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MCN  says:

You ask/you answer: I'm a mechanical novice, so should I buy my next bike from a dealer?

I've bought my last two bikes (secondhand) from dealerships but have always had the feeling I could have got a much better deal buying privately. I've only been riding for two years and don't have much mechanical knowledge, so should I risk buying privately?   •   Your advice could help. Leave a comment below and we'll publish the best in MCN. Got a...

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  • Posted 3 years ago (02 May 2012 15:49)

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Feb 12

Posts: 38

Bruno21 says:

In my opinion we should buy a bike on a dealership,but this is only my opinion.

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Feb 10

Posts: 196

wesley01 says:

Research the make and model you want then compare the prices etc some dealers will offer a bit of a warranty or you can find some cracking examples online or through the papers at a reduced rate, I have bought three bikes privately and they were all worth every penny and I bought them all under book value. No matter what you buy unless its brand new, you will be tinkering and getting the bike to where you want it mechanically.

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Nov 07

Posts: 180

bird1050 says:

Dealer or private

Dont forget you get a warrenty from a dealer, Privately you  get what you pay for.

Weather you buy dealer or private some times you can buy a lomon.

If you use  a good indipendent  mechanic take the bike for a test ride to there workshop and ask them to give it a going over. A good mechanic will give you sound advice.

Dont forget the more you tinker the more you learn so buy a work shop manual  for the bike of your choice,

and start with the basics , you will be suprised how quick you learn.

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Mar 11

Posts: 163

tc330 says:

Private buying

Start at the front of the bike and with a piece of paper and a pen write down what you see. For example; front tyre - how worn?, discs - any scoring/ridges?, pads - how thick/thin, fork seals - any oil?, mudguard/fairing - any cracks/scrapes?, footrests and bar-ends - and scrapes?, etc, etc. Start the bike from COLD, look for dark smoke from the exhaust, listen to the engine for any strange noises. Ride the bike and see how it handles and stops.

Then add up roughly what the faults would cost to rectify. Use this as a bargaining tool or walk away if it seems like too much hassle. If the bike looks good and checks out on the above, it probably gonna be fine - Caveat emptor and all that ;-)

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Oct 05

Posts: 133

romford4 says:

I've had 3 bikes

all from dealers.  First was a pretty tired Hornet that I bought as a naive newbie - rode it home not realising it had a serious petrol leak despite having a fresh MOT that morning.  Second bike turned out to have a mileage 'discrepancy'.  Third was a single cylinder supermoto that the idiot at the dealer insisted was a twin.  You're supposed to pay a premium price at a dealer for the reassurance of a premium service but in my experience they just don't deliver.

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Apr 08

Posts: 3042

AdieR says:

Thing is

some dealers are better than others - ask mates which ones they'd recommend, and if possible, try and buy from one local to you (that way you can get a better idea of their reputation etc, plus it gives you a point of contact if you need it). It still pays to take a clued up mate with you if you're not sure.

A dealer may offer a test ride (subject to licence checks and insurance excess etc), which you're unlikely to get privately (if you're selling, would you trust a stranger with your bike??)

As stated, get a manual and some tools, and do odd jobs (it doesn't need to be big ones) - any mechanical knowledge is better than none.

Indeed, some people do sell bikes with mechanical / electrical faults (scared of big workshop bills), so armed with a bit of info on the bike you're looking to buy, some mechanical knowledge and an ability to haggle can buy you a good bike for peanuts (ie, use the faults to knock the price down, buy the bike, get the bits required and fit them yourself)

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May 06

Posts: 118

magmann says:

Buying privately. Getting a test ride might not be easy. Yes, all the stuff about checking condition, engine gearbox, etc. is sound advice, but remember that bikes easily fall over or slide down the road. so it is critical to check that nothing is bent or out of alignment. Are the forks straight, subframe straight, no suspicious marks/dents on frame/swingarm/wheels/bar ends/levers, etc.. Are the lockstops on the triple clamp for the forks undamaged/unmarked.  Imagine looking over a bike and rehearsing what you will look for--attention to detail, take your time. Then there is the assessment of the seller and his/the bike's environment and old fashioned gut instinct that something maybe is not quite right. There will be loads of useful info on the web. Have a look at one first and do not buy, then reflect on how much you forgot to check! Budget at least £500 for stuff that needs sorting in the near future and factor this into the purchase price.

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Jan 11

Posts: 7862

snev says:


To have had 3 bad bikes is either very unlucky or very very very unlucky. However to call the salesman who sold you a twin that was a single an Idiot is pushing it a bit IMO.

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Sep 10

Posts: 1296

SatNavSteve says:

If you are keen enough to learn the mechanics of a bike, look at your local colleges for night school courses. I personally don't trust any dealer and only get them to do what I can't such as engine management downloads, shimmed tappets for which I havn't got the special tools etc. I don't see why I should pay a dealer £50 an hour labour to change oil when I can do it myself and know its been done properly. Then you don't have to worry about the engine being underfilled/overfilled, drain plugs overtightened and without a new washer etc. I've just bought a new Triumph and when I got it home, I checked it over and the engine oil was only just inside the sight glass (below the minimum!)  and the tyres were both 5psi below what they should be!

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Nov 11

Posts: 75

HkUk says:

I'd buy a simple bike (twin or single) that you can get a Haynes manual for; private or dealer doesn't make that much difference - assess the seller's character. Walk away from anyone you don't trust 100%. Buy some tools and learn as you need to. I learned from repairing a crappy Mini Clubman and then a smokey Suzuki GP125, and then a dog of a Yamaha XS400. By the time I got my first CBR600, I had learned all the skills I needed to avoid a dealer. Those first crappy machines have saved me thousands. 

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