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Buying a used motorcycle? Walk away if you see these things

A good deal isn’t such a good deal if it’ll bring you headaches in the future.

Buying a used motorcycle? Walk away if you see these things

Scouring the second hand market is a surefire way to get good deals on stuff – motorcycles included. Indeed, all the motorcycles currently in my stable came into my possession thanks to irresistible deals from friends and acquaintances. While buying used motorbikes from your friends or people you know is relatively low risk, what isn’t, however, is buying them from strangers. Be it on Facebook Marketplace or any other classifieds website, there will alway be sellers looking to flip suspicious motorcycles.

Of course, being that you’re looking to purchase a motorcycle for yourself, it’s in your best interest to make sure everything checks out. This means that you’d want to get the best deal possible, consisting of a motorcycle that doesn’t really need much in the way of repairs or upgrades. Having said that, it can be all too easy to fall into the temptation of buying a used motorcycle with some “issues.” While minor cosmetic issues from mild drops isn’t really a deal-breaker, here are a few things that should immediately have you walking away from a prospective deal. 

Missing or incomplete papers

Buying a used motorcycle? Walk away if you see these things

Buying a motorcycle for street use automatically means that it must be registered with the Land Transportation Office (LTO). Indeed, anyone who’s purchased a second-hand vehicle would be well aware of just how important the original Official Receipt (OR) and Certificate of Registration (CR) are. That said, even before inspecting the unit in question, ask to see a scanned copy of the vehicle's registration papers, as well as the IDs of the current owner. That way, you can see important information such as engine number, chassis number, as well as the details of its first registration. 

If any of these documents are missing, contain erroneous information, or worse, appear to be faked, don’t even bother wasting your time heading over to view the bike. Missing documentation could result in you being unable to register the vehicle or transfer it to your name, rendering it virtually useless for street use. 

Suspicious repairs

Buying a used motorcycle? Walk away if you see these things

Assuming the bike you’re looking at does have complete papers, be sure to check for any suspicious repairs that could be concealing something much more serious. Are all the parts correct, and designed specifically for the bike? Sometimes, people perform substandard repairs on parts that should otherwise have been replaced. The first place to check would definitely be the frame. Are there any unsightly welds on the headtube, engine mounts, or swing arm? A damaged frame is usually automatically written off, with the bike deemed unworthy of use. Check the wheels of any signs of repair – aluminum welding can conceal a cracked rim and have it hold air temporarily. However, the structural integrity of the wheel will never be the same, so make sure the wheels are in tip top condition. 

Obvious signs of major crash damage

Buying a used motorcycle? Walk away if you see these things

Last but not least, when inspecting a second hand motorcycle, make sure that the bike doesn’t have any obvious signs of crash damage. For example, bent fork legs could be indicative of a frontal collision. Excessively damaged bodywork could set you back even more than the cost of the bike itself. Of course, a damaged engine – such as a patched up oil sump due to crash damage – is basically a ticking time bomb waiting to leave you stranded on the road. 

At the end of the day, it’s buyer-beware when it comes to buying used motorcycles. If you think you don’t have the eye to thoroughly inspect a used motorbike, seek the help of a professional mechanic, or ask an experienced friend to tag along when you inspect a used motorcycle. It’s always best to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to buying a used motorcycle. 

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