A Used Dirt Bike Checklist to help you make the right choice
Buying a used dirt bike can be a good option if you don’t have the budget for a brand new one, but you need to be careful that you don’t end up with a lemon. Off-road bikes are often exposed to particularly tough conditions, so you need to be on the look out for wear and tear.
Buying a used dirt bike privately may be less expensive than buying from a dealer, but - with no option of a warranty - you need to be extra cautious. When considering buying any used dirt bike, run through the points on this checklist before committing to the sale. If you don’t know a lot about dirt bikes, it’s a good idea to bring someone with a bit of mechanical knowledge.
- Start by looking over the general condition of the bike. Check for chipped paintwork, tears in the seat cover, broken plastics or levers, and wear on the chain or sprockets.
- Swingarm and headstem bearings can be expensive to replace. With the rear wheel off the ground, move the swingarm from side-to-side – any more than around 5mm of movement indicates a worn swingarm bearing. Carry out this process with the front wheel, and check the forward-backward movement of the fork legs – in this case, too much movement means the headstem bearings might need replacing.
- Inspect the wheel rims, frame and chassis for cracks, bends and fractures.
- Feel the brake pads – if there is a deep groove where the pads meet, you’ll know the bike has been well-used.
- Check the radiator for leaks, cracks and damaged cooling fins.
- Wiggle front and rear wheels – movement suggests worn bearings.
- Check the front brake line – if the guide on the fork indicates wear, you’ll need to replace it.
- Check fork seals for traces of oil – this indicates a leak.
- Find out as much information as possible from the seller, including how they’ve used the bike, how they’ve stored it, and its maintenance and repair history. If a used dirt bike looks too good to be true and the details you’re given are sketchy, go with your instincts - if you’re suspicious, just walk away.