At the weekend, I was riding a mate’s old bike that he had lent me whilst my main bike was being repaired. The bike wasn’t in the best of conditions when I picked it up, but I was grateful for something to get about on.
After being on the bike for about 15 minutes, the engine went bang in a big way. I was riding it with respect and care, and was as surprised as anyone that it went pop.
we’re not exactly close mates any longer, and now he is demanding cash from me to fix the bike. I’m convinced the bike was on its last legs when I got it and he’s trying to fleece me to buy him a new engine. Where do I stand legally on this? Do I have to pay up?
Shaun P – Address withheld
You don’t have to pay up. There’s no contract, unless there’s something you haven’t told me. Your mate lent you the bike in good faith; you took it in good faith.
Your mate, if he wants to sue you (and he would be a bit of a mug if he did) will have to prove that your riding was of such a poor and unforeseen standard that your riding of the motorcycle negligently broke it.
The bike, whilst being pretty bulletproof, is getting a bit long in the tooth. In order for your mate to even begin to start persuading a judge that you should have to repay him for an engine rebuild, he would have to show that the bike was in good order when he lent it to you.
A valid MOT certificate which is less than a month or so old might go some way to persuade, but still wouldn’t cover the overall health of an engine. It was decent of your mate to lend you his bike, but he’ll just have to accept that it went ‘bang’, unless it was obviously your fault.
It’s a pity when mates fall out over bikes. I used to have an unwritten rule with my mates when we all used to share bikes between us that if it broke down – or even worse – crashed whilst in the care of one of us, then you would have to give your mate your own bike until he got his back on the road.
However, that is not something which you appear to have, and I know that it was something that was quite peculiar to me and my group of friends.
Now that we are all old, have working, reliable bikes, and we can afford fully comprehensive insurance, we don’t operate this system anymore. In short, your mate is going to have to live with it.
Fast Bikes June 2009