How To Buy Used Motorcycle: Complete Buyer Guide

How To Buy Used Motorcycle: Complete Buyer Guide

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Wondering how to buy used motorcycle?

Don’t worry; we got you covered in our complete used motorcycle buyer guide.

The adventurous world of motorcycling, which beckons to all motorcycle enthusiasts, welcomes motorcycling newbies every day.

These newbies are often greeted with the choice of motorcycles to buy.

To add to that dilemma, newbies to the motorcycle world struggle with choosing not just the model, type of motorcycle to buy, but whether to buy a brand new or used motorcycle. 

Buying a brand new motorcycle may seem like the best and ideal choice, but considering the price brand new motorcycles are sold for, you may rethink the idea of encouraging a newbie to purchase a new bike.

With multiple used motorcycles in good shapes flooding the market regularly, getting a used motorcycle perfect for newbies’ initiation to motorcycling can be relatively easy.

Whether you’re a newbie or a lifelong motorcycle rider, purchasing a used bike can be a very horrific experience if it’s not handled in the right manner. 

In light of that, this article highlights salient guides on purchasing used motorcycles.

Where can I find Used Motorcycles?

Used Motorcycles for sale are often a common sight on popular advertisement websites, Craigslist, and other sites dedicated to the sales of used motorcycles, such as Cycle Traders and Motorcycles on Autotrader.

To further extend your search, a simple search for used motorcycles on Google, Bing, and others could help.

Exploring your local motorcycle dealership can do a great deal of help.

You may not necessarily find a used bike for sale, you probably get information about a private seller.

How to Buy Used Motorcycles: Factors to Consider

While looking for used bikes to buy, remember that your preference as a rider comes first. 

You most likely would be struck between buying from a private seller or a motorcycle dealership in your search for used motorcycles.

When you arrive at this crossroad, do well to consider the following factors below.


In most cases, motorcycle dealerships sell used motorcycles of top quality.

No dealership ever wants a low-quality used motorcycle associated with their name.

So you can be assured that any used motorcycle sold there will most likely be in the best condition and ready to ride.

The quality of motorcycles sold by private sellers depends on the motorcycle’s shape.

With no reputation to vouch for them and live up to, the motorcycle may or may not be in a good state.

Hence, the need to carefully inspect the motorcycle.


This is one major factor that is clearly distinct in used motorcycle sold by dealerships and those sold by private sellers.

In a bid to convince you to buy, dealerships often offers a warranty within a time frame or within a ridden miles frame.

The dealership can rectify any issues encountered within this time, or your motorcycle will be replaced. 

A private seller rarely sells used motorcycles with a warranty. 

If you notice a fault days after buying the motorcycle, the seller would not rectify the issue or replace the bike.


Used motorcycles can be expensive, and you probably may not have all the money at hand to pay.

A dealership can work out a payment method, involving a loan or payment in installment with an approved lender.

A private seller never does this. 

You must have the money in cash or a signed cheque.

Motorcycle Service History

A dealership will not have the entire history of a used motorcycle.

Rather, the documented history they’ll have would be from the period the motorcycle came into their care.

Private sellers may possess or not possess a used motorcycle’s history.

Certain dealers can be thorough and have almost every document that gives details into the day the bike was initially purchased, maintenance carried out on the bike and other information.

Ownership History

With the prevalence of theft, any used motorcycles you purchase should have a documented ownership history.

It’s better to avoid the legal troubles of riding a stolen motorcycle.

Dealerships often ensure used motorcycles sold are not written off by insurance companies or stolen.

A private seller may not have the ownership history of a motorcycle.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the motorcycle was stolen. 

Repair and Maintenance

For used motorcycles purchased from dealerships, you can be assured that any mechanical issues can be fixed.

On the other hand, private sellers may not be as skillful and knowledgeable as the mechanics in a dealership.

Any issues encountered from used motorcycles would have to be fixed by taking the motorcycle to a mechanic. 

Ownership Transfer

Upon purchasing used motorcycles from a dealership, you can sit back and need not worry about the administrative works that will make you the legal owner of your motorcycle and make your motorcycle legal to ride.

The necessary fees to settle this would have been included in the overall costs. 

A private seller would hand you a title of ownership, and you’ll have to go through the trouble of filing the paperwork of completing the motorcycle ownership with the department of motor vehicles (DMV) and the needed documents to make your motorcycle legal to ride.


This may be the ultimate deciding factor.

A dealership tends to sell used motorcycles at a higher cost compared to private sellers. 

The fee dealership charges would include necessary fees like sales tax, transportation fee, prep fee, owner transfer, DMV fees, etc.

Private sellers would not have to add those extra costs, and thus, the motorcycle may be sold for a lesser price.

After establishing contact with the seller, either a dealership or private individual, ensure you’re not ignorant of the price of motorcycles.

That can help you bargain for a good price.

Online resources that can help with this include Kelly Blue Book, Craigslist, Cycle Traders, NADA Guides, and Motorcycles on Autotrader.

Things to Request for Before Purchasing a Used Motorcycle

After making extensive research on the brand and model of used motorcycle you want to purchase and price, ensure to ask the seller the following:

VIN/Title History

To avoid purchasing a used motorcycle that has been stolen, request the motorcycle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

With this number, you can be sure that the motorcycle has not been stolen and see previous owners’ names.

You can also see the number of times the motorcycle has been registered with the DMV.

Service History

Dealership often keeps a history of maintenance done on a used motorcycle.

This history will give you insight on when maintenance has to be carried out on the motorcycle.

Most motorcycles require maintenance after a certain mileage. 

This history would reveal that. 

There’ll be notes on the various changes made to the motorcycle. 

In the absence of a service history booklet, receipts that show regular maintenance would be given.

Motorcycle Manual

For Used bikes, the motorcycle’s manual may not be available.

But do well to request this from the seller. 

This would give you the necessary details as to when maintenance has to be carried, the motorcycle features, and how to operate the motorcycle. 

In the absence of the manual, order for one as it’ll be very useful. 


Motorcycles often come with basic tools for emergency repairs.

These tools are often kept under the seat. Request one from the seller. If it isn’t available, do well to order for one.

Bike Parts to Check Before Purchase

Before finalizing the used motorcycle purchase, ensure you check the various parts of the bike specified below when it is hot and cold.


Examine carefully, with a seasoned mechanic’s aid for any leaks or breakage in the engine. 

Check for oil leaks, gasket leaks, coolant leaks, and oil drips. 


Check for damages on protective covers and cracks.

Examine for shocks or struts that need replacement.

Cables and Wiring

Examine the various wiring of the motorcycle intently.

Check if they are all connected with no sign of fraying, especially the brakes, clutches, and speedometer wiring.

Squeeze the lever and check for resistance or scathing sound.

If you notice this, then that lever has to be replaced. 


Check for depth indicators on tires, which should be between the tires treads.

If there are any wears in the depth indicators, that tire has to be replaced.

The pressure of the tire also has to be checked with a pressure gauge.


Look out for the date on the battery.

Check for corrosion on the battery terminals and tight connections on the terminals.

Ask if there have been new connections made to the battery.

Other things to check include

  • Lightning
  • Fuel Tank
  • Foot pegs
  • Brake lever
  • Chain and Sprockets
  • Body work
  • Frames 
  • Fluid Leaks
  • Bearing 
  • Forks
  • Bar ends

Request permission to take the motorcycle on a test ride.

Politely ask for this, as sellers have every right to refuse. 

A private seller may not oblige to this request because if accidents occur during test rides, they’ll bear the costs. 

If they oblige to this, they may ask you to leave something of value. 

A dealership will most likely agree to your request to ride the motorcycle. 

As you ride, listen for odd sounds, check if brakes work, check for loose parts. 

Be observant.

In the negotiation, factor in the extra charges with the motorcycle’s price as revealed by your research.

Bargain reasonably and fairly.

After purchasing your motorcycle, a dealership may transport it at no extra cost to your home, while a private seller would arrange for other delivery forms.

Final Words

Hope this article on how to buy used motorcycle has helped you.

As you go to purchase your used bike, ensure you never rush the process.

Take your time and make the right decision.

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