Buying a new bike is probably one of the most awaited events in the life of a biker. A dream machine which can transform one’s sedentary and otherwise boring life. An event to live for can turn into a sour one if the buying experience and quality of the bike are not up to the expectations.

Things you should know before buying a motorcycle

Expectations are not met either because the showroom managed to swindle you or the bike sold to you is not as per your expectations. But, let us put on record that this article is not implying that all dealerships are dishonest. Some dealerships are genuine and will offer crystal clear sales. While there are some that are downright dishonest. Each brand has its own set of good and not so good dealers at different locations.

In this article, various activities in the cycle of buying a bike are highlighted, and some warning points are also offered, that may help you find your dream machine and not regret a bad buying experience!

Process of deciding which motorcycle to buy

  • The process of buying a new bike usually starts with shortlisting a bike. We have an excellent article about how to choose a bike that you would love for years. Click on How To Choose a Bike Guide.
  • Once you decide on which motorcycle to buy, you would start making trips to various dealers in the city to find out discounts and various offers.
  • Next Step is deciding about model, variant, colour and accessories.
  • Finally, on the basis of above three points, one decides to buy a certain bike in cash or finance it. For those who want to buy a bike on a bank loan, read the excellent (if we may say so ourselves) article about Bank Loans and Deals here.

Read this before you rush to book a bike

Once the bike is finalised, price negotiated and the payment is made, then comes the painful waiting period. One important aspect of buying a bike is patience. Usually, one is so very excited about buying a new bike that one will urge the showroom to deliver the bike at the earliest.

This is where a potential trap lies for the customer. Most showrooms will keep adequate stock for festive seasons and during the months when sales are typically high. However, for models that sell very well, it is possible that the stock might run low and the showroom has only the test ride bike or the display bike.

Many showrooms will disconnect the speedometer/ odometer so that the test bikes do not accumulate any km on the odometer. Showrooms are keen on selling off such bikes. While most showrooms would inform customers about availability of such bikes, there are showrooms that would not mind passing off these bikes to the customer as a new bike.

A classic example would be when the showroom guy says that there is only one bike left for you; or when they deny the availability first, only to call later and inform that there is one in the stock. Such bikes are usually abused by customers during test rides and one should stay away from such deals.

It is always advisable to request the showroom to show you the stock and you can select one for yourself. Most showrooms will oblige; and those that don’t, walk away from them. While selecting your bike, check the points below and scrutinize the bike.

Don’t forget to do this inspection the bike in broad daylight. Lesser light hides more.

what to check before buying a bike

What is PDI for bike?

PDI means Pre-Delivery Inspection. This is when you go to a showroom and check the bike that has reached or you pick out a bike that is already in stock at showroom. The elements in any PDI are :

Bodywork & Paint

what is pre delivery inspection

1. Check the bodywork for flaws, dents, and scratches. A dented panel indicates loading-unloading damage or accidental fall. Whatever the case, stay away.

2. Check the paint on the bike. It should not be flaky or patched. The paint should be uniform and the reflection of a tube light should show the tube light as a straight bar. Poor paint quality will reflect it zigzagged.

3. Check for abrasions on handlebar ends, front brake lever, clutch lever, crash (leg) guards, foot pegs (check feelers, if available on the model. Feelers are the bolts below foot peg. This is the first part to make contact with the ground when the bike is turning or when it falls over), gearshift lever, and rear brake lever. If abrasions are found, it means the bike has had a fall somewhere. Stay away.

4. Check for cuts and cracks on seat padding and cover. It is easy to miss the spots on the sides and lower edges. If there is any cut or crack, stay away.

5. Check for all transparent surfaces – headlamps, tail lights, indicators, speedometer consoles –and check for scratches, nicks or worse, cracks. If found, stay away.

6. Check for the side stand and main stand (if available). In some cases, the side stand tilts the bike too much. This may mean that the bike you are getting has been used earlier (or it may also mean that the stand is broken or bent). Trust your judgment and ask the dealer for an explanation. If something smells fishy, move away.

7. Open the fuel tank and check the insides with a bright torch. If there is rust, stay away.

8. Likewise, check the exhaust pipe. If there is rusting near the tip, stay away.

9. With the bike on stand, rotate the wheels and see if any wheel wobbles or anything is irregular about its rotation. Check for damage to the rims/alloys, spokes. If they seem bent or rusted, insist on a replacement.

10. If the bike has a radiator, bend down and check the radiator fins. Many a times, service centers spray a concentrated water jet on radiators while cleaning and that bends the fins. Such radiators will find it difficult to dissipate heat. If the fins are bent, stay away. Even if the dealer insists that he will replace the radiator, do not agree for this.

11. The above point is also valid for oil cooled engines. A small oil cooler has similar construction (although a bit stronger). Stay away if there is damage.

Engine & Transmission :

what is pdi

1. Before you ask showrooms to start the engine, ask them to confirm the oil level. Although it is unlikely that the bike will have less engine oil, a check doesn’t harm anyone.

2. If the vehicle is a scooter or any similar machine where transmission oil is required separately, check for the transmission oil level as well. There have been cases where there was no transmission oil and the bike broke down.

3. Start the engine and listen to the sound. Fuel Injected engines will start with a slightly higher idle rpm and gradually settle down as the engine temperature normalizes. Carbureted bikes may need a choke to start and they will also settle down once the choke is closed. Check for any excessive smoke from the exhaust pipe. White smoke may mean trouble. Stay away.

4. On four stroke engines, check for ticking noises from the cylinder head. If you hear an excessive ticking noise, it may be due to incorrect cam clearance or the chain tensioner. If this noise is not loud and concerning, get it corrected by the dealer. Even in this case, try to find another vehicle with no such noise.

5. Check the bottom of the crankcase for any leakage, dents, scratches, marks of anything on the underbelly. If found, stay away.

6. Blip the throttle gently (not to the red line please) and check if the engine sounds okay or is there any excessive induction/ exhaust noise. Usually, any excessive noise may indicate leakages but this one is rather difficult to diagnose correctly.

7. Check if the tachometer and fuel gauge is functioning.

8. Check if chain slack is correct.

9. Insist for a small ride on the bike. Check if the bike pulls to one side and whether the handlebar is aligned correctly.

10. For fully faired bikes, you may need to bend and inspect with a good torch. Check for oil leakages around the cylinder head, plug and bottom of the block where it interfaces with the crankcase.

11. Check if the radiator contains enough coolant.

Electrical Checks :

  • Check if the lights, indicators, horn, tail lamps are working.
  • If the bike is equipped with LED lights, check if they are working.
  • If the bike is equipped with a side stand sensor or clutch-in sensor, check if those are working.

Tyres :

1. Check for stones and wear on tires. A new bike is transported in a truck from manufacturer to showroom. So it should not have a lot of stones embedded in the tread.

2. Check for tire pressures. Manufacturers and showrooms over-inflate tires to prepare for the long standing periods at stockyards. The year of manufacturing on the tyres should not be more than one year.

tyre manufacture datetyre manufacturing year

Final Inspection :

pdi checklist

1. Check crevices, swing arm pivots, area under the engine, the radiator, area inside the mudguards for signs of mud, stones, and grime. If present, it may mean that the bike was ridden before and washed cleanly to be sold. Remember that only a very detailed cleaning job might be able to wash away dirt and dust from these obscure areas.

2. Check toolkit, owner manual, tax receipts, insurance papers are being given along with the bike.

3. Please ensure you are getting the extra keys.

4. Ensure that you complete the formalities on the same day on which you choose the bike.

5. Write down the engine and chassis number of the chosen bike if the delivery is not on the same day.

Most important thing to note-

Make friends with the showroom guy

The chances of him tricking you go down by a large percentage. If you behave like a typical egoistic customer, expect to get a bad experience in return.

Final check :

  • Get an invoice from showroom. Confirm that the amount you paid matches with the invoice amount.
  • Confirm that the engine number and chassis number is same as your shortlisted bike. Confirm that they are correctly written in tax receipt and invoice. If they aren’t, you would have trouble in case of transfer / claiming insurance.
  • Confirm that the insurance policy is what you paid for. It won’t help you if you paid for zero dep policy and you got some cheap policy.

Editor’s Note

The PDI checks mentioned above are in no terms absolute but following these will ensure that you getting a bad deal go down tremendously. Again, these are generic checks and some checks may need to be added or taken out depending on the type of bike you choose.

We hope this PDI Checklist for motorcycles helped you. Leave us a comment if you feel we missed out on something which can be added to the PDI list.

PDI list for motorcycles

So choose wisely and ride happily.


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