I just saw this on bikesales.com.au, should help people out there (myself included)... STEP 1: RIGHTFUL OWNERSHIP If I was trying to sell you the Harbour Bridge, you’d be rightfully sceptical. And you should be just as wary of a stranger selling you a motorcycle. Is it theirs; has it a clean title with no finance owing? Has it been crashed, bashed or stolen? The only way to find out is to perform a check via the bike’s chassis and engine numbers. Ask to see their driver’s licence and get a written receipt. STEP 2: MASTER KEY Most modern bikes have some form of electronic immobiliser that stops the bike starting without a signal from the chip imbedded in the ignition key’s head. That’s great when you have the key, but an expensive nightmare when you don’t. It’s essential that you get all keys when buying, especially the ‘red’ key, as this is the only one that copies can be made of – normal ‘black’ keys will operate the bike but can’t be used to replicate new chipped keys. Lose the ‘red’ key and you could be up for a new ignition and CDI unit. And be up to $3000 poorer! STEP 3: SERVICE HISTORY When it comes to selling, we’ve all had a “mate” who looks after the bike. But without evidence, you’ll have to decide if the “recent full service” was real or imaginary. Without a service book stamp from a main dealer, adjust the bike’s price to cover the cost of getting the service done. If there is a stamp, some perspective buyers take the step of contacting the dealer and asking about the bike’s general history. They might just let slip about that recent rebuild from a track day crash… STEP 4: CRASH DAMAGE Speaking of which, look for previous damage around the bike. Carbon frame protectors might cover crash damage and marks on the headstock’s stops indicate previous violence. While large areas of damage are easily replaced, bolt heads, levers and indicators often have telltale records of accident damage. It’s always better to take a mate that sees the bike in the cold light of day rather than your ‘but I really want it’ eyes. Don’t be afraid to tally up all the imperfections and be prepared to walk away if they get too many. STEP 5: ENGINE Ask for the engine not to be started before you get there. Then you can hear and see how it starts from cold. Listen for top-end noise that indicates poor oil circulation and watch for smoke from the exhaust. On four-strokes, black smoke indicates unburnt fuel while blue smoke means you put the cash back in your pocket and leave unless you want to replace piston rings and valve oil stem seals. Once the engine’s warm, check throttle response and crispness of carburetion by opening the throttle fully from idle. There should be no hesitation. Make sure bike returns to idle quickly and uniformly when the throttle grip’s released. STEP 6: GEARBOX With the engine off, try and select all gears (use no clutch). Then start the bike and clutch it through the gearbox without moving the bike. Gears should engage smoothly with no weird crunching sounds or jolts. Make sure the gearlever returns to its rest position after every change. STEP 7: DRIVECHAIN Start the engine and clutch through the gears until you’re in top. Try to ride the bike forward. It’ll be sluggish but there should be no slip. The clutch should be smooth, light and not grabby. STEP 8: CONSUMABLES It’s a given that chain and sprockets wear, so do tyres, clutch plates and brake pads – all part of the cost of biking. But that little lot could see you wave goodbye to the best part of a grand, so it’s important to factor in replacing what’s worn when you offer a price for the bike. Also check for play in wheel and swingarm bearings and for leaking forks and shocks. Also make sure plastic panels haven’t any cracks or broken lugs. STEP 9: TEST RIDE Agree terms with the owner before riding the bike. Most will rightly trot out the ‘bend it, mend it’ line. Be prepared to hand over the asking price, in cash, as a deposit for the duration of the ride. Test engine response under load, clutch action and brake performance. Make sure the bike tracks straight and the steering feels the same both sides. Make sure all lights and gauges work and that the suspension has a controlled feel to it. Most importantly, don’t crash it! STEP 10: PAYMENT Cash is king. It’s as simple as that. By now you’ll know if the bike’s as good as it was advertised or not. Be realistic with your offer. Run through any negatives the bike has and make sure your offer includes the cost of rectifying these items. Finalising the deal can take a minute to come to an agreement or an hour to not. Don’t be afraid to walk away at anytime if the deal’s not in your favour. Conversely, there’s little point in turning your back if the bike’s for you. If it all goes well, remember to leave a lobster to fill her up and then go and enjoy the ride!