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Old 07-09-2015, 03:09 PM   #1
bsu
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How do you check out a used bike?

Many sellers do not permit test rides (this I understand). Some also do not allow the bike to be taken to a shop to be inspected. Is this normal. If it is an "as is" sale, how is a buyer supposed to get comfortable that a bike is in good shape if all you can do is look at it and start it up?

Just as a general question, what do you do to check out a used bike? What are the key things to examine?
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Old 07-09-2015, 03:13 PM   #2
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Old 07-09-2015, 03:24 PM   #3
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"As is" means they either don't want the hassle of getting it checked out because it's not running or has been wrecked or they just need it gone fast. Or perhaps it's on it's last leg and the seller knows it but can still show you a running bike--they just don't want you to know how close it is to not running anymore. Or it's hot. Or any number of things actually... It's a big gamble. I'd never buy a bike that I couldn't test ride OR get inspected by a known shop like Motorcycles Unlimited.
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Old 07-09-2015, 03:30 PM   #4
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I've never given a test ride, unless full payment was in hand.

But all the bike I've sold have been cherry, except my 72k mi VFR and it was priced accordingly
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Old 07-09-2015, 03:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsu View Post
Many sellers do not permit test rides (this I understand). Some also do not allow the bike to be taken to a shop to be inspected. Is this normal. If it is an "as is" sale, how is a buyer supposed to get comfortable that a bike is in good shape if all you can do is look at it and start it up?

Just as a general question, what do you do to check out a used bike? What are the key things to examine?
When I bought my first bike, I brought someone along who knew what to look for when purchasing a used motorcycle. That would be my suggestion (assuming this is your first bike). Every bike I've bought, the seller was more than happy to let me test ride it. In all cases, I would bring the money if I was serious and demonstrate that I wasn't some jackass by talking to the seller like an intelligent human being.

In my opinion, you can tell a lot about a bike by inspecting it and starting it up. Just google what to look for. Usually if you give the seller the money "cash in hand" they will let you test ride it. Also, a motivated seller should have no problem meeting you at Motorcycles Unlimited or any shop if you want it checked over.
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Old 07-09-2015, 04:01 PM   #6
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take Someone with you that has experience with bikes at minimum, if you cant take it to a shop. check all fluids chain brake pads forks tires. Take a flash light and get in real deep like to check for oil leaks, crappy wire jobs, and anything out of the ordinary. I would also take a volt meter and do a quick dirty charging system test.
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Old 07-09-2015, 04:17 PM   #7
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There are definitely things you can find out about a bike on a quick test ride. First, make sure that you can smoothly shift through the gears, and especially that putting some sudden torque on 2nd gear doesn't make it pop out of gear. If it does, it means the bike has been abused with hard wheelies and such. Also make sure that the brakes work and don't have a chatter or vibration from warped rotors.

If you're serious enough to bring cash, and the seller still won't allow a reasonable test ride, insist that it's the only way you'll go through with the transaction. If the seller is nervous because you're a new rider, then its a good thing you brought that veteran friend with you.

Another pro tip: if you or your veteran friend bring decent gear along with you, it goes a long way to make the seller feel better about it. I've sold 15 bikes on craigslist so far...

Don't know what part of town you're in, but if you're close by, I don't mind helping out and going along with you once you are serious about a deal.
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Old 07-09-2015, 04:25 PM   #8
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Other things to look for:

See if the engine is hot or warm FIRST THING. If the bike has a hard time starting from cold or battery is on the way out, sellers will sometimes warm it up before you arrive. See if the bike starts up easily from cold.

Push on the front of the bike to work the fork legs a bit. Shouldn't see any weird streaking or drips indicating seal leaks.

Check to see if there are any scratches on the engine case, even if there are no scratches on the bodywork. Bodywork is easily repaired or replaced after an incident.

Make sure the VIN stamped on the frame matches the VIN on the title.

Take the key and open the gas tank. Make sure it opens for one (had a friend get nailed by this one). Make sure its not rusty or anything inside.

Make sure everything electrical works. Headlights, brights, turn signals, etc. Take off the seat or whatever you need to see the wiring. Especially if an aftermarket fender eliminator or something is there, make sure they didn't do a electrical-tape job of splicing wires.

Last edited by wh!plash; 07-09-2015 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 07-09-2015, 04:36 PM   #9
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I have found you can tell a lot about a rider (or bike) by inspecting the chain.

If it looks like it has grease build up from months / years of riding, they more than likely never changed their oil or did other maintenance.

Check for the shock & fork seals for leaking oil.

If the bike has over 20k miles, ask for receipts of valve adjustments or you will likely be paying for that maintenance soon.

I've let people test ride with the cash in my hand.
I would also let someone take it to a shop for inspection with cash in hand.
If they wont allow this, then they know something is wrong with the bike.

Bring someone that knows about bikes with you. I live on the NW side. If it's something on this side of town, I would be happy to help.



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Old 07-09-2015, 05:31 PM   #10
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Check fairing bolts to make sure they are all oem bolts. And make sure all they inner trim pieces are there. Also, look for mismatched paint inside the fairings.
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Old 07-09-2015, 05:51 PM   #11
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Like others have said, insist it be taken to a place like Motorcycles Unlimited or bring a really knowledgeable friend along.

As a frequent seller, I've always been more than willing to take my bike to a shop for inspection. But like RACERX said, all my bikes have been cherry.

Except the 2010 Suzuki POS that blew its own tranny (!?) with 4 hours on the clock. I fixed it up really pretty and sold it back to the stealership I bought it from.
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Old 07-09-2015, 05:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Japawhat02 View Post
take Someone with you that has experience with bikes at minimum, if you cant take it to a shop. check all fluids chain brake pads forks tires. Take a flash light and get in real deep like to check for oil leaks, crappy wire jobs, and anything out of the ordinary. I would also take a volt meter and do a quick dirty charging system test.
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Old 07-09-2015, 07:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsu View Post
Many sellers do not permit test rides (this I understand). Some also do not allow the bike to be taken to a shop to be inspected. Is this normal. If it is an "as is" sale, how is a buyer supposed to get comfortable that a bike is in good shape if all you can do is look at it and start it up?

Just as a general question, what do you do to check out a used bike? What are the key things to examine?
in addition to what everyone has already said, check to make sure the motor is not over filled with oil, they may be trying to hide something, If your looking for a bike that has never been dropped, check the bar ends, levers and mirrors for touch up jobs. If they don't want anyone to ride it then ask him to ride it and you follow close by, ask them to let go of the bars and see if there is any vibration.

Personally if someone refuses to let a shop check out the bike then I would not be interested in the bike anymore there are many more bikes out there that will pop up for sale eventually.
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Old 07-09-2015, 08:18 PM   #14
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Here's a guide I wrote years backs:

http://www.motohouston.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=115537

Also, if the owner is willing to meet you here we’ll do a free visual inspection and test drive for no charge.
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Old 07-09-2015, 08:22 PM   #15
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All these suggestions are spot on and one more non-mechanical thing to think about...
Clear title.

I will never buy a bike without a clear title. No "take over payments", no "my brother has it in Lousiana and I'll get it to you next week", no "bullshit". There are too many bikes for sale for me to accept anything less than a clean, easy transaction. I give you money, you hand me keys and a signed title with the title transfer form filled out.

edit: Patrick posted that while I was typing lol
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Old 07-09-2015, 08:58 PM   #16
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Anything on the SE side I can help you with
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Old 07-09-2015, 10:32 PM   #17
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Too many great comments to quote them all. Thanks for the input guys. Very helpful.

Also, thanks for the offers Whip, Dino, Jeremy and Patrick. I may take you up on it if a bike pops up on your side of town.
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Old 07-13-2015, 01:11 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RACER X View Post
If your that new insist the bike be taken to motorcycles unlimited


What's the seller got to lose
+1 If the seller will not meet you at any shop, they are hiding something, move on to the next seller/bike at that point. Reasonable and honest sellers are willing to have their bikes checked out by a shop. Make sure that the title is in their name, ignore "bill of safe only", "no title", "lost title" etc.
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