Buying a used dirt bike it’s wise if you’re on a budget, I get it, you want to hit the trails and ride in the wild. Sometimes you just can’t afford new stuff, but there’s no problem in buying a used one if you know what to look for. As a buyer, there are a couple of things you will need to consider, and maybe have at least some knowledge in mechanical matters.
If you don’t feel confident enough, you can always call up a friend to do the research with you, a friend who also knows some stuff in the mechanical aspect. Either way, assuming that you have found the dirt bike that meets your criteria, the extra money that you save by buying a used one can be used for making specific upgrades on the bike over time, upgrades that will accommodate your riding style better.
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Set a price limit
The first thing you’ll need to do is to set a price limit. How much money are you willing to spend on a dirt bike? Assuming that you know how much money you want to spend, now you can start evaluating the current market value and compare it with the price that it currently has. You won’t find the right dirt bike on the first try, well you will if you’re lucky, but as soon as you find a model that has a huge price difference, then consider contacting the seller for the used model.
Aside from the money calculation that you will make for the used bike, you should also put some extra money on the side if there happen to be any maintenance and repair costs for the bike. If there are any, the seller will either tell you, or you will have to test it and figure out for yourself. Thus, if the price is too high when you consider the repair costs, you can start negotiating for a new price.
No matter what you buy, other costs will always pop up along the way, so it’s important that you estimate every possible outcome. Other costs include sale tax, title transfer and registration which can cost you up to a couple of hundred dollars, and insurance which you must include after the purchase.
Do proper research
Doing proper research is an important factor since what you’re buying is a used dirt bike. Make up your mind on a brand, it will be frustrating at first because there are so many brands from which you can choose. When choosing, try evaluating everything based on your budget, and once you’ve found the model from the brand that you like, consider what experience level you’re required to be to ride the dirt bike, what size, and what riding style.
If you can answer all of those questions on your advantage, then that’s the model that you’re looking for, if you can’t, try narrowing down more options until you feel confident enough. What else can help you with your decision is reading reviews, there are tons of subreddits and forums which you can find where people share their experience with their dirt bike.
By doing this, you gain more knowledge, tips, and tricks that other people who have ridden that certain have highlighted. Therefore, when you come face to face with the seller and the dirt bike, you will know exactly what to look for, what to test, and what are the most common problems with that specific dirt bike that you’re trying to purchase.
Lastly, make sure you check the bike’s current price on various sites across the internet, and figure out if you’re saving enough by buying a used dirt bike. If there isn’t much difference, jump to another option until you find the best bargain.
What to be aware of when searching for dirt bikes
If you try to rush on finding a dirt bike as soon as possible, that might have a bad outcome. Finding a good dirt bike will require patience and only patience from you, check all of the alternatives and see through everything thoroughly, even the slightest details.
Maybe there’s a local riding club that you don’t know about, that’s a good first place to start searching for a bike as you can ask and get connected with people who want to sell their dirt bike. Do some research on which dirt bike brand is the best, see what other people are recommending, see what the problems are with certain dirt bikes, and so on.
The most ideal site to start getting information is Reddit, there are hundreds of subreddits with people that own different dirt bikes, and there are always posts where they either show their problems with the bike, or the solutions for a specific repair. For finding sellers, you can start by checking up Craigslist, but there have been recently some scammer reports so you want to be careful with whom your contacting.
Try searching for an advertisement from a seller that has put photos that look authentic, self-taken from a phone. Another trick you can try to find out if he’s a real seller is to right-click on the photos and click search on google. If the image shows up everywhere on the internet, then it’s a fake seller who downloaded the images from google and he’s most likely going to scam you.
Okay, enough with the lectures about scammers, there’s no need to rush really, the market is huge and if not today, tomorrow you will definitely find something that meets your preference the most.
Contacting the seller
Assuming that you have found a promising dirt bike, contact the seller either by e-mail, message, or even better give the seller a call. There are a couple of important questions that need to be answered:
- Is the seller the original owner?
- What kind of ownership papers does the bike have?
- Does the seller have an owner’s manual?
- Who maintained the bike?
- Ask if the seller knows where the VIN is located, and if the seller doesn’t know that information, ask him to find it by the time you go and meet with him to check the bike
- Has the bike been modified during the time the owner had it? If yes, ask who did the modifications and ask if the seller still has the receipts or the original stock parts
Take these questions seriously and try to get information about all of them, but try avoiding putting yourself at risk by trying to get more information about the seller. A call will give you a better understanding of the seller, tell you more about who they are, how they negotiate and are they genuine.
If you don’t feel confident meeting the seller on your own, you can always bring a friend as mentioned above, a friend that has some sort of mechanical knowledge. For safety reasons, never meet the seller in sketchy places, it is your right to set up a place to meet, somewhere public if you prefer, or somewhere where you feel confident.
Although, you should also respect the seller’s time because they also have responsibilities and other stuff to get done during their day, so be mindful when you set up a time to meet.
Inspecting the bike
Assuming that you’ve done all the things that were required above, now it’s time to meet up and inspect the bike. What things you should look out for? First, make sure you check the condition of some specific components such as the frame, magneto cover, chain, and clutch cover.
If the bike’s paint has faded, that shows that the bike has been used for quite some time. Any noticeable cracks or bends show you that the rider has probably been in an accident with the dirt bike.
The best thing to do is to request the bike for a ride, that will give you a better idea of how everything works, and in what condition the bike is. Aside from that, if you’re meeting in the seller’s home, make sure you take a look around and how the seller maintains his/her more valuable things, such as the car.
If there are other maintenance tools around, that shows that he always tried to take good care of the bike. You’ve made some questions while you called the seller, right? Now, it’s time to ask another round of questions including:
- Why are you selling the bike?
- Have you ever been in an accident with the dirt bike? If yes, were there any major damages taken that you later repaired or modified?
- For how long have you been riding the bike?
- Have you had any other issues with the dirt bike?
If you feel like you’re getting solid answers for all the above-mentioned questions, take it as a positive sign. However, if you feel like the answers are all made up, and he/she is just trying to sell their bike, take that as a negative sign. Check up on the most important components and parts of the dirt bike, don’t just be amazed of the appearance and the fancy graphics that the bike might have.
Have your checklist ready
When examining the bike, make sure you have your checklist ready as you go through looking at the condition of some of the most important parts.
- Air filter – Checking up the air filter is the first thing to do when examining a used dirt bike. It’s your right to ask for permission to check the air box, but in case the seller doesn’t comply with your request, then he is probably hiding something. An air filter can always be cleaned, but if you happen to find a dirty air filter, that shows a sign that the seller has put up very little effort in terms of maintenance. The air filter is a crucial component, and you don’t want to buy the dirt bike from someone who didn’t even bother to clean it.
- Radiator – See if the radiator is smashed or bent, and then check up on the condition of the fins. If you know how to check up these things, great, but if you don’t, ask to see if the level of coolant is maintained at the right level. The radiator should be topped up, and make sure you take a close look at it to see if it leaks anywhere. If you notice that the radiator has been repaired and it’s patched up poorly, you can make negotiations on buying a new one.
- Clutch and brake lever – If you’re new to dirt biking, then you probably don’t know that clutch and brake levers can break so easily. Most of the time they bend just by riding normally, it’s just that most manufacturers put low effort in making them quality enough. Despite the fact that they’re inexpensive to fix, the cost can reach a point where it becomes expensive if there is more than one lever that needs to be replaced. There are a lot of levers that take part, such as the rear brake pedal and the shift lever, they can be easily broken as well. If the shifter isn’t tight enough, it means that the splines have worn out and it needs to be replaced.
- Oil leaks – Make sure you check out the engine’s bottom and around the front fork seals to see if there are any oil spills.
- Sprockets – Sprockets and the chain wear out simultaneously. What you can do is pull the chain away from the rear sprocket using only your fingers, you might get dirty but it’s worth to see how many millimeters does the chain come off. If you feel like it’s coming off more than it normally would, that a sign that the chain must probably be replaced.
- Plastics – Maybe aesthetics are not as important to you, but if you’re buying a dirt bike, why not buy a good looking one. Old dirt bike plastics usually have scratches on them, and that’s a good sign. If the seller has been using the bike for more than two or three years, then the plastic should at least have some scratches on them, if not, the chances are that the bike has been probably crashed into a tree. If the plastics are cracked, the chances are the bike has been flipped backward. These are simple signs that show you how well the seller has maintained the dirt bike.
- Frame – The frame is the first thing that shows if the bike has been in major crashes, you can easily notice if the subframe is bent by simply looking from the front.
- Muffler – As I said, it’s wise if you first do a test ride yourself with the dirt bike. If the muffler is heated, then it’s a sign that the seller probably ignited the bike before you came to hide any issues like stalling or other mechanical noises.
Registering a used dirt bike
After all, you might end up liking the dirt bike even if the seller is not the original owner. But wait, what does that mean for registering the dirt bike? Well, the seller won’t hand you over any documents or original paperwork for the bike, but you’ll need to ask for a handwritten bill of sale. Nowadays, you can’t just go to the DMV with a handwritten scrap piece of paper.
First, check if your states DMV accepts the seller’s bill of sale. You can check that out on your states DMV website by putting the seller’s name, address, and the bike’s VIN. If the VIN that the seller has put on the bill of sale doesn’t match, you’ll not be able to register the bike.
Regulations can differ depending on the state that you live in. It’s important to check on the latest requirements just by going on their website, and I recommend you do this before going out to meet up for the dirt bike. When you search for your state’s motor vehicle site, just be sure that you’re on their official DMV site, not just in any blog or other website that tends to share information, because these laws change from time to time.
Used dirt bike safety recalls
Make sure you run the dirt bike’s VIN through the stolen dirt bike databases. Once you do that, you will also want to use the VIN to see if there are any safety recalls that the owner failed to mention, or simply not know about. Here are some dirt bike safety call pages that you can use:
When buying a used dirt bike, you will notice that most people are going to be upfront and honest about their dirt bike’s condition. They will also be afraid to lie about ownership papers, while some will simply tell you the truth because it is what it is, right?
Either way, if you feel like you’re not seeing what you were promised, just walk away from that deal even though the price might be good. You will come across other used models in the near future, just don’t rush into this.