Everything you need to know about buying used bikes

What do you need to consider when buying a second-hand bike? Should you go online or to a dealership? We talked to experts to find


It might sound obvious, but the first thing to consider is your licence. If you’re not sure what size bikes you can ride with your licence, have a look at the gov.uk website that explains the licence codes and how they translate into what size bikes you can ride.


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There are two ways to approach this. You could buy a bike outright and pay the whole cost in one go (usually the way if you buy a second-hand bike from a private seller), or you could get a finance deal from a dealer and pay for it in monthly instalments. Either way, it’s good to establish exactly how much you can spend on the bike.

In addition to the cost of the bike, there are other expenses such as insurance, tax, fuel, maintenance and riding kit. These will vary depending on the type of bike you want and the amount of miles you plan to do.


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It would be easy to dismiss the looks of the bike as vanity, but having a beautiful bike is part of the fun. There are also economic and practical considerations, such as how many miles you want per gallon, and whether you are planning on touring or commuting, going on track days or doing a bit of everything. Each bike has its strengths and weaknesses, so doing your research is key.

Where to find your dream bike


Buying your bike from a dealership sometimes means that you get a warranty and maybe even a service plan with your bike, but the prices tend to be higher than online.

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While you’re paying your local dealer a visit, check out the finance deals and special promotions to see if you can get a bit of a bargain. Don’t be afraid to haggle – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.


Bike magazines are a great source of info on different bikes. Launch reviews of new bikes and features covering older ones give you loads of useful information even before you test ride a bike for yourself. Some also have classified sections where you can see the bikes that the readers are selling.

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More and more motorcycles are sold and bought online on sites like eBay (www.ebay.co.uk) and Autotrader (www.autotrader.co.uk) these days. Both dealers and private sellers advertise their bikes online, so you still have a choice of who to buy from. The important thing is to take any descriptions of bikes sold online with a pinch of salt and make sure you can check the goods in person before purchase.

Final decision


Inspect the bike carefully for any damage or wear. Checking consumables, such as brake pads, tyres and seat for wear, as well as liquid levels in reservoirs, will give you an indication of how well the bike has been looked after. Scratches, dints, discolouring and other imperfections in the bodywork and panels also tell a tale.

You should test ride the bike before buying it to make sure the engine, chassis and controls work as you’d expect and that the bike feels nice to ride.


If you’re considering buying a used bike, do an HPI check on it. An HPI check can be done online for a fee of usually less than £20, or if you buy your bike from a dealer, they may have already done that for you. The check is money well spent as it tells you if the bike has been stolen or written-off, and even if there’s any outstanding finance left.


Whether you’re buying online or in a dealership, getting your hands on a bike of your own is a great feeling, so happy shopping!



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