6 Things to Look for When Buying a Used Motorcycle, ATV or Side by side from a Private Seller

April 19th, 2021 by

Whether you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy your first or you’re a seasoned rider, purchasing a used powersports vehicle from a private seller can feel like a gamble. You never really know what you’re going to end up with.

This element of the unknown can make the buying experience stressful and intimidating. However, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure you’re getting a top-notch machine.

Here’s a checklist of six important things to look for when buying a used motorcycle.

  1. Overall Appearance

When you’re setting your eyes on the bike for the first time, what’s your initial reaction? Are you impressed by the shine? Or are you recoiling at the many scratches, dings and dents?

A good-looking machine is often a happy machine. Take your time when inspecting it and check all the tight spots. These small details can provide valuable insight into how the vehicle was ridden. Are the hand or feet controls worn out? Are the brake damaged? Do the handlebars seem misaligned? How’s the wear on the tires?

A thorough walk-around can tell you a lot about its overall condition.

  1. Check the Exhaust

While you’re probably tempted to start it and hear the engine roar, it’s a smart idea to start with the exhaust first. You want the engine to be cold for your inspection. Warmer engines can turn over easier and be misleading.

When looking at the exhaust, ensure that it’s mounted properly. A badly-mounted exhaust can cause the pipe and mounts to fail due to the constant vibrations from the engine. Inspect every inch of the exhaust for corrosion, scrapes or dents.

  1. Get Friendly with the Frame

While you’re on the ground looking at the exhaust, also closely inspect the frame. Keep an eye out for cracks, dents, and scratches. Gets hands-on with the frame and feel for any damage that’s not visible to the naked eye.

Be sure to also check the steering bearings and steering stops. If you hear clicking or feel movement while holding the front brake lever and gently rocking the motorcycle, the bearings could be worn or loose. If the steering stops are bent, bulging, or rusted, this could mean the bike was crashed. For ATV’s and Side By Sides, do the tires rub on the fenders?

  1. Start It Cold

As we stated before, always start it cold. Before you head over to look, tell the current owner not to start it. Ensure the fuel petcock is in the “reserve” or “on” position. Pay attention as the bike is warming up. Does it seem to be running smoothly? Is the engine chugging? Is it smoking? If you notice blue smoke, the bike might be burning oil. In this case, don’t buy the bike. White smoke can indicate an internal coolant leak.

  1. Post-Check Ride

After you check every facet, take it for a spin. If the private seller is okay with that… not all of them are good with test rides.

Do you feel comfortable and confident? When you’re riding, listen for any rattling or clunking that could suggest mechanical problems. Ensure all of the lights work properly.

  1. The Proper Paperwork

The final items to look over before buying a used motorcycle or ATV are all of its paperwork. Check the bike’s license plate and VIN numbers against the title to see if they match up. Ensure there isn’t a lien holder on the title. Go through the bike’s service records to see if it was properly maintained.

RideNow Makes the Selling Process Easy

If you’re trying to get top dollar for your used motorcycle, consider selling it to RideNow. We make the selling process simple. Get an accurate estimate in just 60 seconds and avoid the hassles and headaches of selling your bike on a private market.

For more information, check out our website today.

Posted in How To's, Tips