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Buying a used bike, what to look for?

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I am a dirtbike rookie and after reading through a bunch of posts here, I have decided that I am after an '01-'03 YZF 250, with the '03 being a prime suspect. Given that I have never bought a bike before in my life, what are some things I need to watch out for? I read about checking the VIN number for sure. I guess you can also tell if it has been ridden a bunch by looking at the paint wear on the frame above the pegs, but what are some other areas I need to be concerned about? Mainly, I am pretty freaked out that I am going to get a maintenance nightmare and it will keep me from learning the sport. I realize I am asking for that by buying used, but so be it. Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Wrooster had an excellent post last year about looking at used bikes. Several good ideas were presented there, so try a search.

You should also have the current owner explain how the oil is changed. He should be able to do it standing on his head if he did if frequently. Also check to see how clean the oil and air filter are. Ask him when the last time he greased the swing arm and steering stem. What type of grease did he use? How is it jetted? Ask as many detailed questions as you can, and make sure you get detailed answers. If he glosses over of can't answer, move on to another bike.

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Wow Wrooster, that is some excellent information!! I appreciate you pointing me in the right direction. I am not in the market just quite yet, as I still have some second thoughts about getting into the sport, mainly maintenance related and the expense of all the gear associated with owning a bike. However, reading through threads here getting a feel for things does no harm so I will continue researching! Thanks again, very helpful!!

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Take the black plastic cover off that covers the throttle cables on the carb. I looked at 3 YZF's brfore buying mine and all of them had freyed or broked upper (push) cables. Even the bike I bought it was broke. It's pretty common but can go undetected if not check regularly.

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Dont let the cost of gear pull you away. Once you have it you will not need to replace it very often. Good boots and helmet...A MUST.

I can understand the issues with maintenence as well. I have little background with complex issues but bike these days will run a long time on just regular oil changes, air cleaner cleansing and lube in the right places. This fourm can help you in ways unimiginable. If you have the cash dirt biking is one of the best sports around for good fun with a group of people that will become lifelong friends if given a chance. I have met some of the nicest people on the trails. Give it a go. If you dont like it you will be able to sell your bike and gear as a package and get most of your money back. Good luck. :cry:

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I hear you on the gear. I guess my main concern is maintenance. I consider myself a somewhat mechanically inclined guy and don't mind getting my hands dirty. However, I know nothing about bike maintenance so I guess that is what is making me timid about getting one. I do gather that regular oil changes and air filter maintenance are a good thing!! I have helped a buddy change oil, drain gas, and clean the air filters on his two bikes (1999 RM 125 and XR 400) and did not think it was too bad. Messy yea, but painful no.

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I bought my bike without knowing crap about dirtbikes. It was my first one and I knew the basic things to ask and look for. It kind of sucked though as it hurt my negotiating ability. I didn't get reemed by any means but I'm sure a better deal could have been had. Anyway, take a buddy with you who knows a thing or two about dirtbikes so you're not totally overwhelmed.

Most importantly, GO WITH YOUR GUT. If the guy or deal seems shady just walk. An honest seller shouldn't have to think about answers and should offer information freely.

And regarding pulling the trigger on a bike, if you can, do it! My only regret about buying a bike is that I didn't do it sooner. Seriously the funnest and most addictive sport I've ever tried.

Good luck. :cry:

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Taking somebody with you when you start looking, that is experienced with mx bikes would be a big plus.

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do it get one. i got my first one last year. and i love the sport. my only regret is talking my self out of buying the 450 opposed to buying the 250 but oh well i learned to ride and love it. so now i got a 03 250f for sale. :cry: oh well and buy good equipment to start off with it will make a hugh difference when you crash trust me :cry:

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Damn, I am getting the bug even more now! You guys are going to end up costing me a lot of money!! Appreciate the advice more than you know, thanks.

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Make sure the bike doesn't turn off when you turn to the right. Or left for that matter. :cry:

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There are several TT members from Austin. The moderater Sunruh plus myself are just 2. B86 racer is also from Austin. We would be able to give you a hand on looking at a used one.

Where/what type of riding are you planning on doing?

Take a look @ www.texasoffroad.net in the classifieds. Ask an estimate of how many hrs are on the bike.

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Thanks for the offer Oldnbold. I plan on riding some at Cross Creek on the trails and probably at my buddy's ranch in Driftwood, that is if he lets me since he just got married! I have checked out the TON classifieds and the forums, that is how I found out about this helpful place.

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I just can't resist this one! Kind of like shopping for a wife or new girl friend.

How long to intend on keeping this model?

Cosmetically sound? Looks can be deceiving! Sometimes a little TLC and touch up paint is all it takes!

Mechanically sound? (internals functioning correctly?)

Any hidden quirks when you ride her? (Excessive or un-natural noises, squeaks, groans, etc.)

Is she too loud?

Anything look or feel worn out?

Anything weird you just can't explain?

Any cracks, blemishes or other defects?

Any leaks?

Aftermarket parts?

Well lubed?

Scars, marks, tatoos (stickers) you can't fix or remove to your liking?

What is the past maintenance history?

Was there a previous legal title holder?

How many?

Still titled?

Red stickered! Can it be rectified?

Any previous major rebuilds?

Is she in need of one?

What about weight--is it right for you? Too light for you, or too heavy?

Height--too tall? Too short?

What about the seat--firm or soft?

Are there lights? Do they work?

Does she feel right for you from the start?

Can you handle her or will you have to grow into her?

Will you need to pay for any overhalls?

Can you start her up easily?

What about when hot?

What about when cold?

Can you shut her down when you need to?

Does she stop well?

How well do you think you can control her?

When ridden hard all day?

Or just out for a mellow romp in the morning?

How much time are you willing to sacrifice for upkeep?

Does she comes complete with accessories?

What are they and what is the cost of replacing or getting the missing ones?

How often will you need to update accessories?

How much debt does she come with?

Does she come with any parts that you don't know the origin of?

What is the cost of these parts with unknown origins?

How much maintenance are you willing to do?

How much maintenance can you afford?

Will your choice hold up for its intended purpose?

What is your intended purpose--frequent rides, or keep home and take out occasionally, or just for show and tell?

For fun and pleasure, business, or combination?

Are you trying to impress your friends?

Remember--Friends with more money can afford higher quality and therefore also afford the higher maintenance that comes with the higher quality! However, there is a point of diminishing return for money spent and enjoyment received.

Are you willing to take on another job or two to keep her well maintained an in your garage?

Do you have sponsors?

Can you write her off as a business expense!!!!!!!

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Some good points to ponder. I sure hope I do not have to get an extra job to pay for maintenance!

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