Motorcycles are no different to cars in terms of illegality; bikes are getting stolen all the time, in a variety of locations at all times of the day. There are roughly 40,000 bike thefts per annum in the UK; you, therefore, need to ensure that what you’re purchasing isn’t stolen goods. You need a free motorcycle checker … right now!
What Is It?
A free motorcycle checker is no different than the car version; it is a free service in which you simply enter the license plate details and get a breakdown of such things as whether or not it is stolen, whether or not there is any finance outstanding on it, and whether or not there are any other details of which you should be aware.
What If I Don’t Bother?
It is a risk if you don’t bother getting your potential bike checked out. It is actually (and annoyingly) even easier to fudge a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on a bike than a car, so you are having a gamble if you don’t do this free search. You will not get you money back, or your bike, if the police seize it; you might even become a suspect in their eyes. Far better to be safe than sorry.
How Do I Do It?
You simply go to the website of a reputable company and type in your motorbike’s registration plate; typically £10 or less. You will then receive a free report, instantly. It contains a lot of valuable information and you can download it all neatly, in a pdf or similar format.
Accident Or Not?
Yes, it is possible to check whether a bike has been involved in an accident. Each year there are well over 100,000 accidents in the UK, so it would behove you to get this checked out. Certain things can be a giveaway, such as
- Uneven wheels
- Slightly unaligned front forks
- Handlebars which are a tad bent
- A gas tank which is somewhat scratched
- A frame which is a bit bent
- Some scrapes on the big crank
- Cracked or damaged fiberglass covers
- A feeling of being ill at ease whilst test-driving the bike
The best way to test this is to place yourself against the bike; then, let it glide forward some 20 feet. If there’s any lateral, side-to-side movement in either front or rear tyre it could well be the sign of a serious accident.
Slightly Unaligned Front Forks
You need to grab the bull by the horns to check this out. With a friend holding it perfectly still, get a good look at the front forks from the side. Then, mount the bike and shove down on the suspension to see how it feels. If there is any hint or visual bending or if the suspension is either too heavy or too light, your bike may need new forks. You can get used ones for a reasonable price but it should be deduced from the asking price.
Handlebars Which Are A Tad Bent
To test your handlebars, you again need to stand in front of the bike and check that they are aligned exactly 90 degrees from the front tyre. If there is anything other than an exact 90-degree angle then could be a problem. You can also check out the front forks; if they’re straight then you can just replace the handlebars. If not, then there could be more problems and it may be worth steering clear of it.
A Gas Tank Which Is Somewhat Scratched
Dents or scratches on the top part of a gas tank are usually fine; dents on the side could be a telltale sign of an accident having occurred. Dents plus scratches means that it was scraping along on its side for quite some time, ie. a serious accident, stay away!
A Frame Which Is A Bit Bent
You can see if the frame is bent by scrutinising the front motor mount bar; see that it is fully welded to the frame per se. You can also use two metal poles aligned against the back tyre, either side of it. If they are touching anything other than the tyre then your frame is most probably crooked and you need to avoid the purchase.
Some Scrapes On The Big Crank
Small scratches are fine, but larger scratches on the crank indicate a crash where the bike was dragged for some distance. Beware!
Cracked Or Damaged Fiberglass Covers
Plastic covers are not used on all motorcycles, but where they are and you notice a range of scratches; often an indication of some sort of road collision. The plastic part itself is not essential and can easily be repaired or replaced. However, it might indicate other issues which need further investigation.
A Feeling Of Being Ill At Ease Whilst Test-driving The Bike
If there is anything with which you’re not quite comfortable, avoid purchasing the bike. It could be the acceleration, braking, handles, steering… anything. Your gut instinct is a pretty useful thing in this regard. There are plenty more bikes out there, and something probably has happened to make you feel that way.
In case you’re wondering, bikes do indeed have the various category details you normally associate with cars. Helpfully, you can know whether the bike in which you’re interested has been in an accident. A Cat S or Car N bike is possibly okay, but never a Category A or Category B. Obviously, it is better that the bike hasn’t had any accidents at all; however, you can sometimes get a sweet deal if you’re willing to take a calculated risk.
Other things you can get checked are the export and import status of the bike in question, its fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, its Tax status, Power BHP, Power KW, Top Speed and Torque. A full motorcycle HPI will also check any mileage anomaly that may exist, any finance which is still owing, any colour change it might have had, how many previous keepers it has had, its scrapped status, its accident status and its stolen status.
You can also keep up to date with customer reviews, tweets and other social media comments; these can often give you an insider’s unvarnished view on the various aspects of a range of bikes. This can be particularly useful in terms of gleaning tips which you won’t generally find on mainstream websites. Overall, it’s well worth doing as much background research on a bike you’re thinking of buying. It could be the end of you if you don’t!