5 Tips for Buying A Used Motorcycle

Summer is winding down and more used motorcycles are turning up "For Sale" in neighborhood yards, parking lots and newspaper ads. It's a prime time to find a great deal on a good used bike. But, before you lay down your hard earned money for the "gently used" bike of your dreams, here are a few things to remember when considering a used bike:

1. Overall condition: This can tell a lot about how well the motorcycle was treated. Faded paint, a cracked or torn seat, bent clutch or brake levers, dented gas tank, and broken mirrors are a few signs the bike had a hard life with little care. Look carefully, an owner who ignores his bike's appearance, most likely ignored the oil level, valves, filters, chain, sprockets, and other important items.

There's are hot deal - or is it??
2. Lots of new parts: This may indicate the bike was hurriedly fix up to sell. New grips, seat, mirrors, brake or clutch lever, oddly placed new decals, or fresh paint are a few clues. When you see these, inspect the bike carefully and be suspicious about what lies beneath that shiny exterior. Always ask why the bike is for sale.

3. Safety items: Be sure the headlight (high and low beam), tail light, all turn signals, and the horn work. These are essential safety items that should be checked before every ride. If any of these do not work, the bike has been neglected and will need some work before you ride it.

Be sure the instruments and indicators work.
4. Leaks: Check under the bike for oil, coolant, or other fluid leaks. Rust in the area below the battery often occurs when the bike was dumped and acid leaked from the battery. A dark line below the cylinder head indicates oil seepage from the head gasket. Brake fluid leaks are bad news, ensure the brakes are working before you test ride any bike. Any leak will mean additional repair costs for you.

5. Brakes: For disc brakes, inspect the discs and pads for thickness, wear, and damage. Drum brakes have an adjustment lever that indicate the level of brake wear. Before a test ride, ensure the front and rear brakes are working properly. I said that earlier, but it bears repeating!

6. Tires: Look for cracks, cuts, or splits in the tread and sidewall area. Also, check the tire pressure before riding a strange bike. Low tire pressure causes handling problems. Running one new tire with a worn tire may cause handling issues. Many tire manufacturers warn against running mismatched tires. In spite of this, you see it a lot.

7. Starting and running: Touch the engine before starting the bike. If the bike is already warmed up, remember that it may start and run very differently when it is cold in your garage. The bike should start easily and idle smoothly. Hard starting or uneven (surging) idle may have many causes. If you are not a DIY individual, you will spend additional money (sometimes a lot) on repairs.

Scratches on the engine may mean this bike has been down.
8. Ask questions: Do not be afraid to ask about the bike's riding and maintenance history. Are there records of oil changes? Does it burn oil? How old is the battery? Have the valves been adjusted? Does it have a clean title? If you are buying a KLR, was the doo-hickey changed? Has the bike been modified in any way? If the seller's answers seem evasive, be careful. An honest seller will gladly show receipts for any major work done on the bike. But, many times, you will simply have to trust the seller. In that case, follow your instincts and if you have any doubts, walk away.

Ok, there 8 tips here, but there is no charge for the extra 3 tips! There are just a lot to consider when looking at a used bike. People often buy bikes and sell them a short time later for reasons that have nothing to do with the bike being a lemon. Their loss can be your gain, but be careful and know what you are looking for on a used bike. Finally, remember to never want anything too much or you will pay too much for it!!

Off Road Riding Tips

This is a great article about correct techniques for off road riding.  Recommended for all new dual sport riders and a good review for those with some experience. If you are new to riding off road, start with easy trails at low speed. Practice the skills discussed in this article and you will soon be ready for more challenging rides. Click here for the article.

Photo credit:

KLR650 Camping At The Lake

Here are a few pics from a recent camping trip. I rode less than I had planned, thanks to the rainy, cloudy, cool, and very windy weather. No sweat, those things sometimes happen.

The sun popped through a hole just long enough to get the upper picture with a dam in the background. As the sun was setting I got the lower picture. That sky shows how the sunshine was really hit-or-miss that day.

Trail riding through a marshy area I found this good sized snapping turtle. His shell was over a foot wide, much bigger than he looks in the picture. For some reason, I hurried on this picture and did not add something (like a dollar bill) to show scale. Later, I wondered, "why in the world would you hurry for a picture of a turtle?? It's not like he's gonna get away!!" 

"Snappy" was crossing the trail to reach a swampy area on the other side. As you can imagine, he was not making a lot of progress. After this picture, I moved him across the trail, as he hissed and flailed his legs in the air. When I set him down, he disappeared into some tall grass, a few feet closer to his destination thanks to a trusty KLR being in the right place at the right time!

The bottom pic was the end to a great day of riding. I am sorry to see the sun is setting much earlier these days. This has been a great summer, but the riding season is not over yet. I am planning a couple of road trips yet this fall. Stay tuned to KLR650 Adventures for more! 

KLR650 Water Crossing Mania!

In this clip we did 8 water crossing in 3 minutes during a ride near Moab, Utah. Very wet, but what a blast!

KLR650 Lake Side Trail Ride

This trail winds around a lake before connecting with a gravel road and finally back to the highway.  The trail has some tricky spots with ruts and loose gravel, but is a blast. Earlier, I chatted with the people who were fishing and nothing was biting that day. Better to be riding than to be fishing!

New Way to Pack for a Road Trip

Heads-up on an interesting article about Mike Bratcher, a dual sport rider from Los Angeles. This enviable guy quit a good job and spent 4 months touring the country on his Honda. He came home  with a new concept for packing and it is worth your time to see. After seeing how Mike packs his GoPro gear, I will never again be satisfied with throwing my stuff into my tank bag or backpack. I think you will feel the same - fair warning! Click here for the article: A Cross Country Motorcycle Journey...

There is a better way to pack GoPro cameras for the road.

Onion Creek Dual Sport Ride

This video of me and couple of buddies on their KTMs is from earlier this year, near Moab, Utah. Onion Creek trail is a great ride, with many water crossings and great scenery. In previous posts, I mentioned that during this ride I was feeling a bit over confident and came out of a water crossing too fast. You can see what happened...