10 Common Mistakes when Buying Used Motorcycles

Buy used motorcycles after careful consideration and doing much homework. While used motorcycles for sale may be cheap and attractive (as compared to the upkeep of a car) there are downsides. What are some common mistakes?

1. Buying used motorcycles from private parties. Granted, the dealership adds a bit of money for prep and handling, but unless you buy the conveyance “as is,” you have some recourse if the bike dies at the first light. Used motorcycles for sale by private parties frequently leave customers holding the bag if there is trouble.

2. Going for the sports model when you need the workhorse. Common mistakes buying used motorcycle conveyances include opting for that killer sports bike that has you humming “Born to be Wild” – when all you really need it for is the stop and go traffic in downtown Los Angeles. Popular Mechanics strongly urges consumers to consider a traditional motorcycle or cruiser as a daily driver. For the weekend warrior, a touring bike may be in order.

3. Buying more bike than you can handle. Did you ever see the Monty Python skit about the chartered accountant who wanted to become a lion tamer? He was steadfast in his decision until he learned what a lion looked like. The same goes for the casual rider who suddenly upgrades way past his skill level. Just because used motorcycles for sale are cheaper doesn’t mean that they don’t pack a mean punch.

4. Buying a used bike without a test drive. The test drive is not optional. Even you are familiar with the type of machine you are purchasing, you want to get familiar with the machine you will be using. A dealer or private party who won’t let you take a test drive should be avoided.

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5. Accepting used motorcycles that look like they just finished a dirt track. If the seller does not concern himself enough with the visual appeal of the bike when selling, the odds are good that he has not worried too much about maintaining it throughout his use of the machine.

6. Failing to heed the technical warning signs. Do the breaks of the used motorcycle feel squishy or seem to suddenly engage? Is there some gear slippage? Does it seem like you need to keep adjusting the bars just a mite to the right to go straight? The consumer who tries to buy used motorcycles should not have to compromise and take on costly (or time-consuming) repairs for a lower price. Pay a little bit more but get a turn-key machine.

7. Discounting scrapes and missing paint. Buying a used bike is a bit like playing detective. Scratches or chips in the paint that are short, shallow or non-parallel point to a possible tip-over says Adam Glass. He continues on to warn that long, deep or parallel scratches may very well be the result of a crash. Take these paint scrapes into consideration when making your used motorcycle buying decision!

8. Forgetting to verify the vehicle identification number (VIN). This is not a big concern when buying from an honest dealership with a stellar reputation. It is a must when buying from a private party. The VIN on the bike and the VIN on the motorcycle title must match. If you cannot read the VIN (because of odd scratches right there but nowhere else) or there appears to be some change to the number, you might be looking at used motorcycles for sale that are actually stolen.

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9. Putting off the mechanical check. Have an experienced mechanic check out the used motorcycle. Even if you are certain that there is nothing wrong with it, make the time to have a professional check it out just to be sure.

10. Thinking that a course in motorcycle riding is somehow un-cool. There is nothing cool about crashing your bike; hitting the neighbor’s trash cans and sending used diapers flying onto the pavement is not sexy. A common mistake made when buying a used motorcycle includes not ensuring that you are able to go on riding it. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers information on finding courses and increasing your skill limits.


Popular Mechanics: “How to Buy a Motorcycle”
Adam Glass: “Used Motorcycle Evaluation Guide”
Motorcycle Safety Foundation: “Find a Course”