Last time we talked about the walk around, this is just a general over view of the condition of the motorcycle. Now we are going to begin to look closer.
I always start a mental checklist of what will need to be done and what it will cost. I also note if the repairs are things that I can do or will I need to pay a mechanic.
Some of the things you find will tip you off to other repairs that will be needed I.E. rust in the tank means the tank will need to be cleaned and the carburetors will need to be cleaned or rebuilt.
It's easy to put more money into an old bike than it's worth. This is fine if it's a classic and you just want it back on the road but I have ran into many sellers who try to justify a way too high price with "all the money they paid a mechanic to get the motorcycle running again."
Ok With that said let's get to the list.
1 Do the lights work (all of them including brake light and turn signals)?
2 Horn working?
3 do all of the switches work are they the correct switch?
4 Does the throttle work, are the levers straight or broken?
5 cables work smoothly?
next time we'll get into inspecting running gear.
This is the first in a series of short articles on how to assess a used motorcycle.
Anyone that has read this blog understands that I am a big proponent of buying used motorcycles. When buying used motorcycles it pays to know what you are buying.
I try to find a forum on the internet that covers the make and model that I am considereing buying. This is a great place to find out about problems this model might be prone to and how difficult it might be to fix that problem. In short there is a wealth of information and help in these forums.
When you go out to inspect the bike here are a few general things to check on the first walk around.
1 Is the bike complete?
2 is it in running condition?
3 Is it a rider?
4 Do the serial numbers on the engine and frame match (some vintage bikes have won't have matching numbers. Members of the forum can advise you if this is normal).
5 Does the seller have clear title?
6 What is the general appearance of the bike. Are repairs cosmetic or are they more serious.
In the next article we will take a closer look.
Just a quick tip. This is a neat trick if you have an oil leak that you are having trouble locating. First clean your motorcycle engine. Then spray the area of the engine that you suspect contains the leak with foot powder. Next step go for a ride. When you get back the oil trail should be simple to trace.
I could write an entire blog on motorcycle tires. There are so many factors that come into play,bias ply or radial, tread design, rubber compound, the list goes on and on.
Everyone has a favorite tire, and so does your motorcycle. I'm not just talking about size but tread design and construction. Most motorcycles will have a sticker under the side panel that will give you this information some will even give model and brand. This is not just a deal the motorcycle manufacturer work out will a tire company but the handling of the bike is designed to work with the certain aspects of that tire design.
As an example you should never fit a radial tire on a motorcycle that came off the showroom floor with bias belt tires on it. I know I can hear you say but radials give you better traction. On the proper bike that"s true but a bike that was not designed for that flexible of a sidewall you may screw up your handling. The reverse also applies.
Check Your Tires Often
Proper inflation is a must, not only to get the maxium mileage out of you tire but also for your safety ( a blowout on a motorbike is much more exciting than in a four wheeler). A under inflated tire builds up much more heat and that heat will melt the adhesive that is holding your tire plies together and you may lose whole chunks of tire at highway speed (hmmm sit back and picture what that would look like from the handlebars). Proper inflation will also give you the best traction in the rain. Low pressure will cause the tire to trap water under the contact patch.
Check your tread for wear. Do not use a tire that is worn below the tread wear indicators. These are the little bump that you will find in the groves of the tread (some tires have a small triangle on the sidewall to indicate where in the tread these will be found). Don't ride tires with cracked side walls this is an indication the rubber has dried out and is stiff. One good jolt could result in a blow out.
Tires are one of the most expensive consumables on your bike but the failure of a used up tire can really ruin your day.
Can you get into motorcycling if you don't have ten to twenty thousand dollars to spend?
The answer is a resounding Yes. If you are willing to ride a bike that's slightly out of style it is not hard to get on the road for under $1500.00 and I'm not talking about junkers but older bikes that for one reason or the other the owner has quit riding. There are thousands of motorcycles sitting in garages, sheds and barns waiting for the chance to hit the road again.
Some need as little as a battery charge, fresh oil and gas and your off. Many will need a little work some more than others. but the nice thing about older motorcycles is that they don't require a phd to work on them.
Ebay and Craig's list have made finding them easier than ever. Smart sellers link a short youtube video walk-around that allows you to see the bike in greater detail, hear it start and run. So even if the bike isn't just around the corner you have a better idea of it's condition before you take a drive to see it.
Replacement parts for older bikes can be an issue so I recommend once you find a bike that you are interested in, check to see if new parts are still being made, then check E bay to see if there are a lot of used parts listed.
I would also make sure that a Clymer's or Haynes repair guide is available.
Now go to google and search for an owners group for that model of motorcycle. Many of the most popular will have huge groups. These groups have a wealth of information and help. I think an internet owners group is a must. It's a good idea just to hang out on the forum and read the post. You may discover common problems with that model of bike to look out for. You may even find out that the problem that is causing an owner to sell a garage queen cheap is really an easy fix. In short do your research.
If this is your first bike, there is something to be said for learning to make low speed u turns on an 600.00 used bike instead of your brand new high dollar dream bike.
So there's a little food for thought.