What to Look for When Buying a Used Motorcycle

June 24th, 2022 by
2021 Harley Davidson Sportster S

If you’ve never bought a used motorcycle before, or if you just need a refresher, you might be wondering what you should look for to make sure you get the best deal possible. After all, buying a used motorcycle is a bit different than buying new, and there are some important things to keep in mind!

At Appleton Harley-Davidson, we offer a wide variety of pre-owned Harley-Davidson motorcycles, including bikes under $15k for riders on a budget. If you’re looking for high-quality used motorcycles for sale in the Oshkosh area, you’ve come to the right place! We pride ourselves on bikes with like-new quality and affordable price tags.

In the guide below, we’ve outlined everything you need to know to buy a used motorcycle, including how to assess the condition of the motorcycle and how to check for potential issues.

Research Used Motorcycles for Sale Near You

The first thing you should do before looking at a specific model is to decide where you want to buy your used motorcycle. You might be stuck deciding between buying from a dealership or a private seller. Here’s what you should know:

  • Private sellers aren’t required to verify the condition or quality of their used models, so a bike could require major maintenance or service in the future. 
  • You might find motorcycles with lower prices from a private seller, but you also get fewer options than at a dealership. As we discussed above, private sellers can also offer lower prices because they don’t necessarily vet their models. You might end up paying a lot more in maintenance fees later on, despite a lower initial price tag.
  • Be sure to think carefully about what you’ll be using your motorcycle for, and search for models based on those needs. Riding primarily to and from work in Neenah may require a different kind of bike than if you want to go off-roading for long hours at a time. 
  • Once you’ve settled on a make and model, do some outside research on third-party sites like Car and Driver or Edmunds to verify the quality of the bike.

How to Assess Used Motorcycle Condition

Once you’ve found a model you like, the next thing you should do is check it out in person. Before you buy a used motorcycle, you want to make sure that there are no major issues so you can be sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Here’s what you should look at when inspecting a used motorcycle:

  • Windshield — Properly mounted, no cracks or glazing
  • Battery — Starts the engine without strain
  • Tires — Plenty of tread, no signs of dry rot
  • Wheels — No dents, no wobble when you spin the wheel. Snug, straight spokes
  • FuelTank — Good overall condition, no paint chips
  • Fenders and side cover — Few scratches and dents, no broken side-cover tabs
  • Seat — No tears, missing trim, or collapsed foam
  • Paint and chrome — No repaired body areas, good general condition. Shiny and rust-free chrome
  • Saddlebags — No signs of damage on hard bags, no tearing or abrasion on soft bags

How to Check Used Bike Performance Components

Now that you’ve checked for surface-level problems and mechanical issues, you should see how the bike handles on the road. Ask if you can take it out for a test ride around the Green Bay area, and keep an eye out for the following:

  • Engine Noise — Quiet engine with no knocks, rattles, or rumbles
  • Oil — Correct oil level, no leaks
  • Clutch — Properly adjusted, does not slip or drag during a road test
  • Ignition — Engine starts easily when cold, warms up within minutes
  • Smoke — Move on if you see heavy black or blue smoke
  • Transmission — Engages smoothly, never jumps out of gear
  • Exhaust — No exterior rust bubbles, no leaks, and no broken hardware at the cylinder head

Shop Used Motorcycles for Sale at Appleton Harley-Davidson Today!

If you have any questions about the process of buying a used motorcycle in Appleton, feel free to contact our office! You can also stop by our dealership to talk to a member of our team in person and see what models we have on the showroom floor.

 

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