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Old 12-06-2008, 08:58 AM   #1
Hamm
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Bike Shopping 101

Hello all,

So my question is what to look for when buying a used motorcycle?

What are the tell tell signs that this may be a bad bike?

What are the signs that say we will be one for years to come?
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:42 AM   #2
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make sure it's a suzuki is the first step.

and if it's got parts broken off of one side, scrapes, and a giant dent in the tank on the same side, don't believe them when they tell you it hasn't been dropped.


me, personally, I'm a painter so I first look at the paint for trash, or mismatched orangepeel to see if it's been repainted probably due to parts being broken in an accident or fall.
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:45 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamm View Post
Hello all,

So my question is what to look for when buying a used motorcycle?

What are the tell tell signs that this may be a bad bike?

What are the signs that say we will be one for years to come?
Here are some signs of a bike that's seen more than it's fair share of abuse:

1. Lack of original plastics or painted plastics. This may be an indication that the bike has been down.

2. Scratches/scrapes on the levers. Again an indication that the bike as been down.

3. Condition of the brake fluid... is it almost clear as it should be or is it old and dark.

4. Condition of the tires. In this case you'd prefer a bike with sizable chicken strips and one without significant tire wear. Highly worn tires might be an indication of a bike ridden hard and not maintained. Specifically look at the tire valves, they should not be dry or cracked.

5. Ask about maintenance intervals. How often was the oil changed? What other regular maintenance was performed. You are looking for an articulate, informed response. Expect them to reference oil changes and chain lube intervals at a minimum. If they change the oil, ask them about oil capacity. For chain lube, ask them about the brand.

6. Check the operation of the throttle, brake levers, and clutch lever. Is everything perfectly smooth? The front brake lever should not be mushy, an indication of brakes needing to be bled or oil brake fluid. The lever should get stiff in the first 25% of the travel of the lever, at a minimum.

7. Take a hard look at the bottom of the motor, swing arm, and wheels looking for extensive grease and oil build up. If so, it can be an indication of a bike that's not well maintained. Also look for damp areas of oil, indicating leakage. Look for stains on the engine cases indicating prolonged fluid leakage that has dried back on the bike.

8. Look at the chain and the chain tension. The chain should hang in a straight manner. If the linkages at the bottom of the chain are bound up, i.e. not able to hang straight, it's an indication of a worn out chain and potential poor chain maintenance. Also, chain tension should allow the chain to move up about 1.25 inches when moved up towards the swing arm.

9. Check the rear sprocket. On a street bike, it should show no appreciable wear on a reasonably maintained bike.

10. Start the bike. It should start immediately with no appreciable cranking. When the bike is starting, listen for a slow down of the starter which may indicate an issue with the battery or charging system. Rev the motor and let it return to idle a few times. There should be virtually no hesitation as it revs up and no popping as it returns to idle. The motor should sound smooth and continuous throughout the range.

11. Sit on the bike with it turned off. Apply the front brake. Rock the bike back and forth feeling and listening for any clicking sounds. Sometimes these can be related to the front rotors, which is not a huge deal provided the movement isn't excessive. Also, the bike may have floating from rotors if it's a high end track bike. What you are feeling for is play in the head bearings for the forks. Play is bad.

12. While straddling the seat, push down on the front forks. You are looking for nice, smooth compression and rebound. Further, you should not be able to bottom the forks. Stepping off of the bike, compress the rear suspension and feel it compress and rebound. Same thing, nice, smooth compression and rebound without being able to bottom the shock.

13. Inspect the forks, specifically looking at the lower tubes that slide into the upper tubes. These should be very clean. They should also be completely oil and drip free. If they are very dirty or you see fluid, it may be an indication of leaking fork seals.

14. As best as you can, look at the condition of the radiator hoses. They should not be dry or show any cracking.

15. Validate that the VIN on the frame matches the VIN on the motor.

16. While a high mileage bike isn't necessarily a problem, there are low mileage bikes all over... bikes with no more than 5 to 7K miles.

17. If you are able to ride the bike, check that the transmission shifts smoothly.

18. If at all possible, take the bike to a trusted motorcycle shop for a for inspection. I can't imagine this would cost more than 25 to 50 bucks. Call Patrick at Motorcycles Unlimited, or Javi for a quote.

-Curt
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Old 12-06-2008, 10:43 AM   #4
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Old 12-06-2008, 10:54 AM   #5
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Wow!!! Maxgs you the man.....
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Old 12-06-2008, 11:26 AM   #6
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#6 should say...

6. Check the operation of the throttle, brake levers, and clutch lever. Is everything perfectly smooth? The front brake lever should not be mushy, an indication of brakes needing to be bled or BAD brake fluid. The lever should get stiff in the first 25% of the travel of the lever, at a minimum.
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