Before going to see a motorcycle that interests you, study the ad carefully. Check that the advertised price corresponds to the price of the motorcycle model and its vintage. Check with your insurance company to find out what it would cost to buy coverage on that model. What you can also do is find out what defects and problems are usually encountered on the model of the motorcycle, and on that particular model year. This will help you know what to expect and what to look for when you visit the used motorcycle.
Whether you buy your used motorcycle from a professional or a private individual, have someone accompany you during the visit. Ideally, by a friend who knows a bit about motorcycles! Even if your companion is not a motorcyclist, he or she will be able to give you confidence and share his or her feelings with you, with just the right outside eye.
To make sure you buy a used motorcycle that is still usable, there are some essential things to check before signing the check.
First of all, the overall condition of the motorcycle: take a good look at the exterior of the bike, go around it carefully, check that the two-wheeler is clean and in good working order.
To do this, check the motorcycle frame, rust marks, the dent on the tank, the condition of the engine mountings, the condition of the paintwork (beware of repainted motorcycles), scratches on the exhaust pipe, etc.
Check the frame and engine numbers, which must correspond to those on the registration papers. Check the TP-SI marking on the exhaust pipe to see if it is homologated.
Next, look at each part of the motorcycle, the swingarm (check for side play), the various cables (lever output cables, gear lever…), the entire electrical circuit, the handlebars and steering, wheel alignment, lights, etc.
If it’s shiny, it’s a good point since it means that the seller is paying attention, but it can also want to hide defects. Ask questions about the life of the motorcycle in the seller’s hands: what he experienced with it, the kind of trips he made, its maintenance, the problems encountered and the repairs made. Ask for invoices for any work done.
On the engine side, keep an eye on oil traces, the chain (its travel must remain free and without any hard points), the condition of the screws, etc.
Start the engine and listen for the hum. Make sure that there are no suspicious noises or rattling noises. Also, take a good look at the smoke from the exhaust pipe (the inside of the exhaust pipe should be light brown).
Look at the condition of the tyres, which must show regular wear without reaching the 1mm regulation. Rotate the wheels to detect possible fogging, look for impact marks on the rims. Brake discs and brake pads must not be worn.
It is also important to test the motorcycle yourself for any hidden damage. Make sure you stay focused.
Testing the motorcycle
Test all accessories for flexibility, fit and function. For example, the handlebars should not resist; the suspension should move back and forth smoothly, like the fork. The clutch handle and gear selector should also be tested.
Then check the electrical system by testing the headlights, turn signals, horn, brake light, etc. The start should also be quick. Engine noise should be smooth and clear. Make sure that the motorcycle is cold when you start it up and try it out, otherwise it could distort your impressions. Ride for several kilometres (ideally about 30) to get a complete picture of the bike.
Allow between 15 minutes (if the bike is not convincing) to an hour (if you are interested in the bike, take your time).
Documents to check and ask the seller for
It is useful to check all the motorcycle’s papers to avoid any unpleasantness or unpleasant surprises. The motorcycle’s registration papers and purchase invoice must be in order.
Check the service dates and mileage of the two-wheeler. Beware of high mileage motorcycles, as they are subject to faster wear and tear.
Once the price is set, the seller and buyer must sign a transfer (or sale) certificate. In addition, the seller will have to provide the buyer with :
- a certificate of non-pledge
- the motorcycle’s technical data sheet
- the toolkit
- duplicate keys
- and the motorcycle’s service record.