How to choose the right used motorcycle?

Buying a used motorcycle is not something to be improvised. To avoid unpleasant surprises, we provide you with the advice of a professional in the sector.

motorcycle with driver
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Traditionally, motorcycle sales increase with the arrival of spring. While sales of new motorcycles are doing relatively well, second-hand motorcycles are not to be outdone, far from it. A choice that can be wise… provided you know where you’re going! To give you the best advice, we called upon Sud Moto, a well-known Yamaha dealership in the Brussels region. Here are their advice and the points to check before buying.

Inquire about it

Once you have found the model of your dreams, find out more about it. Some motorcycles have recurring defects, sometimes not very serious, but knowing this will allow you to check whether the seller has made the necessary modifications, and if so, whether the motorcycle has been the subject of a manufacturer recall. Also consult the opinions of other motorcyclists, read the comparisons and tests. Also remember to check the price of the argus, you will know if the price asked is the market price, you will find it at the end of our magazine. Of course, mileage and wear and tear are also taken into account!

Keep a cool head

The emotional aspect has a great impact when buying. You flashed on one model, you want her and not another. After some research you have found it, the price is right for you and it looks very beautiful in the picture. It’s a good start, but no rush! At the risk of biting your fingers, you will have to inspect your future acquisition from top to bottom! Leave your desire aside and try to control your impulses. It is true that the purchase of a motorcycle, whether new or used, is above all due to a crush. But letting your emotions prevail over your reason can bring you a lot of trouble… and expenses! So be careful!

Private or professional?

The individual: he knows his bike and its history, by discussing with him you will quickly get an idea of his seriousness. Is he passionate? Is his garage tidy and clean? How did he use his motorcycle? Did it drive in winter? Does he have the maintenance logbook? So many questions that will help you identify the seller. Another important aspect is that you can negotiate the price! However, you will not benefit from any guarantee. Moreover, a private individual often attributes an excessive value to his motorcycle, which is probably why he sells it himself. That’s normal, he’s trying to get the best price for it.

The professional: his major asset is the guarantee he offers you! In principle, if you are with someone serious, the bike has been inspected in detail, maintenance has been carried out and any repairs have been carried out; this is a matter of reputation! On this subject, why not find out about the seriousness of the dealership from other motorcyclists and consult the opinions on the internet? Other advantages: the takeover of your old motorcycle, the possibility of financing and the facilities in administrative procedures (the application for registration in particular). Payment security is also an element to be taken into account.

To be accompanied

Mechanics is not your strong suit? Ask a competent person to accompany you, they can carry out the necessary checks and advise you. In addition, it is also a security issue. When you visit a private individual, you don’t know where you are going…

The points to be checked

Here is a non-exhaustive checklist of points to check before going any further. Some are less important than others but be careful not to accumulate them too much! Of course, each imperfection is an opportunity to discuss the selling price. Remember to keep a cool head, there is no shortage of used motorcycles; it is wise to compare and not to jump on the first come, even if you really want to! The price of repairs can rise very quickly…

The swingarm: check for lateral play

The cables: the throttle handle and clutch lever should come back easily and not be hard. Take this opportunity to check the condition of the cables.

The frame: check for rust spots, bends and engine mountings. Pay particular attention to the chassis number, does it match the registration number?

The fairing: the fairing of the motorcycles is more difficult to inspect, as the motorcycle’s components are hidden. A motorcycle that has crashed is not necessarily a bad deal, but the seller must be honest and tell you.

Electrical circuit: check that all commodities are working correctly (headlight, turn signals, horn, brake light…), the motorcycle must keep the headlight full, even if the engine is stopped. Also check with the engine running, if the brightness of the headlight varies, beware of the alternator. The start must be straightforward. On this subject, make sure that the engine is cold when you arrive, if not, the seller may try to hide starting problems and you will not be able to hear any mechanical noises.

The meter: check for fogging; if there is fog, it can mean a leak and cause electrical problems. Also check the match between the displayed kilometres and the condition of the motorcycle. A worn-out motorcycle with a mileage of 20,000 km can seriously remind you of a tampered meter or a change of meter (check that it has not been dismantled)

The direction: check for the absence of hard points in the direction. To do this, put the motorcycle on the centre stand (or workshop stand), rest the motorcycle on the rear tyre and turn the handlebars from left to right, there must be no hard points.

Exhaust: look for possible scratches that could indicate a fall, pay attention to corrosion, some exhausts are more prone to rust. Check the colour of the exhaust outlet: black, the mixture is too rich, white it is too poor, brown it is perfect.

The fork: look for possible traces of shocks and stone impacts. Get on the handlebars and pump, the fork should sink in and come back smoothly. Check the seals for oil.

Brakes: look at the condition of the discs, they should not be scratched or dug. Check the wear of the pads, the stroke and resistance of the lever and the brake fluid level. Put the motorcycle in neutral and check that the wheels rotate freely, they should not be braked.

The mudguard: if you see molten rubber, it can be synonymous with burn. Also check that the front mudguard is not cracked, this may be due to a disc block omission.

The rims: check that they are not warped and that they do not show any signs of impact or oxidation.

The levers: check their condition. If they are broken or scratched, chances are the bike has crashed.

The engine: inspect it carefully, look for greasy traces synonymous with oil leakage and/or porous cylinder head gasket. Look at the condition of the casings, if they are scratched, the bike has fallen. Pay attention to the condition of the screws and bolts to see if the motor has been opened. Finally, run the engine and make sure it doesn’t make any suspicious noises or squeaks.

Tyres: check their state of wear, but also their year of construction; if they are more than 5 years old, their properties have decreased. Also reach over the surface of the tire, look for irregular wear that will be manifested by the presence of ripples.

Footrests: if bent, it may mean a fall.

Suspension: sit on the bike and press down on the back of the seat, the suspension should sink in and come back smoothly.

Transmission: Inspect the condition of the crown teeth, chain tension and the presence of hard spots. For cardans, check for oil leakage and cracking during the test.

The papers: inspect the maintenance logbook and check that the motorcycle has been maintained at the recommended intervals. Ask for all invoices, observe which items have been changed and at which mileage, this will tell you how the owner rides and whether the bike has been properly followed. Pay particular attention to the chassis number, does it correspond to the vehicle registration document?

The test

You don’t buy a cat in a bag. It’s the same for a motorcycle! If the general condition is acceptable to you, ask to try it, but be aware that there is no obligation for the seller to accept. Make sure that the motorcycle is always insured and registered. If this is not the case, you can always ask the buyer to bring the motorcycle to a private property. Be careful, if you are not very experienced, it may be better to be accompanied by an experienced motorcyclist, a fall is so fast…

If the motorcycle is equipped with a top case, ask to remove it, it can change the behaviour of the motorcycle. When testing, pay attention to gear shifting, they should shift smoothly and not present a false neutral. Pay attention to the guiding system, which may be caused by tires or steering bearings in particular.

In addition to these inspection points, also focus on your feelings. See how you feel on the bike, is it what you expect? Are you comfortable on his handlebars?

The transaction

That’s it, you’ve inspected it in every corner, the papers are in order, you’ve tried it and the price is negotiated. It’s time to make the payment! Between particular, transactions are usually made in cash, walking around with a large amount of money on you is never reassuring, as said above, you do not know who you are going to, so being accompanied is desirable. For safety, go to the seller with empty pockets, if the bike suits you you you can always go to your bank later. At the time of purchase, the seller must provide you with various documents: the vehicle registration document, the certificate of conformity and a transfer document, which must appear on the invoice: the full details of the seller and the buyer. In terms of motorcycle data: make, type, colour, year of construction, displacement, engine power in KW, chassis number, date of first entry into service and description of any damage and options. Finally, the famous mention “the vehicle is sold in the state well known to the buyer” with the date and signatures of both parties for agreement. This document must be made in duplicate. We also recommend that you request the maintenance logbook, the various invoices and the user’s logbook.

Avoid sellers who ask you to make payments abroad via Western Union or other means. Chances are you’ll never see the color of your beautiful! For professionals, payments are usually made by certified cheques. Please note that to avoid fraud, cash transactions are limited to €3,000.

Attention: Make sure that the seller provides you with all the keys, including the coded key!