DBC Used Dirt Bike Buying Guide | Updated Aug 2018

2015 KTM 300 XC

2015 KTM 300 XC

Buying a used bike can be a daunting task. There are many things to consider when looking to buy a used dirt bike. Dirt Bike Channel has put together this little guide to give you some ideas and help when looking at used bikes.

Here is a list of some things we look for when looking to buy a used dirt bike:

  • A used dirt bike that is up for sale should be very clean.  If they didn’t even clean the bike to get it ready to sell, can you imagine how much tender loving care they showed the bike when they didn’t think anyone would come looking?  If I show up and it’s muddy/dirty, I’m not going to be there very long.
  • Look for wear and tear on the frame, swing arm, and side casings on the motor/clutch.  Plastic is easy to replace, frames and motors are not.
  • Is the air filter clean?  This is basic maintenance 101.  If that filter isn’t clean, I’m going to be VERY skeptical that anything else has had regular maintenance.  Dirty filter = RED FLAG
  • Check the radiator fluid level, brake fluid levels, engine/transmission oil levels and see how clean the oil is.  If they aren’t keeping clean oil in the bike, that is an issue. If the air filter and the engine oil are both dirty, I’m going to stop there and call it a day!  On to the next bike.  This one is not for me.
  • Look for oil leaks or cracks in the motor on all sides of it.  Sometimes it might just need a gasket for a few bucks. In other cases, it could be a larger issue.  Either way, oil coming out of the motor isn’t a good thing.
  • Put the bike on a stand and see if the linkage bearings are worn out.  Wiggle the  rear tire back and forth.  This will also tell you if there are other bearing issues.  Do the same thing with the front tire.  You want things to be tight and well maintained. If these things have any “play in them” then you might want to keep looking for another bike.
  • Look under the bike for dents in the frame or engine. Any major frame damage will certainly discourage me from making a purchase.
  • When starting the bike listen for ANY funny noises. Ride the bike and run it through the gears.  Make sure you don’t hear any grinding or weird things. If something sounds wrong, it probably is.
  • Look to see if the radiator’s are bent.  While bent radiators are not usually a problem if they are only slightly bent, it can let you know how much the bike has been dumped on it’s side giving you an idea of how hard it’s been ridden.
  • Look for dents in the rims.  Very telling on how hard this person rides if the rims are bent.  
  • Ask if the top end or bottom end of the engine has been rebuilt.  See it they have receipts for the work they have done. It would be best to have these things done by a professional shop rather than some kid in his garage.  Not all mechanics are created equal.  Better safe than sorry.
  • Ask if the bike has been raced.  Racing hours tend to be much harder hours than just casual riding.  Although we are not saying that bikes that have been raced are a bad idea, it’s just something to consider when making this purchase.
  • Is the clutch easy to pull or hard as a rock?  It might just need a new cable, but it could be another issue. 
  • Did they install a new plastic kit on the bike to sell it?  Makes me wonder if they are trying to hide something from me.  It’s not always a bad thing, but it’s something to think about. 
  • Are the grips worn out and dirty?  The seller should have installed new grips to give it a fresher look. Grips are only like $10-$15 but it’s the thought that counts. That highlights their attention to detail.
  • Ask to see a maintenance schedule (valves, oil changes, gear oil changes, suspension).
  • Remember that aftermarket parts don’t make the bike worth more money.  They might help sell the bike quicker, but they don’t add to the value.  If the owner put $2000 worth of aftermarket parts on the bike, I might pay $100 more for it, but that’s it.  Remember that if you went to buy a car and they told you that it has a new 10K motor and a new 4K stereo, they haven’t changed the “blue book” value at all.  It’s still a 2014 Honda Accord with 80K miles and that dictates the value.  Same concept applies here.

Just know that you are going to be taking some risk with each used dirt bike purchase.  You may end up needing to dump money and time into repairs after you get it home start riding the bike.  In many cases, this is unavoidable.  That is the trade-off you make for not buying new, but it is still a great way to go.