How to Track the History of a Used Motorcycle

by Contributor

Before you purchase a used motorcycle, you should track the history of your chopper to ensure that you're making a good buying decision.

Ask the seller lots of questions. As TV detectives say, most lies eventually come undone. Note whether the seller tells you different information when you ask questions more than once. Find out how many owners the motorcycle has had and whether the bike is a wrecked vehicle. If you purchase the bike from a reputable dealer with a brick-and-mortar location, you may have more legal recourse in the event of a problem than if you deal with an individual.

Check the vehicle's history. Several Web sites allow you to check the vehicle identification number (VIN) against a database that keeps track a vehicle's history (see Resources below). If the motorcycle was stolen, salvaged or totaled, these sites will let you know.

Examine the bike. Determine whether there are any obvious signs of tampering that seem strange and whether the VIN is altered in any way. If the motorcycle has few of its original parts, that can be a big clue that there's a problem.

Remove yourself emotionally from the bike. If you allow your infatuation with the motorcycle to get in the way of reason, you may get stuck with a bike that won't last as long as you want it to.

Research whether or not the motorcycle's warranty is in effect. Bear in mind that installing off-brand parts or accessories could void the warranty. Don't be afraid to ask the seller for details about the warranty or the documentation and manuals that came with the motorcycle.

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