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How To Buy Used Bikes??

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by Widget, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. Hey Guys,

    *(I've posted a 'little' about this topic in my welcome post but figure I'd make this post as it extends beyond my howdy intro into a more technical area)*

    Fairly new to these forums and am in the process of looking for my first bike & will be going 'Used' for a few reasons (price/being a LAM mainly), though I've never bought used before nor do I know anyone that can really help me out. I've also been cruising bikesales & bikepoint (though I tihnk they're the same??). I've seen a few, but haven't got the balls to inspect yet :\

    I've checked the internet and have read a few things on what to look for (service logs, history of drops/accidents etc..), though was hoping to get a few suggestions/opinions etc.. from you guys who are familiar with buying used & who may have a mechanical mind, on what to look for, tests to do, dealing with private/dealer sales, what to steer clear of etc.. I've also read a few people on here would/could pretty much buy a bike without really inspecting it ? How do you do that?? (I'll prefer to inspect)

    I'm primarily looking at a GS500 (though have yet to ride/sit on one, so my opinions are open), mainly as their reputation seems quite good and can be had cheap(ish).

    my specs:
    budget - $4k (just for bike)
    style: naked sport/tourer (is that what a GS style is?)
    height - 170cm / 5'7"
    weight - 70kg
    state: QLD (can do NSW/ACT too)
    financing - Not Required

    Primarily looking to buy in QLD as it's my licensed state so I don't really have to worry too much about out-of-state rego. I also want to get a SOLO seat conversion done, though I have checked NSW (as I frequent there often), but would then have to ride the bike to QLD for rego, which I prefer not to do)
    I have read/heard however, that QLD doesn't have a Law to protect buyers from dodgy sales (dealers mainly), i.e buying a Lemon.. unlike other state(s) ie.. NSW I think does... can anyone confirm ? (I'll fire off an email to Fair Trading aswell to see what they say).

    Can anyone recommend / no-no dealers around the Brisbane area to which they've had/heard good/bad experiences with in regards to used bikes ? I've come across a couple of bikes at dealers though having no luck with reviews/opinions from people with first hand experiences.

    * Top Gun Yamaha
    * Express Motorcycles
    * Pro Motorcycles

    ...to name a few,

    Alternatively, any issues with buying privately ? Are dealers required to issue a Clear Title record ? One would think Private would not, so I would have to track that down myself ?

    What are some things to look out for from private sales (or even dealer sales)?

    Haggling... is there a beginning % that you guys start with ? (such as starting the price at 20% off the asking price and go from there) ? What about throwing in extras ? Helmet (dealer) , racks/bags, seat conversion (dealer assuming they're certified) ?

    Any and all recommendations, tips & suggestions would be great.

    Kind Regards,

    - Widget

    **oh, those who say to just buy new, I would & it would be much easier, though new would be a few $k more & really sad if I dropped it + would lose more $ on depreciation than used if I decide to sell & buy different/bigger in the future)**
  2. Have a look at the 'stickies' in the new riders section, there's a couple that may help you get started...

  3. Bikes are notoriously slow to sell, inspect, make a lowball offer then stay in touch with the seller. Most will still have the bike 1-2 months later.

    Depends on how long you can hold out I guess.

    $4K for a GS500 is plenty of budget. I don't think this bike had changed much in the last 20 years. Get one that has all evidence of good service and has good tyres,etc.

    Plenty of these around.
  4. Take your time and I'm sure you'll get a good deal.
    Do the required diligence and check out any potential idiosyncrasies the bike may have via the hundreds of websites out there.

    For instance with Honda, you need to look for CCT and Reg/Rec issues especially with earlier models of some of their bikes (VTR1000, CBR1100XX). The later models sometimes have better and improved versions of these.

    Try and determine the service history of the bike. For my last 3 bikes, I've tracked down the shop thats performed most of the work and asked them to print out the service history. Then I know exactly where I stand in terms of what needs to be done (fluids/filters etc).

    If you end up buying a bike, do any required maintenance immediately.
    Especially if the date of the last Oil change is unknown. A lot of owners just think of Km travelled and not the time that has passed since the last maintenace task was done. eg Honda advise to change the oil if the bike has been sitting for 4 months.

    Go with a trusted Brand / Model (the GS500 is pretty good AFAIK).
    Get the bike checked out properly by a bike mechanic (make sure they actually do the checks you ask them to do). Get them to check the model specific issues (eg CCT / Reg / rec).

    Of course do a PPSR check just before buying it.

    Theres a lot of info around about checking the bike yourself as well. eg check the wheels are aligned, frame is straight, brake pads wear etc.

    Good Luck !
  5. check out bikesales.com. i bought my first bike, a GS500 from there. The owner was happy to let me inspect and test ride before i decided to buy. Also look at redbook, it will give you a guide about current prices so you can tell the seller their dreaming, or if it's decent price.

    Thing to watch out for when buying second hand is if it has been dropped. The one i bought had been dropped, but i was aware of that before i bought it. It was just a minor dent to the tank, but the rest of the bike worked perfectly.
  6. Suzuki GS engines are fairly bulletproof so as long as it seems like its been looked after, and doesn't show any signs of previous crash damage (like fresh paint on a 10 year old bike) then it's a good start. If it's an older or higher mileage model check under the tank and other out of the way places for signs of rust, check all the electrics work, and listen for any sort of "ticking" noise from the top of the engine (can indicate the cam chain needs to be replaced which is a fairly pricey job if you're paying a mechanic).

    Often simply speaking to the owner will give you the best indication of whether it's a good deal or not - which is one of the advantages of buying private rather than from a dealer. If the owner seems genuinely passionate about the bike and sad to let it go then there's a good chance its been looked after. If on the other hand it seems like they only bought it to get through restrictions, and have since bought an R1 or similar bike, there's a greater chance that it's been thrashed or neglected. Of course it's impossible to know how all past owners have treated it, but you should still trust your instincts and walk away if something just doesn't seem right about the bike - or the owner's story.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Hey guys, thanks for all the responses :)

    Also checked out Redbook to get an idea of what each year is roughly worth :)

    awesome, thanks :).. didn't see that before when I had a quick check.

    Are there any around Brisbane/Ipswich that you guys know of ? Or maybe NSW (western sydney/hawkesbury region) that might recommend being decent for inspections ?

    Who do you guys recommend ? Just the state transport authorities ?

    Sorry to be a pain, but you wouldn't happen to know where I can listen to an audio file of a normal sounding vs odd sounding engine ? especially one regarding this type of issue ?

    With dealers, any best way to approach from your experiences ? Any that you give a thumbs up/down for ? Have been eyeing one off at Pro Motorcycles, will see if my brother&his friend can take a spin down there next time they go riding this weekend.

    Thanks again guys, :) and thanks again for the stickies post, will read through tonight :)


    - Widget
  8. Assume they're lying and only trying to get as much money out of you as possible. That's their job. Not that you should avoid buying from one, just something to always keep in mind.

    As for noise what you're looking for is the sound of metal tapping on metal - usually either the cam chain or one of the valves being out (or both). Can sometimes be fixed, but is a clear sign of neglect. This is the sort of sound to listen for

    Edit: And for a more extreme example, this GS1000 (basically the same engine, just with twice the number of cylinders)

    This is not a happy bike.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Have a butcher's here
  10. 2nd hand private you should get the best price, but no dealer backup.


    if a bike has oggy knobs= check for a cracked frame (found this out the hard way)
    if you get the bike REMOVE THE SHITHOUSE OGGY KNOBS!
    better a cracked fairing than a cracked frame

    if you are not familiar with bikes and do not have a mate who is it may be difficult.
    check the FAQs and stickies on this site

    go into a few dealerships and have a poke and a kick to see what a brand new bike is like, feel the throttle, clutch, how tight or loose everything is, how tight is the chain. Then go and look at bikes parked around the place DO NOT TOUCH these ones, but have a good look at them and try to pick as many faults as you can. Owners should be okay with you looking if you say you are going to buy a bike.

    some will be immaculate and some will be pices of shite, make sure you can tell the difference.

    become familiar with the type of bike you are looking at, what it is meant to do, and all the different parts.

    even paying $100 to get it looked at by a mechanic may be worth it if you don't know whats up
  11. Hey guys, thanks for the replies :)

    Haha, already had that in mind about the salesmen.. they gotta make a sale somehow. :p.. so pretty much just ask them important/standard questions (many found in the stickies) & try to ignore their sales pitch ?

    Regards to the tapping sound..is there anything else on the GS500 (Carburetor?) that can make a similar sound (just so I don't get them mixed up). My car has a slight tapping/ticking sound though I think it's the Fuel Injectors (which the GS500 doesn't have ?).

    Thanks for the link, will check them out also :D

    yeh, I've seen some for around my budget, though just waiting for email replies I've sent off. Dealers I've found to be around the $4999 mark generally, so it's a matter of getting the price down (which isn't fun :-k )

    did come across;

    http://www.bikepoint.com.au/all-bik... 1626 1428 4294967268 4294966592 79&silo=1400

    am considering inspecting/inquiring about. They're Pro-Motorcycles in slacks creek. Pretty sure they have a gear warehouse place too so depending on the price of the bike, may deal for a helmet too into the final price.

    What would be considered as standard milage on bikes these days ? I'm guessing a 20k mile bike regularly serviced would be better than a 10k mile bike not so much services, assuming they have the service logs available (or if I can obtain from the service shop).

    Thanks for the heads up :). Only recently heard of Oggy Knobs but didn't realise how bad they could be. I had a quick readup on them and have had mixed reviews. Many say if the bike slides (from an accident/sliding out) then there's the chance of damage (oggy caught in pot-hole etc..), but what if it's a stationary drop (me being a newby), would they be fine for that ? or would you guys recommend to not have them at all.. not worth the risk ?

    have considered that too. There's a couple of out of range bikes up in QLD at the moment, one unfortunately is nearly 2hrs drive :\. Have sent of an email & waiting for reply, but the pics look nice & they mention full service history.

    Solo seat conversion... is anyone familiar with this process ? Can anyone recommend good places that do it (around Brisbane area). I have read some might just rivet the pillion footpeg whole instead of drilling the threads & removing the pillion hand bar. What are the less (more recent conversion) you guys have heard/experienced that aren't extreme ?

    Thanks again guys, really appreciate all the help :) & I'll keep flicking through those stickies (getting a pretty good idea on what to look for from them :) )


    ~ Widget ~
  12. That and try not to get pressured into buying something, or even taking it for a test ride (seems to be a fairly standard way of making people feel almost obligated to buy the bike so they don't feel guilty for wasting the salespersons time).

    The drive chain can certainly make a ticking noise - though not when the bike is in neutral. Really though it's not that common a problem, just one of the more likely problems in the rare event something actually does go wrong with a GS engine. There is a reason many people consider them the most reliable motorcycle engine ever made, as I have heard of the larger GS1000 engines exceeding 200,000kms without needing any major work. Oil-cooled GSX engines (which simply have 4-valves per cylinder rather than two) have also achieved some very impressive hp figures on mostly stock engine internals when used in drag racing.

    Dealer backup on a used GS doesn't really mean much. It's the sort of bike you should be able to learn to work on yourself pretty easily, but if not then any decent mechanic shouldn't have a problem with it. They are about as simple as a bike can get, and were designed to be serviced by the owner. All you're really paying for with a dealer is convenience, which is fine if that's what you want.

    As for odometer readings something around 5-10k per year is a good figure for something that's low mileage - but has at least been used fairly regularly. Leaving bikes to sit for long periods without proper preparation causes its own problems, not least of which is the fact people tend to neglect minor owner maintenance tasks like cleaning/lubing the chain, checking chain tension, maintaining tyre pressures, etc. It's not just the 5,000km service stuff you need to consider.
  13. pricewise its 2nd hand private all the way, cash talks a lot of languages

    the only thing you get from the dealer is that if the bike breaks straight away, you can have a go at someone and maybe get something back for it.
    (IE warranty stuff, getting their mechanic to fix it for free)

    There is no substitute for going to look at the bikes that are for sale!!!!
    (even good photos do not do the bike any justice, as usual)

    A road bike with 5,000-10,000km is basically a brand new bike if they have changed the oil twice and not crashed it.
    personally i would not buy a modern bike with more than 20-25,000 km
    so if you look right, you should be able to get a basically new bike for a fraction of the cost.

    (FIND HOW TO tell if a bike has been crashed, (more in the faqs) any scratches and scrapes)

    Personally, i HATE crash knobs/ oggy knobs
    use the fairings to protect the bike frame,
    why in f ucking hell would you want the bike frame to protect the fairings???

    the manufacturer may stock engine case protectors, which are a much better idea in my opinion.
  14. A GS500 isn't a modern bike though :p

    Depending on how long you plan on keeping the bike even something with 50,000kms would be well worth a look if its been well maintained. A lot of the >50k bikes get ignored by people worried it's "too many kms" - and you can save a lot of money as a result. You should be able to put 10-20k on a 50k GS without any major dramas, and that's frequently more than what most people put on their first bike.
  15. Hey all, thanks again for the info :)

    In regards to Mechanics, anyone know of good (mobile) inspectors that might drive to the bike, around Brisbane/North of Brisbane. Did come across a bike but was nearly 2hrs north & I'm in NSW at the moment.

    Re: Inspections, I found this too, so I might print it out and take with my when I inspect some :).


    found on: http://www.legallearnerbikes.com.au/pages.php?pg=tips-on-buying-a-used-motorcycle

    Thanks again guys :)

    ~ Widget
  16. Hey guys,

    Regarding low odo reading for older bike, what are some things to look at ? Would there be signs of anything in particular due to bikes sitting ?

    Low K's I'm guessing it's been sitting or not ridden often, but it seems very low for the year :S (see link below)

    saw this bike, don't know much about the dealer though,

    http://www.bikesales.com.au/dealer/...604 1430 1429 1626 1428 4294967268 4294966679

    been reading the stickies about odometers too, seems a little tricky, but starting to understand.

  17. Main things to check for:
    *Rust - in particular check the weld seam along the bottom edge of the tank. Also have a look inside the tank (use a torch if necessary), since if a bike sits for long periods you can get rust forming at the point between the fuel and the air. Also check the more hard to see parts of the frame where water/mud might have sat, and around any welds (again torch comes in handy for this).

    *Tyres - Don't just check tread depth, but also look for any signs of cracking or any other indication the tyre is too old
    (These are signs you need new tyres no matter how much tread is left)

    *Battery - should be okay if the bike starts first go from cold. Be suspicious if they wheel the bike away and start it out of sight. Also make sure the battery that's in it when you inspect it is the same one still in it when you buy it (I've had car dealers try and swap in an older battery between the test drive and pick up).

    *Electrics - check all the indicators and lights work. Ideally also check the voltage when it is running. A $10 multimeter will do for this, and it's a lot cheaper than replacing the rectifier (nothing to do with age, just the fact it's a GS Suzuki).

    *Fluids can also suffer from sitting, so find out what exactly the dealer actually did do in way of a service - and perhaps ask if they're willing to put that in writing (so you have some recourse if you find something wasn't done). Engine oil and brake fluid should have definitely be changed, and unless they know when the fork oil was last changed that will need to be done to.
  18. you can look at the consumable parts, and the parts that wear out for an indication of age in relation to the odometer.

    *brake pads / disc rotors (worn discs may indicate high mileage)

    *wear on the pegs (rubber or metal, metal wears too)
    *wear on the gear lever / rear brake lever (are the levers tight or loose, rubber or metal worn)
    *wear on the engine casings and frame (paint wear, scratches)

    *hand grips
    *brake and clutch levers (looseness)

    *chain / sprockets

    *check the oil quality with a dipstick

    (fairings / bar ends / axle ends that have been crash damaged)

    the bike should be as close to new as you can afford
  19. Red book is okay as a guide but also look at Gumtree / eBay / Bikesales as a guide as well.

    I take my bikes to Team Moto Moorooka and Pro Honda Rocklea. They appear to be okay. Only been impressed once though.

    Yep do PPSR check through state transport authorities (have done this twice in last 3 months). It only costs $3. I do it when checking the bike and at the last minute - to reduce risk that owner taken a last minute loan out on the bike. Check VIN against actual bike / safety certificate etc.

    Pro Honda Rocklea are great for accessories, service is okay (its hard to tell sometimes) - not sure about bike sales there.

    Other things to check ;

    Inside Fuel Tank for rust
    Condition of drive chain sprockets etc. This can tell you how well looked after the bike really is.
    underneath the bike
    Suspension (up and down with brakes on)
    wheel bearings (move wheel side to side)
    Close attention to Fairings - especially inside fairings (dirt / dust / rust)
    Up underneath Triple clamps for rust - most bikes have it - just how much is there is the thing to look for.
    take seat off and check electics - especially connections to reg /rec - ECU - Starter Relay etc.

    Djmeister nailed a few good ones inc Oil colour.
    Check for evidence of a drop - scratches on mufflers / indicators / fairings etc.
  20. look at the bike in full daylight, not the dark corner of the garage