Friday, July 15, 2011

Tips on Purchasing a Used Motorcycle: Cindi Servante

Cindi Servante
Cindi Servante is a motorcycle rider, blogger and enthusiast.  She is the founder and creator of Style Saver Scarves, designed to save the dreaded helmet hair.  You can find her blog at  We welcome Cindi as our featured guest blogger!

Tips on Purchasing a Used Motorcycle

Copyright © 2011 Cindi Servante
In my limited career in the motorcycling world I have bought four bikes, two new, and two used.  I have to say, buying a used motorcycle from a private seller is a very vulnerable experience and would have appreciated any valuable information to make my purchase enjoyable and rewarding.  After all, purchasing a motorcycle should be as exciting an experience as riding one!  So, I am here to help you out and offer all my gathered information to make your purchase an easy one.

When buying new, there is standard of trust from a dealership and the most important hurdle to jump is to get the price down a few hundred dollars, acquire a good factory warranty and a bike that suits you and your riding needs.  Not so when purchasing a used bike from a private seller. We, as consumers put ourselves at a great financial risk doing cash deals in a total strangers’ driveway for a piece of expensive machinery we know nothing about!  So, why is this risky paradox so popular?  First, you can save a lot of money buying from a private seller as well as finding “rare” and “vintage” bikes that you can’t always purchase from a licensed dealer.  To obtain the ultimate deal by out beating the guy that was one phone call shy of getting the same awesome deal.  The thrill of the hunt, to many consumers, is what’s so appealing about buying used.  So before you put on your camouflage outerwear and head for the range, here is a simple list of things to look out for that I found helpful to accomplish a smart and successful transaction with a perfect stranger.

Copyright © 2011 Cindi Servante
1. Don’t go to look at the bike alone, even when purchasing the bike.
2. Thoroughly look the bike over (a whole other article to write!) ask the seller as many questions as you can, make a list before viewing the bike.
3. Check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). Make sure the VIN matches on the bike as well as on the title.
4. Check with DMV or Police to verify that the bike has not been stolen and registered to the same person you are dealing with.
5. Make sure there are no liens on the bike, if there were, on the front of the title there would be “released” signatures. Don’t buy this bike!
6. A bike with invalid odometer readings will state on the front of the title 999,999.  Also, look for “salvage” or “total loss” on the front of the title.
7. Make sure to write up a bill of sale, with seller/buyer information, and bike information (miles, VIN, model, price) both parties sign and date
8. Make sure the seller signs the back of the title.
9. Beware of “as is” disclosures, this means that once purchased, the seller is released from responsibility if anything goes wrong with the bike.  You have no recourse.
10. Don’t be surprised if the seller won’t let you test ride the bike for liability reasons.  You should not ride the bike until having properly registered and insured the bike in your name, meaning, trailer it home!
11. After you get the bike home, make arrangements with a professional mechanic for a full tune up, just to make sure it’s in the best working condition possible.  Safety first!
12. Don’t lie on the sale price of the bike when it comes to paying the sales tax, it’s fraud and it can come back to bite you in the rear, if the bike is ever stolen or wrecked, you will end up with the bill. In this case, it pays to be honest.
13. And finally, take it easy and get to know your new/used bike for the first few rides, it’s all about respect.

Congratulations and enjoy your new ride!


Footnote: The pictures shown was my 2006 Kawasaki Ninja 650R which I had a very pleasant experience purchasing.  I had this bike for 2 years and loved it, with no problems what-so-ever; it was a sad day when I sold it!  And my current 2004 Honda VFR, another fabulous find that I bought at the beginning of this year and still enjoy to this day with no issues.  I bought my VFR using