mono motorcycles guide to buying a second hand motorcycle

As you may know, if you are a weekly reader of our blogs, Daniel has recently purchased a second hand motorcycle for our longer rides. We thought we would share our insights into buying a second hand motorcycle & the things to look out for.

As you may know, if you are a weekly reader of our blogs, Daniel has recently purchased a second hand bike for our longer rides.
As you may know, if you are a weekly reader of our blogs, Daniel has recently purchased a second hand bike for our longer rides.

“Buying a bike is a very personal thing, you need to think about what is right for you, your riding style and when & where you ride. 

We hear it all too often from riders having just passed their tests, that they want the latest, fastest sports bike. This is a fair comment & I too have been there & had that mentality. However, in reality they can almost be too much for our bumpy worn out roads. 

Another thing to think about is how you buy that bike. Great if you have the expendable cash to go out & buy a bike outright. However, do your homework on Hire purchase rates & PCP (Personal Contract Hire) as you can end up getting stuck with a bike that you may not want a year down the line.

So how about the bike itself? If you are buying new, it’s a lot easier to walk into a dealer & normally for a security deposit, you can take a bike out for an hour or two to see if it’s what you want. Also, when you buy something new, you have the added protection of a 3yr manufacturers warranty. 

Second hand bike purchases can prove a little more tricky, especially if you are buying privately. From my own personal experience, having bought my fair share of second hand motorcycles, these are just a few things to consider before parting with your money. “

1. If it looks too good to be true it normally is! eBay & the like is full of people trying to scam you. Be on your guard. If the bike looks immaculate & it’s £1k under the retail price, ask yourself why?. Contact the seller see if they sound genuine, their reason for sale, ask them as many questions as you can & never part with any money until you have seen it & heard it run, in person! 

2. When you go to view the bike take someone with you. If they want to meet you in a motorway services or car park in the middle of nowhere, think twice. We have heard tales of people being robbed for the cash upon arrival.

3. Check the history! This is easier than you think. Start with going to Gov website (https://www.gov.uk/get-vehicle-information-from-dvla) & checking the past MOTs or better still carry out a HPI check before hand. Never buy a second hand motorcycle without having seen the V5. Even if it is in another person’s name, that document proves the bike is not a ringer & or stolen. If you buy a bike without a V5, you could be taking in stolen goods.

The ZZR1200 we bought came with “full dealer history” In reality it came with two service books full of stamps but no paperwork. Where’s the issue with that I hear you say? Well you will get a stamp in a book if it’s an annual oil change or a major service, there is no knowing what those stamps actually prove has been done.

The ZZR1200 we bought came with “full dealer history” In reality it came with two service books full of stamps but no paperwork.
The ZZR1200 we bought came with “full dealer history” In reality it came with two service books full of stamps but no paperwork.

Our ZZR had had a main dealer service every year according to the service books. However, having carried out a major service our selves when the ZZR was back at the mono motorcycles workshop; it revealed not much else had been done over its 35,000 miles, so much so that every valve shim was tight & the brakes were in desperate need of a major overhaul.

every valve shim was tight & the brakes were in desperate need of a major overhaul.
Every valve shim was tight & the brakes were in desperate need of a major overhaul.
Every valve shim was tight & the brakes were in desperate need of a major overhaul.
Every valve shim was tight & the brakes were in desperate need of a major overhaul.
The brakes were in desperate need of a major overhaul.
The brakes were in desperate need of a major overhaul.
The brakes were in desperate need of a major overhaul.
The brakes were in desperate need of a major overhaul.

4. Tell tale marks. Have a good look around the frame & engine numbers. Do they look factory or tampered with? Check the steering lock, does it work? Is there a large amount of play with the steering lock on? If the steering lock has a large amount of play in it, it may have been forced & or stolen in the past. Check for damage around the frame, in the lock area. Have a look at the oil & brake fluid, do they look clean?

5. Some other things to think about when considering buying a second hand motorcycle. Do the panels look immaculate but the frame & wheels look tatty? This could have been used as a track bike, so one to watch for. If it’s been crashed it may have a Chinese body kit fitted to hide crash damage.

6. Damaged & written off bikes. If you know what you are looking for, you can buy a bargain. However, be careful and do you homework.  Category A, B  should be avoided as they will has sustained structural damage, however cat N (previously cat C) can be something as simple as bodywork damage from falling off a stand & was just beyond economical repair (parts & labour totalling 1/3rd of the market value). It goes without saying you need to be 100% sure of the repairs so do your homework.  

The list of ‘never’

Never buy a second hand motorcycle you have not heard running, despite the sellers convincing “Oh but it ran last week” or “It needs the carbs balancing” comments.

Never buy a second hand motorcycle which has no engine number/VIN number, unless you are prepared to go through the DVLA to get a new registration. You cannot get a bike MOT’d without the VIN/engine number & the bike could have been written off or is a ringer.

Never buy a second hand motorcycle just based on how glorious the paintwork looks. Body kits can hide a plethora of damage!

Written by Daniel Morris – Proprietor & Owner of mono motorcycles

For all you motorcycling needs, contact Daniel or Katy on T: 01243 576212 / 07899 654446 or through our contact page.

Don’t forget, the mono motorcycles Breakfast Club begins next weekend, Sunday 28th April. Look forward to seeing you then.