What not to do when buying a used bike.

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When you’re buying yourself a motorbike, there are a handful of things that you really ought not to do. Buying bikes tends to involve dealing with people you don’t know, and have got no real reason to trust, so there are a lot of things that could go wrong. Things that could end up costing you money or meaning you end up with a bike that’s not as good as you’d hoped. So, in an effort to mitigate the chances of anything like that happening, it’s necessary to be quite careful. Necessary to be careful not to do these things, when you’re buying a bike.

DON’T: Take the sellers word as gospel.

It’s really easy to say things like ‘never raced or trackday-ed’ or ‘maintained regardless of cost’ in a sales advert. It doesn’t mean it’s true. If there’s no service history, you have to wonder whether it’s been serviced or not, at all. If the seller’s done it himself, that’s all good and well, but has he done it properly? Has he used the right parts? Unfortunately, you’ll just have to use your judgement; do they look like the sort of person who has the skills and the facilities to service a bike properly?

If you’re about to put a load of money into something by buying a bike, it’s best not to leave too much to chance. If it was me, and I was unsure, I’d be sticking fresh oil and filters on it when I got it home anyway; that way you know it’s been done.

DON’T: Pay a bloke of the internet that you’ve never met £500 to collect it for you.

There are loads of people online offering motorcycle delivery services, from as little as a few hundred quid. Man with a van type of thing. I’m sure a lot of them are legitimate business people with all the necessary insurance policies in place, but make sure you do your homework. Make sure whoever it is you’re trusting with your bike and your money isn’t going to disappear off the face of the earth.

I know it might be a pain in the arse to hire a van and pick it up yourself, but it probably won’t be that much more money (if any). And it’ll be a lot less risky.

DON’T: Pay a load of money for something you’ve never seen.

There are times when you can get away with this, but it’s never the best way to go, unless you really can’t help it. If you’re buying a bike from a friend, or you’ve had a friend, or at least someone you know and can trust, run their eyes over it, you can maybe get away with it. But it’s still not advisable, for obvious reasons.

Photographs are all good and well, but we all know someone that can take a good photograph. The right angles and shadows in just the right place can hide a multitude of sins, and often do. You’ll always get a better picture of what a bike is really like when you’re up-close and personal with it. You can listen to the noise the engine makes, check the frame number for tamper-marks and have a look in the oil window (if it’s got one).

If you’ know you’re buying (or bidding on) an old rotter, fair enough. But if it’s a bike you’re planning on dropping a load of money on, best to check it out first.

DON’T: Hand over cash and let it out your sight before it’s been counted.

If you’re paying cash and they want to count it (I would want it counting/insist on it), make sure they count it as soon as you hand it over, there and then. Don’t let it out of your sight and definitely don’t have them count it in a different room. Not everyone is as trust-worthy as you’d like them to be, and if given the opportunity it’s quite easy for an unscrupulous seller to slyly pocket a few notes before counting it and claiming it to be £100 short. Then what are you going to do? Find another £100 to hand over or tell him to give you your stack of cash back, which is now lighter that it was a few minutes ago. Either way you’re £100 down.

Have them count it, by all means, but watch them do it.

DON’T: Take it on a test ride and crash it.

If a buyer is generous enough to let you take their bike on a test ride before you part with your hard-earned that’s great. But be careful. You need to have a good think about where you stand with insurance and all that malarky, for starters. And if you do take it out for a spin, be careful. Obviously you’ll want to check how everything works, like the brakes, all the gears, the throttle, etc. but that doesn’t mean you have to ride it like you stole it.

Because if you crash the bike, you’re probably going to have buying it, whether you want to or not.

Crashing is to be avoided at all times, but especially when you’re riding someone else’s bike. so proceed with caution.


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