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Buying a Used Motorcycle Can Be Tricky – So Shop Carefully

Line of similar motorcycles. Close up to the first motorcycle headlight.

The warmer weather typically brings out an onslaught of motorcycle riders – from the experienced to the “newbie” who seeks to partake in the thrill of cruising the open road on two wheels at 70 mph for the first time. This can lead to a common mistake newbies often make of going out without sufficiently developed riding skills and buying more motorcycle than they can handle.


Furthermore, while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to buy the used motorcycle of your dreams, doing so without knowing what to look for or expect could result in a major disappointment, financial loss, or even injury. That’s why you should first decide on a bike that best fits your lifestyle and riding expertise.


Buying a used motorcycle can be tricky

Buying a used motorcycle can be tricky, so you’ll want to shop carefully. Choosing the right motorcycle and one that won’t turn into a nightmare involves research and following a few simple rules to help you make a decision you won’t regret.


  1. What type of motorcycle best fits your lifestyle and skill?

Generally, age plays an important role in your decision. Younger riders will have their sights on sport and dirt bikes while older riders and retirees are more inclined to buy a cruiser or touring bike for longer trips, such as exploring the country on two wheels.


  1. Check the Kelley Blue Book value of the used motorcycle

Having an idea of the Kelley Blue Book value of any motorcycle you’re considering can tell you if you’re getting a deal that’s realistic or one that’s unrealistic – meaning it could be a nightmare waiting to happen should the price be way too low. Perhaps the motorcycle has mechanical or other issues the owner is not disclosing.


  1. Consult with your insurance carrier before committing

Don’t assume you’ll automatically get motorcycle insurance from your insurance company. Rates and acceptance will be based on several factors, including your age, class or model of motorcycle, your skill level, and your auto driving record.

Consult with your motorcycle or auto insurance company about rates prior to making the purchase.


  1. From whom should you buy the motorcycle

The old saying “buyer beware” applies whether you’re buying a car or a motorcycle, but a used bike can sometimes be more troublesome than a used vehicle. So, carefully consider where you plan on getting that used motorcycle you’ve been dreaming about.


  • Private party

While buying from a private party may result in getting the best price and no sales tax, you may not have the same benefits as you would from a licensed dealer. Unless it’s a “single owner” motorcycle with service records, you may have to rely on the owner’s word and be taking a chance.


  • Dealership or independent dealer

Buying from a dealership or independent dealer presents several advantages when buying a used motorcycle, such as a choice of “certified pre-owned” motorcycles, which often come with a complete service history and a guarantee or warranty. They may also take your old bike in trade, if you have one.


  1. Test ride the bike

This is where having previous riding experience is important. If you’ve got minimal skills, taking the bike on a test ride may present a serious problem. The last thing you want to do is be less than honest about your skill level with the private party or dealership and get into a crash, damaging or destroying the bike – not to mention getting injured.


  1. Have the motorcycle inspected by a qualified mechanic

If you’re buying your used bike from a private party, have it inspected by a qualified mechanic before you hand over a check. This shouldn’t be a problem, if the owner has nothing to hide. Without a thorough going over to make sure the motorcycle is road worthy, mechanically fit and safe to ride you could be setting yourself up for expensive repairs and safety risk.


If everything checks out and the motorcycle is the perfect fit for what you intend to do with it, go ahead and make the purchase. But, keep in mind, taking a motorcycle safety course – regardless of your riding skill level – not only makes you a better rider; it can also lower your motorcycle insurance rates.

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