Visit the Bike
3. Check the bike over Thoroughly
When you visit a machine, things to look out for include; anything out of alignment, scuffed panels, mirror ends, engine casings, footpegs and levers (all indicate it has been dropped or crashed).
Check the steering head bearings for notchiness (£150 to replace), and check the condition of the chain & sprockets (£150), Tyres (£250 a set), and the general condition of the bike.
Does everything feel smooth and lubricated, or does this bike get its chain adjusted once a year at service? Does the seller have the full Autoglym valeting set, and does his garage have rubber tiles or carpet on the floor? Are his tools all hanging up neatly on the wall? These are all good signs the bike has been well looked after. If he doesn’t know the first thing about maintenance, and his lavatory is a disgrace to all mankind, do you think he has bothered to keep his motorbike in good condition?
Make a note of the engine number and frame number (research where these are located before you turn up to view) and registration plate, you will need these later on.
4. Check the Paperwork
If you like what you see in the flesh, then you can advance to the next stage which is checking out the paperwork. You are not just looking for stamps in the book, but you want to see the owners manual, which holds the recommended service intervals, and some evidence that these have been adhered to with detailed workshop receipts.
If the bike has only done 6,000 miles in its life, don’t fret too much about service history, just make sure the oil has been changed once a year, and prepare yourself for oil and coolant changes. If the bike has done 50,000 miles and it is 15 years old, you need to be going through that paperwork with a fine toothed comb.
Services often overlooked based upon cost are: Valve clearance adjustment (knock off £250-350 if these need doing), Brake fluid change (£100-£200). If the bike is infrequently used, check the last time the battery was replaced (£75), and the suspension serviced (it usually never is).
Make a note of the V5 registration document serial number (if you’re not sure what it is, write all of the codes down making a note what they are called), you will need this for your vehicle check in the next step.
5. Check the bike’s History
If you’re happy with the bike and the paperwork, and your seller isn’t looking nervous, flushed or agitated at your probing, you may proceed to the next stage: Check the history of the bike with an HPi check. The HPi tells you whether the bike has been classified as an insurance write off, or whether it is stolen or has outstanding finance.
Whether you call up HPi or do the check online or via their apps, you will need to have made a note of the bike’s frame number (and engine number if available), and the vehicle registration document number. See the HPi website for more information.