Motorcycle Buying Advice How To Buy New And Used Motorcycles

Motorcycle buying advice checklist

Buying a new or used motorcycle has to be one of the best experiences in biking and getting some motorcycle buying advice before you part with your cash is a must.

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, and finally deciding whether to buy a new or used motorcycle. That's what it's all about.

You can browse thousands of new and used motorcycles for sale on Visordown Marketplace, and sell your bike, or sell as many bikes as you like, on our free motorcycle classified service.

To make sure your buying experience doesn’t turn into a nightmare and you don't buy a new or used motorcycle you regret, we've put together a motorcycle buying advice 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.

BASIC PRE-BUYING MOTORCYCLE CHECKLIST

What do I need for a motorcycle test ride?

Check your motorcycle licence – is it valid and are the details correct – this is important for test rides.

Make sure you have the right licence for the bike you’re planning on testing/buying. If you only have an A2 category licence, then you’re not going to be able to take a Ducati Panigale V4 out on a test ride. Licence aside, make sure that you are comfortable riding the bike that you will be testing.

Even if you do have a full A licence, you may never have ridden a sportsbike before, and that Panigale may prove a little too powerful. 

What motorcycle insurance do I need?

It's really important to get motorcycle buying advice on insurance.Chances are if you’re test riding a bike from a dealership, they will have their own insurance that covers you.

However, if it’s a private machine, you won’t be able to test ride it under the current owner’s insurance. If you already own a motorcycle, check your policy – you may already be covered to ride other people’s bikes.

Otherwise, look at taking out a temporary policy to cover the test ride. Gear. Be sensible.

If you’re off to test a Honda Fireblade, don’t be a squid. In fact, never be a squid!

Always make sure you have appropriate, protective clothing on so that if you do have a spill, it’s only your pride that’s damaged.

Which motorcycle is right for me?

Think carefully about which bikes best suit your individual requirements – be realistic. If you’re on the shorter side of things, don’t set your heart on a GS.

Likewise, if you’re 6ft10, that Honda Grom just may not be for you. Think carefully about the main purpose of the motorcycle.

Will you be using it to commute, for an overland adventure or for the occasional trackday? Go for whatever best suits your purpose, in terms of comfort, fuel economy and durability.

Or don’t, but don’t say we didn’t warn you! Do you need to buy brand new, could you save by buying the same model, a year old?

Study Visordown road tests on your short list of models – knowledge is power.

How much is the motorcycle insurance / service / fuel / tyres/ finance?

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.

If you can only afford to buy a motorcycle on finance, there’s little point in looking at privately owned machines.

BUYING NEW MOTORCYCLES

How do I part-exchange my motorcycle?

If you have a bike to part-exchange make sure it's MOT'd, serviced and spotless to get the best price. A complete service history helps in securing a premium, too.

Are you buying a genuine, officially imported, UK bike? If it's not a UK bike, are you aware of the differences?

What should I look for on a test ride of a new motorcycle?

Get a test ride. It might look good but it might be totally wrong for you.

Think about your future with this bike. Can you see yourself still riding it in two years time?

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.

What else should I check when buying a new motorcycle?

How long has the machine been in stock or on display? Is it the latest model? Can you get a deal? Is it an ex-demo bike? Is it pre-reg?

The odometer should read less than 5 miles, and 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.

Where do I find the best deals on motorcycle insurance?

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.

Don’t get caught short riding your new bike home with no insurance.

BUYING USED MOTORCYCLES

What should I check when buying a used motorcycle?

Motorcycle buying advice is particularly important when looking to buy a used motorbike. Does the bike have a custom paint job? This could be disguising crash damage. Are the bar ends, mirrors or footpegs scratched/bent?

This could mean that the bike has been dropped. A poor quality paint scheme/pattern parts can have a huge negative effect on its value.

Examine every inch for wear, tear and accident damage Make sure you start the engine yourself, from cold.

Does it rattle or smoke? Turn the handlebars and bounce the suspension, all the while listening for any irregular noises.

If you’re not confident in doing this yourself, ask/pay a mechanic to come and have a look with you.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. Is the machine taxed and in a road-worthy condition? Has it been garaged or parked in the street every night? Look for corrosion. 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? Any MOT fails? Ask the owner about them.

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. Is it suspiciously cheap? There may be a reason why…

How do I know if a motorcycle is stolen?

Read Visordown’s 5 clues to a stolen motorcycle to try to avoid this nightmare situation.

View it in the day, not during poor daylight. Is it being sold from the address on the V5. Be suspicious if the owner refuses to let you come to their house.

Does the motorcycle 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? Some written off bikes can be put restored and put back on the road, but not all.

Check the engine and chassis numbers, do they match the numbers on the V5?

Full Dealer Service History is best, FSH is great, home servicing could spell problems.

How much should I pay for a used motorcycle?

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?

Hopefully our motorcycle buying advice checklist has helped. Now it's time to look at some shiny new and used bikes.

Head to Visordown Marketplace and find your next bike.