Buying second-hand amid COVID-19

How do you buy a used bike safely in the midst of a global COVID-19 pandemic?

While the world grapples with biggest pandemic in a century, buying a used motorcycle may well have dropped down the priority list for many of us. However, if you do need to source some private transport in a hurry – or even if you come across a bargain you simply can't pass up – what's the best way to go about sealing the deal, while keeping your health and safety (and that of others) front and centre?

Fortunately, inspecting a second-hand motorcycle presents fewer opportunities for transmission than a second-hand car – there are simply far fewer touch points involved, while riders generally ride wearing gloves and helmets (or at least they should!). And in more general terms, travelling by motorcycle is probably one of the safest ways of getting about at the moment – city traffic is at a minimum, and riding solo is essentially self-isolation on two wheels!

There are two main issues at play here: shopping around safely while COVID-19 continues to spread, and avoiding all the potential pitfalls that have always applied to any second-hand purchase.


Keep your distance

Using Bikesales to hone your search and even find the bike of your dreams cuts out the major part of the COVID-19 risk: you can browse Bikesales classifieds for hours on end in the safety of your own home, eliminating your exposure to infection.

And while you're narrowing down your list of prospective models, don't forget Bikesales has an archive of over 1300 individual motorcycle reviews from some of the industry's most experienced, trusted reviewers that stretch back over the last 20 years. In many instances it's possible to read up on every major update of a motorcycle model and chart its evolution over time.

Pricing for motorcycle, cars, even houses is more volatile right now, and that means we just can't be sure of which way pricing for any given used model is going to head. But forewarned is forearmed, so trawl those listings to gain a ballpark figure for a given range of mileage and condition, so you're well prepared to spot a bargain.


Bikesales Membership allows you to save searches and listings, and even create alerts to let you know the moment an example of your preferred model becomes available.

If you're a member of Bikesales – which involves little more than setting up a basic account with a valid email address – the process gets even easier. You can save any searches, zeroing in what you want over multiple levels of criteria (make, model, style and engine capacity, among many others), or save specific listings that catch your eye.

You can even create alerts to let you know the moment another example matching your criteria is listed on Bikesales, getting the jump on random browsers!

And don't forget to order a 'BikeFacts powered by Bikesales' Bike History Report to check a specific bike's VIN number to ensure it's not stolen, has existing finance, or is an insurance write-off, and to check on its current registration status. At $15 per report, it's cheap insurance and can be done in moments.

For just $15 and a few clicks, the BikeFacts Bike History Report is cheap and easy peace of mind when researching your prospective second-hand purchase.
The inspection

Now it's crunch time: you've found 'the one' and you're dropping around to the seller to physically inspect the machine. Observe all the current cautions and practices recommended by the Australian Federal Government, your State Government, and medical authorities.

That means:
• Practising good hygiene (washing hands regularly with soap (ideally) or hand sanitizer, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue, and avoiding touching your face or eyes as much as possible).
• Maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 metres from any other person at all times.
• Staying at home as much as possible (see below).

Obviously anyone who is self-isolating or in quarantine should not be leaving their house under any circumstances, while a 'lockdown' order – which could be enacted in some areas – means people should only leave their homes for 'essential' travel (to purchase food or medicine, or seek medical attention, for example).

It goes without saying, if you find yourself in these circumstances, now's NOT the time to be 'out and about', shopping for a new bike…

A BikeFacts Bike History Report will flag a written-off, unregistered, stolen or encumbered vehicle by checking the bike's VIN number against the relevant databases.

Down to business

Outside of those parameters, if you're still intent on a purchase and find a seller who is happy for you to physically inspect the bike, it can pay to take some additional precautions, such as…

• If the seller permits, consider cleaning the bike with an alcohol-based disinfectant or wipes before you ride it.
• Wear some disposable latex or nitrile gloves while cleaning it and avoid overly harsh cleaners (i.e. bleach) that may damage the paint, metal, plastics or seat (use a tiny amount on a small test area, with the seller's permission and guidance). Dispose of the gloves carefully after use.
• The touch points to target include the handlebars, seat, and around the ignition. Don't forget the left and right switchblocks, and especially the indicator stalk, start button, and kill switch!
• Don't be afraid to ask the seller to maintain social distancing recommendations, for both your and their own sake.

Of course, beyond these extra COVID-19 concerns, there are a number of regular considerations that apply when buying a second-hand motorcycle. Check out Bikesales' own library of 'Safer Buying Tips', which offer a wealth of information to guide you along the Bikesales buying and selling journey.

Uh uh – there's none of that with COVID-19 about. Maintain social distancing recommendations, wear gloves, use sanitiser and transfer that cash online!

And for the nitty gritty on tips and traps, check out these previously published advice articles:

 Advice: Ten tips for buying a second-hand motorcycle
 Advice: How to buy second-hand
 Advice: The guide to buying second-hand
 Advice: Buying second-hand tips and costings
 Advice: Buying a used scooter

Without being overly flippant in what is obviously a very serious situation, in all likelihood you're probably more at risk of a traffic accident while test-riding the bike than contracting COVID-19 (so it goes without saying, wear all the usual safety gear while doing so!).

That aside, it's still important you take all the necessary precautions before inspecting and riding an unfamiliar bike.

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