In these tough economic times lots of people are having to make sacrifices and while a shiny new ride may now be out of the question for many bikers on a budget, it’s still possible to have some fun with a cheap motorcycle. The first, and most important point to bear in mind is that you’ll almost certainly be looking at a used bike rather than a brand new one. Like most vehicles, brand new motorcycles lose a large chunk of their resale value the moment you ride it out of the showroom, so you’ll always get a lot more bike for your money if you buy used.
One of the best places to find a cheap motorcycle is eBay, although you will often have to spend a bit of time researching and digging around the site for a bargain. The first rule of buying a motorcycle through eBay is to decide on the maximum amount you are prepared to pay for the bike and never be tempted to bid over that amount – a lot of people get caught up in the excitement of the auction and will talk themselves into bidding more than they planned to, which can mean that a bike that would have been a bargain eventually ends up being quite expensive.
Buying cheap motorcycles
For most people a cheap motorcycle means an old motorcycle, so it’s more important than ever to pay attention to how well the bike has been looked after by previous owners and what kind of condition it seems to be in. Take a good overall look at the bike to find out what kind of physical condition it’s in – does it look as though it’s been regularly maintained and cleaned? Is there a full service history or any other documentation to demonstrate that the owner has taken proper care of the machine?
If the bike has lots of aftermarket parts and the engine has been tuned, this is often a sign that it will have been ridden hard in the past and will almost certainly be in more delicate condition that a bike which is still in standard condition. Remember, modifications (especially engine tuning) almost always decrease the resale value of a bike and very rarely add to its value. Look for signs that the bike may have been raced – things like the sump-plug and oil cap may have been drilled and lockwired, the fairing panels may be in very good condition but the frame and other parts will look tattier (racers often take the original plastics off and use cheap race fairings, replacing the originals when they want to sell).
If you’re going to buy an old cheap motorcycle, it’s a good idea to pick a popular model that sold well when it was launched as this should mean that there are plenty of spare parts available. It’s also worth trying to find a servicing and repair manual for whichever model you buy, although the internet is always a useful resource when trying to find information about working on older bikes since there are usually plenty of forums dedicated to the more popular bikes, where experts will be happy to share their wisdom.
When you’re buying a cheap motorcycle remember to factor in the cost of repairs into your budget, which could cover anything from a basic service to a complete overhaul. If you’re not confident that the engine is in good running order and you’re not able to repair it yourself, the bike may not be the bargain you think it is.