If you lack experience or attention to detail, what seemed like a great and legit purchase can easily turn your joy into ashes in your mouth when you bring it home. The stakes are even higher if the purchase is an expensive item, such as a car – or a dirt bike. No one argues that a good deal of mechanical and trader’s knowledge is needed when looking to land a great deal, especially if it’s a solid dirt bike you’re after. However, not everyone is a mechanic or a salesperson, so here are some failsafe suggestions and tips if you’re on your own.
It’s often said that research is half the purchase, and it’s certainly an important stage in your quest for landing a good used dirt bike. Once you get an idea of the makes and models you’d like, figure out which one of those works best with your riding style, your skill, size and your price range. When you have narrowed your choice to three or four, learn as much about those bikes as you can. Browse through forums to see what the owners like or dislike about those models, learn about the issues the bike might have, as well as any other tweaks or fixes others have found to work. If you become an expert on the model even before you own one, you’ll know what to look for when you see the bike.
It always pays off to wait for the right bike. Your goal is to be happy with what you buy, so if you move too quickly you might end up resenting your purchase when it doesn’t turn out to be what you hoped for. When you find a potential buy, it’ always wise to feel the seller out before you go. Give them a call and, if you can, learn with whom you’re dealing before you decide to head over. Sometimes simple, innocent questions on your side can reveal their contradictions and possible false reasons for sale. Handle sketchy areas with caution, and ask to meet somewhere in public if you feel uneasy about the location.
Inspect the bike
Check to see if the suspension has been re-valved. In most used bikes, if it has, the company’s decals will be present on the forks and shocks. A true bike enthusiast was likely to have used only quality motocross parts over the years. Also, check for the signs of usage such as the condition of the frame, clutch cover, etc. The more the paint is rubbed off, the more use the bike has seen. Ask the owner to let you see the air filter. If you can, pull it out and see if there is dirt or sand in the air boot. If dirt has gotten into the engine, you may be looking at some expensive repairs down the road.
Questions to ask
Apart from the brand- and model-specific questions, you may also ask why they are selling the bike and if they have had any major problems with the machine. Also ask about the regular maintenance and what service records they have. It there are no records nor any parts documentation and bills, you may as well steer away from that deal. On the other hand, if the records show only recent maintenance and parts, you may be talking to a guy who’s flipping bikes for profit. Your best case scenario is a bike that was bought new, sold by the owner who’s taken good care of it throughout the years.
Remain courteous all the time
Even if you’ve got informed on the bike more than even the owner might know, don’t be rude or act as if you know it all. People are more willing to do business with someone who is kind and respectful. Let them know you’re willing to spend on the bike, but don’t try too hard to lowball the seller on the price. Of course, if the seller appears to be under 18, make sure they have their parents’ permission to sell the bike and that they will be present to sign the title if you make the deal.
Not everyone lies about what they’re selling, but chances are some people just don’t know or don’t care. It is your job as a buyer to do as much research and inspection of the bike as possible. The more you know about the model, and more importantly, what you expect of it, the better you can judge its value and the seller’s story.