Obviously if you are buying new, go to a dealer. But you don’t need to fear buying used!
For the Rest of us (buying used):
If you are like motorcycle riders and looking to save some cash then I highly recommend you buy used. You will be saving money on purchase price and also on insurance. You are also probably going to drop your first motorcycle anyway so scratching up something used will be less depressing.
Where to look for used bikes:
- Cycle Trader
Get your gear first! Before you buy your motorcycle get all the gear you’ll need. Jacket, boots, gloves, helmet, pants.
Get Gear From these Motorcycle Sites:
- Motorcycle Superstore
- Bike Bandit
- Online Forums – for example http://www.socalsvriders.com
- Local Shops that sell used bikes – if you are in LA try Los Angeles Motorcycle Salvage
What to know when looking for a motorcycle
Look at a bunch and do your research. Some people will say not to buy the first one you see, but I missed a really good deal by following this rule of thumb. So I say do your research, then go with what feels right.
Get it looked at by a mechanic, or do it yourself if you are competent.
Get it serviced immediately after buying. My first motorcycle didn’t have any rear brake pads. Since it was my first time riding, I had no idea what rear brakes were meant to feel like and the guy I bought it from promised me the motorcycle had just been serviced. Needless to say, I ended up locking up the rear wheel a few weeks into owning the bike- causing about $500 worth of damage and some seriously embarrassing road rash.
How to save money on your bike. Just a few things I see people get themselves into because the paint job was pretty:
gears: does it shift smoothly between 1st and 2nd and does it pop out of gear under load under second? Bent shift forks and worn gear dogs: big money!
brakes: are the front rotors warped?
oil: is it clean? Is it a milky slurry with water in it? Does it smell like burned stator? Is some of that oil behind the exhaust pipe?
battery: does the engine crank over fast and start within a second?
engine: any noticeable lean spots? Does it have problems with an even idle? Why is one cylinder missing?
forks: any trace of oil on the forks? do you REALLY want to replace those seals or move on to the next bike?
rigging? what’s with the random assortment of non-factory looking bolts and what are drywall screws doing in the fairings?
electrical: why are the wires tangled up and spliced together? and why are animals living in there?
The three cheif things to remember:
1. The bike should be clean.
2. The bike should be clean.
3. The bike should be clean.
If the owner didn’t take care of it to sell, do you think he or she did to ride? Mechanical failures can be deadly.