Second-hand motorcycles: know and check

The golden rules of safe shopping

A motorcycle is expensive to buy new and loses nearly 25% of its value in the first year: an unstoppable argument for deciding to buy a used motorcycle.

motorcycle & Driver

Classified ad from individual to individual, model seen at a dealer, the bike hands you its handlebars. You’re convinced: that’s the one you need! Yes, a motorcycle is often bought on a crush! If this is not a problem in a new car, on occasion the impulse can be catastrophic and the good deal can be good for the breakage. Some tips to avoid being the turkey of the joke and really make a good deal that lasts… without forgetting the possible scams on the internet.

Inquiry request

The first point is first to choose your type of motorcycle and possibly your model, so as not to fall for a good price. Motorcycling is a passion and you should enjoy your bike for at least several months. Read, ask questions on the forums, consult the websites created by enthusiasts on this or that model to discover the advantages, the defects… especially the defects that appear after a certain mileage (see directory).

Check that the model also matches your experience. Of course, you really like the ZX-6R… but you just got your license and that’s not really reasonable… not to mention the price of insurance.

Consult the used part of the model to know at what price you should find it according to its vintage.

Call your insurance company to find out if they agree to insure you on this model and if so, what price you will pay. It would be a shame to pay as much for insurance as the bike… and it is possible for beginners!

In short, find out about your heart’s chosen one BEFORE.

Are all motorcycles the same in second-hand?

Far from it. Each motorcycle has had its history, its problems… related to its normal wear and tear and its recurring defects, but also to the – good and bad – treatment of its owner. Some bikes are more likely to have been mistreated: roadsters and sports bikes will be more easily victims of 400 meters DA, red zones, wheelings and raging burns than basics or trails and even more so a custom! So you’ll have to be even more careful when buying. For example, the Bandit has specific points to check.

The bike is in front of you

The first major point will always be to check if the bike has been damaged or not and there, do not hesitate to be accompanied, even at a dealer. We have already seen dealers reselling motorcycles showing signs of accidents without reporting it. Even if these are often isolated cases or unintentional mistakes, a healthy motorcycle is an additional guarantee for your safety.

There is a major advantage to buying from a dealer: in case of a problem, you can easily turn against the seller. Because even if in theory, the law also protects you in the case of a sale from one person to another, in reality, if your seller is not solvent, you will end up with a dangerous motorcycle without possible recourse and your only eyes to cry : -(

If he is a biker, talk to the seller about his bike, his maintenance, his type of driving… This will allow you to know how the bike was treated. If it’s a first hand, you can know everything and make an informed decision.

Formalities and documents of sale/purchase on occasion


  1. Cleaning the bike: a clean bike is always more engaging (see maintenance and washing section),
  2. Provide a certificate of non-gage (free of charge from the Prefecture and valid for one month also online in the services section) and a certificate of sale,
  3. Cross out, date and sign the registration document with the mention “sold on”, once the sale has been made,
  4. Basic advice: check the contact details of your contact (ask for an EDF or Telecom invoice), do not present the motorcycle at its usual place of parking, be accompanied during the test,
  5. Prefer a cashier’s check and check its validity, especially by calling the branch (be careful, only on working days, so not on Saturdays!). If it’s a simple check, remember to write down the buyer’s ID number.


  1. Check the motorcycle’s papers: date of first entry into service, 1st, 2nd or 3rd hand and check the conformity of the registration document with the motorcycle (agreement between the serial number of the card and the chassis plate number). You can also ask to see the seller’s papers, just to make sure you don’t run into a thief and have a trace in case of a problem. Pay by cheque and avoid cash payment.
  2. Inspect the motorcycle: leaks, rust marks, tyre wear… see points listed above
  3. Check the working condition of the equipment (headlights, indicators, brakes…)
  4. Ask for the maintenance booklet (take the opportunity to check the mileage), and
    the additional invoices, check the adequacy between the mileage displayed and the condition of the motorcycle (is the counter original?)
  5. Try the cold motorcycle
  6. The documents that the seller must give you:
    • the sales certificate, also known as the transfer certificate, completed and signed in duplicate (available at the prefecture and from dealers),
    • the car registration crossed out with the mention ‘sold on’ (you
      have 15 days to have your new car registration made),
    • a status certificate, also known as a non-pledge certificate
  7. The elements you can ask for:
    • the duplicate of the keys
    • the maintenance manual and/or the Moto Technique magazine
    • the toolkit
    • any accessories such as tank mats, bubbles, etc.

If you have the slightest doubt, as a buyer or seller, run away! It is better to have a deferred sale/purchase than future problems. And the right opportunity must really be one.