When you ride a brand new motorbike off a dealer’s forecourt, you instantly wipe out a chunk of the money you paid to own it. Buying a used motorcycle from Friday-Ad Motors is therefore reckoned by many to be a much better value for money purchase, and provided you work your way through this critical checklist, this could very well prove to be the case.
Areas to check…
The safety and structural integrity of a motorcycle are dependent on the condition of its frame, the chassis upon which everything else, including you, sits. Look for cracks, dents and any misalignment – especially on sports or quad bikes, as this is all too common. The sub-frame, in particular, can take a lot of knocks and should be thoroughly inspected.
Don’t forget to remove the seat to check beneath it. Use a penlight to check obscured areas – and look out for newer paintwork, as this could indicate repair work having being carried out. If you do spot any discrepancies don’t be afraid to say something. It may turn out to be not as bad as first feared.
Be sure to take a look at each tooth of the sprocket carefully. They should all be intact, the shape of each should be perfectly even and there should be no excessive wear. This would adversely affect the drive chain’s ability to gain purchase on the rear wheel. If you spot anything amiss here, you’re likely looking at an old or badly maintained sprocket, which would need replacing and, therefore, should be brought to the owners attention.
Additionally, make sure there is just under an inch of slack in the drive chain. To check this, slowly roll the bike forwards, pushing and pulling each section of the chain to check its condition, keeping an eye out for corrosion.
Check the tread depth on both tyres. The legal minimum is 1mm across 75 percent of the tread width, all the way around the tyre’s circumference. Check for flat spots. Also, ascertain where the bulk of the wear occurs: if the centre of the tread is worn, the bike is ridden mostly on roads; if, however, the bulk of the wear occurs along the tread edges, it’s likely the bike has been ridden frequently off-road.
A quick test when you go to check a motorbike over is the 10p coin check. Run your coin all the way along each tread. Its depth should be about half the thickness of the coin.
There are three checks to make here: brake fluid, oil levels and engine coolant. Brake fluid is checked by assessing the brake fluid level indicator – usually found on top of the handlebars – while the engine is running. Squeeze the front brake handle hard, and you should see a sudden rise and fall in the liquid. Then move onto oil and coolant levels. Rectifying these is simple enough, but low levels could signify a lack of maintenance of the motorcycle, which should alert you to check for other signs of neglect.
Most obviously, check that the brake discs match. Sometimes motorcycles are customised or, more likely, cheaply repaired and could feature mismatching brake discs, which may be unsuitable for a particular motorbike’s power and handling. Then check the brake pads themselves – these are as good an indicator as any of the way in which the bike has been ridden by the current owner. Worn brake pads will mean the pistons are more exposed to road dirt and debris, which could cause an expensive fluid leak.
Most importantly, make sure you actually ride the motorcycle before handing over any cash. You may hear or feel something otherwise overlooked. The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency has some more tips here.
Written by Patrick Vernon
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