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Pre-Purchase mechanic chek

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by Peppy, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. Hey all,

    I'm looking to grab a LAMS bike, through a private sale. I've decided on an 08-12 model Ninja 250.

    My riding experience is probably around the 4000 - 5000 km mark on a baby fireblade, and while I've learned a few things, I'm by no means an expert, so I'm hoping to get some opinions around here.

    I inspected an '09 model with < 6000 km today and I'm keen on it, and I'm trying to decide whether or not to get a mechanic (or experienced forum member) to have a look at it (bike is in Eastern Suburbs, VIC). The bike had apparently been sitting for a year, but still started and idled no problem.

    I noticed the following:
    + Rear brake light doesn't increase brightness when front brake was applied.
    + Front brake had more play in the lever than i was used to, but still stopped OK
    + Chain has some surface rust, and I could lift it maybe 2-3mm when pulling from the rear-most part of the sprocket
    + Chain had surface rust on the pins that join both sides of the chain (the bits you'd grab if it was a ladder)

    I tried to keep a level head and check everything that I could think of, though I could feel myself getting a little excited so I may have missed some things.

    I remember I checked the following bits and bobs:
    + I couldn't hear any unusual engine related noises
    + Blipping the throttle once in neutral saw it return to idle reasonably quickly (after ~2 minute warmup and after a quick test ride)
    + Gears were nice and easy to cycle through (went through them once or twice). Neutral was easy to find.
    + I couldn't see any sign of the forks leaking or weeping
    + Engine oil level was OK.
    + No other bizzare noises while riding in a quiet back streets

    I remember I did NOT deliberately and consciously check
    + Smoke while starting, reving or riding (although I certainly didn't see or smell anything.)
    + Engine Oil Leaks / Coolant leaks / coolant level.

    If I bought it I think I'd have to replace the oil and filter, and I think it might be prudent to empty the fuel tank and use it for a lawnmower or something similar. (I could do both of these things without issue on my old bike, so logic suggests that I should be OK here.

    What I'm wondering is if I should get a mechanic to have a more detailed look at her to know for sure everything is as it seems. I'm thinking its borderline excessive on a sub 3-year old bike with that many kms.

    I was thinking of an alternative, where somebody here who knows their stuff has a look at it with me. Though my mechanical knoweldge is limited, I'm quite capable of purchasing a 6-pack of beer to your liking.

    What is the most reasonably choice given the bike I'm describing.

    Cheers All
  2. #2 Vertical C, Nov 29, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
    I would replace all fluids including brake fluids. As well as the chain and sprockets.

    Thats going to be $1000 at a mechanics.

    The front brake switch is also a worry, it migh be something easy might be something hard maybe a $200. Not legal to ride at moment. Dont start it again until you do the oil anyway

    You may need to get a battery as they usually fail if left sit. $50

    Rwc and rego $400 and towing is a pain. $100

    Its pretty hard to stuff a bike mechanically in 6000kms if you get a $1700 -$2000 discount on other bikes of the same kms i would take it, anything you miss no will probably not cost much.

    Maybe offer $2500?
  3. I've replaced the Oil and filter before, and figure there's usually a drain bolt for the coolant, so both of those don't phase me as a DIY project (I actually have a bottle of radiator cleaner and coolant ready for such a job.)

    Brake fluid seems like a tricky one for me, although if all it takes is a careful read of a service manual and a day of tinkering, that's fine by me. I can also drain the fuel ok too.

    Why do you suggest changing the chain and sprockets? I made sure to look at the rear sprocket, and the teeth looked nice and symmetrical so my (limited) assessment was that the chain slack may have been a tad loose. As i said - I could only move the chain off the sprocket a couple of mm. Parts only I'm guessing this item is around the 200 dollar mark? Will the world implode if I wait a few kms before getting to this job?

    I figure it's a 50/50 whether or not the battery will need changing.

    The prices on these bikes are a little nuts - people are asking ~5000 for something like an '08 model thats basically been sitting in somebodies garage after the novelty of a new bike wore off. And they seem to be selling pretty well if they're a few hundred below this price point. (An 08 model consistent with this description sold on the day it was listed for $4100, and a bike I was looking to inspect at $4700 sold before I could get to see it within 3 days of their price dropping.)

    I've considered looking at other LAMS bikes, but the larger capacity ones for the age bracket I'm considering are out of my price range, and the alternatives in the 250cc category don't really do much for me, and even if they did don't really offer an enormous price saving like I'd hoped.

    If you haven't noticed by the DIY undertones, price is a bit of a concern for me. I'm a PhD student, so picture minimum wage as far as income goes. It's a miracle I have any cash for the bike in the first place (thank-you late tax returns.....)

    Thanks for the advice thus far.
  4. Rusty chain needs replacing and you might as well do both at once, bad sprockets will kill a chain faster. But it is a 250 so you probablycould fudge it. Reoplacing chain is not hard, just need a chain breaker tool (i lent mine to someone who asked someone in melbourne might lend you one, chain is probably $100.With time and $100 on tools you could do everything that needs doing(assuming the electrics is nothing bad-electrical issues scare me). Brakes arent hard just risky, probably best to find someone that has done it before to show you (even if they have only done it on a car)

    i would just quote him the prices in my first post and say that is what it will cost tp fix and so that is why you hav to reduce the offer. Its not relevant in the negotiation that you will do the work. People do ask stupid money for learner bikes, but most learners will shy from this one so hammer him on price as he wont have much choice of other people to sell to.

    I dont think spending $50 is worth it because you have a good eye for detail to pick up what you have, whilst you may have missed something, the cost vs the risk i would risk it.

    If you cant get a decent price walk away and say that i am looking a othe bikes but get back to me if you decide you want to go through. Another week of it sitting there changes people. What is he asking anyway? Did you make an offer?
  5. The oher thing that siince you arent scared to fix things and money is tight I would be tempted to get a zzr250 with 30000kms-40000kms on it. For closer to $2000 Any problems you have with that is probably going to be less than what you are facing at the moment.

    Zzr250 or gpx250 as well is the same bike as the ninja with different plasics. Cheap motoring.

    Though why arent you just keeping your cbr?
  6. #6 DarkHorse, Nov 30, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
    I think VertC is being a little pessimistic, which in this situation is possibly a good thing, but still.

    Surface rust on a chain isn't necessarily terminal, a good rub with some chain cleaner and it might disappear completely. Is it the original chain? Give it a good clean and lube, adjust the slack out of it, and keep a close eye on it for the first couple of weeks. If you're worried about it, sure replace it - peace of mind is a good thing.

    Brake lever travel could be as simple as adjusting the cable, or could even just be a difference between your Blade and the Ninj. Check the pads and rotors for wear, replace and bleed the brake fluid, crank the cable a bit tighter and see how you go. Does the brake light work normally with the rear brake? Hopefully just the switch at the lever, so should be an easy fix.

    Otherwise it sounds like it's in pretty good shape - as above, it's pretty hard to shag a bike in 6000km, and better that it's been sitting inside for a year than been thrashed/crashed/neglected on the road. I would recommend refreshing all fluids (oil, coolant, fuel, brake fluid) and do filters while you're at it. The rubber O-rings on the chain could have hardened too, so it's probably worth replacing it. What are the tyres like - that could be another big $$$ issue.

    Regarding pricing - late model LAMS bikes are always going to sell for more than they are actually worth, because there is a constant demand for them. The one you're looking at is only 3 years old, and has done bugger all km, so expect to pay a good chunk of it's new value, it's practically a new bike. I'd say in general 50% of new value is not unreasonable. If money is an issue, look older like Vert C says - the GPX/ZZX were great bikes... or put up with your current lawn mower until you can afford something bigger/better.

    If you do want someone to have a look at it, or to do the tidy up work you don't feel comfortable with Brett at MadBiker out in Ferntree Gully or Luke at 60 Degrees will look after you.
  7. Sorry I was a tad late to reply;

    The reason I didn't want to keep the cibby was because It needed a little too much work and a little too often for it to be my only way of getting around. If you had a car and didn't mind taking a few weekends getting a couple things sorted it would've been great. I was also worried about what issues it might've developed in six months. It was running OK so I decided to jump ship before anything major fell off. (I imagine selling a partly working bike might be a bit of a headache.) Hopefully one day I'll get to fix one up as a project bike.

    I didn't want a repeat job of one of these, so that's why I was looking at something newer. It was nice to know that you think I'd done an OK job for an inspection, and that it'd be difficult to mess up a 6000 km old bike. I kept some of the above in mind when I made an offer a few hundred below the asking price and he accepted. Paid a deposit Saturday when it was roadworthied, and picked her up today. No complaints on the ride home either - so far, so good. Oil + filter is going to get changed ASAP, the rest over the following weekends. Not sure I'll need to change the fuel over, as I imagine if it was going to cause problems it would've on the ~15 km ride home while catching every second light. Might just fill 'er up and see how she goes (fuel is 50% full now). After oil the other fluids will get changed over the next 1-2 Sundays.

    Thanks again for the advice :)
  8. Really watch that chain, if you cant afford a new one then get some kero and a toothbrush and clean it up. Then dump a heap of new chain lube on it. See if that gets rid of the rust.

    Rusted chain could lead to broken chain which can be a crash and/or broken gear box.
  9. Does it come with a road worthy certificate?
    If so, then some of the issues will have to be repaired by the seller for the RWC to be issued.
  10. Hey Positron,

    I appreciate the reply, but you're a tad late - she's been sitting in my garage for a couple weeks now (RWC inc). Everything seems to be normal, have put on a couple hundred k's since I took her home. Changed oil + filter and cleaned the oil screen prior to that and put in new gaskets / O-rings and no leaks :).

    Cleaned the chain and keeping a close eye on it - I think what I was seeing was dust mixed with chain lube, because it came off when I was cleaning it. Chain runs fine now (no binding, tight spots or abnormal noise) and has the correct slack, too. Have made sure coolant and brake fluid is at the correct level, so no hassles there, either. Brake fluid looks pretty clean for now and I definitely haven't noticed any spongeyness when stopping, although I still think I'll change those when she's at the 6000km service which is coming up. Got my hands on a bible / service manual, so I can do the 6000km service properly.

    Oh yeah, checked the tyre pressures too. for some reason they were roughly 10-15% higher than spec in the manual, so have since let some air out. Also brake pads have plenty of life in them.

    Only thing left to do is ride the thing!