How to buy a Motorbike avoiding bad surprises

The weather in Ireland is famous for being bad if compared with other nations such as Italy and Spain. That’s why when the sun or summery days are knocking our door, you might think of buying a motorbike. It always like this, and also (it is not a coincidence) prices of used motorbikes go up a bit in summer months.

Based on my personal experience as novice biker, expat, living in Dublin, I want to share with you, based on what happened to me, some advice if you are thinking to buy a second-hand motorcycle.

Where to buy a motorbike in Ireland? Or in my case in Dublin?

There are basically 2 options: the first is from a private seller, then the second is through a Bike dealer. If you buy a bike from a private seller (usually found it online) you might save money if compared to the bike’s market price. If you buy your motorbike from a dealer you get at least 3 months warranty or more (depending on the year the bike has and what kind of agreement the seller gives to you).

Summarizing what I wrote above if you buy from:

  • Private seller price is usually lower than dealers but no warranty is given (bought as is)
  • Dealers, you get a warranty and it is supposed the bike is checked properly. The downside is the price, higher than the private seller asked price.

A thing to remember: When you buy from a private seller, you don’t know really what is the status of the bike. It might work when you try the bike, but then after one month the issue pop up and then you have to spend money to fix the issue, as it happened to me. Please bear with me, not all private sellers are bad. Sometimes it is just as a lottery ticket or as Forrest Gump referred to a box of chocolate.

Does it mean that you have to buy only from a dealership? Not necessarily. You can buy from a private seller but, you must have a plan in mind to check the motorbike is fully working. I will tell you my idea based also on my mistakes which cost me 1600 Euro for the bike and further 700 Euro in mechanic expenses that didn’t fix my bike, so I had to buy another one.

How to avoid being ripped off from a private seller when you buy a motorbike in Ireland

I said in Ireland because now I live in Ireland but, it might apply to other countries. This is my list of things you should think or prepare to ensure at least you tried to do the best from your side:

  • Don’t go to the appointment with the private seller alone. Bring with you if possible an Irish guy, especially if the seller is Irish. This will ensure that you have first an eyewitness, second, you will have an extra pair of eyes and hears with you. Third, you might miss something during the conversation (if you are not English native speaker). So, while you chit-chatting with the seller, the other person, your friend may inspect the motorbike. If possible bring somebody with bike experience such as a bike rider, bike mechanic, etc. This will help to spot eventually faults on the motorbike.
  • Ask for the Property Certificate, if the bike has spare keys and maintenance¬†book log. This way you can also check the history of the bike and what has been done so far. Ask also if the bike is serviced by a garage or dealer so you can eventually enquiry to them before buying it.
  • Where possible ask to try that motorbike. It is important because when you try if the bike has some faults (engine, etc) you can spot it.
  • If the deal is too good to be true and the seller is in a rush to sell his bike, think it twice and also don’t rush yourself handling money. Often is a trick to create a kind of scarcity emotional status where you like the bike and you are worried lose it. For sure he will tell you that other 5 people are in the queue for this bike so if you don’t give him the deposit he will sell tomorrow to another guy.
  • Get the registration number and try if possible to check if there are any issues at a local Garda Station. Now, some Garda Stations are very friendly and helpful, others, maybe are busy so you will have to take some time.

If the bike has a considerable cost, let’s say from 4,5 thousand Euro onward, you might eventually consider investing some money upfront so to avoid spending more money after the purchase. Investing money upfront meaning the following:

  • Give to the seller a small deposit so to keep the motorbike for you;
  • Ask permission to bring the motorbike to your local mechanic or garage for an inspection. It won’t cost more than 100 Euro. If the bike is still insured and you have your own insurance, depending on the policy you might ride it on your own, otherwise, you can hire a bike transport service that will move the bike to the garage. Alternatively, you can ask the seller to bring the motorcycle to the garage.
  • Once the mechanic ensures that no faults are discovered, you can pay the rest of the balance.

What I have written above is not bulletproof but it is better than what I did when I bought a motorbike. The following were my mistakes that cost me money:

  • I trusted the seller as it seemed a good family guy;
  • I didn’t bring the bike to any mechanic for inspection;
  • I didn’t inspect the motorbike on my own because I was not knowledgeable about motorbikes.
  • I didn’t bring any friend or person with me;
  • I handled a deposit cash, after few days I paid the full amount in cash.

My motorbike broke down on the M50 just right 2 days after I purchased. “Mea culpa, mea culpa”. I should have been smarter and not trustworthy.

Going back to the other option, buying a motorcycle from a dealer, it is supposed that you get an after sale warranty, although the price is more expensive than the private one. You may want to check these things before you buy:

  • Does the motorbike have service history in the service book log? Does it have a service book?
  • Does it have the spare keys, code for the duplication?
  • What does the warranty cover and for how long?
  • Use Google Maps, Yelp, Facebook to read reviews of this dealer. Try to spot if they are doing good business. Another thing, you may want to know is how long this dealer is in the business. If they are selling motorbikes since 20 years ago it means they probably are good at it and give a good bike

I hope you can take advantage of my advice and that you can avoid a bad experience from purchasing your next motorbike in Ireland. If you have some extra advice you want to share, you can use the comment section below.

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