Guide to buying a used motorbike

Thinking of buying a used motorbike? Check out our quick guide to help you find the right bike for you

Written by Verity Hogan
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Do your research

It’s always important to do your research, especially if you’re buying a used motorbike for the first time. Take a look at the different models available and how they’re typically priced online. There are a wide number of brands to choose from, ranging from Honda and BMW to the classic Harley-Davidson.

Types of motorbike include:

Semi-automatic motorbikes
These bikes have automatic transmissions and are typically small and easy to ride.

Mid-range motorbikes
These models are good all-rounders as they are comfortable to ride, even over long distances.

Sports motorbikes
Designed for speed and taking style cues from race models, sports motorbikes are made for recreational use.

Touring motorbikes
If you’re planning on taking a road trip, touring motorbikes come with large engines and space to carry luggage.

Custom or cruising motorbikes
These are distinctive models with a low seat height and laidback riding position.

Consider how you’ll use the bike

Unlike a car, you need to think about how a motorbike fits you as an individual. Make sure you think about the saddle height, bike length, and weight. Additional features will depend on how you’ll use the bike; for example, will you need tough tyres to cope with any type of terrain or narrow handlebars to navigate crowded and narrow city streets?

You should also consider the cost of owning a motorbike. Is there a local garage or mechanic who can service the bike? Have you factored in the annual cost of tax, insurance, fuel, services, MOT, repairs, and parking? All these factors can determine the type of used motorbike that you choose to buy.

Consider engine size

Motorbike engines are measured in cc or cubic capacity. These range in size from 50cc to 1500cc. A good rule of thumb is that the bikes with less power are cheaper to buy and run and can be easier for newer riders to handle but can’t offer as much speed and performance as high-power models.

Check the paperwork

It may not sound like the most exciting part of buying a used motorbike but it’s important to check all the paperwork. Make sure the bike comes with its logbook, look over its service records and MOT history to identify any past faults or accidents, and conduct an HPI vehicle check.

Check the motorbike

Alongside the paperwork checks, you should make sure to check over the motorbike condition. Examine the bodywork for any scuffs, scratches and rust that could show that it’s been dropped or involved in an accident. Look at the condition of the exhaust, handlebar ends and foot pedals as well as the electrics. You should also ensure that the tyre tread is at least 1.6mm.

Verity Hogan

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