Have you registered?

Register now to get the most from exchangeandmart.co.uk:

  • Place your private ads
  • Save searches and get email alerts
  • Request email news and updates

Buying Advice - Bikes & Scooters: Advice on Buying a Motorcycle

Buying a motorcycle

Check out the seller

If buying privately, it's wise to do your research on the seller as well as the vehicle:

  • Get a landline telephone number but you should be aware that it could be for a public telephone box or might transfer to another phone. Call the number to check.
  • Always meet a private seller at their home address. Check that the bike is registered on the V5C Registration Certificate (the “log book“) to that address and look for signs that they reside there.
  • If you feel unhappy with the other party, trust your instincts and walk away. Do not be tempted by that elusive bargain.

Check the paperwork

Examine all the legal documents, plus any available details of the bike's service history. The V5C Registration Certificate is the official document that records the name and address of the current and previous keepers, registration, chassis and engine number, make, year, model and colour.

  • Make sure that V5C has not been tampered with and that the document is watermarked. Compare the document with another V5C or look at the V5C for your own vehicle. See the DVLA website for more information (www.dvla.gov.uk).
  • Check that the vehicle identification number (VIN) stamped on the frame matches that on the documents, and has not been tampered with. Be very wary if there are any signs that etching or numbers have been tampered with or removed.
  • Look for a full service history, complete with dated rubber stamps, in the service book (but see the warning, below)
  • If the engine is reconditioned, ask for evidence, such as a bill or, preferably, a warranty.

The MOT certificate, which must accompany all motorcycles over three years old, is the evidence of the bike's basic condition on the day of the test. Also check old MOT certificates (if the bike is more than four years old) to see if there is a consistent story on the mileage. The general rule of thumb is: the more paperwork the better. A stamped service book is good, but actual receipts for servicing are better. It is not unknown for service books to be faked, so check that the stamps don't all look like they were created on the same day. It is far harder to forge receipts.

next: Checking the bike