What to Look for When Buying a Used Motorcycle

Harley-Davidson Softail Slim Parked

When you want to buy a used motorcycle, the options can feel overwhelming! But if you do a little research, you can get one amazing deal in Portland. Timber Town Harley-Davidson is here to walk you through the process, so you know exactly what to look for when buying a used motorcycle. Take a look at our best tips and tricks, and check out our current used motorcycles for sale in Salem!

Researching Your Options

Whether you buy from a private dealer or a dealership, it’s important to get the big picture before you purchase. Just because you can buy a used motorcycle in your budget doesn’t mean it’s the right choice if the condition is questionable. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Bike Type: What type of riding do you prefer? Smaller and lighter models like the Street Glide® are great for commuting around Albany, but you might want a more plush option for long cross-country travels through Lebanon.
  • Model Research: After you narrow down your search to a specific bike type, start looking at your options. Check as many sources as possible to uncover the good and the bad.
  • Mechanical Research: It’s not a bad idea to brush up on your basic mechanical skills, so you can inspect potential bikes with greater confidence. 
  • Find a Seller: Private sellers may have lower prices, but dealerships tend to have more benefits – in-house financing, warranty, consumer protections, incentives, and others.

Checking Overall Condition

If you shop at a dealership, it’s easier to get a good idea of the bike’s condition because each model is inspected professionally. But if you choose a private seller, you’ll need to have a keen eye to do the work yourself. Here are some key areas to examine:

  • Fuel tank — Good overall condition, no paint chips
  • Fenders and side cover — Few scratches and dents, no broken side-cover tabs
  • Seat — No tears, missing trim, or collapsed foam
  • Paint and chrome — No repaired body areas, good general condition. Shiny and rust-free chrome
  • Windshield — Properly mounted, no cracks or glazing
  • Saddlebags — No signs of damage on hard bags, no tearing or abrasion on soft bags
  • Tires — Plenty of tread, no signs of dry rot
  • Wheels — No dents, no wobble when you spin the wheel. Snug, straight spokes 
  • Battery — Can start the bike without strain

Checking Performance Components

In addition to assessing the bike’s general condition, we recommend paying attention to the performance components. This includes the engine, transmission, and clutch. Run through this checklist on each of your candidates:

  • Oil — Correct oil level, no leaks
  • Ignition — Engine starts easily when cold, warms up within minutes
  • Smoke — Move on if you see heavy black or blue smoke
  • Engine Noise — Quiet engine with no knocks, rattles, or rumbles
  • Transmission — Engages smoothly and never jumps out of gear. Ask to road test or watch the owner run through gears.
  • Clutch — Properly adjusted, does not slip or drag during a road test
  • Exhaust — No exterior rust bubbles, no leaks, and no broken hardware at the cylinder head

Find Quality Used Motorcycles for Sale at Timber Town Harley-Davidson

There’s never been a better time to buy a used motorcycle and now that you know what to look for when buying a used motorcycle, you have everything you need to get an incredible deal on your next bike. Take a look at our inventory at Timber Town Harley-Davidson to get started, and contact us in Salem for more information.

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