One of the best ways to save money after you pass your motorbike test is to buy a used machine instead of a new one. There is no reason why a good second-hand bike should not get you through the restricted period on your licence and any money you save on this purchase can be put towards a more powerful motorcycle once you are legally allowed to ride one on the roads.
There can be pitfalls to buying a used motorbike, and the likelihood of experiencing them will rise if you fail to do some proper research before you hand over your cash. However, there are some steps you can take to minimise the risk of purchasing the wrong machine.
Your starting point should be to find out the market value of the bike you wish to own. You can run some internet searches or look at the adverts in Autotrader and Motorcycle News to see how much a two or three-year-old model is currently selling for, and this will give you an idea of the budget you will need and the best deal you can hope to negotiate.
Make sure you look at your local motorbike sales outlets, as well as machines offered for private sale. There are a number of advantages to buying from a reputable dealership, so it is well worth investigating this option, even if the initial prices are slightly more expensive.
The expert staff at dealerships will be able to talk you through the pros and cons of the used bike you are thinking of purchasing, and may also be able to recommend some good alternatives you had not previously considered. Machines bought from established garages will have had a full mechanical check and should come with a warranty, so you will not be faced with a sizeable bill if a major part fails in the first 12 months after you purchase it.
This kind of after-sales service means it is usually better to buy from a reputable dealership than a private seller, as you are likely to find it difficult to persuade an individual to help out with the costs of repairs should anything go wrong.
Whoever you choose to purchase your second-hand machine from, you should ensure you carry out a thorough inspection before you part with your cash, strap on your Dainese helmet and ride off to find out exactly what it can do. If you are relatively new to the world of motorcycling, take an experienced rider with you, as they are much more likely to spot any problems.
Pay particular attention to the forks, chain and handlebars to see if there is any evidence of damage or wear, as this may be an indication that the general condition of the machine is not good. The paintwork should also be inspected closely for any signs the bike has been in an accident.
Another important test is to start the engine. This will allow you to listen for any unusual knocking sounds or rattles, and see what the exhaust smoke looks like. If you are unhappy about anything you see or hear, do not buy the motorcycle.
Once you are satisfied the bike is in good working order and that the price is right, there is one final step to take before you can zip up your Dainese jacket and ride home. You need to be certain the paperwork is correct, so ask to see the V5 document and, if the machine is more than three years old, the MOT certificate.
It is also sensible to organise an HPI check to see whether there is any outstanding finance on the bike and if it has ever been stolen or written off. A reputable dealership will do this with all its used motorcycles, but you will have to arrange and pay for the service yourself if you buy from a private seller.