What to Look for When Buying a Used Motorcycle

Mechanic Inspecting Motorcycle

Buying a used motorcycle often takes more time and know-how than buying new — but for many riders, paying far less for a fantastic ride makes it worth the trouble. To be sure you get your money’s worth, you’ll need to do your research, find a reputable seller, and thoroughly inspect every bike you consider. Here’s what to look for when buying a used motorcycle.

What To Do Before You Buy a Used Motorcycle

That bike you found on Craigslist may be the right price, but that doesn’t mean you should buy it. Used motorcycles for sale from private sellers may come in any condition — from like-new to dangerously unreliable. Whether you buy from an individual owner or a dealership, it’s important to know what you’re looking for before you dive into the listings.

  • Find the right type of bike. Think about the kind of riding you do and where you do it. A low price may be tempting, but won’t be worth it if the bike doesn’t fit your style or the kind of riding you do. For instance, a sporty Street Glide® may be perfect for dodging traffic in Portland, but not ideal for cross-country trips.
  • Conduct model research. Now that you know what kind of bike you’re looking for, learn as much as possible about it beforehand. Many have specific idiosyncrasies, which may be misleading when you inspect the bike for quality.
  • Brush up on basic mechanical skills. You don’t need to be a gearhead to buy a used motorcycle, but you should be able to look at a bike and tell when various components and systems need attention.
  • Find a reliable seller. Private sellers tend to have lower prices, but they can’t offer the benefits of buying from a dealership, like in-house financing, warranty coverage, and other customer protections.

Used Motorcycle Checklist: Overall Condition

At any certified Vancouver dealership, you’ll get an accurate report of the bike’s condition. Used motorcycles for sale from private sellers don’t offer the same assurance, so you’ll need to inspect the bike yourself to be sure you get what you pay for. Follow this general checklist for what to look for when buying a used motorcycle from a private seller in the Gresham area:

  • Fuel tank — Good general condition, no paint chips.
  • Fenders and side cover — No or few scratches and dents, no broken side-cover tabs.
  • Seat — No tears, missing trim, or collapsed foam.
  • Paint and chrome — No repaired body areas, good general condition. Shiny and rust-free chrome.
  • Windshield — Properly mounted, no cracks or glazing.
  • Saddlebags — No signs of damage on hard bags, no tearing or abrasion on soft bags.
  • Tires — Plenty of tread, no signs of dry rot.
  • Wheels — No dents, no noticeable wobble when you spin the wheel. Snug, straight spokes that “ping” when tapped with the screwdriver head.
  • Battery — Capable of starting the bike without strain.

Used Motorcycle Checklist: Engine, Transmission, and Clutch

  • Oil — Correct oil level, no leaks.
  • Ignition — Engine starts easily when cold and warms up within minutes.
  • Smoke — Move on if you see heavy black or blue smoke.
  • Engine Noise — Some engines are naturally louder than others, but most should be fairly quiet. Move on if you hear any knocks, rattles, or rumbles.
  • Transmission — Engages smoothly and never jumps out of gear. If you can’t road test the bike, ask if you can observe as the owner runs it through the gears.
  • Clutch — Properly adjusted, does not slip or drag during a road test.
  • Exhaust — No exterior rust bubbles, no leaks, and no broken hardware at the cylinder head.

Browse Used Motorcycles for Sale at Latus Motors Harley-Davidson 

Now that you know what to look for when buying a used motorcycle, it’s time to find a great deal in Gladstone. Get started by browsing our extensive used Harley-Davidson inventory. From like-new to models priced under 10k, you’ll find plenty of used motorcycles for sale that match your style — and your budget. Contact us today to learn more!

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