The short answer is ‘no’. With their bikes languishing I have had a few Bike readers ask me if their warranties can be extended. The answer there is also ‘no’.

The warranty is specified over time not mileage and unmoved bikes are, in my experience, much more likely to go wrong than regularly used bikes.

Bought a bike pre-virus?

But what if you placed the deposit on a bike in the heady days of early 2020 when you were looking forward to a summer of riding? Can those deposits be recovered? In most circumstances, the answer is again ‘no’. If the dealer can deliver the bike then you declining to take it puts you in breach of contract.

In English law if a contract can be completed, it must be completed. You will at least forfeit your deposit, and if you raided the farkles catalogue you are liable for the extras you ordered, in full. The fact your income has dried up is not a defence in English law.

While some jurisdictions will imply into a contract the concept of ‘force majeure’ that is escaping a contract due to unforeseen circumstances outside of your control, it is not implied into contract in law in England and Wales and my Scots colleagues tell me that Scots law is equally tough.

Kiss your deposit ‘bye

So, at best, if you do not want the bike and you have reserved it in person at a bike dealership the very least that you will do is kiss off your deposit and those extras you had bolted to the bike. But as you will have paid for the bolt-on goodies they are yours, but if the dealer has fitted them he is entitled to his labour costs for both fitting and removing your bits.

As a matter of strict contract law the dealer can attempt to force you to buy the bike but to do so would be odd, and expensive. The default is to keep the deposit and then sell the bike on and the law of damages for breach of contract requires the dealer to attempt to sell the bike and English law does not uphold ‘punishment’ clauses for breach of contract. The party seeking damages must show the losses are real, not dreamt up.

Cooling off periods

Do not get overly hung up on ‘cooling off periods’ – if you have gone to the motorcycle dealer’s premises and signed up for a payment plan or paid a deposit, there is no ‘cooling off’ period. If you’ve bought one via the internet or phone different rules apply and they are a lot more beneficial to you as a consumer.

I summarise but you have 14 days to cool off after delivery of the bike. There is something to be said for taking the time to look at a bike at a dealers (although obviously not right now). However, neither sign nor pay anything, instead go home and then email in that you want the bike and then do all your dealings at a distance including fund transfers and get the bike delivered to you.

Again, just for emphasis, never sign or pay for anything at the dealership. But be alert, if you order online but drop the deposit off in person, or sign the delivery order or pay a holding deposit on the premises, you are back to being totally committed to the bike.

Andrew Dalton

Bike Magazine July 2020