Posted at May 5, 2015

What to look for when buying a used motorcycle

Here is our LAMS approved buyers guide of what to look for when buying a used motorcycle.


Check registration papers

– Does the motorcycle have a current roadworthy certificate and how much time is left until the roadworthy certificate expires?

History of road registration

– If bike is being sold without a roadworthy certificate, then ask the seller why and how long it has been out of rego for? If the seller cannot provide previous rego documents, then the process of re-registering the motorcycle can be difficult.

Compliance plate verification

– Verify that the engine and chassis number printed on the compliance plate matches the engine and chassis number on the rego paper.


– How original does the bike present? Does the bike have a custom paint job or a polished frame? Question anything that is not original to that particular model and ask if the seller still has the original parts in their possession.

Check for accident damage

– Inspect the bike for signs of crash damage.

- Check the handle bar ends for scuffs. Are they the original bar ends or aftermarket?

- Check front and rear indicator ends for scuffs

- Check mirror ends for scuffs

- Check to see if the brake and clutch levers are the original controls or replacements.

- Check the clutch cover for scuffs

- Inspect the frame for any cracks or dents, also inspect the weld joints

- Check the fairings for scuffs and any missing clips, bolts or screws.

Service history and maintenance

– Does the bike come with a full service history and how long has it been since the last service. Ask for receipts of any service work carried out.

Perform a cold start

– Start the engine from cold. Does it idle smoothly and is there any smoke coming from the exhaust (With the exception of a 2-stroke)

Inspect the forks

– Sit on the bike and grab the front brake and try compressing the front forks a few times; they should react with firm resistance and rebound all the way back to their starting point.

Check the brakes

– Run your finger along the front forks and feel for any surface pitting or oil leakage. These are the signs of worn fork seals.

Chain and sprockets

– Check the chain and sprockets for corrosion. Inspect the teeth of the sprockets for wear. The shape of the teeth should be even and their tips shouldn’t be excessively worn off.

Auto electrics check

– Check the electric controls of the bike with the ignition in the accessories position:

- Check left and right indicator signals. If they flash too fast, this means that there is a fault in the system.

- Squeeze the front brake lever and ensure rear brake light turns on

- Tap on the foot brake and ensure the rear brake light turns on

- Press the horn button and ensure that it sounds

- Check high beam switch and high beam flasher button

Inspect motor oil level

– Check the oil. Some motorbikes have a viewing window and some bikes have a dipstick. If its the former, ensure the bike is on level ground and someone sitting on the bike upright (not leaning on its stand). The oil level in the viewing window should show at least half to 3/4 full. For the latter, check the readings on the dip stick.

Inspect hydraulic fluids

– Check hydraulic brake and clutch fluids are reading at the correct level indicated on the respective reservoirs

Does it come with an original tool kit

– Ask to see the original tool kit and check that the complete tool set is included.

Owners manual

– Ask to see the original bike owners manual and log books

Good tyres

– Check the condition of the tyres.

Spare set of keys

– Does the bike come with two keys


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