Passing your CBT test, or even better still passing the direct access course, which will allow you to choose whatever bike you like, means that you’re now in the market for buying your first motorbike. If you’re not in a position to buy a brand new machine, then you’ll be looking for something second hand.

Spoiled for choice? There are lots of them out there, and it’s worth knowing a few tips that will help you not only decide which bike is best for you, but how to decide that the one you’ve fallen in love with, is a good’un? As one of the UK’s leading motorbike buyers, we’ve brought you our top tips below…

What sort of bike is best?

A couple of obvious things first. Are you going to be a commuter on your new machine, or is it just for sunny days? Sports or tourer? Will you be taking a passenger? If you’re tall, then you might want to think about a physically bigger bike that won’t cramp your knees after twenty minutes riding – BMW’s are always big! You’ll need to consider all these when deciding what sort of bike you want.

Then, of course, is the consideration of engine size. Again, this will be largely dictated by your intended use for the bike. The more miles you intend to ride, the bigger the engine is a rule of thumb. An easy guide if you’re going to commute is that you should add 100cc’s to every ten miles you are going to travel each way. So a 12-mile commute only needs a 125cc bike whereas a 75-mile ride each way warrants a 750cc bike.

Where to buy?

Second-hand bikes are easily bought from main dealerships like cars, and although you’ll pay a higher price, the bike is more likely to have been properly serviced by them. You’ll also get more buyer protection if something goes wrong. The next step is the independent motorbike garage where you can also find well-looked after examples. eBay, of course, is where the majority of bikes are sold, and the reason for this is that the seller is likely to get more money for his or her machine by presenting their bike with great photos and a good write-up than they would by selling to a dealer. But you need to be careful. There is usually very little comeback with an eBay seller. You buy as seen.

If you’re going to buy from eBay then do your homework first and take someone else with you to view it – there are some scoundrels out there!

What to look for in a second-hand bike?

So, you’ve decided which make and model you’re going to get. You’ve worked out which type of bike will best suit your needs and your budget, and you’ve narrowed it down to several good-looking examples with great service histories and lots of shiny chrome. The problem now is how you know what the bike is like on the inside. If your knowledge of motorbike engines and the particular model you’re after is limited, then find a friend you can trust who can help. Below is a list of things to check when you finally get to see a bike that you like the look of;

  • Can you push the bike along – are the brakes binding?
  • Are the brakes discs clean? If they are scored then they could have been damaged by worn pads.
  • Check all the lights, indicators, horn etc. Electrical faults can be a nightmare to fix.
  • Check the steering bearings – do they move freely without any clicking when rocked with the front brake on?
  • Does the suspension move up and smoothly without any noises?
  • If you get a chance to ride the bike, then be aware that your willingness to purchase a machine that has been cleaned especially for your visit will cloud your judgement. Get your friend to ride it.
  • Check the legal documents carefully. Buying a stolen bike is easier than you think.
  • Never part with the cash until you’re completely certain.

Buying your first second-hand bike is both exciting and slightly fraught. You’ll want to know that you’ve bought the right bike and that you’ll be able to ride it easily. You’ll also want to know that it is a ‘good’un’. Make sure you do your homework, and everything should be fine. Good luck!

Categories: Advice