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Bike Buyers Guide

We have compiled some simple and practical advice to help you minimise any risks you might encounter when buying a used motorbike.

Frame and Fairings

  • Inspect the frame for damage, look at the wheel alignment and the centre/side stand alignment.
  • Look over the fairings for any damage. If you spot any, ask what caused it. It could be something as simple as the bike falling over in the driveway, or it could have been laid down while riding.


  • Ensure that all lights, indicators, fuel pump, horn and switches work and operate equipment correctly.
  • Check the level and condition of the battery.
  • Ensure that all instrumentation works, and check cables/hydraulics for wear and any leaks.

Engine, Cooling and Drive Train

  • The engine must run correctly without leaking fuel, oil or water.
  • Look at the coolant level, and inspect the radiator for any leaks or damage. Check all hoses and hose clamps for tightness and leaks.
  • Check the gearbox and clutch for correct operation.
  • Inspect chain and sprockets for wear and tension.
  • Check the exhaust for any leaks, its general condition, and ensure it's legal for road use.

Wheels, Tyres and Brakes

  • Check the front and rear wheels for damage or for being out of round, and inspect the bearings and spokes.
  • Check the condition and tread depth of the front and rear tyres.
  • Check the front and rear brake rotors, pads and calipers for operation and wear. Look closely at the brake discs to see if they have warped, and check pads are making even contact across the face of the rotor.

Steering and Suspension

  • Check the steering stops, head bearings and if fitted, the damper.
  • Check the front suspension forks, bushes and alignment.
  • Check the rear suspension unit and linkages for leaks, wear or seizure.
  • Check the rear swing arm for damage, and examine the bushes for wear.

The Road Test

  • Always take a ride that is long enough to test the bike properly. Try a route that has a variety of conditions; hills, stop-start traffic and open roads. On the ride listen for any weird noises coming from the engine and drive train.
  • On the test ride check the handling and performance. Ensure that the steering is straight, and check the suspension is working correctly.
  • After the test ride, check over the bike for any leaks that may have occurred whilst riding.

Hints and Tips

  • Determine how much you wish to spend prior to going to buy a motorbike - do not exceed this amount.
  • Decide which questions you will ask prior to going to buy the motorbike - record the answers to these questions on paper and ask the seller to sign and date the document.
  • Ask whether the bike has been involved in an accident.
  • Check the bikes odometer reading - does the condition of the bike match? Ask the seller if the reading is correct (it is an offence to alter the odometer reading of a vehicle). Signs that the bike may have been "clocked" (had the odometer reading altered) include misaligned digits on the odometer, or where the reading is not consistent with entries in the service history.
  • Check engine numbers/chassis numbers match the documentation provided with the bike.
  • Ask to test ride the bike, but ensure that appropriate insurance is obtained.
  • Once you have decided on a bike, arrange to have the bike inspected by a reputable workshop or vehicle inspection agency. A genuine seller won't mind.

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