Questions to Ask Before Buying a Used Motorcycle


Are you thinking of getting into motorcycling or adding one to your collection? Whether you are buying a new or used motorcycle, it’s an investment that will require much consideration. And finding a good option can be a challenging experience. It is easy to forget to check the paperwork or fail to do their research well when one finds a great deal browsing motorcycle auctions. However, if you know what questions to ask, you will be more confident in your decision and actually find some of the best-used motorcycles, even from brands that are BMW competitors. Here are some of the questions to ask and consider when shopping for a used motorcycle.

Maintenance History and Records

Motorcycles need to be appropriately maintained for safe operation. A well-maintained motorcycle ensures durability for a long time. Therefore, request maintenance records and receipts from authorized mechanics. Owners who take good care of their machines will know their condition well. Ask for professional help if you can’t translate the documents. Often a seller may be getting rid of the bike to offload expensive maintenance expenses. Therefore, ensure you also negotiate the price, including any upcoming costs.

The Mileage 

If the bike has high mileage, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in bad shape. There are motorcycles created to withstand challenging rides and long distances if they are well-maintained. With that said, if you are into sports, adventure, or dirt bikes, check if the odometer has crept past the reasonable point.

In addition, inquire how many miles it has racked up if it was a dirt trail. A bike that has been sitting most of its life will have different issues compared to one that has been ridden hard. For example, the tires may rot or develop flat spots while the fluids degrade, gum up the engine, and fail to perform. 

What Is Its VIN?

A VIN is the Vehicle Identification Number you should check before negotiating the price. Once you have it, run it through a VIN checker like InstaVIN or CycleVIN to get the motorcycle history report. The report usually comprises information such as odometer reading, disclosed damage, recall history, specifications, multi-state searches, etc. If there are any red flags, you could use them to negotiate the price or walk away entirely from the sale. 

Has It Been Involved in Any Accidents? 

Accidents are unavoidable and frequent for motorcyclists. Don’t hesitate to ask if the bike has been involved in any crashes and the experience the owner had. There is no need to shy away if there is no substantial damage. However, if the seller is reluctant to answer any questions you may have, take it as a red flag. Telltale signs that the bike has been in an accident include:

  • Bent or curled levers
  • Motorcycle parts that don’t match
  • Scuffs on the handlebars
  • Scrapes or crash bars

How Long Have You Owned the Motorcycle?

This is one of those telling questions you should ask when purchasing a used motorcycle. This question will explain why the bike is being sold and its relationship with the seller. Ensure you have compared the reason for selling the bike and the time the seller spent with it. For example, if the owner has acquired another motorcycle and wants to sell that second bike, it would be more logical if they owned that bike for years and have the title and maintenance records supporting that. Think twice if the answers seem off.

How Clean Are the Title Records?

It’s essential to ask the seller if they have the motorcycle’s title. This is important because if they don’t, then the rest of the sale will not matter, even if the bike is perfect. If the owner has outstanding fees for the bike at the bank or with a financing company, that means they partially own the bike. It’s not worth the effort for a title that the bank owns. 

Additionally, having a title enables you to verify the VIN of the motorcycle. This will prevent you from spending on a stolen bike. Once the verification is over, check if the title is salvaged. Salvage titles are for vehicles or motorcycles involved in an accident and damaged beyond a certain percentage of their market value. This will help you steer clear of bad purchases or motorcycles that could have a lot of mechanical issues due to previous accidents. 


Getting a used motorcycle can be an excellent way to avoid debt and fulfill your dreams while on a budget. When getting yourself a previously owned motorcycle, have straightforward questions for the owner and expect similar answers. In addition, be sure to ask yourself if you feel good about the purchase. If you don’t feel right about the motorcycle, it’s best you walk away to avoid regrets later.

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