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Buyers Guide To Inspecting a Motorcycle

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Whether you are buying your first bike or just in the market for a new one because now is the right time, you want to make sure that you cover all bases before making a deal. A thorough, top-down inspection of the bike is essential to smart buying. In this concise article, we are going to show you exactly what to do to go about a detailed inspection of a motorcycle.

  • Check the condition of the drive chain and sprocket. The chain should have around 3/4 inches of give (up and down) and the teeth of the sprocket should not show obvious damage or wear. Try to wiggle the chain on the side of the sprocket. There should be minimal movement. A sporcket should last a very long time, keep that in mind if you spot a severely work on as that indicates a very old sprocket or a poor maintenance schedule.
  • Fresh tires are always a plus. As a note on tire inspection, daily drivers will often have more wear in the middle on the tread, as would happen on the highway. If there is more wear at the edge of the tread you can bet that the bike has been taken on the racetrack. This will give you a feel as to the history of the motorcycle at hand.
  • Take a seat on the bike and check the condition of the brake and clutch levers, bar-end weights, straightness of the bars and instrument cluster. You want to look for anything that would be signs of an accident or drop as that will instantly drop money off of the price. More signs of this could be scratched engine cases, foot pegs or exhaust pipes.
  • While checking the forks, run a fingernail across the brake rotors, feeling for uneven wear or grooving. Look into the brake caliper to see how much of the pads are left. If the wheels have spokes, check the overall condition of the individual spokes.
  • If it has one, put the bike on it’s center stand. Turn the bars side to side. Feel for any roughness in the steering head.
  • While inspecting the frame, check for any dents kinks or visible damage to the frame. If there is, walk away. Riding a motorcycle with a damaged frame is extremely dangerous, plain and simple.
  • Open the fuel tank and check for obvious signs of rust or corrosion using your flashlight (HAZARD:not a match or lighter)
  • Look at the brake fluid level. This is usually on top of handlebars, in an enclosure with a clear window. With the engine running, pull hard on the front brakes level and release while watching the fluid level. It should fall and rise. It should rise quickly once the brake is released.