Inspect Salvage Motorcycles – Ten Things To Look For Before You Bid

You’ve been looking for a used bike and decided to go the salvage motorcycle route. Great! Now, it’s time to actually get out there and start shopping. But before you bid, if possible, you need to personally inspect salvage motorcycles you plan on bidding on.

If this is your first time, try to bid on motorcycles you can personally look at before buying. Always have an experienced mechanic look at the bikes you want to bid on. Do not substitute your judgment for that of the mechanic. But make sure to give the bike a personal inspection to check for things that might be out in the open – but not shown in pictures.

First Things First

Treat this like you are buying any vehicle. Yes, it is a salvage bike. But still, give it the same kind of inspection you would buying any other used bike. Buy the best motorcycle that you can find at the best price. Look for what exactly needs to be repaired or replaced. There will be damage, but you want to make sure the damage was limited to what was disclosed. Any more items that need to be fixed and your repair bill starts climbing.

Things To Look For When You Inspect A Salvage Bike

You probably won’t be able to fire the thing up, much less go on a test ride. But, there is plenty you can look at. Most importantly, this is by no means a comprehensive list, just some general points:

  1. Run the VIN number. People make mistakes. Sometimes a “hot” bike might make it to the auction floor.
  2. Ask whether you can sit on the motorcycle. That way you can check on several components at once.
  3. Is there fluid leaking? Or signs that fluid and oil have leaked on the engine or other parts of the bike?
  4. Are the steering head bearings loose and/or worn?
  5. Look closely at the fork tubes. Are they straight? Signs of fixes (repaint, welds)?
  6. Inspect the frame closely. Are there signs of welding, grinding or new paint?
  7. Look at the tread wear on the tires. Even if the motorcycle has been sitting around for a while, you can still tell a lot from the wear pattern on the wheels. Look for signs the bike was driven hard.
  8. Look at points that would make contact with the road. That shows collision or hard-riding damage. As Lemmy from Revzilla tells us: “Footpegs, levers and bar ends” will “often curl when they hit the pavement.” So look for signs of that damage – or from hasty repairs.
  9. Look at the tank. Open it up and look inside. Is it dirty or rusty?
  10. Does the electrical have a lot of new electrical tape and loose wires? Sign that someone played around with the wiring and did not do a good job.
harley davidson salvage bike, auction
Harley Damage In The Tank

And The Conclusion Is?

Those are just some initial points you should take into consideration when inspecting a salvage bike. ALWAYS have an actual mechanic look it over. This is more like an initial check-up looking to find big disqualifying items. You can always go back and search for other salvage bikes to bid on.