Buying a £1000 bike
The obvious secret is patience. It takes time to find the real bargains; you just need to have the money ready. And don’t set your heart on a particular model. The real trick though is knowing where to look – eBay does throw up the occasional bargain, but there is an awful lot of crap on there and the chances of getting lucky are slim. Think of a bike and then think how you could mis-describe it and then go looking for that. Our Triumph Daytona featured above had been on the site advertised as ’Red Triumph’ and had no interest.
Have a poke around the forums for bikes you are interested in. You’ll find bikes for sale from people who have a passion for the marqué. Don’t forget though that the one VFR up for sale from their collection of eight will probably be the one needing most work.

Car dealers can be a good source too. A bike taken in part ex against a car is often advertised at a high price, but offer cash and you’ll usually get a decent deal. But the best source is word of mouth. A mate of a mate, a colleague, whatever. Not advertised anywhere else, quick and easy sale wanted. There’s nothing like it.



Buying a £2000 bike
Choose carefully. There are plenty of mega-fast, top spec sports bikes that look soooo tempting at this money. But most are knackered or at best need a lot spending on them to bring back their performance. And whatever you might think, a crisp Fazer 600 will run rings around a knackered 1000cc Thunderace on any road.

It’s all to easy to spend £2000 on a tidy-looking Kawasaki ZX-9R and another £1300 fixing all the niggles. Check the consumables carefully. Nearly new tyres, chains, brake discs and pads and a recent service will save you a fortune. Rear shock absorbers will be past their best and chances are the fork oil hasn’t been changed since 1998. Check for crash damage and be wary of bikes with aftermarket footrests and stickers on the bodywork. If it’s got a noisy exhaust, ask for the original – you’ll struggle to get an MoT without it these days.


Private sales are best at this price – most dealers like to make at least £500 on a bike so they have a cushion if something breaks.

Buying a £3000 usedbike
Same problems in the main as the £2000 bikes but not as obvious because these bikes are a couple of summers newer. Crash damage and worn out chassis components are still the biggest problems. Buying a £3000 Yamaha R1 or Suzuki GSX-R1000K1 is fine so long as you have another £500 to fix all the niggles. Most of these bikes will be ready for their second shock absorber, chain and sprockets, brake discs and battery. On sports bikes expect to inherit a nine-year-old alarm with only one key fob and no instructions. Expect it to give you hell so get a pro to remove it before you get stranded. Dealers can offer bargains here if you don’t mind a slightly tatty example not quite good enough to put on the main showroom floor. But you might have to ask and get in quick before they ship ’em off to auction.

A nearly new motorcycle…
Should you still feel like buying a nearly new motorcycle. For this money you’ve every right to expect everything to be spot-on. But don’t forget that a badly maintained chain can be worn out by 7000 miles, a couple of winters laid up can kill a battery and two year-old fork oil will have the damping properties of dishwater. Plus, brake discs can warp in a single track day, rear suspension can go off after a couple of trackdays and who knows how many times it went end over end before landing in the gravel trap. Not to mention the outstanding HP payments.


An HPI check is essential on any used bike, but with expensive nearly new models (especially sports bikes) you’d be crazy not to.

What to check
Everything. Because at this price you can easily double the cost if it needs tyres, chain, sprockets, brake discs, a shock and a brake caliper rebuild. So make sure it all works, including the electrics. Scuffs and scrapes are fine so long as everything is straight: missing parts likewise so long as you can live without them. Replacement parts can be pricey and there’s probably a good reason why they weren’t replaced before. Two original keys are a good thing, as is any kind of service history. Ten-year-old alarms with no instructions and only one working blipper are bad things. Check the wiring carefully – they can be a disaster.

Don’t forget…
…To make sure it’s legal. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean you don’t need to check the frame and engine numbers against the logbook. Or that they are still the original ones. Or that it hasn’t been crashed and rebuilt by some idiot who doesn’t know anything about mechanics. Or that it belongs to the person selling it. And the biggie is… Make sure the engine is right when cold and warm. Listen carefully for knocking noises and rumbles, make sure the clutch works and all the gears engage smoothly. It’s not always easy to get a test ride before you buy and while most sellers will agree to a refund if you don’t like it in the first half hour, they have no legal obligation to do so.


How to haggle like a Yorkshireman (by a Yorkshireman)
Haggling is hard and things like eBay have made it worse. Whoever thought a system where the price goes up was a good idea? The secret is simple. Decide how much you want to pay and stick to it.After that it just becomes a game. A challenge to see if you can get the bike for what you want to pay. Remember, you’re not there to make friends, the seller doesn’t have to accept your offer and if you’ve done your research right, you’ll know what a fair price is for the bike anyway.

The biggest problem people have is setting their heart on that particular machine when reason tells us that there are dozens of others for sale right now and chances are there’s someone who’ll sell for your price.

The key to a good buy is information. Do your research. Find other bikes for sale at the right price. Ring about all of them, ask all the questions (age, mileage, history, damage, extras, service items, when were the consumables last replaced etc) for every bike and work out which are the ones worth going to see. It’s better to knock £200 off a bike that’s just had a new shock, chain, tyres, brakes and battery than £400 off a wreck that needs a grand spending on it.

Always take a mate with you to view. Offer them a tenner for every fault they spot. They’ll see far more than you do. Add up the cost of the faults, subtract from the asking price and, if it’s in your price range make an offer. If the seller refuses, don’t say anything. Silence is golden and chances are he wants the sale more than you want that particular bike. Cash talks so wave it.

Stand your ground – the longer you’re there the more chance of a deal. And if he won’t be swayed, tell him that the offer stands, you’re looking at another couple of bikes, but leave your number before you go. Ring him back a week or so later and repeat your offer.

It sounds tough but it isn’t. Be polite but firm, chatty, friendly, but in control of your money and you’ll have the right

Tony Carter

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