We live in the largest motorcycle market in the world. Despite witnessing some of the lowest sales numbers in the recent past, the last fiscal year saw sales of 1,74,17,616 two-wheelers. We did the math and that’s an average of nearly 2,000 two-wheelers every hour!
In a country that’s as dependent (and even a little crazy) about two-wheelers, it’s no surprise that the pre-owned motorcycle market is rapidly growing. More bikes on the road mean more used bikes up for sale, and the internet has only made it easier to buy one.
There’s a number of reasons you might decide to invest in a pre-owned two wheeler and not a new one. This holds especially true in the current scenario, where public transport is something many will be trying to avoid. Whatever your reason may be to buy one, here are some steps to follow to ensure a hassle-free purchase.
As self-explanatory as this might be, it’s best that you know exactly what you’re looking for and what your budget is. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, do your homework by going through forums and speaking to your local mechanic or service centre to know more about the bikes. Many bikes have dedicated forums with owners’ experiences and these will give you a lot of insight. Search for similar offerings so you can compare prices, consider service and running costs – things that you usually look into even if you were buying a brand-new motorcycle.
Where should you buy from?
There are three main avenues you can buy your used motorcycle from: a used-bike broker, an online platform, or directly from a motorcycle owner who’s interested in selling to you.
Your final pick depends on which of these options has what you’re looking for and how convenient each of them is for you. A broker gives you the opportunity to physically inspect the bike before you lay down your money. Most establishments like this also have an in-house workshop that usually services the pre-owned motorcycle before it is put on the market. So even if you’re not the most mechanically adept person, you can rely on a trusted broker to offer you a bike that isn’t riddled with issues. The downside of this method, however, is the fact that the broker is a middleman; and like with all middlemen, you will be paying for the service.
Brick-and-mortar stores have limited options.
Your second option is to use an online portal. Droom and CredR seem to be two popular options at the moment. The former also has a rather extensive list of tools that will make the buying process a whole lot easier. For instance, it offers help with the certification process – namely, transfer of ownership and insurance. It’s also partnered with select financial institutions to allow you to apply for a loan on the website. Additionally, Droom offers add-on benefits like road-side assistance and a full refund scheme if the bike doesn’t match the buyer’s description. Considering the safety net you have when making a financial decision like this, an online marketplace seems to be your best bet at owning a pre-owned motorcycle. It will also be a great option now, considering current social distancing rules.
Buying online will give you options, but has its downsides.
However, let’s assume the motorcycle you’re looking for isn’t listed on one of these websites. In such a case, you’re left to your own devices, which can be a daunting experience for some of us. We’ve listed some pointers to make the process simpler:
Talk to the seller
The first and probably most obvious step is to meet with the seller and speak to them about the motorcycle. Some questions you should be asking him are: Why are they selling the motorcycle? How often has it been serviced? Has it had any falls or major alterations you should know of? If the seller is able to provide you with service slips and bills of what they’ve spent on the bike, it usually points towards a well-looked-after motorcycle. Nevertheless, it is always safer to be wary and do your own inspection.
Speak to the seller. The right questions can show you what the naked eye will miss.
A motorcycle that’s been well run is a motorcycle that still runs well. Unless you’re looking to acquire an older motorcycle, it’s usually best to avoid one that’s over five years old. It’s also worth noting that mileage sometimes has little to do with how well a bike runs. A bike that’s seen regular oil-changes and proper maintenance at 20,000km is a much better deal than one that’s ridden half the distance but with half the care.
Factor consumables into negotiations.
In most cases, a thorough physical inspection should tell you what to be wary of. As the most expensive component on the motorcycle, the engine is the first component to inspect. A good tip is to ask the seller not to start up the motorcycle beforehand. Check if it starts easily during a cold-start; there should be no unusual sounds or smoke emanating from it or the exhaust pipe. Ideally, a short test ride should give you a better understanding as to how well it runs, but not all sellers may be thrilled about you riding off on a motorcycle that isn’t yours yet.
Milky streaks in the engine oil could mean there’s water in the engine.
It may be hard to spot under all the bodywork, but check for rust on the frame and don’t be afraid to question the owner about anything that seems out of the ordinary. Check that all the electrical components are working and that there’s no questionable wiring to be seen. Also take a look at the bearing and seals. Prop the bike up on its centre stand and see that the wheels spin freely, and that the rear shock and fork oil seals aren’t leaking. What you want to look at next is consumables like tyres, brake pads and the chain sprockets. These could be worn out if they haven’t been replaced recently, and is something that you should factor into the final price negotiations.
Poor maintenance will show.
Now, if you feel like you have found a motorcycle that fits your requirements, the last part is the paperwork. Important documentation includes the registration certificate, vehicle insurance papers, original purchase invoice, road-tax receipt and the pollution certificate. You will also need Form 28 - the No Objection Certificate (NOC); Form 29 - the intimation of transfer of vehicle ownership; and Form 30 - the report of transfer of ownership of a motor vehicle. If the vehicle was financed, you will also need to submit Form 35 to the RTO, along with a copy of the NOC from the financing company stating that there are no more dues to be paid.
Keep in mind that any change in the vehicle, like engine replacement or a new body colour, has to be updated in the registration certificate as well. Also, make sure that there is no accident history associated with the vehicle.
Don’t forget the paperwork!
Buying a big bike
While the process of buying a big bike is more or less the same, we suggest that you find out as much as you can about the motorcycle before buying it. For example, buying a Ducati a couple thousand kilometres before its due for its desmodromic valve adjustments will land you in a rather expensive pickle. Big bike manufacturers have started entering the pre-owned motorcycle space in India. You have the Ducati Approved programme and Harley-Davidson Originals. The Italian manufacturer puts every pre-owned bike through 35 tests before it gets the approval to be resold via the dealership. Harley’s scrutiny checks, on the other hand, seem to be even more elaborate – the website claims that a 99-point quality check assurance is conducted by its technical team.
Both manufacturers also offer a oneyear warranty as standard, as well as the option to extend it. In our opinion, buying a pre-owned big bike from the manufacturer is your safest bet, as it’s bound to be technically sound and, should something go wrong, will come with warranty. However, if you are buying it from the owner directly, you could ask him to accompany you to the closest authorised workshop where the bike can be inspected properly. This will cost you a little, but it will give you the assurance that you are getting what you pay for. The big bike community in India is still quite small so try to learn about the bike’s history. For example, if it’s one of those poor machines that has been revved half to death at a motorcycle festival, you’d probably want to skip it, regardless of how clean it may appear.
Making your decision
And there you have it. Buying a used two-wheeler may seem like a tall order, but being proactive about your decisions will make the process easier. Buying a motorcycle can be a very exciting prospect, but remember to stay grounded and think with your wallet if you’re on a budget. Follow the steps and guidelines we’ve listed here and buying a pre-owned bike will be a seamless experience.
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