Visordown's Motorcycle Buying Checklist

You'll always end up with the right bike at the right price by following these simple steps

BUYING a new or used motorcycle has to be one of the best experiences in biking. It's exciting to research the latest models, work out what you can afford then seeing if you can squeeze a few more quid from the savings and try to get the next model up. That's what it's all about. However, it can turn into a nightmare if you end up buying a bike you can't afford or one that turns out to be full of problems.

Here at Visordown we've put together a checklist for your next purchase, be it new or used, from a private buyer or from a dealer. Buying a bike you've only seen in the dark might sound like an obvious no-no but there are lots of other ways you could go wrong. Here's how you can avoid them.


  • Check your licence – is it valid and are the details correct – this is important for test rides
  • Think carefully about which bikes best suit your individual requirements – be realistic
  • Do you need to buy brand new, could you save by buying the same model, a year old?
  • Study magazine/internet road tests on your short list of models – knowledge is power
  • What are the expected running costs – servicing, fuel, tyres, insurance, finance
  • You need to arrive at a monthly expense for funding/running your bike – can you afford it?
  • Decide how best to finance the purchase – cash, personal loan, hire purchase etc
  • Make sure your funds are in place before viewing privately-owned machines – don’t waste time.
  • Search for your next bike everywhere you can; dealerships, local papers, the internet
  • If you decide to buy from a dealer – visit as many as possible within a realistic radius


  • If you have a bike to part exchange make sure it's MOT'd and really clean to get the best price
  • Are you buying a genuine, officially imported, UK bike?
  • If it's not a UK bike, are you aware of the differences?
  • Get a test ride. It might look good but it might be totally wrong for you
  • Don’t let sales people bully you into decisions – you’re the boss
  • Keep a rigid figure in mind and stick to it. Don't walk out with a new bike and a mountain of debt
  • How long has the machine been in stock or on display? Is it the latest model? Can you get a deal?
  • The mph speedo should read under 5 miles, the bike should have exactly 6 or 12 months’ tax
  • Negotiate free extras: a service package, clothing, extended warranty or breakdown cover
  • Most dealers should be able to offer very competitive finance
  • If you don't yet have insurance, see if the manufacturer has a deal on or if the dealer can deliver the bike to you


  • View it in the day, not during poor daylight
  • Is it being sold from the address on the V55
  • Does the machine require a valid MOT certificate?
  • Check the V55 ownership document – how many previous owners have there been?
  • Does the V55 show that the bike has been previously written off?
  • Check the engine and chassis numbers, do they match the numbers on the V55?
  • Full Dealer Service History is best, FSH is great, home servicing could spell problems
  • Does the bike have a custom paint job? This could be disguising crash damage
  • A poor quality paint scheme / pattern parts can have a huge negative effect on its value
  • Is the machine taxed and in a road-worthy condition?
  • Has it been garaged or parked in the street every night? Look for corrosion
  • Examine every inch for wear, tear and accident damage
  • Why is the owner selling it? Is it under a finance agreement? Carry out an HPI check anyway
  • Has the bike sat unused for a long period?
  • Examine the previous service history and MOTs, do they tally?
  • Make sure you start the engine yourself, from cold. Does it rattle or smoke?
  • Has it been fitted with performance accessories? If so, where are the original parts?
  • Take a friend with you to bounce ideas off and balance out your eagerness
  • Do not make any spur of the moment decisions. If you have any doubts, go home to mull it over
  • When the time is right, make sure the decision is made by your head and not your heart
  • Always look to get it cheaper, make an offer and make sure you have the money ready to go
  • Are you insured to test ride it or ride it home if you purchase it?

Think there's something we've missed? Share your tips.