- Are you the guy who stops talking just to hear that sweet melody of an inline-4?
- Are you spending your free time watching YouTube videos of motorcycles you would love to own (but can’t afford in near future)?
- Now that you have scraped together sufficient money to buy a... decent sized motorcycle but want to go for the big daddy of your dreams so you start searching around for deals in used superbike. And you find the CBR600RR about which you always had wet dreams.
So what are the questions that you should be asking yourself? Let’s have a look-
- Should I buy new or used bike?
- Is it good to buy second hand bike?
- What questions should you ask when buying a used motorcycle?
- From where can I get a good used superbike?
- Pointers to inspect a used superbike
- Is there a checklist for buying a use bike?
- What to do when you buy a used bike?
Should I buy new or used bike?
From a financial perspective, it makes a lot of sense to buy a used superbikes. Lots of owners who-
(a) change their bikes to latest model every couple of years
(b) find out after buying a new bike that they really don’t have time/ energy / group to ride with and rather than keeping bike idle in the parking lot, better sell it.
So it is possible for you to get a bike that you can’t afford as of now and be happy.
From a psychological point of view, everyone has a different feelings. Many guys out there want to purchase a brand new machine. Why not? A new bike gives you years of trouble free service (at least warranty) and the feel of a brand new machine is different than a used one.
So you need to decide if you are ok buying a used superbike
Remember to read these Points to consider before buying a superbike.These points will help you understand more about ownership of these lovely machines.
Is it good to buy second hand bike?
Buying a second-hand bike is a good deal when you are saving a significant amount of money. And if you get a well maintained motorcycle, it would be awesome. And this is where the checklist before buying comes in. Go through the checklist thoroughly so that you don’t get nasty surprises later on.
Still want to go ahead with your purchase? This is the time when you need to pay close attention to the points we are listing below. These may save you from plonking down your hard earned money and getting stuck with a lemon.
What questions should you ask when buying a used motorcycle?
Even before you go to see the bike, you should be asking these questions to seller
- Is the person you are talking to is owner or dealer
- Number of owners of bike
- Km done
- Is there any outstanding loan on bike? If yes, can you take over the loan?
- Is the insurance valid? If yes, till when. If not, when did it expire
- Current condition as per seller
- Any known repairs, faults that seller can tell you
- Expected price
From where can I get a good used superbike?
Facebook Groups, some nearby shops selling superbikes, friend’s friend selling his prized possession are some of the most common places you would be stalking whole day and night to find your dream bike. Unless you want your bike to spend more time in workshop draining your money, strictly following the following pointers is necessary.
Most of the facebook groups are filled with sellers who run a business of selling motorcycles. Nothing wrong in that. But then the prices quoted on most of such posts are typically 25-30% higher than market value. Similar is the case of a shop selling used superbikes. Do you think a person will invest in buying these beauties and then letting them go with just Rs.5000 profit?
The condition of these bikes will be over hyped and not correct in 90% of the cases. (We have seen examples of motorcycles with cracked engine casing and which had fallen down on BOTH sides being advertised as “Showroom Condition” So be extremely cautious when buying from people you don’t know personally.
This brings us to buying from a friend’s friend. How well do you know each other? Is he a serious rider munching miles or a weekend warrior? We would suggest that you should buy a motorcycle that is NOT being ridden by a serious rider. He would have revved the nuts off it; yes; he would have cared for it a lot but ultimately the chain, sprocket, fork seals, tyres have wear and tear. It is always better to buy from a rider who has ridden say 2000 km in last year. You will get a much cleaner bike even if he has not maintained it much. (If the running is so low, he won’t be visiting service centre more than once year in any case)
One last place not mentioned above but where you should ideally concentrate your search on is official company dealers selling used motorcycles. They are usually buy-back for purchase of another more expensive model. For good customer buying a superbike every couple of years, the dealers have to oblige him by buying back his old bike. These bikes would be a bit costly but you can be sure about quality. In some cases, we have seen dealerships offering a 3-6 month warranty on used superbikes sold by them.
Pointers to inspect a used superbike
- Always go to check out the bike in day light. Never ever see / inspect the bike in evening / night. You can’t see many obvious faults unless you see them in daylight.
- Always go to dealer shop / workshop or seller’s home / office. Never meet up on road just because it is convenient. If you go to the seller’s place, you have at least one location to go back to, if something goes wrong with the deal.
- Never every pay any advance. There are several cases where the buyer transferred an advance for blocking the bike and then seller either vanished or refused selling it. Pay the full amount, take receipt, collect bike and go home.
Is there a checklist for buying a use bike?
Of course, we have a checklist for you. Here you go-
Used bike buying checklist:
Now let’s consider each point in detail:
There are 3 documents that you need to inspect-
- Registration Card
Model and Specifications: See if the engine & chassis numbers and specifications written on RC card and those present on the motorcycle are actually matching. We have seen a Ducati Panigale being registered as Hero Honda Splendor (because it was illegally imported) Ensure that the numbers, model name, cylinders, cc are correct. If not, simply walk away.
Number of Owners: Are you dealing with a guy whose name appears on the RC card? If not, then he is a dealer.
Is the dealer willing to let you talk / connect directly with the owner? No? Then take the number of owners mentioned on the RC card with a pinch of salt. It is not unknown for people to buy and keep riding the motorcycle while still registered to previous owners' name. This is typically done to reduce the number of owners and maintain higher resell price.
See if the insurance is valid. Insurance is either Comprehensive or third party. Read our excellent guide about insurance (click here insert insurance article link) to know more about insurance
If insurance is expired or is third party insurance, then it should raise flags. A superbike owner who does not renew insurance / tries to save money by having only third party insurance is extremely unlikely to spend money on properly maintaining his bike. Unless the owner can give you a valid reasoning, walk away from such a bike (unless the deal is extremely lucrative)
No Claims Bonus (NCB): If the policy is comprehensive, Check out NCB. For any motorcycle not involved in accident, insurance company offers a No Claims Bonus (a way of incentivizing you for not making a claim). NCB starts from 10% and keeps increasing every year of no claim. Check if the last policy had NCB and if yes, what the percentage is. This is the easiest way to check if the bike was in a serious accident. In case there is zero NCB, it is time to ask some hard questions to seller. Ask him to show repair bills so you know what all had broken and was replaced.
For small damages, owners typically don’t make insurance claim and can get that repaired at own cost. This is why checking service history is all important.
If the bike is sold in India, you can check its service history in most nearby authorized service centre. Most of the service centres are centrally connected and can bring up service history of that particular motorcycle in one second. In case they don’t provide you that, you can always request to seller to share this history. Being a customer, he will have more connect with the service centre.
If the service centres are unable/unwilling to share the history, ask the seller for repair bills. If the owner has maintained a file of repair bills, it means he is particular and chances of his maintaining the bike properly will be very high.
2. Age of motorcycle
- Manufacturing and registration dates: Is the bike manufactured AND registered in the same year? If not, chance of it being a demo bike is extremely high. And you know how you ride demo bikes and we are sure you won’t want to be buyer of one. Another possibility is the bike was standing in dealer showroom for multiple years. This would mean the tyres, battery would be older than registration date and would require replacement earlier.
- Age: Try and purchase a motorcycle less than 5 years old. Technology changes a lot in these 5 years and superbikes are the cutting edge of technology. Companies put in latest technology in these bikes first. Unless you are a classic bike buff, you would be compromising a lot if you opt for a motorcycle that is more than 5 years old. Even a Honda VTR SP1 would feel low on power when you compare it with latest superbikes. Also getting parts for a 10 year old bike would prove difficult. Are you really willing to wait for 2 months because your clutch lever is being imported? Or you want to start own warehouse of parts?
3. Physical Inspection
Once again mentioning here - Always see the motorcycle in day time. Lights hide ugly secrets. Day light shows you all scratches, dents easily. Even if you are buying from a shop, ask them to bring it outside in natural light.
- Appearance: Are all the body panels looking similarly aged? If one part is looking newer than others, it most probably was replaced. Ask why and when.
- Damages / Crash: Motorcycles, by their nature tend to be dropped. Someone forgets to put on the stand and drops it in parking, someone’s foot slips and drops the bike on road or someone hits from behind at a traffic signal. Of course, some one crashes while riding. Surprisingly all the superbikes being sold are in top class condition ;-) So here are things that you MUST check.
- Check lever ends, bar ends for scratches. They right away point you out if the bike is dropped or not. No one replaces these for small falls. These are the first things that get damaged.
- Check foot pegs for scratches or bend. Hero blobs are the little indicators on the footpegs that give the rider feedback in a deep lean that they are getting close to scraping more expensive parts. If those are ground down or gone, the bike may have gone to the track.
- Check wheel rims. See if there is any damage. Is the colour of front and rear rim uniform? Alloys of superbikes are extremely expensive and riding on bent alloys is risky.
- See how the tyre is worn – is it even wear / tear? A tyre that is worn out in centre means the previous owner has ridden it mostly on highways in a straight manner and not done much of cornering. This is an indication that the possibility of the motorcycle being crashed is low. If you see “Pilling” (small balls of rubber) or even wear on centre AND sides, it means that the previous owner has been a cornering junkie. I am not saying that tyres worn out on corners is essentially bad but such motorcycles will be more prone to accidents.
- Check if both front and rear tyres are of similar age and make. If not, start wondering what compelled the tyre change. If the owner is not willing to change both tyres at the same time, it MAY mean he has also skimped on some other maintenance. Superbike tyres are expensive. They cost about Rs.10,000+ each.
- Open the seat: Specifically, you're want to see the battery and wiring. If you see factory connectors and nothing looks amiss, great! But if you can see electrical tape, vampire connectors, or a whole bunch of one color wire. (This happens usually because the owner got electrical wiring done by roadside mechanic) The resulting electrical catastrophe could be both expensive and difficult to repair.
- Battery: Superbike batteries are expensive 12-15,000/-. It is not unknown for sellers to fit a normal battery just for the sake of selling the bike. In such a case, you will be stranded on the first ride itself. Check that the battery fitted is as per company specifications.
4. Test Ride
Take a test ride on a deserted / low traffic road. Many sellers would try to object giving a test ride but come on! you are buying a motorcycle worth lakhs and seller should not expect to sell without offering a test ride. I know sellers are hesitant because they are not sure about your riding abilities. This is where it is your job to convince him that you are a genuine customer. If needed, give him a deposit amount + your licence, ask his guy to sit pillion, whatever it takes. Just don’t buy a bike without taking proper test ride.
Check if the air pressure in both tyres is correct. If not, bike will not perform as it should. Go slow in the beginning. Try out brakes below 25-30 kmph speed. So you won’t find yourself to be zooming around and suddenly discovering that you don’t have any brakes.
Try to rev the bike through its rev range (even if it is first gear). DO NOT REV IN NEUTRAL. EVER. This is easier said than done. Litre class motorcycles would do more than 100+ kmph in first gear. Unless you see the responsiveness across rev range, you won’t understand if all the cylinders are firing and not losing compression.
So choose wisely and ride happily.
This article is one part of 3 part series of articles. You should read the other two articles to get complete idea about the buying used superbike process. Here are the links -
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