Bike buying guide

Avoiding problems when you buy a motorbike

Check the paperwork

  • Check that the person selling the motorcycle is the owner
  • Read the Vehicle Registration Document (V5). Alarm bells should ring if the seller can’t show you this. If they claim they bought the bike recently and it is still with the DVLA, they should have a green slip (if the V5 is post March 1997). Check whether it has any spelling mistakes or alterations and whether it has a watermark.
  • Check the V5 against the details on the seller’s driving licence, passport, or recent gas or utility bill
  • Check the V5 against the bike. The number plates (VRM), identification number (VIN) and engine number should all match.
  • Ask to see a valid insurance policy
  • Check the tax disc
  • Check the service history
  • Check the mileage. Does it match the MOT, service documentation and when the bike was last sold? Do the dates match up?
  • Check the garage address and phone numbers, if any, on the MOT and service documents. Look out for any notes made by the mechanics at the time
  • Check the MOT certificate. Has it been properly stamped, and does the test centre have a VOSA number – remember that the MOT certificate does not mean that the motorcycle is roadworthy- only that it was in a certain condition on a certain day.

Check the bike

  • Check the motorcycle’s condition. Look out for rust and damaged tyres, check the warning lights and cut out switch, look out for any welding on the frame or patchiness in the paintwork. Check the frame and engine numbers.
  • Ask if you can test-drive the motorcycle. Make sure you’re insured to do this, and be carefully what security you give. Hand over your car keys as security and you may come back to find that you are sitting on a stolen bike and someone has just run off with your car.

Paying for the bike

  • Get a HPI check
  • If you’re part-exchanging your old bike, then make sure you know what it is worth.
  • If you’re buying from a dealer, make sure you’re being quoted the on-the-road price which includes VAT, number plates, delivery charges and road tax.

Related FAQS

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