Metropolis' guide to buying a used motorcycle

Check out our guide for buying used motorcycles

What To Look For

If you are buying your bike from an established and reputable used motorcycle dealer, it’s likely that they will have done all the checks for you. It’s not in their interest to sell you a bike that is going to break down after a week. However, if you are buying your bike through a private advert, you need to exercise caution.


This is something you can often check on the phone before you even see the motorbike itself. Check that the bike has both a log book and an MOT certificate (if it’s more than 3 years old). When you arrive to view the bike, check that the address in the logbook is the current owners address.

The Bike Itself

When you arrive to view the bike it should be immediately obvious what sort of condition the bike is in.

You will be able to tell instantly whether it has been well looked after, whether it has been in any major accidents and whether it has been maintained properly.

If the bike looks like it is in an appropriate state for the asking price, start examining it in more detail. If this is your first bike it would certainly be worth finding a rider with more experience to come with you. They will have a much better idea of what to look for and the questions you should ask the seller.

When examining the bike you can’t be afraid to get ‘hands on’.

It is really important that you start the bike. You can’t tell anything about the engine until you see and hear it running. When you start the bike it is obviously important that it starts easily. Once it is going you need to listen to it very carefully. Though the trained ear will be able to tell exactly what is wrong with an engine just by listening to it, for an average rider, just identifying whether it is running smoothly is enough. If you hear any noises that you shouldn’t, walk away.

When examining the bike it is important that you leave it running for an extended period. Once it has been running in a stationary position for at least 5 minutes, check underneath the engine. You should look for any leaks of any type of fluid, especially oil.

The next major thing to look for is rust. Look underneath the bike, in the exhaust and underneath the bodywork. Also look for areas of rust that may have been recently painted.

Though buying a bike from a private seller will always be a bit of a gamble, giving the bike a thorough check over before you agree a price will always put you in a stronger position. With a little bit of knowledge, you are much better placed to get yourself a bargain.

If you are unsure of your ability to tell the difference between a bargain and a ticking time bomb, why not visit your local used motorcycle dealer? We have one of the largest collections of used motorcycles in London and are one of the most well regarded used motorcycle dealers in the London area.