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Are you one of those people who can listen to a bike's engine and declare: "The cam chain's on the way out or "One valve seat's worn". No, few of us are. It's bad enough diagnosing a problem on your own bike in your own garage, let alone in a buying situation at someone else's house, most of us would miss something minor, or much worse, something major. Short of paying over the odds by paying someone from the AA to come with you and check the bike over, you can learn a lot by studying the bike's paperwork. Any bike that's been looked after by a careful and loving owner, will have a string of paperwork with it, supporting all the work that's been done over the years, a bike is worth much more by keeping the receipts and proving that it's been cared for. Review all the paperwork before you agree to buy any bike or part with your hard earned cash. It's not a substitute for actually checking the bike over but it is the most commonly ignored source of vital information. Important documents to check are;Tax Disc - Some owners keep previous years but it's not a problem if there aren't any. Check for forgeries by taking a legal one with you, forgeries look dodgy by comparison. If there isn't one the bike hasn't been taxed for a while or the owner is a tax dodger (could say a lot about the current owner). Service History - The most ignored yet most valuable piece of information supplied with the bike. Is the mileage in sequence with the other documents (MoT, logbook etc), check the date and type of work carried out, what was included in the full service. Garage address/phone number, if in doubt give them a ring. Also check for mechanics footnotes, usually to cover their back, this will provide any previous problems they found. Bikes under warranty should have a service history from a garage, if there isn't any history can the seller be trusted to maintain a 160mph superbike, a careful owner will keep all receipts and provide them when selling the bike as it can add value. History Check - Most are re-branded versions of the HPI check and will tell you if the bike's been stolen, written off or has an outstanding finance agreement. They can also warrant the mileage, this can all be done over the phone in a few minutes (you will have to pay in the region of £35 for it, but it is not worth the risk without and could save you a packet), confirmation of the checks will also be sent in the post for your records and can be provided to the next owner when you sell it on. Most checks also have a guarantee if the information they provided was incorrect. MoT - Forgeries have spelling mistakes, more than you think, it should be stamped by a garage, a VOSA number should also be present, you can ring the Vehicle and Operators Services Agency and they will tell you if an MoT certificate is suspect or genuine. If an MoT certificate is not available it may mean that the bike needs some major and expensive work doing before being roadworthy. Your Guide To Getting A Great DealNo-one in their right mind would ever pay the advertised price on a new or secondhand bike. The advertised price is the one that where the seller receives the maximum profit, it is merely a point for negotiation. Many Brits are uncomfortable with haggling but you have to be bold and put your foot down.Do Your Homework: Scour the classifieds, internet, ask friends and get as much opinion as possible and feel for the market, once you have chosen the bike for you. The Market: The best time to haggle is the last day or two in the month, when salesmen targets are near month end, they have more room for negotiation to hit sales targets. If you are really patient wait until winter.Sales:: Don't be intimidated by the salesman, be confident and take your time. Ask the question "What's the best deal you can offer me", patients pays dividends.Hidden Extras: Make sure a large discount on a new or secondhand bike isn't offset by high interest rates or a poor price for your existing bike. Remember, the salesman will make more money and prefer if you buy on finance (unless, of course, they are offering 0% finance deals). Interest rates will vary massively between HP, Bank loan and credit cards, do your homework and get the best deal. Is the bike's service history up to date, make sure you wont be hit for any routine maintenance costs after you ride away.Legal: Under English law a dealer isn't obliged to say if the bike that's being sold has been damaged, unless you ask the question. A bike you buy must be fit for its intended purpose. New consumer law means that even if a used bike suffers a defect it is up to the trader to prove it wasn't faulty, regardless of any warranties. Six months on and the onus is on you.  REMEMBER TO TICK HOW HELPFULL THIS WAS THANKS

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