Even a lot of guys that own and work on their own cars for years, don’t know a lot about motorcycles & motorcycle gear until they get one. However, that doesn’t help too much when you first start looking and don’t know all of the checkpoints that you need to be aware of when getting ready to buy. So here are some of the things that you need to be aware of as you look over a bike that you’re considering for purchase. Above all, take your time, be observant, don’t get excited and jump into a transaction before you’re ready.

What Type of Motorcycle Is Best for You?

Some of the choices you’ll consider are based on what you’ve seen, what you’ve ridden, and what your friends have. Some bikes can be used for several different purposes while others are more single purpose. Think about all the things you need to, or want to do with your motorcycle before you decide.

For a long time, there were only street bikes and dirt bikes, but now there are several branches to be aware of. There are the big cruisers that are great for long trips in the country and small scooters that do the city commute easier. Some bikes can be easily parked in the downtown area while others will have to use a car parking spot.

Tires are also a consideration. You can remove the smooth street tires from a dual purpose bike and put on some meaty heavy-duty traction tires and change the whole look. The bike will be able to go up dirt, mud, sand, and rocky roads and trails with good stability. However, on the highway, it’s going to him because of the knobby tires. Many bikes that are strictly off-road trail bikes aren’t meant for riding on the road at all, they’re not even street legal, keep that in mind if you’re looking at one of those.

Another thing to consider is that some of the real crotch-rocket bikes that can go from 0 to 60 in three seconds, are uncomfortable unless you’re basically racing through traffic, which is very dangerous. Unless you like to lean over all of the time, take note of how the seat and handlebars are situated.

Checking Out The Paperwork

When you talk to the person selling the bike on the phone, ask if all of the paperwork is in order. Sure, in most cases it will be, but there is always that chance that the answer is NO. They will most likely tell you if you ask because you’ve let them know you’re going to check.

Take a look at the registration and match the serial number on the frame to the one on the paperwork. Many bikes also will have a matching serial number on the motor as well, or a separate number that is also listed on the title or registration. Check the date of the last time the bike was legally registered, in some states, you have to make up for the lost years, in others you don’t. Bikes sometimes sit in people’s garages for years without being used.

Take A Close Look At The Frame

When bikes are in accidents many times the frame will get cracked. Take a close look around where the forks hook into the frame, under the handlebars, near the back where the rear fork is attached, be methodical. A broken or cracked frame may make a bike unstable, dangerous to ride, and worthless. Take a look at the ends of the handlebar grips to see if they’re worn off from road scrapes, this can tell you the bike has had some accidents. Is the tank dented or is it new? Spin the wheels, both front, and rear, to see if they are true, or bent.

Take a look at the sprockets and chain too. If the chain is caked with thick grease and oil, then the sprockets are probably worn out from the wear.

Take A Close Look At the Motor

Look for any oil leaks, make sure the odometer is working so the number of miles is accurate. Check the fuel filter, if it’s loaded with rust, the fuel tank is probably rusting out. Check under the fuel tank to see if it’s been patched with epoxy due to rust. You can buy a bike with a rusted out tank, but make sure you can find a new one and take off a substantial amount on the price.

Once the motor has been started, go to the exhaust and take a whiff. If you smell burning oil or see blue smoke, the rings are probably bad and need replacing. Black smoke with the smell of gasoline is due to too much fuel entering the combustion chamber. It might be an adjustment on the carburetor, or it may need a new carburetor. If that’s the case have a good bike mechanic inspect the bike before you buy.

Buying a bike for the first time can seem complicated but it’s not. If all else fails, once you’ve found a motorcycle that you like, take it to a good mechanic and have it checked out professionally. It might cost you a few dollars but well worth it.

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