufflers and the like, ask if the original bits come with the bike. An original bike is always worth more when you go to sell it.

    Look for cancer: rust on the frame, corroded alloy bits, faded grey switchgear, yellowed screen, cracked and dull paint. Stand at the back of the bike and sight along the centre - does the fairing line up with the steering head? If not, it's had a big shunt and hasn't been fixed properly. Do the colours along the bodywork match?

    2. Fit:
    This is a good time to take a breather and sit quietly on the bike. Does it fit? Can you reach the ground easily? Is your pillion happy on the back seat? Can you get it on and off the stands? Can the levers or even seat height be adjusted to fit you better?

    3. Rego:
    How much is left? In some cases this could be a $600 observation.

    4. Provenance:
    Do the engine and frame match each other? This is an issue with classic Brit bikes where the frame and engine numbers should often match. And with some Japanese classics - does that CB1100R have the real powerplant in the frame or the easily-swapped CB900 engine which looks much the same? With the former it is a desirable motorcycle; with the latter it's next to worthless.

    Check the engine/chassis/rego numbers with your local registration authority before handing over the cheque - it could be stolen.

    5. Service history:
    If it has one, it's worth money in the bank. Look for dealer stamps, or the next-best which is a history recorded by the owner.

    6. Still under warranty:
    Warranties do transfer to the new owner but are of doubtful worth unless the bike has been dealer-serviced (by a pukka franchise) according to the manufacturer schedule (ask to see the records).

    7. Starting cold:
    Put your hand beside the engine/fairing. It should be cold. Ask the owner to start it - deduct points for use of jumper leads off the car battery and special techniques involving liberal use of a kickstart and the F-word. If it's pre-warmed when you turn up, treat it with suspicion. A bit of smoke at this stage is acceptable - it could be unburned fuel or even a bit of oil.

    8. Running:
    It should run smoothly through warm-up, while the choke/fast idle is backed off. Give it five minutes and switch it off.

    9. Warm start:
    Start it again - it should start first time, no excuses.

    10. Warm running:
    It should respond instantly to the throttle - try a gentle rev and then a hard rev to about 60 percent of redline. It should settle immediately back to idle speed (usually around 1000-1200rpm). If it settles to a fast idle, then slows to a normal idle after a few seconds, the carburetion is suspect. Was that a puff of smoke? Why? Is there an unusual rattle or bang? Have you heard the same powerplant in another bike? Does it change when you pull the clutch lever? Is that normal for this bike? Click it into gear and do a walking-pace take-off. Was the clutch action smooth? Did it drop into gear without hesitation?

    11. Tyres:
    Look for cracks (old rubber), depth of tread, and severe cuts or bits of metal in the tread. Check the entire circumference of each tyre.

    12. Chain/sprockets:
    Look at a rear sprocket on a new bike and see if your used item looks the same shape. Fat rounded teeth are what you're looking for. Anything that looks like shark teeth, with broken or chipped tops, is stuffed. The chain should have no more than a few centimetres slack on the lower run, midway between the engine and rear wheel.

    13. Steering:
    If it has a centrestand, use it, and take the weight off the front end (pushing down, or sitting someone, on the pillion seat will do this). Swing the handlebars from side-to-side looking for smooth transition (ignoring a cable that might snag). If it feels tight on the outer reaches while loose and notchy in the centre, add $200 to the cost for steering head bearings. Without a centrestand, roll the bike forward and do the same thing.

    14. Brake pads:
    Easy with disc brakes - look along the disc and see if there is at least 2mm of brake material left before the backing plate hits the disc. Deep gouges in the discs are a bad sign. Drum brakes are harder to judge, though some models will have pad wear indicators on them.

    15. Electrics working:
    Check all the basics. Headlight high/low, indicators both sides, front and rear brake light, horn, with the engine running. No excuses.

    16. Electrics charging:
    Switch on the headlight and put your hand just in front of it. On low or high beam (sometimes you need the latter) you should see the light brighten noticeably when you raise the engine revs from idle to around 2000.

    17. Muffler check:
    Look for rust fairies, particularly on the underside of the muffler. Rev the engine and see if there's a rattle from the muffler indicating loose baffles.

    18. Abuse check:
    Run your hand under the footpegs, the lowest point on the headers, the lowest points of the fairing, the handlebar ends and the lever ends. Lots of scrapes and rough bits? A cupie doll to the reader that can guess what happened...

    19. Engine leak test:
    Look for oil leaks - some weeping from the top gasket on the engine is nothing to worry about and oil near the front sprocket is probably just over-enthusiastic chain-oiling. Look for major leaks elsewhere. If you see a green watery substance, you have a leak in the cooling system - a no-no.

    20. Suspension:
    Bounce both ends up and down with as much force as you can muster. Squeaks at the rear on monoshocks may indicate unhappy bushes, while oil leaks (lift fork gaiters if fitted) suggest a rebuild.

    TAKE A ROAD TEST

    We recommend a road test although it's not always possible. If you turn up with a friend who is willing to hang around while you go for a ride, your chances of a spin are increased. Remember, if you bin it, you own it.

    What you're looking for is:

    1. Those steering head bearings - try them at walking pace, lock-to-lock. Does it turn smoothly? Now a little quicker in the turns (no lock-to-lock this time) - is it equally happy in left and right turns or is the frame bent?

    2. Brakes - a couple of gentle stops using the front then the rear levers in isolation will tell you if the discs or drums are warped. Pulsing levers or jerky stopping are bad news.

    3. Gearshift - does it work all the gears smoothly?

    4. Do the instruments work? A speedo that doesn't work is a basic roadworthy item.

    5. Did it accelerate smoothly and immediately drop back to a predictable idle? Could you restart it instantly?

    6. Who was in control - you or the bike? If it was the bike, will you overcome that problem?

    SELF-PROTECTION

    There's a whole heap of stuff you can do to protect yourself from making a bad decision - which we've outlined here. Another useful ploy is to take along a mate who is a little experienced in the bike world, but who isn't an opinionated know-all smart-alec. Someone who can offer advice, and knows when to suggest you should calm down - no matter how red the bike is.
    Life is tough. It's tougher when you're stupid

    SARGE
    represented by GCM

  15. #15
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    yup..agree totally Paul.. the internet is useful for something besides porn.. true story...[/QUOTE]

    No! NO! Lies!!! That can't be true...

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