close up of second hand bike

How to Buy a Second-Hand Bike

Like all things new, a shiny brand-spanking new motorcycle from the dealer is as exciting as opening a new toy on Christmas. Untouched, untarnished, and top-of-the-line, the anticipation of taking it to the road for the first time is a real thrill. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get the same joy from buying a second-hand bike.

Why buy a second-hand bike?

Brand-new motorcycles are not always the best choice for all riders. Occasional riders may find it too costly. Why spend so much on something you won’t use on a daily basis, right? And given how new motorbikes quickly depreciate, a lot of financially savvy individuals may see them as bad investments. In both scenarios, buying a second-hand motorbike would make much more sense.

Just like with used cars, purchasing a second-hand motorcycle entails risks. But the benefits that you’ll get are well worth these risks if you have the right information and know what to look out for. We’ve included some buying tips below to help you get your hands on a second-hand motorbike that isn’t a total lemon.

Features to check

After deciding on a second-hand bike that you’re interested in, search for an image of the very same model and colour on the web. Make sure to find an image that was taken or released when the bike was first introduced in Australia. Compare the image against your prospected bike and look for possible signs of repairs.

Look for decals or badges that weren’t there when the bike was new because they may be hiding some damage. On the other hand, the absence of such decals can also be a bad sign if the brand new version has them.

Search for other marks or damage. Check out the handlebar, foot pegs, bolts, brackets, and the exhaust pipe. Ensure that there are no bent, damaged, or rusty parts because they could present problems in the future.

Inspect the tyre treads, the rims, and the sidewalls. Do the same with the chain, sprockets, and the battery too. Any dissimilarity between the second-hand bike and the new one on the web image are signs of a bad purchase.

Lastly, check the odometer reading. The mileage that’s showing should somehow reflect on the motorbike’s condition.


Questions to ask the seller

To get a better idea of whether the bike has been well taken care of and in good condition, mechanically speaking, ask the seller for the full service history. Also, ask for the registration papers to make sure it hasn’t expired. Ensure that the engine and frame numbers listed are the same as the ones on the vehicle as well. If they aren’t matched, the bike may have significantly lower value compared to the seller’s initial claim.

It’s also a good idea to find out the reason why the seller is letting go of the motorbike, particularly all the damage and replaceable parts that he/she knows of.  Then, find prices of the replacement parts with your local shops. This will give you an upper hand when bargaining for the second-hand bike’s selling price.

Functions to test for

Some indications of a well-working motorbike need physical testing in order for you to know.

  1. Test for the engine’s capability to start even when cold. Do this by touching the engine case and make sure it’s cold before starting. If it doesn’t start after a few tries, then the bike has a problem. If it’s already warm, let the engine cool down first before doing a test start.
  2. Test the suspension by pressing the front brake and pushing down the handlebars. Do the same at the rear end of the motorbike. There may be some problems if you hear any noises or knockings on either end.
  3. Test that the wheel bearing is in good condition by holding the tyre’s exterior on both sides. Check if there are any lateral movements because even a small one is a bad sign.
  4. Test the condition of brake disks by running your fingers along the surface. Ensure that there are no deep cuts or dents around the edges. A good brake disk is around 4-5 millimetres in thickness and with smooth ridges.
  5. Test the electrical lines and make sure they are running. Start up the bike then check the high and low beam are lighting. Test the four signal indicators as well as the horn. Push down the rear brake pedal and press the front brake lever and see if the brake light is working. Lastly, check the dash lights are all working.

Take the bike for a ride

Now, all that is left for you to do is to do a test drive. This is the most important thing to do if you want to buy a second-hand bike.

  • While riding the bike, make sure that there’s no problem shifting between gears and the bike accelerates accordingly.
  • Use the rear brake, then the front brake to make sure they are working effectively.
  • Check that the bike runs on a straight line with no wiggling. Also, check that the bike feels right when turning left and right. This means that the fork, swingarm, and chassis are in good condition.
  • Finally, feel the ride and imagine spending more time with the bike. Make sure that you feel comfortable for the whole duration of your test ride.

Make sure it’s roadworthy

Even though you may be satisfied with all the things you checked and tested, don’t go rushing to purchase the motorbike without making sure that it’s roadworthy. That means it should comply with all state regulations first before you can decide on whether or not to go ahead with buying the bike.

  1. Tyres – The tread depth must still be within the legal requirement both in the middle and on the sides. Make sure to check both tyres on all sides, because some may be compliant on one side but not on the other.
  2. Brakes – As mentioned earlier, make sure that the front brake lever and rear brake pedal are working perfectly. Other than that, you also have to check that the brake pads are not worn, there is no fluid leak, and there is no air in the brake lines. All of these will contribute to a non-compliant braking system.
  3. Lights – The headlight and taillight should turn on automatically after starting the bike. The brake light, indicators, the high and low beans, and the dash light should also work well when activated.
  4. Others – Some machine examiners also check for chain wear, fuel leaks, faulty wiring, and other things. Ensure that everything is in good condition to pass all legal requirements.

Patience is a virtue

Timing is a huge factor when you’re shopping for a brand-new motorbike. New releases generally generate a lot of interest thus the high demand and premium prices. Good deals run out pretty fast because you’re not the only customer.

Quite the opposite is true when buying a second-hand bike, regardless of how much the seller insists that there are many people interested in it. Though a second-hand bike is not in mint condition, it’s still a big-ticket purchase so don’t rush. Take your time to think it through and don’t be worried that someone might buy the bike first. If that happens, then there’s always a better deal just right around the corner.

Buy a Second-Hand Bike with Aussie Bike Loans

If you are satisfied that the second-hand bike is a good buy, then go ahead and seal the deal. Getting pre-approved bike finance with Aussie Bike Loans can give you some negotiating power. We have been providing assistance to Australians with bike loans and motorcycle financing for over a decade. Call us or apply online to get conditionally approved for a second-hand bike now!

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