Top things you need to know when buying a used motorcycle

Submitted by Dean on 10 August, 2022 - 10:54 with 0 comment

Top things you need to know when buying a used motorcycle

Whether you’ve just passed your CBT and are looking to get out on the road, you’re a seasoned rider with bags of riding experience under your belt, or somewhere in between, buying a second-hand motorbike can feel like a bit of a gamble.

If you’re buying from a private seller on an auction or local site, the risks can increase further as they may not offer a refund. We’ve compiled a quick list of things for you to check, ask and avoid so that you don’t get caught out.

Manufacturer, model and type 
You’ll probably already have a solid understanding of what you’re after, but it pays to do your research. Check the ride comfort and ergonomics of the bike and consider whether what you’ll use it for matches the comfort and mileage. If you’re travelling long distance or on a regular commute, are you sure that sleek naked bike is really what you’re after? It’ll leave you open to the elements if it is.

Check the VIN and registration
You’ve turned up to the seller and are ready to inspect, what next? Before you do anything, you should check that the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) matches the paperwork. Be wary that the numbers haven’t been turned or amended in any way. If you’re in doubt, you should consult a website such as or to be sure it isn’t stolen. If you know the VIN or registration before you meet the seller, it’s worth checking the motorbike before you turn up.

Examine the motorbike when cold
Ensure the bike is cold and the seller hasn’t already warmed it up. A hot bike can hide many of the problems bikes have, especially older bikes. You should examine both sides of the motorbike for tell-tale signs of any crashes or falls it may have had. Check levers, bar ends and foot pegs. If you notice something, try to glean what else could be damaged. Underneath, check for any leaks or cover-ups of spillages and leaks.

You should examine the chain, sprockets and brakes to check for general maintenance issues. Rust and dirt residue could be a sign the motorbike has been poorly maintained, or ridden hard. Checking the tyres is a good indicator of when they’ll need to be replaced. If you did your homework on the motorbike model – things to look out for, odd or obscure elements which are unlike other bikes – can put you in a good position to get the most out of your checks.

Start the bike
If you’re satisfied with your pre-checks, ensure the brakes, indicators and horn are in good working order and go for a spin. Some motorbikes may sound a little strange starting from cold, but this should clear up after a minute or two. If it doesn’t, ask the seller about it if you’re not sure what the cause is.

Head out for a test ride
Before any test ride takes place, you should check with your insurer to be sure you’re legally allowed to test ride the bike. Once you have this cleared up, there’s something else you need to think of: what will you do with the cash? It’s wise to bring someone along who can wait with the seller until you’ve returned. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to give the seller the cash and hope you can make it back if it breaks down.

Once you’re out there, make sure it runs smoothly and address any issues you have with the seller on your return. Be sure to double-check the motorbike comfort is what you’re looking for, as it could be a big issue if you do a lot of miles.

Whether you are an experienced rider or not, it’s good to ask as many questions as possible. Get to know the full history – or as much as possible – of the bike and don’t be shy to ask how something on the bike works, since every motorbike is different. Take the age, condition, aesthetics and comfort into consideration before you make your offer. Then, you’re good to go.

Before you head off to enjoy your new purchase, ensure the bike is taxed appropriately and get insured on the bike, too. Our team can work quickly to get you out on the road in no time, offering extensive cover with an array of specific cover options for you to choose from.

Give us a call on 02920 626 226 to find out more or receive a quick, no obligation quote.

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Watkin Davies Insurance Consultants Ltd are one of Wales’ largest Independent Insurance Brokers, established in 1978 by Roger Watkins. Since this time we have become one of the leading Commercial and Personal Insurance Brokers in the region and the trusted insurance advisor to hundreds of Welsh and UK businesses and individuals.

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