Right, you’ve been bitten by the off-road bug and you’ve just got to get your mitts on a bike to get out there and start ripping. Right, you’ve been bitten by the off-road bug and you’ve just got to get your mitts on a bike to get out there and start ripping. But hold your horses! Don’t rush in and buy the first bike you check out.
Like the Grolsh ad man says, what’s the rush? So learn what you’re looking for and find the right bike for the type of riding you’re up for.
Here are a few tips for you to follow before you part with your hard-earned cashola…
First things first, decide if you’re going to purchase the puppy from a private ad or from a reputable dealer. There are pros and cons to each…
The private way will generally be the cheaper option but go down the dealer road and, while you may have to shell out a few more readies, your potential new steed should have been checked over before you get to see it on the shop floor.
Remember, these shops have a reputation to uphold so they won’t want to sell you a pile of junk – word soon gets around and they’d lose valuable custom. But always remember you’re buying a second-hand bike so it’s just that…used. The bottom-line is use your savvy!
If you’re buying private just ask the owner a few questions when making that initial call. Ask why the bike is being sold (most people selling are upgrading to a newer model), ask if the bike has been used in competition and, er, use your savvy.
As a rule you will get a realistic impression of the bike when you first lay eyes on it. If the plastics are absolutely trashed and the general look of the bike is really scruffy you should think about giving the puppy a bit of a swerve – if its owner has no pride in its appearance he may not have looked after its internal organs too well. And you don’t want to be buying a bike that’s missed out basic TLC like regular oil changes, correct filter preparation, general lubrication and greasing of linkages.
Here’s a quick-fire guide of checks to go through on the possible bike of your dreams…
Check the fixings around the bike, making sure there ain’t no dodgy bolts and self-tappers holding the thing together.
With the bike off the stand check the operation of the suspension. The rear should have a controlled feel – if it springs back real quick and tops out then the shock has blown.
Also, lift the rear of the bike off the ground (by the subframe) – this will let you feel if the linkage bearings are okay. If there’s a clunking from the rear linkage it may just need greasing but the bearings may well need replacing.
The front forks should move up and down reasonably smoothly and should not be leaking oil from the seals or have too much back and forwards movement. If they have these problems you’re in for quite an expensive service replacing seals and bushes.
Check controls for positive feeling. Clutch, front brakes and throttle should feel smooth – if not the cables could be fried. Especially important is the throttle operation – a stuck throttle is dangerous.
Get the owner to start the bike from cold and warm her up. Listen for excessive engine noise – rattling is not a good sign and neither is too much vibration.
Look for an excess of blue smoke – especially with a four-stroke – as this means there’s oil by-passing the piston and burning, causing engine wear that will lead to the puppy soiling itself and ruining your day.
Other bits n’ bobs
Chain and sprockets should be in reasonable shape with no missing teeth and not too much sideways movement on the chain (if you can take it off the rear sprocket with your hand that ain’t good).
Check brake pads aren’t down to the metal and make sure the wheel bearings are in order by grabbing the top of the wheel and tyre and trying to move the wheel from side to side. If there’s no movement present then they are tickety boo.
These bikes get a pounding and the wheels go through a lot so make sure they’re reasonable with no loose spokes and big dents in the rims.
Tyres should be in reasonable nick – if any knobbles are missing start haggling.
Well that’s pretty much it gang, happy hunting and team dbr look forward to seeing you and your post purchase puppy at the track real soon…