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

Helping you find a cracker for 2018

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

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). 

Before you have a spin, give it a good once-over to check no-one's wasting their time. Feel the engine to see if it's cold: a poor-starting engine might well be pre-warmed up by the owner so it fires up first time on the button. The fact they spent three hours jump-starting it off a Scania truck this morning may slip their mind…

Any obvious cosmetic damage will affect the price of course, but might not rule the bike out for you altogether.

  • Find the ad for the decent-looking Honda CBR600 pictured above here.

Do some safety checks before you go out: are the tyres legal (you could get the penalty points on your licence if they're bald), holding pressure and without serious damage? Make sure brake pads have some friction material, and the brake fluid's topped up. A quick check of oil and water can't hurt either (if it blows up when you're riding it, the owner might try to blame you and keep the deposit…)

Look at the state of the chain and sprockets and see if there are any fluid leaks either on the motor or on the suspension. Finally, check the dashboard for any brake or traction control warnings, and see if you can scroll your way through all the options you should have.

  • Find the ad for the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R1000 picture above here.

You're away, woo! Now, don't get lost in the reverie of the moment, especially if this is a bigger and fancier bike than you may be used to. My first big bike was a bit of a dog which blew up within a fortnight, but the test ride had knocked my socks off because it had 55hp more than I'd ever ridden before…

Check the basics first: can you select all the gears? Does it rev smoothly all the way to the red line? Does the clutch slip, judder or snatch? Are there any odd noises? Rattles, knockings or squeals, which vary according to the engine revs are seldom good news…

  • Find the ad for the Aprilia RSV4 RF Super Pole pictured above here.

Assuming the engine ticks all the boxes, turn to the chassis. Does the steering pull to one side? If you take your hands off the bars, does it start weaving? How are the brakes? Does the suspension feel plush and controlled, or is the bike bouncing about over bumps and ruts? Are there any thuds when you brake (loose steering head bearings can cause this)?

Flag up anything unusual in your mind – it might help to stop halfway and take some notes on your phone or a notebook. Then, when you get back, go through your list of queries with the owner to see if they have any explanations. Then you can take a view on whether you want to haggle a discount based on what you've found, whether you're going to walk away, or if you're happy with what you've seen and ready to buy.

  • Find the ad for the Kawasaki Z650 pictured above here.




The only thing I would add is to make sure the bike isn't stolen. If you give him money for the bike he might take off while you test ride it. I had to pick up a few bikes that we stolen. One of the owners said he just bought it and didn't know. But he could be lying.
Wayne @

I couldn't agree more. There are some petty people out there.

Merely a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw great design of the post. You will; gonna love to see this

Full of good info. Make sure the bike is small enough so if you move you can fit in in the truck. Even if its a local move or long distance you probably don't want to ride this baby everywhere. Try our company below if you need some moving services

I've been thinking about getting a bike lately. I've been spending so much time at home and it turns out my radon levels are pretty high, so I want to start getting some fresh air while I finish getting my house tested and a new radon mitigation system installed.

These are some great tips. I will definitely keep this in mind when I shop. Thanks for sharing! -Randy @

Our dedication to professional and quality services has made us one of the leading choices for all concrete needs in the area. We have a team of qualified technicians who have experience in a wide range of projects, including driveways, patios, pool decks, and more. Undertaking these projects should not cause stress for you. As such, we are here to ensure that your concrete construction will run smoothly. Contact us when you need concrete construction and repair services for your patio, driveway, pool deck, and more.

I totally agree with you. I'm actually planning on getting a second-hand motorcycle soon and I hope the one that I handpicked for a test ride doesn't have any issues. Anyway, feel free to visit if you have any tile and grout cleaning needs in Chandler, AZ.

Love my bike and love this site and the comments. Here is my company

I like the comments too. Anyway, mind if I ask what kind of bike do you own and is it also 2nd hand when you bought it? Mine's a Harley and I've been servicing it for more than 3 years now. Anyway, if you have drain cleaning needs at home, please see this

If you have dreams to turn your mediocre or overrun backyard or outdoor space into a beautiful oasis, we are ready to help. No lawn is too difficult, and no project is too big for our expert team of Allen lawn care specialists. We have the tools and experience needed to transform your outdoor are into the space you have always wanted. Together, we will develop a landscaping plan that is best for your outdoor space, budget and timeline. Contact us today to get started!

Our guys here at our car detailing shop in Markham, Ontario Canada love to buy second-hand motorcycles. We detail the bikes here to get them fresh again. Unfortunately, as OCD as we can be, there are just some mechanical issues that are missed. If you just recently got your bike and are looking for a detailing specialist - come see us at

We provide motorists with exceptional services that they have relied on for more than a decade now. Whenever someone relies on our auto glass services, they receive the attention that they deserve from a well-qualified glass technician. We treat every motorist like a valued customer and always offer them his or her money’s worth. You can hire us with confidence, knowing that our technicians are well-qualified to assist with your service needs. By only hiring the most qualified, professional glass technicians, we can produce the results that you are seeking. We’re committed to your total satisfaction!

Thanks for the heads up man. I appreciate the your work dude. We do mobile car detailing and car washes in Riverside CA and we get asked if we glass work also. I'll refer you guys.

I agree as well! Also make sure you can work on small appliances you never know when you need one fixed. Appliance maintenance can be tough but this company does it for cheap!

Our service can provide the help that you need to get any of your home appliances working again. That’s because we offer repair services for all common household appliances. We provide refrigerator repair, washing machine repair, dryer repair, oven, and stove repair. That’s not all that we can do though, and we even provide further services such as garbage disposal repair and water heater repair. All of our repair services are designed to provide quick solutions to the problems that you have, so you don’t need to go without any of your home appliances for too long.

Since we are committed to providing our customers with the best quality of services possible, we have invested in the necessary tools and equipment needed to make the necessary repairs needed. We don’t waste time providing our customers with the help that they need, as we know that most of our customers rely on these things every day. You don’t have to continue to inconvenience yourself when we have everything that we need to provide you with the repairs that you want. If you want and need affordable appliance repairs to make sure you contact us, as we have the technicians who can offer this to you right here. We offer our customers our service guarantee.

Keeping your home or commercial property at an appropriate temperature is an important part of making your location a more comfortable place to be. We understand the necessity of maintaining this balance and are here to provide our area with the high-quality HVAC services that they need. We have years of experience as well as heating systems and ductless HVAC systems. In providing these much-needed services to our region, our clients know that they can count on us throughout the year for their heating or cooling needs. Performing everything from installations, to repairs, replacements, and general maintenance, we make sure that your systems are performing their best no matter the conditions outside.

Ensuring that each and every client who walks through our doors receives effective and efficient service is our main priority. Not only do we focus on recovering the body, but we work on recovering lost confidence, mental strength, and overall health to clients who utilize our services. Chiropractor services offer a variety of different solutions for individuals who are in chronic pain, require preventative care, and suffer from discomfort. Let us help you through your work-related, sports-related, or other injuries with our comprehensive programs. Contact us today to find out more about our services, to book your assessment, or to speak to a representative today.

journals in my days, and it is genuinely insane how excessive everything can be.

Been thinking about getting a bike. Seems like the perfect way to get out of the house during this pandemic. Thanks for writing this up! Randy |

We assist in targeting your most painful injuries and finding long-term solutions that enable you to work and perform other daily activities with ease. We know that it can be challenging to find a rehabilitation method that works for your pain and injuries specifically, but our team of chiropractors has years of experience in delivering tailored results to each of our clients and their specific needs. Don't let sports injuries, work injuries, and other unwanted aches and pains get in the way of you living your life how you want to – come to us for assistance in relieving your pain and getting back on your feet!

I seriously can't believe these things are still happening. But you make a good point, we have to be careful, always.

I don't know if it posted correctly.

All the tree care and management services that you need are a part of what we do. When it comes to tree care, there’s no service out there that can do more than us. We offer a truly extensive range of tree care services, including tree trimming and pruning. We also offer management services, like tree and stump removal, and even provide an emergency tree service. We also specialize in tree planting and shrub care. So, if you need a tree service to help look after your trees and property, our professional and affordable service is always the best choice. ( )

MABO Carpentry's picture

Visit for the woodworking

I also noticed since I started blogging, recently that people rehash old ideas but add nothing. It is going to my lists of thinks I need to do as a new blogger. This is a great way to drive traffic.

Our team has years of experience installing, maintaining, repairing, and inspecting roofs. We offer services for commercial and residential customers. Our roofing contractors have years of experience working on roofs. Your new roof will improve your home’s look and curb appeal while increasing its value. We offer a wide range of roofing materials, styles, and designs that will improve the visual aesthetic of your home. Let our team help you choose the perfect roof that will meet your needs and budget. We are also available for roof repairs for your home. Feel free to email or call our team today if you need residential roofing services.

Great read! I remember this from my favorite forum. It works for us. You've come up with awesome post. What an ecouragement this to all starters out there. thanks for putting out top notch content all the time.

Take a gander at a portion of the mouths and kind of truth structure the normal misconceptions.

Great tip! Loved the article too.

We share your real passion for cars and other vehicles. We understand just how much pride you take in your car or other vehicles. This is why it can be tough when the exterior or interior of your car experiences all sorts of wear and tear that really prevents it from looking its best. With our auto detailing service, we can do all the detailing and restorative work that’s needed to get your car looking great again. We specialize in providing a number of car detailing services, as well as being able to service a number of other different types of vehicles. So, get the best results by using the team that shares your passion.

Our tree arborists are vetted to ensure that they can produce the results that we need them to produce for our customers. They prove effective in all that we ask them to do and this is well-pleasing to them and to those whom we serve. Since they have studied tree species of every type, they know what is required to properly care for them and treat them if they are diseased. Their vast understanding of so many different trees is something that we find extremely beneficial to our business and most importantly, to our customers. They are committed to providing our customers with the best tree care services. This is clearly seen from the quality of service they offer.

I agree! Also make sure it idols well. Just make sure not to ruin your grass by driving it though the yard. Might need new lawn care after that if so look below!

I m in agreement, but its really hard to believe that this kind of thing is still going on.
Jack @

Our range of services is designed to provide any help that you need to get your car back on the road ASAP. No matter the problem your car is experiencing, you can always rely on our team to fix it. We provide services such as tire repair, transmission repair, engine services, lube, oil, and filter services. This is along with being able to repair any heating or AC problems and being able to take care of any scheduled maintenance that your vehicle requires. So, get your car working again, and back on the road, with the help of our professional and reliable team.

Cycle theft is a big problem. We see this all the time. Make sure you have it insured if you're allowing people to test ride it.

Agree, :)Just make sure not to ruin your grass by driving it though the yard.

I don't know how they can handle that but they're pretty resilient.

We'll do all the work and get rid of your trash!

Sammy From

Yes, make sure the bike is stolen or not. For avoiding an odd deal, bike registration check is essential. bike reg check keeps you back from buying a stolen bike or accidental vehicle. Bike check saves you from losing the car and your hard-earned cash. You can check these details at car analytics. I personally prefer car analytics as I tried it. Here is the URL

That's a good sharing, I would love to subscribe your Blog but I can't see any tab to subscribe your blog. Check this out


Join the conversation!

Let us know what you think, just sign up for a free account, leave a comment and get involved!
Register Now

Latest Videos