LEGION CYCLE WORKS
December 13-15 2013
This weekend marked the annual International Motorcycle Show in New York City. Cramming some of the best bikes in the world under one roof is always a good time, and the show was friggin awesome! Biggest lesson learned? Dont take a big truck and try to park in Manhattan. $65 :(
February 9th, 2014
The weather is about to break...hopefully, and we finally get to park the cages and get back on two. If you're like me, that brings you tears of excitement (like watching Man VS Food). Some of us are ready to move onto a bigger bike. Some of us are looking to get our feet wet and see what this whole "motorcycle" thing is about. With tax season around the corner, tons of people will be looking to get a new bike or add another to the collection. I decided to write this blog as a crash course on what to look for when choosing a bike. I have bought too many bikes to count and have picked up some key things to look for along the way. Some of it you may know, some of it you may not. Either way check it out!
So you decided to look for a bike. Whether it's your first bike or your 10th, there are some things to look for when you're choosing. First things first, where to look. Craigslist is...well, Craigslist. You can score some killer deals if you weed through all the scams and junk on there. From my experience, the easiest way to tell if its a scam or not is to look for a phone number. I dont want an email from some dude who's looking to sell it before he moves to whotheheckcaresville. Emails can be edited, reread, retyped etc. I want to call someone. On the spot answers, no re-reading what you typed to see if it sounds right, no shenanigans. If the person sounds sketchy on the phone, chances are they're even sketchier in person. Ebay and other online sources are also options, and I'm sure you already know the risks and rewards from that. Do your homework and you'll find what you're looking for!
Alright, so you've found a bike, and scheduled a meeting. First things first, the obvious. Do a lap around the bike. Look for any imperfections in the paint. Is it in the condition it was advertised in? If not, there's a pretty solid shot at other facts not being totally true either. Check out the frame. Cracks, bad rust, bends, dents etc. Look on the neck of the frame where the VIN is to make sure it hasn't been altered at all. Give the wheels a look. Tread, any bubbles, and dryrot can all be dead giveaways that you'll be needing new tires sooner than later.
At the rear of the bike, give the rear sprocket and chain a look. Any excessive funk or surface rust is a sign that the bike probably wasn't cared for as well as it could've been. Are the teeth on the sprocket straight, coming to a point at the end and not a nub? Look around on the motor for any signs of oil/fluids leaking. Grab the handlebars, squeeze the front brake, and give it a solid shove down. Make sure the forks rebound, and check out the little rubber boots (dust seals) to make sure no fork oil seeped out.
With the motor off, stand the bike up and roll it forward and backwards. Listen to the wheels and chain/sprockets. There should be no grinding or screeching noises at all. If there are, it could mean the bearings are shot. Open up the gas tank and look inside. Minimal surface rust (verrrrrrry minimal) is ok, but anything worse could mean bad things. Give the clutch a squeeze and see what it feels like. Twist the throttle and let it go. It should snap back instantly without hesitation.
If you've made it through all those little things and still like what you're seeing, start that bad boy up! Did it start up strong, or was it kind of a bear to get going? You should hear next to no ticking or screeching, just something pure frigging awesome. While it's idling, look at the exhaust for any kind of smoke. Stick your hand in front of it for a few seconds, and give it a sniff. Anything that smells like oil or gas could be tuning problems, or could be something more. Remember how we checked out the motor for fluid leaks? Do it again. When a motor is running and oil pressure is up you'll get leaks at spots that may not have leaked while just sitting. Rev the motor a few times after it's warmed up while, keeping an eye on the motor for any fluid leaks. When you revved the motor did it come happily back down to idle or did it take a few seconds? See what we just did there? Killed two birds with one stone. Boom. If the RPM's hesitated to drop, chances are your baby-to-be could use some help in the air/fuel ration department. Give the electronics systems a whirl, and go through all the lights, blinkers, horn etc.
If you decide to test ride, only you know what you're looking for. Each rider is different and I really cant give you any pointers here. The riding position I like may be totally different from what you want your bike to feel like. The only word of caution I will give is remember the tires are cold and the old term "you break it you buy it" comes to mind.
Ultimately its your decision. You're the one that will know if a bike if right for you or not. Nothing I said to look for should be considered as a "deal breaker", but keep in mind that little things can add up. It's always buyer beware. Your job is to make the best decision you can and keep as much of your money as you can in your pocket. Remember, you're in the drivers seat. Its your money and potentially your bike. Dont let some sleazeball con you into something you really dont want.
Take your time and Good Luck!,