Better weather is here and you are ready to find that bike that will take you on your dream adventure. Unfortunately, if that bike is new, its price tag may make the prospect of reaching your dream about as easy as bowling under water. So that shiny new bike may have to wait. But don’t worry! There are plenty of other options out there. Used motorcycles are plenty in the spring months. So if you’re smart (and patient), you can still find that bike of your dreams at a good price that can reach the “back and beyond”, and maybe even beyond that. Of course, you know this. The unique capabilities of class motorcycles are what drew many of us to travel this way. The collected memories of lonely gravel roads, mountain passes, sand dunes, mud bogs, and others fill our heads, along with visions of future arbitrations we will have with Mother Earth. This can make buying a second-hand motorcycle in Nepal a bit different than shopping for other types of motorcycles. From our experience, the following is a list of things to consider when buying a second-hand motorcycle in Nepal.
Naturally, when buying a used motorcycle, mileage is going to be important. However, you should not look at mileage in a vacuum. There are many external factors that affect the meaning of “mileage” on a motorcycle. So this should be looked at more holistically. For instance, the significance of mileage can be dictated by engine displacement and brand. A 250cc dual sport with 50,000 miles may not be in the prime of its life, while a 1200cc class motorcycle may just be settling into its own at that mileage. It is about the bike and the maintenance. The lesson? Know the bike you are looking at. Know its average longevity and evaluate accordingly. A good way to determine the expected longevity of a motorcycle is to look at its service intervals and what is included at those intervals. If you see components that need to be replaced at lower mileage service intervals, then you may want to be more sensitive to the mileage of a used motorcycle. Additionally, it is important that the previous owner adhered to those service intervals in a somewhat disciplined way. Buying a motorcycle from someone who thinks they know more than the manufacturer can be dangerous.
2. Rubber Components and Bolts:
Sellers can use all types of tricks to make their motorcycle look as good as new…almost. They can wash, polish, and wax their heart out, but there are still signs of potential neglect that would be very difficult to hide. The rubber components and bolts on a motorcycle are somewhat good indicators of whether the bike was truly garage-kept, the elements to which it may have been subjected, and the general way in which the bike was cared for by its owner. Look for mud and dirt in areas where it would be difficult to clean. Check for any splitting or flaking on hoses. And evaluate fading on areas like the instrument cluster, control switch housings, and foot pegs. This can be hidden with some Armor All, but not completely. So look closely.
3. Wheel and Tires:
Wheels are another area where it is difficult to hide neglect. As wheels age, they become a great looking glass into the motorcycle’s history. Did the bike spend a lot of time outside? Was it in a corrosive environment? Was it kept clean? Is the owner(s) a “do-it-yourselfer”, working on the bike with whatever tools can do the job? Or is he/she more gentle and considerate when it comes to the maintenance of their motorcycle? These questions can often be answered by the wheels. Many riders in the adventure motorcycling community are “function over form” people. So a scratch here and there is not an issue. But you are trying to push through the veneer of a seemingly great used motorcycle to see what is truly underneath. Wheels typically have a coating on them when new that is meant to protect them from the elements. Bikes that sit outside in extreme weather, or that are used in corrosive environments (such as coastal areas and other salty environments), can lose that coating. This will make the wheels dull and potentially discolored, or, if the wheels are chrome, tarnished. And it is difficult to fix. So beware of motorcycles that have lost this wheel coating, or motorcycles that have had the coating purposefully removed through buffing or polishing.
4. Tuning, Adjustments and Maintenance:
Sometimes the areas of consideration as mentioned before can be trumped by how well the motorcycle you are inspecting is tuned and adjusted. we have looked at used motorcycles that were dialed in as if they were new bikes. We’ve seen others that were so out of tune, with components so out of adjustment, that wondered how the owners were able to ride them. This area can be a good sign of the discipline in the owner. How concerned they are that the bike runs and behaves properly can indicate the general way in which he/she maintained the bike. Additionally, it can give some insight into the longevity of the motorcycle. Poorly adjusted valves, injectors, and carburetors can cause an engine to run hot, thus putting additional wear on the engine. And this can potentially shorten a motorcycle’s lifespan. It may also be prudent to examine the clutch adjustment, throttle bodies, brakes and rotors, and rocker arms. If not adjusted properly, these components can put unnecessary wear on the motorcycle and potentially cause you some hefty maintenance bills should the bike become yours.
5. The Front End:
Forks on an adventure class or dual sport motorcycle can take a lot of abuse, not just in terms of terrain, but also climate. So you should try to evaluate the front forks as much as possible. First, make sure the rake of the front forks isn’t steeper than it should be. If they seem bent inward, then you may be seeing signs of front-end crash, or at least a front-end trauma. The fork seals are another part of the front end that you will want to check. Age can certainly cause fork seals to blow but even newer bikes can blow seals when exposed to dust, gravel and mud. You can detect signs of blown fork seals by looking for oil on the forks tubes, rotors, and fork lowers. Sometimes a seller may try to clean up excess oil on the forks caused by blown seals. Look for what will appear to be sweating on the seals or push down on the front end while holding the front brake to see if any oil seeps out. Since you are inspecting the front forks, you will want to be sure that the wheel bearings are in working condition. Bad wheel bearings can lead to quite a mess if they go undetected. Often, you can detect bad wheel bearings by yanking on each wheel. If you feel any give while doing this, then bad wheel bearings are probable.
6. Look For The Big Stuff:
So far we have been looking at the smaller details of a motorcycle that can indicate what kind of life it has lived. But there are “big deal” details we have to look for as well; signs that the motorcycle has had a catastrophe of sorts. Sometimes this signs will scream out at you and be very easy to detect. But this is not always the case. When inspecting your potential purchase, stand behind the motorcycle. Does the seat line up properly with the rear wheel? If it does not, then this may be a sign of subframe damage. This can be more common on Second hand Bikes that have spent more time in the dirt. And this brings up another point we want to make. When inspecting the motorcycle, try to know as much as you can about the way in which the motorcycle was manufactured. For instance, some motorcycles do not have subframes. Therefore, they can be much more susceptible to frame damage in a fall. A good way to detect frame damage on a motorcycle is to evaluate whether the front and rear wheels are in-line with each other. If they are not, then this is a strong indicator that the motorcycle may have been involved in a relatively harsh crash. Evidence of frame and/or subframe damage can also be seen through either paint cracks on the frame itself, or stress cracks in the welds on the frame. So give this a good check, even if everything seems to line up properly.
7. Questions to Ask:
In purchasing a used motorcycle, it is important to know what you don’t know. Be sure to prepare yourself before looking at the bike. Think of things that you do not know. And understand that there is no such thing as a stupid question. To help, here are some basic questions you will want to ask the current owner.
• What’s the ownership history?
• Who’s the primary rider of the bike?
• Why is the bike being sold?
• What’s the typical riding style of the owner… mileage on/off road?
• Any big falls or accidents?
• Any major repairs that have been done on the bike?
• Was the maintenance performed by a dealer and can records be provided?
• Is there anything wrong with the bike that hasn’t been pointed out yet?
8. How It All Adds Up:
Imperfections in any of the preceding areas by themselves may not be reason enough to shy away from buying a second hand motorcycle in Nepal. Everything should be considered in a comprehensive manner. A thorough inspection of the bike will give you a clearer picture of what you are getting into if you proceed with the purchase. Staying focused on the areas of biggest concern can allow you to keep emotion out of buying a used motorcycle. Then you can find that iron horse that will carry you to places you’ve never been, without fear of what will fail next.