By now you have already determined what type of motorcycle you are looking for. You have decided whether it will be a sport bike, cruiser, or a touring bike. But is this the right one? Is it mechanically sound? Sure it may look pretty. It might sparkle and shine and be the sharpest bike you have seen in years. But is it ready for the road? Will it be your next money pit, or will it be exactly what you need to enjoy your Spring, Summer and Fall on two wheels. To ensure that you will not only be safe, but not buying another persons problems, we need to look at a few things before we sign the papers and take this beauty home.
Tires- One of the first things for us to examine are the tires. The obvious part of the tire inspection is the tread wear and depth. Ideally, you would like for the tires to have at least 2mm of tread available. Anything less will require that you have some new skins put on before you do much riding. Other than the tread, you need to make sure that the tires aren’t showing any signs of cracking. Cracks may have developed from age or a poor storage environment. If any excessive cracking is spotted, I would recommend replacing the tires prior to riding. You only have two tires, it is very important that they are up to standards.
Oil Leaks- It is not uncommon for a motorcycle to develop an oil leak. While nobody likes to have any oil leaks, minor seeping of oil may not be a deal breaker. Depending on the area, it may only require something as simple as an “O” ring. What you want to be cautious of are any leaks around the middle or top of the engine. This may be the sign of a head gasket or valve cover gasket leak. These would definitely be items of concern.
Brakes- When inspecting the motorcycle, it is very important to inspect the level of brake pads that remain. It is a good practice to replace your brake pads once they drop below 1/8 inch. If you are looking at a motorcycle with less than 1/8 inch of brake pad, this isn’t necessarily a reason not to purchase the motorcycle. Brake pads are inexpensive to replace. However, it is important to know that this will need to be done as soon as possible.
Fork Tubes- Another item that I would recommend inspecting would be the fork tubes. Look at the fork tubes to see if there is any oil leaking or dirt accumulating on the surface. If the oil from the inside of the tube is leaking, it may be masked by dirt that has stuck to the film from the oil leakage on the outside of the tubes. Other than inspecting the front fork tubes for leakage, it is also a good idea to check the compression of the tubes. A spongy front suspension will result in less stability and will not handle or corner as well.
While all of the items discussed can be corrected, it is a good idea to address and be aware of potential maintenance concern. While one, maybe two of the items might not be a deal breaker for you, they are certainly things that need to be addressed. And, one must consider the expense if several things show cause for concern. Always remember, chrome won’t get you home, so it is imperative that you make sure that you are not only looking good, but that your motorcycle is mechanically sound.