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Just buy it, right?

Posted on by vision-motorcycle-training

So, you have passed your test with Vision and you’re on a mission. You are looking for that most illusive of creatures – the good second-hand motorcycle!

Where do you start?

Well, firstly take a large hammer and smash that piggy bank! – OK, so you have £2.47 – Consider the options: Save up (takes forever), Bank loan (low interest rates), or finance (available at point of sale if you buy from a shop).

Having decided (or been told by the bank manager or significant other) how much you can afford to spend, you now have two choices: Buy from a shop or buy privately.


If you decide to buy from a shop (arguably the safest option) you may pay slightly more, but this is more than offset by the fact that you will have the benefit of a warranty and a large stock of bikes under one roof for your delectation and wonderment! The bike will have been checked over by qualified mechanics prior to sale and usually have a full MOT. All the documents will be in order and of course, finance is available. Simple.


Buying privately, although potentially cheaper, holds many pitfalls for the unwary. You really have to know what you are looking at and what to listen for. If in any doubt, take along someone with the relevant knowledge and experience. If you do buy a ‘lemon’, there is little or no chance of getting your money back after a private sale.

‘Caveat Emptor’ as the Romans used to say.


Research the type of machine you intend to buy. Make sure you know the annual changes in colour schemes. Make a note of yearly detail modifications. This will help you choose the most suitable model for you and also reduce the chance of buying a crash damaged example, which may have been cobbled together using any parts available.

Has it been ‘down the road’? Look for damage to the footrests, levers, fairing brackets, lock-stops, etc. Shiny new paint may disguise recent crash damage.

On an older bike, look closely at the speedometer, in particular at the odometer (mileage recorder) if it’s not the digital type. Do the numbers look out of line or scratched? If so, it may have been ‘clocked’ (mileage wound back). This is very easily done and, unfortunately, quite common. Check for excessive wear on the footpeg rubbers, handlebar grips, brake discs etc. A full service history can be used to verify mileage.

Look at the registration document and the MOT. Hold them up to a bright light. They should both have a watermark. Check that the details on the documents (engine and frame numbers; colour etc.) match those of the bike and the vendor. Check the bike’s history on a database such as HPI. This will tell you whether the bike is stolen; has outstanding finance or if it has ever been an insurance write-off. Well worth it for the peace of mind!

If in any doubt about the machine (or the person selling it), walk away. At the moment it is a buyers market and there are plenty of second-hand bikes for sale. Always view as many examples as possible before making a final decision.


So, you have found your dream machine. It is a low mileage example with full service history and the HPI check gives it a clean bill of health. Perfect! Hand over the money, right?


Always ride the bike before you finalise the agreement. Offer some security (leave a friend and all the cash with the owner) and ride for at least 20 minutes. Any problems that may appear during the ride could be used as a bargaining point and reduce the price you pay for the bike.

OK, now hand over the money, right?

Wrong again!!

Haggle – pay less than the asking price and then you can ride off (happily and safely) into the sunset!


Good Luck!  (Oh, and buy a new piggy bank!)


Lord Dane.

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