Buying any used vehicle carries some risks. It is best to consult an expert, but you can inspect a lot of the bike yourself. Here are some guidelines to go by:
- Carry a flashlight so you can check in all the parts of the bike.
- Thoroughly check out the condition of the drive chain and sprocket. The chain should have around ¾" of play (up and down) and the teeth of the sprocket should not be showing obvious signs of damage or wear. When you try to wiggle the chain side to side on the sprocket, a good set will not have much movement and will be firm. Get a friend to sit on the bike, and then check that the chain is still snug and without much movement. Chances are that the chain could wear out slightly after much use, but the sprockets should not show any signs of damage. If it does, it means that the sprocket is very old or the bike has not been maintained well.
- If the tire is in good condition, it should not show any signs of uneven wear and tear. The tread should be deep across the surface. If the center of the tire is more worn, it means that the bike is used for daily use on highways. If there is more wear on the edges, it indicates that the bike has been used on the track.
- Take the bike for a test ride and inspect the condition of the brake and clutch levers. Also check out the bar-end weights, straightness of the bars and instrument cluster. If these don’t seem right, it could indicate an accident in the bike’s history. Other signs of accidents could be scratched engine cases, foot pegs or exhaust pipes. Hold the handbrake and bounce the front suspension. This should feel even and firm. Check the fork tubes for signs of rust, pitting and oil. These are indications of worn fork seals. Make sure you are through in your inspections so that you avoid expensive repairs in the future.
- While you check the forks, make sure that the brake rotors don’t have uneven wear or grooving. Take a look into the brake caliper to see how much of the pads are left. If the bike has spokes, make sure that the overall condition of the individual spokes is good. Make sure that the rims are dent free.
- If the bike has center stand, put it on that and turn the bars side to side. Does it feel ‘notchy’ or rough in the steering head?
- Check the visible frame if possible. Also remove the seat to see underneath. There should be no kinks, dents or visible damage to the frame. You should not go further if there is.
- Check the battery: Gain access to the battery and clip the multi-meter across the battery terminals and check the voltage. It should not read less than 12 volts. After you start the engine the meter should not read more than 14 volts or so while running. If it does, it could indicate a sign that the voltage regulator is not right. This could cause problems of overcharging a battery and causing it to fail. Also check the condition of the lights and indicators.
- Switch off the engine. There should be no signs of corrosion if you pull a fuse or two out for inspection. Take a look at the general appearance of the battery terminals and the battery terminals.
- Using your flashlight, pen the fuel tank and look for obvious signs of rust or corrosion. Do not use a lighter for this.
- Examine under fairings (if the motorcycle has fairings). Check the frame for damage and the overall condition of the plugs, engine block, and radiator. Look out for leaks around the oil filter and oil pan bolt.
- Evaluate the brake fluid level. Keep the engine running, now pull and release the front brakes, all the while keeping an eye on the fluid level. The fluid level should fall and rise quickly as soon as the brake is released.
These are just some of the things you need to look at while inspecting a used bike. However, like mentioned before, it is always best to consider an expert. Some extra money spent at this stage could save a lot of money in the future of your bike, so make sure you get your money’s worth by picking the best out there.