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Buying a Used Motorcycle
Is There a Safe Method for Buying One?
Buying a used motorcycle - quite an adventure, especially if you are a new rider. Let's say you, (like me some years ago), successfully graduated from either the motorcycle safety foundation course, or a private motorcycle school, and you're ready for your own bike. But so far, you've only ridden around in circles in a parking lot on a 125cc or a 250cc motorcycle. Now, you've got to test ride a motorcycle? Yikes!
Yikes is right. You've got the "M" on your drivers license, but you really don't have the self-confidence to get on a larger motorcycle on a real road, in real traffic. You need some miles under your belt to feel like a real motorcycle rider and in order to get those miles under your belt, you need a motorcycle. NOW. It's time to be buying a used motorcycle.
Be careful if you are going to need to finance your used motorcycle...emotions can over-rule reason.
My suggestion is a practical one, and one that you can choose to use, or not. Set a budget that you want to spend when buying a used motorcycle, with the understanding that this motorcycle is your "experience motorcycle." This is the bike that will allow you the freedom to ride on the road with other more experienced motorcyclists. Don't pick a Harley Sportster 900cc, all chromed and black as your first bike. I'd also cross out a BMW right off the showroom floor. Why?
Chances are that this motorcycle is going to experience some trauma. In all likelihood, even if you were the first in your class, you are going to drop the bike. You'll probably drop the bike when you are not even moving, or when you are trying to make a right-hand turn, or the first time you try to park. Be prepared for it; EVERYONE drops their first bike. (They might never tell anyone about it, but believe me, they dropped their first bike.
So, when buying your used motorcycle, you need it to be mechanically sound, not too ugly, relatively light, yet powerful enough to allow you to join with cars on real roads. Yep, you need some horsepower.
A tip from my motorcycle man that I followed because I trusted him: When buying a used motorcycle -particularly your first- don't start with a small displacement motorcycle, like a 250cc or a 560 cc. If you really really want to be a motorcyclist, you will outgrow that bike in the first week. And then, you have to find another buyer who is just as inexperienced to buy it from you.
When buying a used motorcycle, make sure that you pick a bike that you can handle physically - meaning, you can firmly place your feet flat on the pavement, you can easily reach the hand grips, and can engage the levers. Make sure that you can "right" the bike by yourself - meaning you can pull the front of the bike upright, without help. If you can't do this, the front end of the bike is too heavy.
Once a bike is moving, it doesn't matter whether it is a 560cc motorcycle, or a 850 cc motorcycle. You'll be able to manage either one. The trick is to make sure that you can manage the bike when it isn't moving.
Once you've set your budget, look through the local classified ads to see if anyone is selling a bike in your price range. Check out some dealerships. You can even safely buy a used motorcycle through an auction, if you educate yourself, and ask questions of the seller prior to placing your bid.
Do whatever you can to find out about the used motorcycle's history, particularly the service record.
My next suggestion: Take a brother, male friend, or a more experienced woman rider with you to test ride whatever bike you find. When buying a used motorcycle, you need to know that the bike is sound, and ride-able. If possible, have the bike looked over by a skilled mechanic. Find out what needs to be fixed before you can safely get some road miles in. Trust in those more experienced than you, and don't sweat too much over the first bike. This is your first one, and chances are, you'll be wanting another - your dream motorcycle - in less time than you think.
Once you've negotiated a deal that you can live with, ride your bike home, and find a BIG parking lot for some practice. Most of all, have fun, and welcome to a very elite group - Women Motorcycle Riders!