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6 Tips for Buying a Motorcycle Fixer Upper

motorcycle renovation

Looking for a new project to keep your hands busy? Fixing up a motorcycle can be an extremely rewarding experience. If you’re repairing a used bike for the first time, there are a few things to know that will get your project started on the right track. Whether you’re fixing up a motorcycle for yourself or to sell for some extra cash, avoid any bumps in the road with Cycle Trader’s six tips for buying a motorcycle fixer upper.

1. Set Your Fixer Upper Budget

Before you start looking for a motorcycle to fix up, consider how much you’re willing to spend on this process. Budget for the cost of the unit, along with all of the repairs, upgrades, and tools needed. Set aside a little extra to finance any unexpected fixes. 

Not sure where to start? Get an idea of the market value for used units by searching an online marketplace like Cycle Trader features a helpful Price Checker tool that allows shoppers to research prices by make, model, and year, showing you the average, lowest, and highest prices nationwide or nearby.

2. Understand Your Skill Level

Before deciding what repairs and upgrades are worth the time and money, assess your skill level. This is especially important if you’re a first time flipper. Determine what you’re capable of doing and make note of things you may have to learn along the way. You may also choose to budget for bringing in a professional mechanic to help with the more complex parts of bike restoration. At the end of the day, being honest with yourself about your skill set helps you avoid starting a project that’s too big for you to finish.

3. Ask the Seller Questions

Once you know your budget and the kind of project you’re capable of taking on, you can start shopping around for a fixer upper. If there’s a unit that interests you, get in touch with the seller and ask any questions you may have. While a unit listing can provide helpful information, get as many details as possible from the seller. The more you know, the more you can determine how much work will need to go into the bike. It will also be beneficial to have the seller’s contact information, including their address, phone number, email, and availability to respond to inquiries.

4. Find Out if the Motorcycle has a Title

During your search, you may come across used bikes from private sellers that don’t have a title. We strongly recommend buying a motorcycle with a legal title. An untitled bike can put you at risk of potential legal or financial troubles. A title should be one of the first questions you ask a private seller. Make sure you receive the original title, not a duplicate, and that the VIN number matches the motorcycle.

5. Have an In-Person Inspection

When browsing motorcycles on a virtual marketplace like Cycle Trader, you’ll be able to view photos and videos of the for-sale listing to give you an idea of what the unit is like. Take that a step further by inspecting the bike in-person. If the motorcycle runs, listen to how easily it starts up and how it sounds once it does. You’ll also want to examine the bike’s exterior appearance, frame, clutch, brakes, suspension, exhaust, fuel tank, drive chain, tires, and lights.

6. Determine How You’ll Get the Motorcycle Home

Once you’ve purchased your bike, the final step is figuring out how you’ll get it home to start working on the repairs. If you’re not able to ride your recently purchased used motorcycle, you’ll need to determine another way to transport it. If you can ride the bike yourself, ask someone to give you a ride to pick it up and follow you on the way back, just in case. It never hurts to ask the seller if they offer a delivery service that will bring the motorcycle straight to you.

Conclusion: If this is your first time fixing up a motorcycle, the buying process can seem a little intimidating. By following these helpful tips, you’ll be able to browse, inspect, and purchase a bike that you feel confident about repairing. The end result will be a beautifully restored motorcycle for you to enjoy or sell. If you’re ready to start shopping for a fixer upper motorcycle, check out the nationwide inventory available on


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Arielle Patterson
Arielle Patterson

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