Buying a used motorcycle is extremely practical, can save you a lot of money, and sometimes even be the only way to acquire a certain model, especially if said motorcycle has already been discontinued. Indeed, the used market is full of options when it comes to exciting motorcycles big and small looking for a new home. Most of the time, used motorcycles won’t have any issues, or if they do, the seller will explicitly declare them. However, don’t take the seller’s word for it, and be sure to get right on top of your newly acquired ride’s maintenance as soon as you can.
Today, let’s take a deeper dive into the potentially slippery slope of used bike ownership, and highlight a few key maintenance jobs that you must immediately give attention to. By immediately, we mean taking it over to your nearest service center as soon as you acquire the bike, and have these items checked and/ or replaced. Doing so will ensure that your new purchase is in tip-top condition, and that you can ride worry-free for many years and thousands of kilometers down the road. That said, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
The first thing you ought to check is of course the bike’s engine oil. We all know that oil is the lifeblood of our beloved two-wheelers, and making sure that the bike has the right amount, type, and condition of oil is absolutely essential. We highly recommend replacing, if not inspecting the oil right away, even if the previous owner claims that an oil change has just been performed. Doing an oil change can also give you a good picture of the overall condition of the engine, as inspecting the used oil can unearth potential issues such as a head gasket leak, metal shavings, or excessive heat within the engine.
The second thing that needs to be kept in tip-top shape is the bike’s cooling system—that is, of course, assuming it’s equipped with liquid-cooling. In that case, the entire cooling system must be given a once-over, most especially the coolant. Check to see that the coolant in the reservoir is up to spec and in good condition. Flushing the system can go a long way in purging it of impurities, and fresh coolant can keep your cooling system operating optimally. Make sure other components of the cooling system such as the radiator fan, radiator, and thermostat are all working properly, too.
The air filter is one of the most easily overlooked, yet extremely essential components in any motorcycle. It’s essential for keeping your bike’s engine breathing freely, and ensuring no contaminants enter the intake and cause your engine to potentially grenade itself. As such, making sure your bike has a clean and well-functioning air filter is an absolute must. It can be quite difficult to access the bike’s air filter, and sometimes requires you to remove the fuel tank. That said, this maintenance job is well worth it, and will certainly have your motorcycle running smoother and with more power.
Just like the air filter, the spark plugs, too, can be very easily overlooked. Over time, carbon deposits from continuous combustion cycles can cause the electrodes of spark plugs to wear down. This could eventually result in poor or inadequate spark causing issues with the way your engine runs. Old spark plugs can cause misfires in your engine, causing it to run poorly on low revs, sputter, or even fail to start completely. They can also result in excessive fuel consumption, and the feeling of a lack of power whenever you twist the accelerator. Just like the air filter, accessing your spark plugs can be very difficult, and could require a lot of disassembly, but it, too, is a job well worth it.
It goes without saying that tires are an essential component that you rely on every single time you ride your bike. Buying a used motorcycle means you’re also buying used tires from a rider whom you may know very little about in terms of riding style. This means that you have virtually no idea about what the tire has been through across its lifetime. If you’re buying a relatively new bike that’s less than three years old, this is less of an issue. Simply looking at the tires’ condition, as well as determining the production date could be all it takes. However, on older bikes with older tires, we highly recommend replacing them right away.
Last but most definitely not least is your bike’s braking system. Check to see if your braking system is in good condition—by good condition, we mean flawless. One of the most important aspects of riding a motorcycle is being able to stop, and even the slightest flaw in your bike’s brakes could prevent you from confidently coming to a stop. For starters, take a look at your brake pads. Are they thick and still have a lot of life in them? Check your rotors for cracks and uneven wear surfaces. Check the brake fluid and brake lines for any kinks, cracks, or unusual bends. Lastly, look at your calipers and master cylinder—are there any leaks, visible defects, or damage?