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How to Buy a Used Motorcycle: A Practical Guide to Used Bikes

Buying a used motorbike can be a daunting task, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. There are many things to consider so you won’t spend much money on something that will eventually let you down. You should know what exactly to look for before haggling and closing a deal.

It’s important to make sure that you are getting a motorcycle with no issues and one that is worth the money you will be spending. If you choose to buy a bike with lingering problems, you should be able to negotiate down; after all, you’ll be repairing and handling the situation yourself.

To help you make an informed decision, here’s a list of what you need to check as you browse through listings of used motorbikes for sale:

1. Electrical Issues

Take a good look at the high and low beam headlights. Go through each switch and test the horn, hazard lights, and blinkers. Pull the front brake lever and press the rear brake pedal to double-check that brake lights are functioning.

Note: If the headlight dims while idling, it may be because it was set too low or that the battery is weak.

2. Engine Issues

When you run the used motorcycle, you may notice that it has a cold start. Don’t fret, as most motorcycles have cold starts. Check the petcock to see if it is on or in the reserve position. A motorbike may have an electronic choke or a manual cable-type choke. If it is electronic, you don’t have to do anything about it. If it’s manual, however, you can ask your dealer to put it on the setting that it is usually on.

Determine the throttle level he usually gives the motorcycle on startup. Once the engine starts, revert the throttle to its normal position. It’s important to see if the bike is running smoothly and to observe the smoke it produces. If the bike is running a fuel or oil mix, there should be a healthy amount of smoke, while a street bike should not smoke much at all. If there is smoking, it can indicate a fuel ratio problem or an oil problem. It can also mean a leaking head gasket. If the case is the latter, the bike already needs significant repair.

Note: Be particular with the sound of the bike’s engine. Listen closely for rattling sounds. Using a stethoscope will help you easily hear the engine from the inside. If you don’t have a stethoscope, a wooden dowel rod will help you do the trick. Make sure to get a long rod so you won’t get close to a hot engine.

Place the rod in several spots on the engine to listen for some unusual sounds. Touch one side to the engine, and listen on the other side. By doing this, you will be able to hear the internal sounds of the machine.

Registration Documents

On the legal side of things, do a cross-reference check of the motorcycle’s VIN and license plate number against the title. There should be no discrepancies or whatsoever. You can find the VIN on the steering head of the frame. All numbers there should be readable and not tampered with.

Note: Do not pay for the motorbike if the seller does not have the title.


After carefully considering these components to check your prospective used motorbike, it is equally essential to bring the bike to a professional motorcycle mechanic to ensure that it is as good as advertised. Prioritise your safety, always!

Are you looking for high-quality used motorcycles for sale in York? We Buy Motorbikes sells used motorbikes that are in excellent condition. We also offer a free online valuation. Get a quote online today!

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