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Old 08-19-2009, 12:51 PM   #1
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Thinking of buying a used motorcycle? Read First..

see also this thread

Five tips for purchasing a used motorcycle

Dear Fellow Motorcycle Enthusiast,

These 5 tips are from experience of over 25 years of buying and selling motorcycles, both professionally and personally. It is my hope that after have read this tips you will be better prepared to make a smart purchase decision that you will be happy with for many years to come. I personally, and many of my friends over the years have made some stupid mistakes when purchasing a used bike and hopefully this will help you avoid our past mistakes.

Tip #1 - the most important thing you can do!
Ask to see the title!

Right up front, after you have taken a quick look at the bike, but before you get too emotionally involved in the bike ask if they have the title. Then ask if you may see it, if you catch any resistance that should be a big red flag. Most of the time they will produce the title.

Look at the title! If you are talking to Frank and the title says Joe that should be a small red flag, inquire about that. You are not talking to the owner, especially if the address on the title is different than where this guy lives. Bottom line is this - if you are not talking to the guy that is named on the title and you are not at the address on the title be very weary. Now maybe it is the father and the son is at college or something, just be cautious. Especially if the title is already signed off. Listen to the story that they provide and proceed with caution, if you are standing in the ghetto be more cautious than if you are in a very ritzy neighborhood and the man is in his 50s. Take the whole scenario into consideration.

Check the date on the title when it was last titled, was it two weeks ago or two years ago? If the date on the title is less than 6 months old question why they are selling it so soon.

What does the mileage on the title indicate? Is the mileage on the title less than the bike is showing? It should be! If the mileage showing on the title is 15k and the bike is only showing 5k RUN AWAY FROM THE DEAL! You don't want to get wrapped up in that mess! They may have replaced the brain box for who knows what reason. Why would you need to replace the brain box? Perhaps because the bike was crashed hard and it was damaged? Or maybe to hide VERY high miles on a bike! Either way it is a bad scenario.

Check the vin number on the title and closely compare it to the vin number on the frame. ANY DISCREPANCY - RUN!! Do not even think about buying a bike when the vin number doesn't match EXACTLY with the title.

Lastly check that the title doesn't say "REBUILT" or "SALVAGE" or "REPAIRABLE". I learned this the hard way ONCE. Bought a bike, when I bought it I didn't look at the title real close and when I went to the DMV the clerk pointed out it was a "REBUILT" which killed my resale value. I overpaid for the bike- that was my learning experience - don't make the same mistake as me!

To summarize - the title can give you all kinds of information that most buyers don't think to check out until after you have negotiated a price and maybe already turned over your cash. If you smell anything fishy either run from the deal or negotiate a KILLER deal. Usually when you are buying from a reputable dealership this is a complete NON-issue. Most dealerships are straight up and you have no reason to be suspicious up front UNLESS you are at a shady retailer.
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Old 08-19-2009, 01:11 PM   #2
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Old 08-19-2009, 01:12 PM   #3
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Old 08-19-2009, 01:22 PM   #4
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Old 08-21-2009, 03:40 PM   #5
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Good info BUT...if it's a racebike, it might still have an MSO (like mine) or be titled in the name of the last owner. If someone bought a streetbike intending to make it a racebike, and two years later want to sell it, they might not want to pay $500 in taxes and fees for a bike that's never gonna hit the street. Thus, the bike might still be in the previous owners name.

If none of the above applies, that's good advice.
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