Buying a New Or Used Motorcycle — Which Is Right For You?

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new vs used top copy

It seems like every time we publish an article about a new bike and talk about it being a good deal or economical, we get a lot of comments asking why anyone should buy that bike over a used bike with higher specs. There are lots of great deals on sites like eBay, Craigslist, or Cycle Trader and used bikes are a wonderful option for a lot of people, but which is right for you?

This is obviously a very tough area to give any kind of definitive advice, because we can never really predict what kind of deals will be available in your area, your ability to travel to pick up a motorcycle or what kind of mechanical state that any of the used motorcycles you’ll go to look at will be in. I’ll be using eBay listings for my examples, since LA’s Craigslist wants to charge $7k for non-running 1970s CBs and all the 600cc supersports have been on a YouTube video with someone stunting on the freeway. Here are some things you’ll need to consider when motorcycle shopping, no matter where you are or what you are looking for.

Price

Used bikes are cheaper than new bikes. Shocking, right? Part of the draw for buying used is that, not only do you not have to pay for things like setup, delivery, and dealer fees, but the motorcycle will also have been depreciating since the moment it was ridden off the lot. As an example of depreciation, this 2012 Suzuki GSX-R600 has zero miles and is listed for only $7,999, while the MSRP of the brand new 2013 GSX-R600 is $11,599, which makes that 2012 seem like an amazing deal until you realize the MSRP and sticker prices in dealers aren’t necessarily the same; Cycle Trader lists multiple new 2013′s at $8,999 to $9,999. Looking at actual used motorcycles that are being privately sold, the prices get even lower. Here is a 2009 GSX-R600 with 11,695 miles for $5,995 or look at this 2007 GSX-R600 with 10,953 miles, complete with a trailer and tie downs for only $4,500. That last one says it comes with some riding gear, has LED lights and an aftermarket exhaust, but that it has also “been laid down at 10 mph and has some minor scratches.” Which brings me to my next point…

Condition

We’ve all seen this one in an ad before. “Bike was dropped once in a parking lot,” or how about this one, “bike needs new battery and minor work.” The reason you pay so much less for a used bike than a new one, besides the fact that it has actually been used and is no longer new, is that once you purchase it, there is no turning back. That minor scratch could have been caused by being accidentally tipped over, or it could be from a low side where the owner fixed and buffed the tank, while deciding to sell it instead of fixing the frame damage. That other bike could just need a new battery and the carbs cleaned a little, or it could have been sitting in his barn and the engine seized with rust.

With used bikes, you will never really know what has happened in its life before you got your hands on it. Motorcyclists tend to be enthusiasts, more so than car owners, and many of us upgrade or tinker with our bikes. It’s awesome when you buy a bike with aftermarket exhaust installed, less awesome when the guy before you tried to wire HIDs without any idea of how to do it; hacking the wiring harness to pieces in the process. Buying a bike used leaves a lot of unknowns and opens you up to a lot of risk. When you buy a new bike, it usually comes with a 12 or 24 month, unlimited mile warranty. This is not going to cover you low siding it or riding it into a lake, but it will cover any mechanical defects.

There can also be hidden costs in used motorcycles when it comes to maintenance. It’s important to look at service records to determine if you’re going to need to replace the chain, brakes, tires, oil or adjust the valves a week after you buy it. That $5000 used Triumph Bonneville just became a $6000 purchase if it has 11,500 miles on the clock and is due for a major service visit.

Your Own Mechanical Ability

All of my friends have wanted cafe racers for the past few years (luckily that’s turning into adventure bikes more and more) and I would get numerous texts every month that read something like, “Hey, I want to get a bike. I found this 1975 Honda CB750 on Craigslist for $3,500. Should I buy it?” Everyone knows a guy that knows a guy that bought one for some insanely good price and the bike ran forever, but it’s so incredibly rare that it sets an unrealistic expectation. In the beginning of my motorcycle career, I found myself falling for the same traps, the ones I bought even ran at first. The problem was that I have far more intellectual intelligence than mechanical intelligence, so when those bikes broke down I was forced to beg friends to “take a look” at them or try and find someone who specialized in 40 year old Honda motorcycles (those guys are becoming harder to find and they are starting to realize how much they can charge idiots like me).

The point is, if you grew up rebuilding engines and are mechanically inclined or you feel extremely comfortable learning to rebuild a motorcycle, go ahead and take the risk. If you’re like most people these days and that’s not your forte, look for a newer used bike, preferably a model that people don’t tend to do irresponsible things on, and minimize your risk in the used bike market. Or, just go make payments on a new motorcycle and enjoy that beautiful warranty.

Technology

This is another no brainer, but new bikes come with the latest technology. As bikes get faster and better, new technologies are being added that help keep you safe on the streets. When looking at new bikes versus used bikes, it’s important to consider things like ABS, adjustability, fueling, and suspension/brake components when evaluating what any motorcycle is “worth.” You will have to dig deeper into used bike listings to try and find information about their inclusion of these technologies, which is a main reason we have created resources like our new Buyer’s Guide to help you get the full specs on any motorcycle you may be interested in looking at.

Related Links:

RideApart’s Top Rated New Bikes: Buyer’s Guide

What to Wear: A Beginner’s Guide To Motorcycle Gear

What to Shop For: The Best Motorcycles For New Riders

  • Pat Gamueda

    You nailed it.. nice write up

  • zombarian

    I feel like the last is the least. Obviously if you put a premium on newest and latest, you’ll be paying that premium. Researching any purchase should be a no brainer, even many new bikes leave something to be desired in the technology dept. and it’s usually not to hard to find the features of various used models, wikipedia even has a pretty decent description of year to year changes, though it may fail to mention the BNG.

    • runnermatt

      I agree with you on wikipedia. I found it to be an excellent source for research on bikes and cars. Usually you get pretty good info on specs, available engines & transmissions, etc. plus any common maintenance and reliability problems are listed well.

  • Martin

    Well done. Thank you.

    As a rider who has never before purchased a new bike from a dealer, I feel I have no idea what to expect from the process. Perhaps this could serve as the topic of a future article — just a suggestion.

    • http://www.RideApart.com/ Jen Degtjarewsky

      That’s a great idea! Yes, we can absolutely detail that process in a future article.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      I’ll get right on it!

  • Rameses the 2nd

    There are literally at least half a dozen bikes available on Craigslist with less than 5000 miles any given day. Stay away from the bike with custom paint and custom changes and your chances of finding a dud is relatively low. If you are still unsure, call a local motorcycle store and take it there for a pre purchase inspection. In my state, IL, you just pay flat $25 sales tax on used bikes, so it saves you a lot of money. Buying a new motorcycle is OK, if you have your heart set on a certain motorcycle brand, style, etc.. and if you have the money to spend, but for most buyers will be OK with used motorcycles. Save the money and use it for your own customizations.

  • devillock

    After owning both new and used bikes, my opinion is that new bikes are simply not worth the extra dollars. Do your research, don’t buy anything too old or too many kms on it and you’re good to go. The extra dollars saved just paid for, bike bling, luggage, vacation, beer, sandwiches, hookers or any combination you like.

    • contender

      But mostly hookers.

      • Paolo

        …and beer

  • Clint Keener

    Demos or leftovers make brand new bikes cheaper than normal MSRP too.

    I got my 2012 Streetfighter 848 as a demo with 800 miles. It ended up being cheaper after fees, tag, and taxes than one with 0 miles. I couldn’t get a used one on craigslist either, so this was a good option.

  • Piglet2010

    One thing to be aware of is that if you buy a used bike and do not like it, cosmetic damage will dramatically lower the resale value. So if a used bike is not “clean”, insist on a deep discount from “book” value, or walk away from the deal.

  • runnermatt

    Don’t forget to keep in mind who you know that can help you pick out a used bike and work on it. If you don’t know anyone who can help you with that you may get burned on your purchase and then be forced to take it someone else for repairs.

    I bought a new bike because I didn’t know anyone to get that kind of help.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      Being “that guy” gets old real fast.

      • Jasiek Wrobel

        I paid a local mechanic to be that guy when I was buying a used bike. Worked like a charm.

      • runnermatt

        I’m sure the staff at Ride Apart gets asked all the time and it has gotten REAL old. A good friend won’t let you buy a bad bike. A okay friend won’t speak up and tell you you’re getting a raw deal because they want you to be “happy”.

        Also, a good friend won’t repeatedly pester their friends about what bike to buy.

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          I love helping people find bikes or giving them advice based on their individual situation.

          I meant more “don’t be the guy who always needs help fixing his bike.” My very first bike was the most beautiful 1976 Yamaha XS650 you’ve ever seen, but after a year of owning it, my mechanic friends started getting annoyed with all of the “favors” I needed. I felt awful and like they started to think I only hung out with them to use them for their mechanic skills.

          • runnermatt

            Oh yeah, I totally get that. Either pay someone to fix it (Bike, Car, whatever) or learn how to do it yourself. Someone who is always asking for favors will eventually lose their friends.

            That said the person doing the fixing shouldn’t just fix it for their friend. When I was in the USMC the way I taught new guys to work on gear was these three steps. 1). They read the test procedure to me and I show them what to do. 2). I read the test procedure to them and they perform the testing/repair asking any questions they might have. 3). I stand there to answer questions while they read the test procedure and do all the work themselves. That usually worked pretty good, but if they were still lost by step 3 there wasn’t much hope for them as tech.

            • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

              brilliant

  • http://statesofmotion.blogspot.com/ FastPatrick

    Used to be that the best reason to buy used was because that was where someone getting started could find a variety of decent older beginner bikes, which was a sorely lacking situation at dealers. Thankfully that’s changed recently.

    • http://statesofmotion.blogspot.com/ FastPatrick

      Now that I’m rereading this, why, yes, of course you buy used if you want a “decent older beginner” bike. The “older” part sort of leads to that. Meant to say decent beginner bike in general.

      Note to self: Be careful when commenting after an incredibly long day of trying to teach math to seventh graders.

  • UrbanMoto

    I’ve noticed a pretty strong bias against used bikes on RideApart and I can’t figure out why that is. Seems like there must be more to it than the reasons listed here, but, eh, it is what it is. I’d like the site a tiny bit more if RideApart covered the secondary market in which a huge percentage of us likely get our bikes. But that’s fine; RideApart’s not my site and if they want to nudge us towards new bikes, no biggie. It’s still one of my favorite reads.

    Personally, my 30 yr old totally original and sharp looking KZ750 Spectre, bought 4 years ago for $760 out of the garage of the original owner with 9K miles, is one of the best things for which I’ve ever laid down a penny. Sure I’ve spent a few bucks here and there on maintenance, but not really that much, and I’ve loved every mile. I do agree, however, that the used market is a bit of a minefield and there’s no doubt I got lucky, but so have many of my friends and it’s probably where I’ll get my next bike.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      We definitely don’t have a bias towards used bikes. It is just really difficult to recommend them in a format as wide as this, because the market varies so widely based on your location and because we never know the condition of the used bike. We love anyone buying bikes or getting into motorcycling regardless of whether it is new or used. We just know that when we recommend a new bike, it minimizes a lot of the variables like condition, reliability, and personal knowledge.

      For every story like yours, there are two more in which someone got screwed over or didn’t get what they expected/hoped. Keep working the used market and keep being an awesome resource for your friends to do the same and let us know how we can help.

      • UrbanMoto

        Agreed, 100%. Of course, I’ll probably get a lemon next time around for having posted that comment. BTW, you guys are hitting it out of the park lately. Nice work. (Though I personally would like some longer-form articles once in a while.) Thanks.

    • gravit8ed

      I picked up a mostly-original ’83kz1100 two years back for under $1k from a crusty old tech at the Harley dealership I was detailing for, and it’s been a dream…for the most part. I assumed that, since he was a seasoned tech (“I’d rather be working on Jap bikes but they never break, so I work on Harleys”) everything would be straight-up and tidy, but he knew what he could get away with when doing repairs and some of the parts aren’t exactly stock-spec.

      I’ve made 6 trips of 1,300 miles or more on it, and never once had any significant problem. But it needs love and money – the coils went out about a mile from home the day I wanted to visit the motorcycle museum in Anamosa, Iowa (boy was that fortuitous, I’d have been ~200 miles from home if it’d gone out later that day). It’s got a pretty decent oil leak from the clutch cover and the replacement battery I bought recently won’t hold a freaking charge, so now it’s all ‘WTF?’ is it a problem with the battery or the generator or the wiring…*sigh. Push starting an 1100 isn’t what I had in mind when I bought the thing, but it’ll be another couple weeks before I can get it in a garage and looked over.

      Which brings me to another point: are you urban or a homeowner? Used bikes ALWAYS need something, and therefore you need either a bunch of cash lying around or a garage and tools. So figure that into your price of ownership (new tires, oil change, filters, plugs and lube for the shaft drive set me back another $400). Also figure insurance into it as well – obviously, older bikes like ours are vastly cheaper to insure than a new bike of similar specs.

      Finally, it’s all about personal style. My KZ1100 is the granddaddy of the sportbike category, and I know mine is likely the only one in Iowa. I’ve never seen another 1100 at any of the meets I’ve been to, and that makes it special to me even more. The Harley guys who actually know their bikes stop to look and chat. The sport guys who have some awareness are always curious. Even though Grun Holle (Green Hell) is worn-out and needs a comprehensive restore, it’s my worn-out, beat-up muscle bike and I wouldn’t trade for anything else. I like to think that some of the older guys who stare from their cage are thinking about an old bike they sold, wistfully wishing they still had it.

  • LS650

    Great article. So much of motorcycle media is oriented towards running out and buying a brand new $15,000 motorcycle.

    I like riding, but I’ve always found that you buy a great reliable bike for only a few grand.

    • Mitchel Durnell

      Shhhh! Don’t cut off our ever replenishing supply of cheap OEM parts in the secondary market!

  • Mitchel Durnell

    That Panigale: “Ran when last parked. Could use a good wash.”

    • KeithB

      I have seen that in ads for ’70s Hondas. Ya…parked 20 years ago!

  • Darin Dorsey

    Having just bought a 34 year old Honda this past June, with no mechanical experience whatsoever on anything outside of my old k’nex toys and legos, I disagree with ‘Your Own Mechanical ability’ section to an extent.

    If you have the time, research, the motivation, a bit of money, and a good manual, you can learn to do most repairs on your own. Sure, it was frustrating the first time I pulled my carbs and it took me 3 hours to reinstall them because I have no idea how throttle cables worked, but at the end of the day these machines aren’t that complicated and eventually you’ll figure it out. There are definitely people out there who should find a new bike that they can just hop on and get going, but if you have the time and are genuinely interested in learning about motorcycles,and how they work I definitely recommend spending some time on a used bike with a few issues. If you buy a newer used bike, you’re only delaying something you have to get done eventually anyways.

    Anyways, I really enjoyed this article. It’s great to see some attention being given to the used market, especially with all of the new riders who know nothing about motorcycles trying to find their first bike on craigslist. Hopefully you guys and others can spread enough knowledge to help some people avoid the bike that ‘needs carbs cleaned’ when it really needs a valve adjustment.

    D

    • Guest

      “The point is, if you grew up rebuilding engines and are mechanically inclined or you feel extremely comfortable learning to rebuild a motorcycle, go ahead and take the risk.”

      Direct quote.

      • Darin Dorsey

        I read the article. My point was that I’m not mechanically inclined, nor do I feel “comfortable” working on my motorcycle, but I have been able to accomplish some things with patience and the willingness to learn.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      That’s awesome. Maybe I worded it poorly, but what I meant was to know you’re own limits, abilities, skills. This could either mean that you A) have the knowledge and skills or B) that you have the inclination and interest and patience to learn them.

      I’m a bright guy, I can teach myself just about anything on a computer or anything intellectual and I’m not bad with my hands when it comes to construction type stuff. When it comes to mechanical intelligences, I feel completely over my head and have always been envious of people like yourself.

      So just know, before hand, whether you’re like me or like you and plan your purchases accordingly :)

      • Darin Dorsey

        Agreed! Ultimately its about knowing what youre getting into and doing your research. Not everyone has the time or lack of funds like me, so buying a newer or new bike is probably better for them. Like I said I bought my bike from a friend so I felt confident that I knew what was wrong with it (I’m still really intimidated by electrical work)

  • Justin McClintock

    Speaking from experience, never, EVER buy a bike that is advertised as “ran when parked.”

    That being said, I’ve never bought anything but used bikes and have had pretty good experience with almost all of them. Tried to buy a new bike all of once that was advertised as a good deal. Well, once you added in prep, freight, tax, title, dealer fees, etc, etc, etc, it wasn’t even close to a good deal. All that crap, they wanted to ad $1500 to the price of a $5200 bike. Um…no.

    • Ken Lindsay

      Whenever I purchase anything from a dealer, don’t look at the sales tag that marks the price. Always negotiate the Out The Door Price. If they won’t talk in those terms, find someone who will. Autos, bikes, recreational vehicles… it is always best to talk in Out The Door Prices. If you are hung up on destination charges, tax, license, blah, blah, blah, they will overwhelm you and then add some kind of service special.
      If you are making payments, visit a bank or two first and have that part figured out in case they don’t have a nice financing deal available.

  • KeithB

    Here in Ontario, Canada, for $20 you can run the VIN# and see who has owned the bike and if it is free of financing or has been “re built”
    Well worth the $$

  • Brian

    The only thing I “might” add, would be now with the internet, there is a forum for EVERYTHING! Due diligence of spending a few minutes and learning of various quirks or things to look for or at or know in terms of inherent problems is so easy nowadays. Forums will reveal many a crackpot and keyboard jockey, but just as easily, it can reveal very valuable information that can save you $$$ in negotiations if asking the right questions up front.

    For Example, as Sean used the Bonneville that goes up a cool $1000 based on maintenance interval not done, finding out what that interval is so as to know to ask about it is a valuable piece of knowledge. A seller posting up a Ducati superbike with XXXX miles on it because they got sticker shocked by the cost to do said service is not an uncommon example either. An early to mid 2000′s R6 that someone is selling with 18-22K on it looking for someone else to pick it up and deal with without knowing that the transmission 2nd gear issue is coming to reveal its ugly head in the nearer than not future is another example. There are tons of them too ( examples that is), so the term “Caveat Emptor” is one to hold true. Take the time to do a little research and you will find/learn lot.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      this is an awesome tip.

    • Generic42

      Forums are a great way to find popular bikes also. Don’t know what Adventure bike to get? Well there is a very active KLR forum, so for me that would color my decision some. An active group of supportive people is worth paying a couple thousand more for a used bike vs. one with no active community.

    • roma258

      Forums are also a very good place to find used bikes. Generally speaking, people on bike specific forums are enthusiasts who are more likely to take better care of the bike.

  • contender

    I’m not a trackday racer, but I am a pretty decent rider. I’ve NEVER been wanting for more performance on a motorcycle…maybe a twistier road when on my supermoto or slightly better suspension on other bikes but that is about it. If you included a used option in your buyer’s guides the argument for the newest machine would likely get a little thin.

    When I got into street motorcycles ~12 years ago I had zero mechanical ability. I bought a clapped-out FZR and then rode it to class without any issues for three years. Most people have motorcycles as second/third/fourth vehicles so they don’t get that much wear. Do a little internet research and you’re probably going to be fine with just about anything and save 50%.

    All of that said, I think I would punch my grandma for that new Yamaha triple.

  • Maverick

    No brainer, used bike. For the same reason that you don’t get a new car – #depreciation #tooexpensive #similarperformance #SAVINGS

    • LS650

      What’s with all the hashtags?

      • gravit8ed

        …kids today and their twitter mentality, I tell ya.

  • Stephen Mears

    I don’t care what anyone says, the 90′s was a golden age for sportbike pain schemes:

    http://motoprofi.com/imgs/a/a/j/j/b/yamaha_yzf_750_r_1994_2_lgw.jpg

    awww yesss.

    • Khali

      I like 90′s yamahas! But it is said that they tend to spend too much oil…so i stay away :(

    • LS650

      Ouch! My eyes!

  • Khali

    First, used bikes devaluate far less, and let you change your ride more frecuently loosing far less money in the process…Pick a 2nd hand motorcycle, ride it for a year, then sell it for a bit less than you payed. Then buy a different one. You wont ride as many bikes as Rideapart staff, but thats as close as you can get :P

    Second, in this economical crysis times, chaining to a bank with the payments for a new motorcycle, just doesnt make sense. Instead, buy a cheap old trusty bike and pay it in cash. Then start saving for the next, newer, more expensive motorcycle.

    And third, as a new rider, consider that you will drop your bike, scratch it parking, and maybe even crash it. Repairing an older bike is much easier and cheaper than a brand-new one (and it hurts a bit less in your heart). Trust me, i know. I bought a full fairing for my old ’91 katana for the price of just the left front side of my V-Strom’s.

  • Pablo Perez

    Excellent article. I’ve been riding for ~20 years and have only bought two new bikes (lots of used ones). I guess the only advice I’d have is take a look at the tires, the brake pads, the air filter, the fluids (does the oil look good / smell like gas), the rotors, and the overall condition of the bike. These items on a well maintained bike shouldn’t need replacement. On an air cooled v-twin (what I usually buy) I’d pull the plugs and read those (shouldn’t take more than a minute).

  • Von

    As a guy looking for a first bike, I have a say a new bike is appealing because it’s worry-free maintenance and ten plus thousands of dollars for a bike on top of necessary gear just isn’t realistic for me. Saving a few grand for license, gear and a down is. Having a $200/month payment is worth it to me for the peace of mind of a new bike and warranty while just trying to learn to ride and not wrench as well. Then again a used bike would be nice so I don’t have to worry about dropping it or whatever else comes along with the learning curve of street riding as much as a new bike. If you can get a good deal on a new bike, depreciation is a moot point. A year old new model of a Moto Guzzi V7 is $7,500 at dealerships by me, compared to $8,300 for current year model for example.

  • gravit8ed

    Someone below mentions an apparent bias against used bikes on ride apart’s side, and I think I can understand where it feels like they might have more ‘against’ than ‘for’ on sport bikes, in particular.

    Not to speak for RA’s excellent staff, but my own observation, is the potential to end up buying a gixxer that’s been used to practice all the obnoxious stunts you see plastered on youtube feeds. You know what I’m talking about: wheelies and stoppies and whatever else they call stupidity on a motorcycle. Some of the mass rides in Texas, for instance, and Florida (where else) feature bikes being abused by people who apparently have the money to buy new machines whenever they dump their latest toy. And thats really what it is – some people treat them like expensive toys and don’t respect the bike very much.

    So you get a listing for a newish rocket with the kind of phrasing you mentioned in the article, AND YOU WALK AWAY. I’ve done detailing for dealerships and some of the bikes get traded in without a decent once-over, and the managers FREAK OUT when you take the fairings off to discover cracked frames and all manner of damage that should have been spotted before they took the bike in. So that is a very important thing to consider when looking to buy used ‘XXXR’ models. If a seller is reluctant to let you check it out by a professional, walk away. Seems like pretty obvious advice but goes unheeded quite often.

  • El Isbani

    I feel comfortable buying used in one circumstance: that I buy from a person I know or salesman I trust. Same with cars. I have to have a good acquaintanceship with him. If I want to see their initial inspection, then I can see it. If they don’t have it, then we can talk about it. Also, if you buy a used bike from a dealer, the two of you can deal more out-rightly and everyone can walk away easy. Say, I want to walk away paying 5k, and they’ll say 5800, and maybe you can leave with 5300 and some in-store credit. Wouldn’t buy a beater unless guy was a family friend or something.

  • kcavaliere

    It depends on the motorcycle. I prefer new but I’ve had a few used motorcycles. I’ve seen a few high mileage, mint condition, well maintained motorcycles. I’ve also found low mileage, “weathered”, curiously modified motorcycles that don’t look like seen much maintenance at all.

    It depends on your expectations but a “bargain” can quickly go expensively wrong. The first thing I look at is the brake reservoir. If the fluid looks like coffee, I start looking a lot closer, starting with the brakes.

  • ThinkingInImages

    I prefer new these days but I bought and sold a lot of old “standards” over the years. These were the models that were sold for years with few changes to the major parts. Around here, Suzuki’s were an easy find and there were built well. Honda was all over the place with models that lasted only a few years (they still are, to some degree).

    One of the first things I check is the brakes. A lot of people will prep a motorcycle for sale and neglect the brakes. If I spot brake fluid that looks like coffee, odds are I’ll have to pull down the entire brake system and rebuild it. Next is the exhaust and carbs. Sooted out and blue chrome makes me look close. Most motorcycles run too lean to have soot in the exhaust tips. Blue chrome exhaust usually means it was run hard. Anything aftermarket raises a red flag, so does a rattle can paint job.

    There’s a lot of bargains out there but you have to approach it all wisely. If that motorcycle is so “hot” why are they selling it? Sometimes a bargain turns into a black hole of expenses.

  • Ross Logan

    If you buy a used Ducati there is a good chance the previous owner has already fixed all the things that are wrong with them from the factory. Flaking rockers, bad reg/rectifiers, recalled parts, termis and ECU to fix the terrible stock fueling, exhaust butterfly removal, expanding tanks, ugly plate holders…
    Ask me how I know

  • Brian Baecker

    I’m in the market for a new ride and i must say one thing this article doesn’t point to is buying a left over. I think this really the best of both worlds if you want to buy new.

    I’m looking at a Kawasaki Ninja 1000. Brand new 2014 MSRP is $11,999. Dealers are willing to part with a 2012 for $8000, 2013′s are still available for $9k.

    It depends on the bike obviously – but there hasn’t been major upgrades to this bike since 2010 so you’re essentially getting the same bike minus a few minor upgrades for 2-4k less than brand new.

    I’m sure this is the case with other bikes that have had minor updates.

  • Pat Moriarty

    I’m going to charge more for my 1976 CB750….

  • enzomedici

    The no brainer is new or demo. Used bikes? Only if I know the person selling it. I have no idea what moron owned the bike and what they did or didn’t do to it. I’ll take new bike with warranty because I don’t have a car and I commute everyday all year long and I need reliability and peace of mind. Buying some used bike off of Craigslist that has been dropped, sitting around for a year barely ridden or hacked apart and back together…no thanks.