How do you spot a used bike' issues before buying?

Published: 12 November 2017

When you’re buying a used bike, all the things to check can easily be looked up on forums and advice columns, but what you won’t find so easily are the tricks used by indecent sellers.

It’s the motorcycling equivalent of giving an old horse a belt of whisky to make it frisky before running it past the auction block.

TOP STORIES

Soggy suspension trickery

If the suspension is soggy, whack the damping and preload up to maximum and over-inflate the tyres by 30%. It will feel nice and firm, and only the truly clued-up will notice that it just bounces. If the chain is at the end of its adjustment, remove a link and re-join it. Put some slack into the chain so that the tight spots are less noticeable.

On RWU forks, slacken off the yoke pinch bolts, and turn the stanchions through 180 degrees so the pitting is at the back. If there’s a visible oil leak, stuff the cavity under the dust seals with cloth or cotton wool to soak up the oil.

Sparky malarkey

Charging system knackered? Fit a new battery. Don’t mention the new battery in the ad, or people might get suspicious. Few people bring a multimeter with them when buying.

Filthy air filter element and you’re too skint or tight to buy a new one (and are pricey)? Toilet Duck bog bleach and dry it in the open air. Hey presto! It looks nice and new.

The big stuff

Noisy top end or other slight engine rattles that might put people off? Replace the oil with heavier grade, like new 20/50. It quietens down an engine a treat.

Holy moly

Holes in your exhaust on the underside? Use chemical metal as a plug. It lasts some time, and not many people check the undersides of exhausts.

So... if buying a used bike, watch out for all of these.

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