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Buying a used bike

Buying a used bike comes with more risks. But with the right approach they can all be minimised

There’s ‘used’ and ‘used’. A low-kilometres, single-owner machine that’s still under warranty is a far cry from a twenty-year-old hack with no service history. So, what do you need to do to make sure you make a good purchase? 

Who you’re buying from

Let’s start with who you’re buying from. The broad choices are from a dealership, privately or an online dealer. Each has pros and cons but the safest option is usually buying from a reputable dealership. Normally, the bike will have some sort of warranty, even if it’s just a few months.

The Consumer Guarantees Act states that the bike must be as advertised, safe and fit for purpose.

Consumer Guarantees Act 

The downside is that dealer prices are usually a little higher, and you’ll probably know nothing about the previous owner(s). A dealer purchase means the bike has almost certainly been professionally checked over, including its finance status, and serviced if needed. Trade-in might be an advantage too. 

You have rights under the:

Buying privately

One upside of buying privately is that you’ll likely get to meet and make a judgement about the owner, and how they’ve looked after the bike. You can ask questions and you may be able to negotiate a better price than at a dealership. Unless the bike is near-new, you won’t get a warranty, but even a private seller has a duty to reveal certain information. Some aspects of the Contractual Remedies Act will apply and if you’re misled you can take the seller to the Disputes Tribunal.

Buying online

Buying online means missing out on the face-to-face aspects. Some people even buy without seeing the bike, which is not recommended. A thorough mechanical check over – preferably by a professional and certainly by someone competent, is a must whoever you’re buying from. 


Buying online will likely mean you must collect or transport the bike. Read our Transporting your bike section for advice.

Things to do before you buy a used bike

Check the specifications chevron-thin-down

Be sure to compare apples with apples. Used bikes will vary in specification, so make sure the bike you favour has the features you want. Things such as antilock braking systems (ABS) and traction control are big safety features that might have been optional when new, and they add value.

Do your homework before you buy chevron-thin-down

As with a new bike, there’s more to cost than the price you pay up front. You’ll want to establish: 

  • annual servicing costs for the next few years. This will vary depending on the bike’s age and distance travelled, and who does the work. Investigate costs from the main dealer and a specialist mechanic.
  • annual rego
  • replacement tyres – depending on the condition, they might need replacing soon. Along with things such as brake pads and the chain.

Depreciation is the other big cost. Buying secondhand you’ll likely have an idea of how in-demand the bike is and how much slightly older bikes with more kilometres go for.