Buying a Used Motorcycle in 2022

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Owning a motorcycle should be a wonderful experience for riders who choose to on the open road. When it comes to purchasing a motorcycle there are a number of key considerations that should be taken into account.

Table of Contents

buying a motorbike

New or Used?

Riding a motorbike, for many riders is a lifestyle choice and one of passion the investment in a motorcycle, new or used, is still a major financial consideration. New motorbikes can be cost-prohibitive for some, depending on the make and model. There is also the challenge of depreciation when purchasing a new bike.

Secondhand motorcycles offer the purchaser the opportunity of saving some money, providing the motorcycle is in good condition and has generally been well cared for. Expensive repair bills in the not too distance future need to be avoided as much as possible. If you are not planning on riding your motorcycle daily, the cost of a new motorbike might not make sense.

Level of Experience

Being realistic regarding your limitations will greatly indicate what type of motorbike you should be purchasing. If you are a learner or novice you must ride a motorcycle that is listed on the Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS).

For a motorcycle to qualify as a LAMS motorcycle, the vehicle must meet all of the following criteria:

• the motorcycle must be in a standard form as produced by the manufacturer;
• not modified in a way that increases its power mass ratio;
• have a power-to-weight ratio of 150 kilowatts per tonne or less; and
• an engine capacity of 660cc or less.

The style of riding you wish to be doing will also influence the type of bike you purchase, whether it be on-road, off-road, sports or a lifestyle bike.


Once you have decided to purchase a motorcycle, it is advisable to invest time into researching the market to see what options are available. Knowing your budget and understanding the market will let you see if the bike you want to own is achievable. Having an understanding of the market value will help you spot the bikes that are being sold under market value, which will then need to have considerable work done to them to make them roadworthy.

Unless you are determined to own a particular make and model, having a list of features will help you decide which motorcycle is right for you.

Should I buy from a dealer or a private seller?

Both options may offer some advantages, they also have some disadvantages, which makes it difficult to suggest one is better than the other.

If someone tried to sell you the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) you would be more than a little concerned that they were trying to sell you something that they didn’t rightfully own. When purchasing a motorcycle from a private seller you should be confident that the bike is theirs, and has no financing owning. Has it been involved in a motor vehicle accident, modified or even worse stolen?

When any modification of a motorcycle is undertaken, it must comply with the Australian Design Rules (ADR). If any modifications have been undertaken on a bike you are considering purchasing, it is advisable you get copies of the Vehicle Assessment Signatory Scheme (VASS) report as any modification may result in the motorcycle failing to pass a roadworthy assessment.
Before you agree to a private sale and hand over your hard-earned cash, you should be taking the following into consideration;

Do they look like someone who frequently rides a motorcycle?
Are they able to answer all of your questions regarding the motorbike?
Where is the motorcycle stored? Is it in a clean garage, does it look well cared for and in good condition?
Do they have both keys?
Are they able to provide you with the full-service history?
Can you see any visible signs of damage from an accident?

With many bikes being purchased on finance, there is a chance that the bike you wish to purchase may have some outstanding finance owing on it. If this is the case, then the motorcycle still belongs to the finance company and not the registered keeper. You should also speak to the insurance company to ensure they have released the caveat on the motorbike.

If you buy a bike that did have an outstanding balance on the finance unless the previous owner fails to clear the outstanding amount from the money you paid for the motorbike, then “your” bike remains the legal property of the finance company.

If your instincts tell you there is something not quite right, then you should probably walk away.

If you decide to purchase from a dealer, it will make life easier for you if there are any issues with the motorbike. You can negotiate with the dealer to get everything sorted and running correctly before you finalize the purchase.

One other advantage of purchasing from a dealer is that most dealerships and salespeople have monthly targets to meet. They may be willing to give you a better deal towards the end of the month if they are struggling to achieve their targets.

What you should be checking on a test drive

Wheels & Tyres – sidewalls and tread for signs of excessive wear and damage, spokes are tight
Unexpected decals stickers – are they hiding damage?
Marks and damage on handlebar, grips, footpegs, exhaust
Check the frame for signs of damage, repairs, or modifications
Engine – Ask them not to have the engine warm before you get to them to view the bike. Is there smoke? Does it run smoothly? Does it start the first time? Does the bike return to idle as soon as the throttle grip is released?
Gearbox – Can you change all gears smoothly with the engine switched off and not using the clutch? There should be no crunching sounds or jolts.
Suspension – smooth action, no squeaking or grinding noises. The forks should be free from oil.
You can check the bearings by rocking the front and rear wheels sideways, there should be no movement.
Brakes, the discs should be the correct size and thickness.

Unregistered motorbikes

If you are purchasing a motorbike that is currently unregistered, you must see as many documents as possible to prove the person selling the bike owns it! Proof of purchase receipts, transfer of ownership documents previous RWC’s, service history and workshop receipts.

You should also ensure the engine and frame numbers are the same as those printed on the corresponding paperwork. If you are not fully experienced in VIC RWC requirements, a pre-purchase inspection from a VIC Licensed Vehicle Tester is HIGHLY recommended before completing the purchase, as you may find yourself several thousand dollars just to get your bike roadworthy.

Other items that may be required.

When calculating how much you can afford to spend on your new bike it is prudent to remember that if this is your first bike, you will need to purchase some essential accessories such as a helmet, jacket, gloves, wet weather gear and boots. This may be a sizeable amount of money given the purchasing costs.

Paying for your motorbike

Pre-approved bike finance can be one way of paying for your new purchase. Paying in cash really doesn’t mean much to a dealership, as they will more than likely be charged for banking the cash.

Take your time

If you are buying a new motorbike, it may possible that introductory offers may finish before you have secured your dream motorbike as you won’t be the only customer. Especially if the motorcycle is a new release and is highly sought after.

Even though the private seller may try to tell you he has many others interested in his motorcycle, this is often not the case. Don’t let the seller rush you into a decision you may come to regret. Take your time and think things through. If the motorbike does sell before you make your mind up, there will always be another option which could well be a much better deal for you.

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