Hello and welcome to my guide to buying second hand bikes, for people, like myself, whom don't have tens of thousands to pay with.
The reasons for our lack of money vary, but with some simple advice, you can avoid the dogs of the biking world, and believe me, there are some.
1: For everyday riding, avoid 2 stroke engines, they chew fuel, oil and they 'will' break, 2 stroke engine rebuilds cost a fortune, garage mechanics have nicknamed 2 stroke engines 'hand grenades', it's only a question of when it will blow up, not if!
2: everybody has different tastes in motorcycles, some like sport, cruising, some just want something that works everyday, find the type of bike that you like, then hunt around on the internet for the more favourable models, or just chat to any motorcycle mechanic, they will tell you what ends up in the workshop on a regular repairs, and which ones just have regular servicicng and consumable changes.
3: When bidding on your chosen motorcycle, find out what tyres are on it, sounds trivial, but it makes a big difference, cheap tyres on a sportsbike is dangerous, as they can't handle the workload, decent tyres on a 125cc commuter are a waste, they'll just wear out quickly, if you've got to spend another couple of hundred pounds putting decent rubber on your new bike, factor that into bidding, if they don't mention tyre make and condition, ask nicely!
4: Avoid bikes which have been 'streetfighter'ed, this is where the fairings have been removed to 'improve' the look of the motorcycle, that is the excuse they give, the real reason of fairing removal, 9 times out of 10 is crash damage, the fairings get damaged, instead of spending hundreds of pounds getting them replaced or repaired, they simply remove them. Ask if they have the original fairings for the motorcycle, as this look may not suit you, also there maybe hidden chassis damage, which will affect the handling, and not in a good way.
5: High mileage doesn't neccesary mean the bike is bad, quite the opposite really, high mileage proves one thing, reliability, because if the bike wasn't reliable, the previous owners wouldn't have put 100000+ miles on it, it would be on the scrapheap.
6: With older bikes (15+ years old), you will get some rust, especially if the bike is used for commuting, many owner usually sand over rust and then apply some metal paint, they are not usually trying to hide a problem, they just trying to make there bike look nicer, don't be too hard on them!
7: Check for logbook, M.O.T. certificate and TAX disc, if you want to ride the bike back home, you will legally need all 3, as well as some insurance!
8: If the bike in question is near to where you live, ask to see if you can have a look at the bike, a 300 by 400 pixel image on e-bay is no match for seeing it for yourself, a low resolution can hide many problems.
9: check for aftermarket cans, in particular, the can / cans, are they road legal, if not, you will get done by the police if caught, and, you can't pass an M.O.T. test without legal cans.
10: can you afford to insure?, sportsbikes is all well and good, but your insurance company may have other ideas, check with a number of companies just to be on the safe side.
11: consumables, this applies to commuters, how long do the chain and sprockets last before requiring a change, how often does the oil require changing, oil filters, tyres lifespan. if you travel 10000 miles per year and the chain only last 3000 miles, you'll need at least 3 chain changes, oil typically need doing every 4000 miles for 4 cylinder bikes, so at last twice, maybe three times a years, but these are nit usually expensive, and always use good quality oil, cheap oil is cheap, and wears out quicker, tyres, having supersport tyres for commuting is pointless, you'll never get to anywhere near there maximum grip level, and they'll wear out quickly, and they're not good in the wet, a harder compound, but not budget wellies, may be wiser, you'd be surprised how good these harder compound tyres are today.
12: the motto, it's better to miss out on a bargain then pay over the odds for a dog!