Shopping for a new bike or scooter can be a whole lot of fun, but actually buying one can turn into a nightmare. For many of us, going to a dealership to look at brand new (or almost new) bikes just isn’t financially an option.
One of the most powerful options available to those seeking a used bike is Craigslist.org, which offers far more listings and search options than your local classifieds section.
Narrow Your Search to Improve Results
One of the most important ways you can make your life easier is to decide definitively what you’re looking for. It’s important to have narrowed your search to a few specific models that fit your needs.
It’s also important to have decided ahead of time what you’re willing to pay, what condition is acceptable, and any other make it or break it issues. Making these decisions prior to your search will save you a lot of time, and potentially save you a lot of money.
Once you have narrowed your search down to a few models and have a strong set of criteria a potential purchase must live up to, it’s time to hunt. Begin your search in your local area then, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, expand your search to nearby cities. Once you’ve found a potential candidate, first make sure there’s no scam involved.
Ask if the Owner is Carrying the Title
Once you’re sure there’s no scam going on, make sure there are no title or other legal issues with the bike. Ask the seller directly if he has the clear title in hand. If he doesn’t, ask why. Many times if the bike is older the title has just gotten lost along the way, this isn’t unusual.
Check with your state DMV about getting a new title and be aware that a lost title may add cost and bureaucratic headache to your transaction. For more information and the legal side of things, it’s best to talk to your state’s DMV and ask any questions regarding legal matters.
Ask Yourself, Is this the bike for me?
If you cannot put both feet flat on the ground when the bike is upright, it’s too tall for you, period. Also, if this is your first bike, or you’ve never ridden anything scarily fast, don’t even look at a high-performance bike.
That said, if you see yourself using the bike primarily as daily transportation, consider a standard, or traditional, bike. If you used to ride years ago, these will look familiar, but feel better thanks to electric starters, fuel injection and disc brakes. If your commute is a long one, you typically do it with a passenger and you want a bit more style, the next logical choice is a cruiser.
If you intend to spend many hours and miles in the saddle with a passenger sitting behind you, you need a touring bike. For a little more performance in a touring bike, there’s a subset called sport/touring.
If you primarily want to straighten curvy roads, your needs will be best met with a sportbike. If you want a basic commuter that can keep going when the pavement doesn’t, look at a dual-purpose bike.
Location, Location, Location
Dealing with local vendors and buyers is one of the best ways to weed out potential scammers and evildoers. If you can meet with a person face-to-face, you’re golden. Even better, do it in a highly public place, preferably somewhere with security.
The Internet Is Your Friend
If you are unsure of a buyer/seller or simply want to do your due diligence, you can use Google to get more background information. You can use either their Craigslist email or the real email they use when they respond to your inquiry. If there have been complaints about a user, you should be able to see this and avoid ever dealing with that person.