Tips for Buying a Used Motorcycle in 2023

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4 min to read

In the market to buy a motorcycle? If you’re looking to make a purchase, buying used is a great way to save some money or score a hard-to-find vintage bike for your collection. However, buying a used motorcycle comes with some uncertainties and special considerations. To help you get the best bike for your money, we’ve compiled questions you should ask when buying a used motorcycle, along with a handy quality inspection checklist.

Questions to ask before buying a used motorcycle:

Before you make your purchase, there’s some important information you’ll want to gather. Whether you’re buying from an authorized dealer or directly from the owner, whoever you’re working with should be able to supply you with all the answers. If not, you may want to shop elsewhere.

What’s the mileage?

Knowing how far the bike has traveled will give you a good idea of what kind of maintenance it might need, as well as how many more miles you can expect to get from it. On average, regular motorcycles will provide reliable performance for 50,000 miles. Beyond that, the bike is still viable but will need more regular maintenance. In the case of sports motorcycles, around 20,000 miles is when the bike would be considered “old.”

Has it been in a crash?

A motorcycle’s crash or accident history can clue you into damage or performance issues that might not be apparent otherwise. It’s smart to get a full history of the vehicle, especially when it comes to understanding potential damage. 

Tip: you can use the motorcycle’s VIN to find records of its crash history, repairs and previous owners. Whoever you’re buying the bike from should have the VIN readily available, along with the title and registration when it comes time to purchase.

Does it have maintenance records?

Inquire about maintenance records or the maintenance and repair history of the bike. These can come from the dealer, the repair shop or receipts that the current owner might have. These documents aren’t guaranteed to be available, but they can tell you a lot about the vehicle you’re looking to purchase. 

Does it have any aftermarket parts?

You’ll want to know about any aftermarket parts or special modifications that were made to the motorcycle, especially if they affect how the bike operates. Bikes are very commonly modified and the aftermarket industry for motorcycles is huge. Chances are the used motorcycle you’re purchasing will have some modifications.

Are there any extras included?

From motorcycle saddlebags to security devices, there’s a chance the previous owner could include some extras with your purchase. If you’re new to motorcycles and don’t have all the accessories yet, this is a good opportunity to save a lot of money.

Looking for places to ride?

If you already have a bike and are looking for destinations, we’ve got you covered. See the top 10 motorcycle rides in North America for seasoned riders and novices alike. For riders looking to get fully immersed in motorcycle culture, make sure to add these motorcycle rallies to your itinerary.

Used motorcycle quality inspection checklist

With so many moving parts, it’s important to make sure the motorcycle has been properly maintained. Some problems won’t be obvious to the naked eye and can cause serious (and expensive) issues later down the road. Inspect each of these parts before committing to a purchase. It is always highly recommended that an inspection is done by a certified professional prior to testing or riding the motorcycle for the first time.

✔ Brakes

Test the brakes to make sure the bike comes to a smooth stop, taking note of any dragging or scraping. Listen closely for noises that could indicate excessive wear on the brakes. It’s smart to ensure that the brakes are functional before getting on the bike and to perform an additional check at a very low speed. 

✔ Clutch

Feel the clutch and pay attention to any resistance or friction while squeezing and releasing it. Ideally, the clutch will engage and disengage smoothly without much slack.

✔ Chain and sprocket

Get a close-up look at the chain and sprocket of the motorcycle and make sure that the chain has optimal tension. Visually check for excessive and noticeable wear marks. It should be clean, smooth and without rust or corrosion.

✔ Electrical

Turn the bike on and thoroughly test all the electrical components. Take note of the lights including the hazard lights and make sure the console display and electrical components are functioning properly. 

✔ Exhaust

Keep an eye out for corrosion, rust, leaks or rotting on the motorcycle’s exhaust. You’ll also want to make sure that the exhaust pipes are securely mounted on the bike and don’t rattle from the engine’s vibrations.

✔ Frame

Inspect the motorcycle’s frame for any visible damage. Scratches and dents could be signs of a previous crash or damage that could affect the performance of the bike.

✔ Tires and wheels

Look for any signs of uneven wear and tear on the tires, including flat spots, age of the tires and unusually smooth areas that aren’t uniform with the rest of the tire. Inspect the wheels for dents or bends and take not of any warning lights that appear on the console. 

One final tip for buying a used motorcycle is to see how the bike starts cold. This is especially important on older motorcycles. If you have trouble getting the bike started or you hear loud rattling when it’s running, it’s likely that the motorcycle is in need of maintenance or has some underlying conditions. 

If you’ve made your way through this list and everything about the motorcycle is to your liking, it’s a safe bet that you’re making a smart purchase.

Have your motorcycle delivered with Montway

Don’t limit your search to just local sellers. With a professional vehicle transporter like Montway, you can find the perfect motorcycle anywhere in the country and have it shipped directly to you. Our extensive network of carriers includes experts trained in motorcycle shipping. Learn more about motorcycle shipping and the benefits of shipping your motorcycle with a broker, or speak directly with our shipping advisors at 888-989-8526.

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