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I have bought and restored over a dozen motorcycles over the past five years. During each motorcycle purchase, I learned something new about how to buy a project motorcycle and what to look for. I have certainly purchased my share of lemons, especially during the beginning of my motorcycle endeavors, but I quickly learned what to look for and soon discovered myself finding diamonds in the rough. Now for the anticipated details.
What an exciting time! Every used motorcycle will have at least some little dysfunctions. There are several things you need to look for when looking to purchase a project motorcycle. Be aware of your willingness and expertise that you can apply to your project motorcycle. Ask the seller about the history of the motorcycle as well as for proper documentation. Check for s in case it was in an accident and calculate how much it will cost to fix everything it needs.
You may be stressed or even a little anxious if this is your first time buying a project motorcycle. A lot of people have been where you are and ended up rebuilding some beautiful motorcycles. Keep reading for further details on what you should look for when buying a project motorcycle. The internet and YouTube are amazing tools to use when learning how to fix, well, anything really.
If you have the drive, you can fix and restore a motorcycle with no experience for more info on this, check out our article Do I need Experience to Restore a Motorcycle. At the same time, please be aware of your expertise and experience level. Before you look at a bike, make a conscious effort in knowing what you are and what you are not comfortable fixing. You know you can do this, just make sure your doubts will let you do it too.
This product was created with beginners in mind with the intent to answer and guide you through all the questions you may have during this process. This series also includes in depth videos on hard to tackle components such as carb rebuilds, body work, and electrical. This is the very first question you should always ask the owner. Otherwise, if the owner does not have the title, walk away immediately! You should never purchase a motorcycle without a title. Let me give you an example as to why:. When I was in college, I had a good friend of mine who purchased a motorcycle.
Guess what? A few days came and went. No title. My friend attempted to contact the seller with no response. After no success with contacting the seller, he tried to make a new title, but to his horror the DMV notified him that the motorcycle still had a lien on it, several hundred dollars in fact. He had to fork up an extra few hundred dollars to actually own the motorcycle and pay off the lien. It was a nightmare for him.
The second risk you run into with buying an untitled motorcycle is that you may have purchased a one that is stolen. Guess what happens if you buy a stolen motorcycle? See my article here to learn more about buying a motorcycle without a title. The next thing to consider is if the motorcycle runs.
Remember, this is a project motorcycle you are looking for, there will be problems. Most of the time, the issue is not the engine. Go with your gut feeling and your comfort level. Think about the issues it has and again consider your experience level. Is that something you can fix yourself? How expensive would it be to take it to a shop and have them fix that problem?
Again, hopefully the owner is honest about this, especially if they do not have the registration papers with them. A lot of my project motorcycles were motorcycles that had been sitting in fields for years, so seeing any form of registration was essentially impossible in those situations. Put the motorcycle in neutral and roll it while it is turned off. Click down into first gear; if it still rolls without pulling the clutch handle then you have a clutch or transmission issue.
If you are worried about a transmission issue, calibrate your willingness to repair it yourself. Also check both tires while you are rolling it. Do either of them wobble? This could be a of a hard collision. I once was selling an old motorcycle I restored and flipped. The man came to my house, asked all the questions, did his look-over and decided to buy it.
We visited for a little while and I quickly found he was quite the experienced motorcyclist. He then gave me the cash, I gave him the title. He got on the motorcycle, started it up, pushed up the kickstand and……. We wiped up the gas and oil that had leaked out, examined the motorcycle and found a few scratches and a bent handlebar.
No matter, the guy drove it home on the freeway for thirty-plus miles with zero problems. There are two types of motorcycle riders: ones who have tipped a motorcycle or ones who will tip a motorcycle. This should not be cause of alarm and should certainly not turn you away from buying it.
At this point you will again need to assess what you are willing to fix and consider what is over your head.
The owner got the motorcycle when they were young and just hung on to it through their middle aged years. I love when I run into this situation as it gives an extra sense of nostalgia. I have also run into a few owners who have owned the motorcycle for a year or less.
In this situation, I like to ask a few more questions as to why they had it for such a short amount of time. Try to dig a little deeper. How much is the purchase of the motorcycle? How much do you estimate the repairs will be? See my list of recommended tools that are essential when working on a motorcycle.
How easy is it to start? Once it does start, how does it sound? Is there any backfiring? A lot of my project motorcycles struggled running when I first bought them and most of the time it was, surprise surprise, plugged carbs. You should especially listen to the engine and any ticks it may have.
If you are willing, negotiate with the seller on this. Inform them of the engine tick and request a lower price. If you can talk down the price that much, then it has paid for itself. If you need to think about, tell the seller you will contact them within the next day or two. The seller may have other potential buyers and does not owe you first dibs. First thing, never buy a motorcycle unseen. Always look and examine a motorcycle before you buy it with your own eyes. If you are unable to be present during a motorcycle transaction, be sure to send a trusted family member or friend who is knowledgeable in what to look for.
Second, print out a motorcycle bill of sale to have the seller fill out if you end up purchasing it. If you forget the bill of sale but you have a piece of paper and a pen, you may write out a bill of sale yourself. Third, contact and make an appointment with the seller to view and test out the motorcycle. Make sure you schedule a time during the day light. Set enough time aside in your schedule to be there for at least an hour. The last thing you want to do is make a hurried purchase and regret it later. Fourth: If the owner reports the motorcycle is running, request the owner to not run it before you get there.
If you were able to go through this whole list while investigating a potential motorcycle to buy and you feel good about it, then lucky you and congratulations on your new project motorcycle! Remember, restoring a motorcycle is nothing near the monster it is to restore a car. How long can a motorcycle sit before the battery dies? The average motorcycle battery will die after 2 — 4 months without running.
Newer batteries can last longer with an average of 3 — 5 months until dying whereas older batteries will not last as long giving it an average of 1 — 3 months until the battery dies while the motorcycle is sitting. For more info on this, check out our article here. Brakes are one of the most important safety systems for motorized Looking into buying a motorcycle can be exciting, but it can also be a bit stressful if you don't know exactly what to look for especially when it comes looking for potential issues. I've been there Let me give you an example as to why: When I was in college, I had a good friend of mine who purchased a motorcycle.
Does The Motorcycle Run? Conclusion If you were able to go through this whole list while investigating a potential motorcycle to buy and you feel good about it, then lucky you and congratulations on your new project motorcycle!
Related Questions How long can a motorcycle sit before the battery dies?Motorcycle project bikes for sale
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11 Things To Look For When Buying a Project Motorcycle