Tips for buying a used motorcycle

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

Whether it's a starter motorcycle or the bike you've been dreaming of, buying a used motorcycle can be a great way to get a good bike at a reasonable price. You'll need to do your research, though, and make sure you're truly getting a good deal. From choosing to buy from a dealer or a private seller to making an offer, consider these tips for buying a used motorcycle.

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1. Research types of motorcycles

If this isn't your first bike, you probably have an idea of what kind of motorcycle you want. If you're a newer rider, though, it's a good idea to consider what kind of riding experience you'd like — are you planning shorter rides around town, or do you envision long road trips? It's important to choose a bike that will fit your riding style and environment, says Motorbike Writer. Do your research on the different types of motorcycles, so that you can narrow down your search.

2. Decide where to buy

There are generally two options for buying a used motorcycle — through a dealership or a private seller — and both have their pros and cons. According to Motorbike Writer, you may be able to get a better price with a private seller. However, there are upsides to buying from a dealership. Dealers tend to only accept trade-ins that are in good shape, says Motorcycle Cruiser, especially since the dealer may have some responsibility if the motorcycle they sell you is a lemon. Also, you may get a warranty from a dealer, which can provide some additional peace of mind. A dealership may also be able to help you secure financing and help you register the bike, says Motorcycle Cruiser. With a private seller, you'll likely have to pay cash or with a certified check.

3. Research any motorcycle you're considering

After scouring online motorcycle sites or wandering the dealership lots, a few bikes may have caught your eye. You'll want to research the motorcycles to get an idea of fair market prices, which you can typically find in the NADA Guides and Kelley Blue Book. This helps you determine if the bikes you're interested in are listed at reasonable prices based on their condition and any after-market upgrades they may have. also recommends researching parts for potential bikes, such as tires, brake pads and clutch cables, as this will give you an idea of how much maintenance may cost. Also, note if parts for a bike are difficult to find, says — you may want to take that bike off your list of possibilities.

4. Check out the bike's condition

If you're seriously considering a bike, see it in person and check that it's in good condition. There are a few standard items to inspect, including:

  • Tires: Look for uneven wear and signs of damage.
  • Fuel tank: Check the inside and out for signs of rust and dents.
  • Body: Look for signs of damage, such as scratches or dings. The chrome and paint should be shiny and rust free.
  • Drive chain and sprocket: If you can easily move these, the sprocket may be worn out or not maintained properly.

You may also want to have a mechanic check over the bike to look for any potential issues. also suggests that you ask for the service records, as they may show whether the bike has been maintained properly. Also, if you have the option to take a test ride, you should, says This will give you a feel for how the motorcycle runs and whether you like it.

When buying a used motorcycle, you need to do your homework and ensure you're truly getting a good deal and the right bike. But with a little research and preparation, you may just find your next ride.