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Get a clear idea when buying a used bike

Published: 13 November 2016

Bikes for sale

My new rule: ‘Don’t buy used bikes from old men’

Demographics being what they are, there are quite a lot of machines coming up for sale, and the adverts declare that the owner is now too old or infirm to continue motorcycling. Or the bike was stashed away as a project which never got finished, for all the usual reasons (I’ve got two of that sort of bike…).

The trouble is that so many people seem to have rose-tinted specs on. They fondly remember the bike in its heyday, before it was stashed away, and somehow just forget or overlook what was wrong with it.


Not so long ago, I bought an old classic, sight unseen, and had it delivered to me. And the engine had some fins broken off, which were not visible in the photos and (of course) not mentioned on the eBay auction page. When I took this up with the seller he replied that he hadn’t had the bike long and hadn’t noticed. And he then got snotty when I left neutral feedback.

Today, I’ve just returned from an abortive buying expedition because the tank had been resprayed in the wrong shade, the panels had been painted with a stick, the kickstart lever was missing, the switchgear had been butchered, the fusebox was disintegrating, the front mudguard had been bodged on and was rubbing against the fork dust cover on one side, the seat was broken and the fork stanchions pitted.

These weren’t attempts to deceive – the silly sod was just seeing the bike as it had been in its heyday. Get a clear description over the phone first. 

Also catching my eye this week

2014 Triumph Thruxton, £5800

Seller says Immaculate with S&S Arrow exhaust and a limited edition seat.
Neil says With the new range there’s lots of interest in Triumph and this is cheap, given the extras.

1972 Suzuki GT750, £9995

Seller says 52,600 miles
Neil says Don’t get carried away with the handsome picture. That’s top money for a Kettle, and this one has non-standard exhausts fitted. Without an expert assessment, I’d pass on this one.


Looking for the perfect two-wheeled companion? Visit MCN Bikes For Sale website or use MCN's Bikes For Sale App.

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