WHAT TYPE OF RIDING ARE YOU DOING?
When you're looking for your used dirt bike, you need to keep in mind what kind of riding you're going to be doing. If you're just starting out or getting back into riding then it's possible you may be on the fence about the kind of riding you are going to do. Never the less, you should probably narrow it down a little. A motocross bike is the obvious choice for the track, but these bikes can also be turned into awesome woods and off road machines! In my opinion, you can never go wrong with getting yourself a motocross bike to start off with.
DO YOUR RESEARCH ON THE DIRT BIKE.
When you narrow down your search on the kind of dirt bike you want (make & model), do some research on it. There are so many resources out there! From YouTube to online forums, blogs, magazines, and others, you'll find plenty of info on the dirt bike you're looking at. Sometimes you'll find a particular year and model of bike that may have some things that people don't like. Decide if these are things that matter to you, and if so, is there an easy fix?
Realize that there are a lot of haters out there too. Some will just dog on a certain dirt bike because it is a specific brand, and not really have any foundation for their reasoning.
Most experienced riders will tell you though, "They're all good, just pick a color". Still, do your homework and know what you're getting.
LOOK AT THE PHOTOS AND AD CAREFULLY.
Make sure to look at the photos carefully and get a decent look at everything you can. Keep in mind, most dirt bikes look better in the pictures than they do in person. So if the bike looks like a roach in the photos, then you can bet it's a pile up close.
Sometimes people will post old photos of the bike and you won't find out until you go to look at it, only to find out it's beat to hell and looks nothing like the pictures. Kind of like that online match date you went on the other night....yikes! Anyway, moving on.
Some people hardly post any photos at all. In these cases, try to get the seller to send you as many pictures as possible. If they don't want to post photos of the dirt bike, there's got to be a reason. Find out what it is or walk away!
Oh yeah, and read the ad very carefully. Some people can be very deceiving with the way they word things in the ad. Look out for things like, "Never Raced", "New Top End", "Very Fast". While these are not "turn and run" type phrases, they always raise red flags with me.
- could also mean, beat to hell on the weekends and not maintained well.
New Top End
- Sure, it had a new top end.....when it was brand new. Also, new piston rings is not a new top end!
- Umm... Aren't most bikes fast? This means they rode it in a straight line fifth gear pinned. Weeeee!
"Never Raced" means absolutely nothing. The reality is that someone who races the dirt bike actually takes care of it. They maintain it well, they add new parts, they replace broken ones, they adhere to regular maintenance intervals and they take care of the bike. The last thing a racer wants is for their dirt bike to crap out on them during competition. I would by a used dirt bike from a racer over a weekend warrior ANY DAY!
"New Top End", if they have receipts with a date and your certain it was for the bike you're looking at, then that's good. If not, don't put much stock into this one. Assume you will need to check the top end sooner than later.
"Very Fast", is not a common thing for anyone who knows about bikes to say. Those who have been around the sport a while know that a 250f is a 250f (insert whatever cc you want). There's no reason to use wording like that. It tells you nothing.
IS THE TITLE IS IN THE SELLER'S NAME AND DOES THE VIN NUMBER MATCH?
This is a huge one. Check out this article about how much of a nightmare title problems can be. Generally the title info will be in the ad. Along with this, check if the registration is up to date and when you look at the bike in person MAKE SURE THE VIN NUMBER MATCHES. States such as California, will make the buyer pay any back fees in order to register the bike. It can be pretty costly. If you're going to have to pay back fees and title & Reg fees, use that as leverage to lower the price you're willing to pay for the bike.
If the title is in the seller's name, you're golden! If not, you'll want to find out what happened with the title. If they lost it, but can give you a bill of sale, that will work, BUT.....you'll want to get their info (Name and Address) and the bike info (VIN Number) and go to DMV to make sure it's in their name BEFORE YOU BUY IT. You can also have the seller meet you at the DMV in order to get the paperwork done and complete the sale.
If there's no title or the bike is not in the seller's name, consider walking away. Title issues can be a huge hassle and can end up costing you a lot of money.
ASK ABOUT MAINTENANCE AND IF THE BIKE HAS ANY ISSUES.
Ask if they do maintenance on a regular basis and be specific. Things like oil changes, air filter cleaning, valve checks, piston & rings, etc., are all important maintenance items and can cost you big if not done regularly. Ask if they have a maintenance log of some sort that you can take a look at.
Ask if the bike has any kind of issues at all. A lot of times the bike may have an issue that the seller left out of the ad. Even though they purposely left it out of the listing, most people can't help but tell you the truth when asked directly if something is wrong with the bike. Some people will lie to you no matter what.
FIND OUT WHY THEY WANT TO GET RID OF THE BIKE.
Every seller has a reason for wanting to sell a bike. Find out what the reason is. Most of the time it's something simple that makes sense, but sometimes people are just pawning off their time bomb of a bike before it explodes. There are a variety of different reasons why people sell their bikes, but try to find out what the reason is.
TRY TO MEET THE PERSON AT THEIR HOUSE.
I suggest meeting the person at their house for several reasons, but the main one is just so you know where this person lives just in case anything goes sideways. Now I'm not talking about if you buy a bike from someone and it turns out to be junk. You bought it son, it's yours now. Don't go back banging on the dude's door because he stuck you with a roached out bike.
I'm simply talking about serious stuff. Like if the bike turns out to be stolen or if the seller turns out to be some turd that tries to take your cash and tell you to take a hike. At least if you meet at their house, you have a bit of power over the situation.
If you agree to meet at a public location, make sure it is VERY public. Try to take a friend with you if you can. The bike you're buying is likely going to cost a couple thousand dollars and you don't want to be a victim with that kind of cash on you.
LOOK THE BIKE OVER THOROUGHLY WHEN
YOU SEE IT IN PERSON.
So here is what you want to check:
START THE BIKE AND RIDE IT.
Start the bike up and listen for any prominent sounds. Winding or knocking sounds on acceleration, deceleration or at idle can be signs of serious internal issues. Dirt bike engines produce some noise by nature, but be sure you know what you're hearing and if you think you hear something odd, walk away from the bike.
The seller will most of the time let you ride the bike up and down the street real quick. Take advantage of it. Don't be a jerk and go ripping down the road and pulling wheelies on the way back. Just go through the gears, use the controls and make sure you don't hear anything weird during the test ride.
LOAD IT UP AND TAKE IT HOME.
If you're satisfied with the bike and the price you're going to pay, load it up and take it home! Once you get it home, it's time to take care of some maintenance items. But, we can cover that it another article.
Remember, buying a used dirt bike is always a gamble no matter what. The bike may have been taking care of by the previous owner and treated them well, only to crap out on you the first or second ride you take. There's no guarantees. Dealers won't even warranty dirt bikes when they're new.
Doing your research and taking your time when purchasing your next used dirt bike, will hopefully save you a lot trouble.
AFFILIATE PROGRAMS DISCLOSURE
PIN IT MX participates in affiliate programs. What does that mean? It means you will find links throughout our website that will link to products or product pages from various retailers. These links are not spam in any way, they are simply a way for PIN IT MX to earn commissions on products without costing you, the consumer, any extra money at all.