Buying my first motorbike…. What to look for when viewing??

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  • Buying my first motorbike…. What to look for when viewing??
  • Premier Icon Bustaspoke

    Check the frame & engine numbers are correct,any signs of it having been down the road scuffs & scratches etc.Have a look if there’s a 600 hornet forum & see what faults crop up.
    I’m sure there was a race series for 600 hornets years ago so have a look if the sump plug’s been drilled for lockwire.
    Start it up & check for rattles/knocks blowing exhaust.
    If you’re going for a demo ride on it check it doesn’t pull to one side,also when you’re braking check there’s no pulsing coming through the lever (warped discs).What state are the tyres / chain & sprockets in?
    It’s bound to have some faults/wear & tear so haggle accordingly.

    Whoo hoooo! Welcome to the club. My 2p’s:

    1: bring someone along who’s not a Hornet fan. They’re far more likely than you to be realistic.

    2: I’d be amazed if you’re allowed a test ride when you explain you’ve just qualified. Unless you’ve got the full asking price in new £20 notes as a deposit. Or you’re 70 and a veteran or something.

    3: So realistically you’re going to be buying blind. Dont pay much over auction prices unless your mate says otherwise.

    4: personally – first bike – go for a reputable source. Pay a tad extra for dealer / 1 previous owner / ex demo.


    Finally got round to doing my motorbike lessons recently and got my final test on Thursday. Assuming I pass I want to keep the momentum going and get a bike straight away.

    Will be looking at a 2007 – 2008 Honda Hornet and seen a couple if be willing to go for but what do I need to be aware of and check when looking at the bike. First bike and not ridden in the past so not sure on what to be looking for for issues / problems etc

    Premier Icon weeksy

    1. is the correct answer. Without sounding harsh, take someone who knows bikes. They’ll view without passion and without purchasing desire… therefore should be far more pragmatic.


    Just look for something like ‘1000cc’ and ‘ not for road use’ on the exhaust. You’ll have a great time 🙂


    All good advice.
    Take someone who knows about bikes
    Don’t buy the first one you see – just because you have turned up to look, doesn’t mean you have to buy.
    You will enter the deal really, really wanting it. Take your time, be really critical about the condition of the bike. There are plenty out there and many haven’t been ridden that far.
    If it doesn’t match any descriptions , 0r engine / frame numbers are hard to find, walk away.

    By all means buy from a reputable bike dealer – but some are not so reputable !!

    TheRevCounter may also give you some information that you need …


    great list from bustaspoke
    (check bottoms of forks and footpegs etc – metal bits thatstick out for slide damage)

    if you can take a block/jack so you can get the front wheel of the ground and check for bearing etc play, ditto rear (try rocking back/forward and sideways – it should only move in the direction of suspension if you see what I mean – not sideways etc)

    I would go to a garage before and check out a ‘decent one’ to get a feel – bounce suspension etc are mirrors/indicators/grips/peg rubbers/seat cover, paint hues the same style etc etc. Also see the size, style and format of the engine frame numbers – you get naughty people who add numbers on and convert digits.

    I’d also (once I was sure I was going to buy) do an hpi/ownership/outstanding loan check.


    Remember to take a written check list of things to uh… check.
    If you’re anything like me, you’ll go in with a plan and then completely forget everything you wanted to look at!

    b r

    As they’re a naked bike you can easily see what kinda life it’s had – and the majority of m/c’s are pampered, so make sure you buy one of those.

    Mileage is usually low, but make sure it’s at least had an oil/filter change every year. Check how much life is in the chain/sprockets, and how well adjusted it is, plus tyres/pads. New consumables can easily cost you £500.

    And do a HPI check.

    Also, even at a dealer you’ll be lucky to get a test ride – privately I’ve never let anyone test any m/c I’ve sold.


    Most useful things have been said already. To add my 2p:

    You will quickly get a feel for the way the bikes been treated, see how corroded the metal work is for example, to see whether it’s been a year round hack or a dry weather sunday fun machine. How’s it been stored? If it’s rusting under a tarp in someone’s garden are they likely to have looked after it mechanically? If it’s in a nice well equipped garage under a dust sheet, that speaks volumes.

    Look for a good oil change history, don’t be put off if it’s been done by the owner, a lot of bikers do their own servicing as they’re very easy to service, as long as it’s been done it doesn’t really matter who by.

    Check tyre wear, chain and sprocket condition etc – you don’t really want to be forking out on consumables straight away.

    Take a small torch so you can check the brake pad wear.

    If it’s got a stupid loud exhaust on it, make sure you have a baffle for it, and make sure you get the original exhaust in the deal if they have it. Some MOT stations can be fussy.

    Look at the MOT history of the bike online. You’ll need the V5 number. You can see if there’s been any advisory points in it’s past.

    Check for crash damage.

    It’s a Honda, so pretty bullet proof.

    As has been said, you should wait for a clean low mileage, well looked after example, not buy the first one you see, be patient and you’ll get a nice one..there are LOADS of hornets about.

    You can text for an HPI check I think it’s about £3. Worth doing if you do proceed.

    Buy one, wheelie, repeat. 😀


    Morning Peeps,

    Cheers for all the advice so far! Plenty to think about.
    I’ve seen a few to look at and know someone with a same model hornet so will go over theirs with them before I see the others.
    One in particular seems to tick all the above boxes. 15k on the clock and 5 years. Dry weather rode only and kept garaged, new tyres, chain and spockets in the last 100 miles so as long as the above seems true I should be on the right track.

    Good call on the HPI check, I could even go that before I go if I grab the reg from him. It does look a lovely bike so as long as he’s not been talking out his rear I think it could be a good one.

    Now what the crack with payment / taking the bike away etc?
    If it was local I could drive to see it and if I was going to get it could pay and take the V5 etc go home sort insurance and then come back to collect it.
    Now if it was further away what are my options?
    I could obviously sort insurance before I went but I’d be basically buying blind. I’ve seen a couple of really good examples 100+ miles away, now in principle i’m happy to jump on a train to go and collect it but whats the best way to go about things if its a trek away? I really don’t want to be making 200 mile round trip to see it then doing it again the next day to collect…


    Check the suspension too; leaking seals, pitted stations. Also check the chain and sprockets, tyres for damage, tread depth and if flat in the middle. Bent levers are always a sign of it been dropped and stickers normally cover damage. Be picky it’s your money and they’re plenty of bikes about. If you don’t have a mate to accompany you and your not sure what your checking then pay for an AA/RAC check on the bike to avoid any nasty surprises once you’ve bought it.


    Also, never believe a seller that says “never ridden in the wet” 😆


    Also, never believe a seller that says “never ridden in the wet”

    Lol yeh I took that with a pinch of salt. I take that as softie that doesn’t like going out in the rain rather than “lives in spain”


    You buy nice bikes off nice people.

    On the insurance front, ring up and get a quote. Buy the bike and ring them up there and then. It’ll take 5 minutes to pay over the phone.


    Ok I reckon i;m on the right track.

    Any good insurance recommendations out there?

    Checked gocompare and its not to eye watering but i’m sure they’ll be better out there


    Carol Nash
    Motorcycle Direct
    Devitt Insurance


    are you picking it up from the V5/logbook address, if not **caution**
    also I used to photograph people when buying/selling bikes
    have you googled on the phone number with the bike for sale

    when you phone – say I’m phoning about the bike *don’t say which one – might help see if it’s really trade or if the bloke is selling a few etc

    Premier Icon Northwind

    It’s a Hornet, don’t freak out if it shows signs of careful crashing, partly because they’re tough and partly because so many of ’em get crashed anyway.

    Great advice on here but there’s no substitute for experience, got any riding mates? (whereabouts are you, maybe someone on here will volunteer…)


    Someone whose advice I trust (Google his name) wrote this a while back:

    by Neil Murray



    Look at it!
    Don’t just start the engine and take it round the block. Start examining the front end and work your way through to the tail light. Note every single fault you see on a piece of paper (so you don’t forget) and also note its likely cost.

    Looking at the bike first will also allow the engine to cool slightly, if the seller has warmed it up before you arrived, and engines should always be started from cold just to see if they do start easily!

    1) Front tyre:
    Should have plenty of tread. Look for cuts and gashes. Budget �-100 for a replacement (according to model)

    2) Brakes:
    Check thickness of disc pads by squinting down the caliper. Budget � a set for replacements (ie: � for a double disc front end).
    Drum brakes – see if the adjuster at the brake end has been fully wound in. If so, the linings are close to the limit. Again, budget � a set for new linings

    3) Forks:
    Squint at them sideways to make sure they are straight and parallel. If not, the bike has been in a crash, and the frame may be bent as well.
    Look for any oil leaks from the seals and signs of pitting on the fork stanchions (the polished bits) themselves. People sometimes replace the seals but leave the pitting and the pits will wear out new seals in days. Budget � per seal (if you do the work yourself) and � per stanchion

    4) Head race bearings:
    If the bike has a centre stand get someone to push down the back of the bike to lift the front wheel off the ground. If not, pull the bike towards you on the side stand to lift the front wheel. Turn the bars gently. If you feel a notch, or worse still, several, the races are shot and need replacement. New races will cost � and mean stripping down the front end to fit them. A dealer will charge about �0 for the whole job.

    5) Lock stops:
    These are the lugs welded to the steering head that stop the bars turning before they bash into the tank. If the bike has been dropped or crashed, they will be bent or otherwise damaged. This is a danger sign!

    6) Bar ends, mirrors, lever ends:
    Look for scrape marks as a sign that the bike’s been down the road. These are easy and cheap to replace, so don’t take an absence of scrapes as a sign that the bike’s never been dropped.

    7) Bodywork:
    If it’s non-standard, be suspicious: it might have had a respray after a crash. In any case, non-standard paint generally knocks down the resale value of a bike.

    8) Frame:
    On alloy beam frames look for any signs of deformation where the rails bend towards the headstock. Alloy is softer than steel and much harder to fix. Any signs of damage – walk away

    9) Rear suspension:
    Grab the rear tyre and try and move it from side to side. Play here means wear in the rear suspension bearings. This can be easy or difficult to fix, depending on how complex the rear end is and whether the bearings will be all seized and rusted into place. Assume the worst.
    Bounce on the seat. A dry creaking noise from the suspension indicates worn and seized linkages. This can cost up to �0 to fix. The rear end should also bounce once, returning to its former position. If it boings up and down two or three times, or just sags, the rear shock(s) is/are worn out. This will cost at least �0 and maybe as much as �0 to replace with a decent aftermarket unit on a big bike. Twin-shock bikes are cheaper, but still allow �0

    10) Rear tyre:
    Should have plenty of tread. Look for cuts and gashes. Budget �-�0 for a replacement, according to size of bike!

    11) Rear brakes:
    Check and budget as per front

    12) Rear wheel bearings:
    Grab top and bottom of rear wheel and try to move it from side to side. If it does rock slightly, the rear wheel bearings are shot. Easy job, but still budget � for replacements

    13) Chain & sprockets:
    Look at the wear indicators (if fitted) and the chain adjuster marks (if not). If the rear wheel is pulled far back on the adjusters, the chain is worn out.
    See if you can pull a link off the rear sprocket. if you can, it’s shot.
    A dry slack rusty chain will also cast doubt over how the rest of the bike has been looked after.
    Look for wear and hooking on the sprocket teeth. A new chain will cost �-80 for a big bike. A chain and sprocket set will cost over �0

    14) Engine:
    Before starting, look for any signs of oil leaks and the presence of gasket cement (usually red, sometimes clear). If you see gasket goo oozing from joints, walk away. The engine has been rebuilt by a bodger. The Japanese don’t use the stuff except on crankcase joints and sometimes on camshaft end caps, after all. Even then, they use it very sparingly. Someone who’s slapping the stuff around like cement is too tight to buy proper gaskets, and too careless to worry. Gasket goo is good stuff, but excess goo can get sucked into the lube system and filter and block them, and wreck the engine. It just isn’t worth the risk.
    It should start instantly. If it churns away on the starter for ages before firing, or if the starter rattles and clunks, just walk away. Again, it’s not worth the risk.
    Let the engine warm up properly. There should be no rattles. Rattles from the top end indicate camshaft or camchain wear. This can be expensive to fix.
    Rattles or rumbles from the bottom end of the engine indicate crankshaft or main bearing wear. This can be very expensive to fix. Walk away.
    When test riding, rev the engine hard in as many gears as you can, then shut the throttle off, go down hard on the over-run, and whack the throttle open again. If it’s going to jump out of gear, this is when it will do it.
    Also, as you whack it open after going down on the over-run, look behind you for smoke. This action forces oil into the bores. A little puff of smoke is normal. A cloud isn’t, and means the rings and/or valve guide seals are worn.
    See if it steers properly hands-off. Beware wobbles! If it shows a reluctance to turn in one direction and a tendency to dive into another, the frame is probably bent from an accident.
    Try the brakes, hard, several times. Make sure you aren’t being tailgated when you do this….
    When you get back, listen again to the engine. It should sound quieter and sweeter than it did when it was started from cold.

    15) Electrics:
    Check every single function. If you have a multimeter, put it across the battery terminals and measure. It should read about 12.5v and rise to maybe 14.5v as the revs rise. If it doesn’t, or if it shoots up past 20v, the regulator/rectifier is fried and maybe the alternator with it. Cost: maybe �0 for a reg/rec and � for a rewound alternator.
    If you haven’t a multimeter, turn the lights on and see if they brighten when the engine is revved. It won’t tell you if the reg/rec is fritzed, but it will tell you the alternator is working

    16) Paperwork:
    The V55 (the registration document or logbook) is vital. It tells you everything you need to know. It should bear the bike’s registration number, the engine number, the frame number, the colour, and the name and address of the seller. Check all of these. Be very suspicious if there’s a discrepancy. Engine and/or frame numbers not tallying mean it’s almost certainly stolen. If the seller isn’t the guy or gal mentioned on the logbook at the address mentioned there, he or she may possibly be dealing on the side. On no account believe the “I’m selling it for a mate” or “I haven’t got around to changing the logbook” stories. This may not matter to you, but it will probably mean that he’s working on a profit margin and will not be amenable to offers. The logbook also carries the name and address of the last owner and the date the bike last changed hands. If this was very recently, be suspicious. Why is the seller getting rid of it so fast? Check for DVLA watermarks on the logbook – forgeries exist.
    If the bike is several years old, you will want to see past MoTs to verify the mileage. Ideally, you will want to see a service record or receipts for work done. On older bikes, this is generally lacking. If someone says he does his own maintenance, ask him what the valve clearances should be or what grade of oil he uses – competent mechanics know these details. Ask if he has a manual. If not, how does he do the work? If so, oily thumbprints on the relevant pages are a good sign (but oily thumbprints on pages detailing, for example, gearbox rebuilds, may not be!)

    17) Haggling:
    Tot up the cost of every single worn or damaged component you have noticed, using the guide above. Compare the resultant figure to the cost of an equivalent bike in a dealer’s advert in MCN. Point out that the dealer will sell the bike with decent tyres, brakes, etc, plus a warranty. You want to aim for a price that’s 20% less than what the dealer is asking, when all is said and done. If a lot of work needs to be done, make that 30%, to cover the hassle factor. If the seller can’t see the logic of your arguments, walk away. You might as well buy from a dealer

    18) Accessories:
    Some add to the value of the bike: most don’t. Almost every BMW ever sold comes with panniers – they’re worth less if they aren’t. A Harley that’s got the usual desirable mods done – carb, pipe, brakes etc. – will fetch more than one that doesn’t. To a lesser degree this applies to some Italian bikes as well. Apart from these exceptions, extra money spent on tuning, go-faster, handle-better, look-neater, weigh-less mods will not add one penny to the value. They may even detract from it. On some Japanese bikes (Yamaha FJ1200, 900 Diversion, Honda VFR750) a decent luggage kit may add �0 to the value.
    To sum up, you can spend five grand on gold-plating a CBR600, but you won’t sell it for five grand more than an unplated one

    19) If humanly possible, take someone with you when you buy:
    A sceptical mate will not be blinded by the shiny paint and the “I-wannit-now” syndrome, and may save you a fortune.

    20) Finally ……
    You’ve seen a bike that you fancy in an ad but you need to find out a full address from a postcode then try or you have a phone number but no area then try You’ve seen a bike that you fancy in an ad but you need to find out a full address from a postcode then try or you have a phone number but no area then try


    Excellent chaps, some great advice here. i’ll print the info off and take it with me.


    lolz just tried bennetts and carol nash and they were both over double of stuff coming up on gocompare. I’ll have a nosey at the others later


    That’s surprising. When I’ve done go compare, my quotes are way more than Bennets and Carole Nash, but maybe they’re cheaper if you’ve got a lot of biking history, and had your licence for a while.

    I pay £75 TPFT with Bennets on a Honda Fireblade, Go Compare is £2-300 at least.

    Premier Icon flange

    Chain and sprockets are the bits that give away whether a bike has been looked after or not.


    I pay £75 TPFT with Bennets on a Honda Fireblade, Go Compare is £2-300 at least.

    £246 TPFT on gocompare compared to £856 on Bennetts. Guess you right and they cater more towards to experienced rider.
    Doesnt help when you’ve got 15 years driving experience that doesn’t count for squat.


    Chain and sprockets are the bits that give away whether a bike has been looked after or not.

    Chain and sprockets wear anyway – but being shitty / dirty certainly makes them wear quicker.

    Brake pads, fork seals, grips and anywhere that acts as a contact patch will give you a good idea of how many miles it as done …

    Premier Icon flange

    As will the odo – my reckoning is if the chain and sprocket are knackered, then the rest of the bike probably hasn’t been looked after either. A well lubed (fnarr) chain and sprockets tells me that someone knows the basic’s about looking after a bike.

    As an aside, I’d rather have a bike with more miles thats been looked after, than a newer bike with fewer miles thats been kept outside and generally abuse..


    Go Compare and the rest of the comparison sites you’ll need to check the excess they are loading as some of them are a joke. Pointless saving £200 if you’re going to lose £500 in the event of an accident in additional excess.


    Pointless saving £200 if you’re going to lose £500 in the event of an accident in additional excess.

    Saving £200 a year for a £500 excess sounds bad? Are you accident prone?

    It’s a Honda, so pretty bullet proof.

    +1, I know people who’ve bought the ropiest looking honda’s imaginable, T-cut and a service and they run/sound/look like new.

    Buy one, wheelie, repeat.

    check the heaset bearings



    Today anyway. Test passed like a boss!!!
    Going to see a bike on Sunday 😀



    Now you need a jacket with tassles and a motorhead patch on it
    Greasy hairy
    “originals” jeans
    And some engineer boots

    Spend the even looking at the vid of Sons of Anarchy – then you are ready to roll

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