Tips for buying a used motorcycle

You’re off to buy your first motorcycle. Or your second, after you retired your first, old love. Or maybe even sold her to finance your new love. The demand for used motorcycles has always been high, but thanks to Covid-19 a.k.a. Corona the demand has blow through the roof. ‘Cause when you are not allowed to do almost everything we love, motorcycling is still possible. And riding a motorcycle might even give you that beloved feeling of freedom again. But what to look out for? We give you several tips for buying a used motorcycle.

Searching for a used motorcycle

So many choices

Maybe that motorcycle license has been lying around in a closet for a while now. And did the Covid-19 restrictions stimulate you do dust it off and start to ride again. Or perhaps you took a better look at your old, trusted motorcycle and decided you’re ready to start a new adventure with a new bike. Whatever your reason might be to start and search for a used motorcycle, the search can be quite a challenge. Because the market for used motorcycles is huge. Alright, it might be less huge thanks to the big demand for used motorcycles since Covid-19, but still it remains a struggle for many. REDRIDINGBOOTS will help you out.

tweedehands motor / used motorcycle

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Nowadays, there are many different websites on which you can start your search for a used bike. Are you looking to buy a motorcycle in the Netherlands? Than, but also or are great places to start. Just scrolling through the big offer will give you sore fingers in no time. So start with a plan. What kind of motorcycle do you want? You can always have doubts, but limit the options to make the search as efficient as possible. Follow the list below and set the filters on the relevant website. 

After you’ve set the filters on the website in question, it should provide you a selected bunch of used motorcycles. Now it’s a matter of examining the pictures and the information the seller provided. Let’s search for that perfect match. In the most ideal situation the seller provides real clear pictures. And he of she gives you a description that doesn’t only state the good things of the bike, but also the less perfect things or possible damage. And even shows that damage in one of the pictures. Sadly, it often doesn’t work like that in reality. So the search for that perfect second-hand bike requires a bit of Sherlock work. 

Buying a used motorcycle from a private individual or from the dealer?

Do you want as little risk as possible? Then it’s wise to buy a used motorcycle from a motorcycle shop. Do you have a good understanding of technical matters? Or do you know someone who does and wouldn’t mind to accompany you? Then buying a used motorcycle from a private individual is also no problem.

Buying from a private individual

Pro: often cheaper
Con: no warranty and a higher risk of hidden defects

Buying from a motorcycle shop

Pro: more certainty thanks to warranty
Con: often more expensive

Things you want to know

When buying a used motorcycle, there are a few questions which are smart to ask on forehand. It might sound logical to you to ask them, but others might not have thought about it. You often have contact with the owner or dealer through email of phone before you check out a bike. Questions you want to ask are;

Let's go!

If you’re convinced by the answers the owner or dealer has given you, then you can arrange a test ride. Even if you know the model or type of motorcycle already, still we recommend you to do a test ride. The smallest modifications can give a completely different feeling. Don’t be stubborn, just test the thing. Not feeling comfy by testing it yourself? Then take someone with you who has more technical knowledge or who knows lots about bikes. In any case, it is useful to check the following points:

  1. Damage; walk around the bike and check the bike for damage. Pay attention to the foot pegs and mirrors. Or to crash bars and frame sliders. Damage to these parts indicate that the motorcycle toppled over or crashed at some point.
  2. Oil level; put the motorcycle upright or have someone hold it upright for you. Check the oil level.  A oil level that’s too low can indicate poor maintenance.  Also check the colour of the oil. Very dark oil can indicate old oil (and therefore some overdue maintenance). Is the oil grey or do you see a white, foamy substance? Big no go. Then there could be a coolant leakage.
  3. Engine; check the engine for damage or leakage. Preferably when the engine is still cold and just after your test ride.
  4. Chain and sprockets; check the tension of the chain and check the chain for rust. When checking the sprockets, pay attention to the teeth. Are the teeth still pointy? Or do you see shark fins? When the teeth look like shark fins, the sprockets are worn. In that case, both the chain and the sprockets need to be replaced. 
  5. Brake discs; does the surface still feels smooth? Or do you feel some wear and tear? Replacing old brake discs isn’t that much of a hassle, but does entail additional costs.
  6. Brakes and brake pads; before you go for a test ride, check whether you feel pressure when you squeeze the front brake or when you push on the rear break. Look along the wheels to check if the brake pads are still thick enough. Check the brakes and discs for rust.  This may indicate that the bike haven’t been ridden in some time. 
  7. Front fork seals; check the front suspension for leakage. Push the bike into the front suspension while squeezing the front brake. If you see a thin film of oil, the seals are leaking. Do you want a double check? Then check it before and after your test ride.
  8. Tires; check the trace of the tires. There are indication points present on a motorcycle tire. Do they hit the ground? Then the tires are worn.  
  9. Battery; it’s a bit hard to check the condition of the battery when you check out a used motorcycle. Do you have trouble to start the bike? Then that could indicate a battery that needs to be replaced. But that could also be caused by something else, so it doesn’t really tell you that much. Luckily a new battery isn’t that expensive. 
  10. Steering head bearings / wheel bearings; does the motorcycle roll smoothly when you walk with it? Or does it roll with lots of difficulty? It can be cause by multiple things, but keep the condition of the wheel bearings in mind. Things like that are most easily checked when a bike can rest on a paddock stand. Then the wheels come off the ground. Let the wheel spin. Does it spin with difficulty? Or is there space in the wheel? Then there is a good chance the wheel bearings are worn. Check the bearings of both wheels. You can check the condition of the steering head bearings by walking with the motorcycle is best checked De staat van de balhoofdlagers kun je checken door met de motor aan de hand te lopen. Fully squeeze the front brake. Do you hear a tap at the steering head?   Hoor je een tik bij het stuur? Then there is space in the steering head bearings. You don’t really want that.
tweedehands motor / used motorcycle
used motorcycle / tweedehands motor
used motorcycle / tweedehands motor

Does everything seems safe and sound? Let's ride!

You’re probably very eager to test the bike.

That might even be the most fun part of the search for a used motorcycle. Don’t be too careful with it. We fully understand that you handle the bike of someone else with cause. That makes perfect sense. But do let that bike work during your test ride. Make a lot of revs, brake hard. Change gears enough to feel whether it does so smoothly or rusty. And feel how the bike reacts to it. Ride a little faster over a speed bump and ride some twisty roads. Of course you want to feel how the bike handles, if it suits you etcetera. But a test ride is also the perfect moment to check and test a few things. For example:

Did everything go well? And were you on cloud nine the whole time during your test ride? Then it probably is your perfect match. Do you buy the motorcycle from a private individual? Then there is always a risk of hidden defects. You simply never know for sure. There are some mean people out there who sell a bike because they know big maintenance is coming up and hide it well to still be able to sell it. But there are also still honest people out there, who do treat their bikes with love and give them the well deserved TLC.

Can it be a penny less?

The negotiating begins. Maybe you’re buying the bike of a seller who sticks to his of her price. And you don’t mind that. Just keep in mind there is always a change that you have to fix things or do unexpected maintenance. So to negotiate a bit never does any harm. Don’t be fooled by all kinds of meaningless accessories.  A short license plate holder, fancy indicators or a Puig racing screen.. these kinds of accessories add little to the value of a motorcycle. Does the seller use this as an excuse to increase the value of the bike? Then don’t be fooled. Does the bike have a full custom exhaust system? Or a blipper? Or has the standard suspension been replaced by Öhlins? These kinds of modifications do are of value and actually contribute to a better performance of the motorcycle. 

Do you reach an agreement with the seller? Hurray! Don’t forget to insure the bike after you’ve fixed all the paperwork. Especially if you want to ride the bike home, it’s a clever idea to insure the bike immediately. These days, you can arrange an insurance online in just a few seconds. Do you put the bike on a trailer and do you expect things to go well? Then you could also fix the insurance at home.

You've successfully bought a used motorcycle

There she stands. Your new love. You’re as happy as a little kid and super excited. It’s a new chapter in your life on 2’s. You will ride lots of miles together during breathtaking ride out’s. Cruising down twisty roads. Or perhaps you immediately ride that bike on track. You will have lots of fun for sure. And you’ve deserved it after that intensive search.

Got any questions? Get in touch!

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