Buying a Used Motorcycle? What You Should Know

Oct 26, 2012 View Comments by

Motorcycles are a big investment, so luckily there are plenty of less expensive, used bikes on the market. However, there are many things you need to consider.

From accident records to service history, it’s important to take the time to inspect and research the bike you’re buying. Follow these tips for buying a used motorcycle:

  • If you test ride a motorcycle you’re interested in purchasing, you should have a valid motorcycle endorsement and current motorcycle insurance policy—otherwise you could end up dealing with legal hassles down the road.
  • Ask the owner if you can review the bike’s maintenance and repair records so you have a good understanding of the bike’s history. A motorcycle that’s been in a wreck previously may have damaged parts that could lead to an accident in the future. You can pay for a motorcycle history report to check for previous accidents, odometer readings, etc.
  • Examine the bike’s title closely for any previous owners and transfers. Additionally, make sure the information included on the title, such as vehicle year, model, and VIN are correct. If the motorcycle’s title is not clear—walk away.
  • Use caution when considering a custom bike, as they may have features that can affect the safety and drivability of the motorcycle. Ask if you can have a professional inspect the bike before you commit to buying it.
  • Make sure you obtain a bill of sale from the owner to establish a clear chain of ownership.

Once you decide on which used motorcycle to purchase, you’ll need to register it in your home state. If you’re buying a bike in your home state, the process is fairly simple. Typically, you’ll complete the registration process and title transfer with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles shortly after purchasing the motorcycle.

However, if the motorcycle is purchased out of state, you’ll have to obtain a temporary registration from the state where you purchased it in order to ride it back. Otherwise, you will have to arrange an alternative method for transporting the bike, such as towing it home.

Remember to insure your motorcycle—if at all possible—cover your bike under the same insurance policy as your other vehicles, as it will enable you to have extra protection. Make sure you have Bodily Injury Liability coverage and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. UM/UIM coverage is extremely helpful if you’re in an accident, but is relatively inexpensive compared to other types of coverage. Keep in mind that saving a few dollars on your insurance premium now can cost you thousands later.

As always, make sure you follow motorcycle insurance laws and helmet laws. Visit this link for more information on motorcycle safety tips. Cycle Trader is a great resource for new and used motorcycles.

For more tips on buying used motorcycles, read Shopping for a Used Motorcycle by Ken Freund, from the Jan/Feb ’10 issue of RoadRUNNER.

 

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About the author

Attorney Michael H. Rosenzweig has over 20 years of experience helping bikers injured in motorcycle accidents. He is a partner and litigation manager at Edgar Snyder & Associates. The Edgar Snyder & Associates Harley-Davidson makes appearances at bike nights and rallies throughout the riding season.