11 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Used Motorcycle

It’s spring, and you know what that means – motorcycle season is almost upon us! Whether you’re an old pro on two wheels or you’re just starting out, you will want to make sure that you have the perfect motorcycle for your needs.

If you’re in the hunt for a new-to-you motorcycle, here are 11 things you need to know and check out before making this major purchase:

Do Your Research – First and foremost, you will need to read up about what type of motorcycle you will need. Scour magazine articles, website reviews, and online discussion forums to find what might work and what might not be the best for your needs. You can find out a lot by reading what other motorcycle enthusiasts have to say.

Match the VINs – Have you found a bike that you like? Great! Start by matching the VIN on the frame with the VIN on the engine. Both of these should not only match to each other but also to the VIN that is on the title. If they don’t, walk away.

Check out the Maintenance Records – When you’re purchasing a used motorcycle, it’s true that you will need to rely on some level of trust on this front. However, if maintenance records simply don’t exist, you should ask for a verbal account of the vehicle’s maintenance history.

Look for Tire Wear and Tear – Turn your attention now to the tires. You will want to look for cupping and at least 1/16 of an inch of tread. While you’re at it, check the tire pressure; a good owner will take good care of the tires, which can be indicative of the health of the entire vehicle.

Give the Bearings a Test – If you’re able, put the bike on its centerstand. Grab the handles and tug gently on the fork tubes, both front to back and back and forth, to feel for play in the steering head. Feel for movement in the front and rear wheels and also the side-to-side action in the swingarm. Any play that you may feel can be a big safety hazard when you’re on the road.

Check Fluid Levels – You’re going to want to check out the brake fluid, coolant levels, and transmission oil here. If you see any fluids that are dirty or any gray oil, these are signs that the bike has not been well cared for.

Examine the Air Filter – Like a car’s air filter, the motorcycle’s air filter should be clean and properly installed. Don’t be lenient on this; dirt can get in the engine, which can cause several problems for your later on the road.

Test Out All the Controls – Take the time now to test out the brakes, shift the gears, try out the turn signals, honk the horn, and operate the clutch. This can be done on a test ride; however, if the seller is against test rides, just put the bike on the centerstand and test the controls out that way.

Look for Any Big Red Flags – Don’t be afraid to inspect every part of the motorcycle. You will want to keep an eye out for any loose or missing fasteners, chain play, fluid leaks, rust in the fuel tank, cable continuity, cracked wiring insulation, and any pitting in the fork tubes. These are all red flags that can cause you some grief later on.

Start Your Engine – Next, bring the bike to life by starting the engine. You might not be allowed to take it out on a test ride (after all, quite a few motorcycles have disappeared this way), but you can learn quite a bit just from starting the engine. Listen for any odd noises emanating from the engine, look for smoke, and feel for any heavy vibrations. The throttle response should be crisp and clean off the idle and not sluggish.

Get a Good Price – Much like buying a house, you don’t want to meet the asking price without seeing if you can knock it down a bit. If you’ve found anything wrong whatsoever with the bike, use these as negotiating points for a lower price. It can help you save a little bit of money.

Before you take your new ride out on the road, make sure you call your agent here at Madison Mutual Insurance Company to update your auto insurance! Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC to get yourself and your ride covered today!