Top tips for buying a used motorcycle

If you're looking for a new motorcycle for 2012 but don't want to over-commit financially in the current financial climate, it is worth exploring the used bike market. Used vehicles are not just old clapped-out machines - there are a number of reasons why perfectly good vehicles have to be sold on, from a change in personal circumstances to financial considerations. If you know what to look for and are prepared to take your time, there are some terrific deals to be had on used bikes.

The problem is that many people do not really know what to look out for in terms of bike condition, and what represents good value. So here are a few pointers for those looking for a great deal on a used bike:

Total cost, not purchase price

If you set yourself a budget, it can be tempting to get as much bike as you can for your money. But before you do, it is important to consider the total cost of the machine. “As well as the purchase price, you need to factor in tax, fuel and the cost of specialist bike insurance.”. Remember that the more powerful the bike is, the more fuel it will guzzle and the more insurers will ask for in premiums - it is no good having a fantastic bike you can't afford to run.

Consider dealers and private sales

There are pros and cons to using either an established bike dealer or a private seller. Dealership bikes are, generally speaking, likely to be more expensive; a private seller is more likely to want a quick sale and accept a bit of haggling. However, some dealers offer an aftercare service which can be a real money saver in the long run.

Look for danger signs

When inspecting a bike, there are a few warning signs which should you should look out for. Firstly, the serial numbers on the transmission, engine and steering head match - if they don't, ask what work has been done and request maintenance records. Buying without this documentation is a risk, and should be avoided. Look for signs of damage with the chassis, but also cast an eye over the foot rests and handlebar ends - scuffs and scrapes here may indicate a crash that you should ask the owner about. All levers and controls should be checked for smooth, unhindered movements and close inspection is required for dented or bent rims - these can be fixed to a degree, but an expensive replacement may be required if the problem worsens.

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