How to take a second-hand motorcycle out for a test ride

Helping you find a cracker for 2018

By Alan Dowds

IF you're buying a brand-new motorcycle, then test rides are easy as pie. You just want to see if you like the bike – there's no real need to worry about finding any problems with that particular machine. Plus, dealers are set up to offer rides, with demo bikes, insurance, licence checks and the like.

In comparison, getting a test ride on a second-hand motorcycle in a private sale is full of pitfalls. You need to convince the owner to let you have a wazz on their pride and joy, and if you do get a ride, you want an OCD level of attention to detail, to spot any technical faults before you drop the cash.

Here, then, are five tips to performing the perfect used bike test ride, with some pictures of bikes currently for sale in Visordown’s Marketplace section tempt you along the way.

Find the ad for the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sed pictured above here.

1: Before you go

This process can start as soon as you see the bike and chat to the seller. Once you have the reg number, you can do an HPI check to see if there's finance outstanding, or it's been written off by an insurance firm. If it's old enough you can research the MOT history, and also check if it's taxed or SORNed. Ask the owner what you need to get a test ride, and expect to need proof of third party insurance. Your own policy might cover you to ride bikes you don’t own – check with your broker. The seller may also require the purchase price, or a large chunk thereof, as a cash deposit (and a word of caution here: if you're selling a bike, do insist on payment before handing over the keys for a test ride). 

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