Need advice on my first motorcycle purchase! - Kawasaki Ninja 300 Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 04:58 AM Thread Starter
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Need advice on my first motorcycle purchase!

Hey everyone! Brand new rider here, currently living in Hawaii on the Oahu island. Going to college here, and I've been looking around on CL for bikes to buy. It's pretty hard to find motorcycles in Hawaii that aren't from a dealer here. I've been scoping out CL for the past few months and there's really never any 300s, usually just GSXRs, R6s, and CBRs.
Currently I have my eye on three posts, and was wondering if I could get some insight from you all on which is a better deal, or specific questions I should ask the sellers to better gauge which is the smarter option for me.

- This is a 2014 Ninja ABS SE model, with around 5500 miles. I texted the owner and asked about the state of the bike and if there was any work that needed to be done to it. This particular post has been up for almost 2 months and nobody has bought it yet. He replied saying the bike was very clean and needed no maintenance, kind of brushing off my question. However from the pictures it appears that the chain is very rusted and there looks to be a scratch on the fairing. Asking $4250.

- A 2009 SV650, it appears to have very minimal cosmetic damage, but is over 31k miles. I've heard a lot about higher mileage bikes being a no-go, but it's a good deal for a kid on a budget and the bike looks well enough. Asking $3000 - Willing to negotiate.

- Another SV650, this time 2001 model, looks rather beat up, but the price is very low and the miles are rather low for how old the bike is as well. I figured with all the money I'd be saving from this bike could easily be spent on new seats + fairings to make the bike look good again. Asking $1700 - Willing to negotiate.

ALL BIKES HAVE CLEAN TITLES + SAFETY REG.

Again, I'm a new rider, only having rode mopeds in the past. On a budget, 4k being around the max I would want to spend on a motorcycle. Whatever opinions, advice, or knowledge you could offer me would be very much appreciated. Many thanks!
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File Type: jpg 1700 torn up 14k mi sv650.jpg (36.1 KB, 23 views)
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 07:06 AM
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I don't deal with people who brush off my questions. Even so, that price is high for that ninja, but that would be in my area.

That mileage isn't bad if the bike's been cared for. I know of several bikes that have many times higher mileage, even so much as almost 10 times higher mileage than that. All that matters is how it's been kept up and maintained. When were the fork seals changed? Oil change intervals? Chain replaced? Coolant and brake fluid replaced? Electrical problems? Etc.

Doesn't look beat from that pic except for the seat ripped. I wouldn't worry about fairings with your first bike. Get some experience before you worry about having a pretty bike. Again, what matters is maintenance.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 12:13 AM
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Yeah man, ask for maintenance records if possible. When I look for a used bike the things my eyes go straight to is checking the oil and the chain condition. Taking care of those 2 things are what i would say are the simplest in maintenance and if they neglect those things then they probably neglect the whole moto together. If anything point out that rusty chain to knock a hundred or 2 off the price and install a new one, maybe even take the opportunity to mod the sprocket configuration since you are technically supposed to replace the sprockets together with a chain. Then again maybe the chain will be fine with a cleaning and lube, however, if you see any sort of red dusty looking material or if the chain binds then that chain is a goner.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 01:19 AM
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Go for whichever one will have the cheapest insurance. If you plan to keep it for a few years this will be savings in your pocket.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ninjarider189 View Post
Yeah man, ask for maintenance records if possible. When I look for a used bike the things my eyes go straight to is checking the oil and the chain condition.
Not the OP, but the point you made about checking the maintenance records and pointing out what you look for first in a used bike is pretty valuable information. I am going to be a new rider soon, and not many people have dished that information out, luckily I stumbled across your reply while reading through the threads
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 01:49 PM
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For about $700 more you can get a new 2017 Ninja 300.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 06:45 PM
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Rusted chain = stay away. I'll agree with everyone that notes it shows a complete lack of maintenance. It's probably likely the oil has never been changed either. So no to the 300.

2001 SV650. This is a 1st gen and is carbureted. But the price is low, so maybe. But I hate carbureted bikes so my instincts say no.

2009 SV650. 2nd gen and fuel injected. High miles are not a problem as long as the bike has been taken care of. Look for the warning signs like the basic maintenance items that have been neglected. Ask for proof of the last valve check and adjustment. "I did it myself" is not acceptable because anyone can lie. In that case ask to be shown the last valve lash numbers or a receipt for the shims. Failing that, if it looks good otherwise ask for $500 off.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-15-2017, 03:22 PM
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Rusted chain = stay away.
A point many people forget. Funny that I should see this post again today because I recently had a discussion with someone who was trying to convince me that the rusted chain was not a big deal at all. He was trying to tell me that the bike had been properly maintained, although the chain looked like a hue of orange brown I had never seen yet. I know I'm a novice when it comes to bikes, and trying to purchase my own has been a learning experience, but the forum has gems of knowledge that make the overall process much easier to handle.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-16-2017, 01:01 AM
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First of all, I can tell you from experience with the ninja 300 that the chain that it comes with rusts damn near no matter what you do to it. The stock chain uses a relatively higher carbon steel than seen on mid-high tier chains which use a higher chromium or even different alloys and less carbon content and many of which also have a coating or plating so they wont rust nearly as easily. Also take into account that you're in Hawaii. You're on a small island in a high salt environment that's everywhere and iron/steel is going to rust if not coated or plated with a protectant. I also wouldn't be too worried about external rust on a chain as these days we have sealed rollers on these things and the cleaning and maintenance mantra a lot of people preach now are from the days of unsealed and open rollers. I clean my chain every 1-2k miles or so but that's more to prevent the crap that's built up from being flung all over myself and the bike. Freaking about some light rust on the exterior of the chain housing while living on a small pacific island is going to drive you nuts. I've seen steel rust in a matter of hours when left out and exposed and a light film of oil doesn't last very long.

The price for vehicles and bikes on Hawaii are going to generally be much higher anyways due to a lot of cargo having to go to CA first and processing before going to Hawaii. If you really want that ninja, try to negotiate the price down a bit and get a new chain and sprockets while having a mechanic look over it. I would stay away from a carbureted bike unless you know what you're doing or have a good mechanic on hand to help with the carbs. A carbed bike sitting is probably going to be a bigger potential issue than the chain as the buildup of salt and ethanol deposits in a carb will probably mean a stuffed carb that's going to require a complete overhaul with new needles. Hell, with these being island bikes, I'd be more worried about rust building in the fuel tanks damaging and destroying the fuel pumps due to ethanol's tendency to capture water from the highly humid air before the chain.

With whatever bike you are looking at, I would highly recommend you take it to a good island mechanic who knows what they're looking for when it comes to machines sitting around on the island. Living only minutes from the coast, I've seen the poorly treated and cast "stainless" steel crap that comes stock on the ninja 300 rust out in less than a week. When this bike first came out, you should have seen the huge amount of posts about it in this very forum years ago about how even people taking diligent care of the bike and constantly brushing/cleaning the stainless steel muffler and chain, they would rust anyways. A lot of us in the early days either just said screw it and ignored the rusting chains or swapped to a quality chain that usually was also plated and tended to not rust at all while getting new exhausts or slip-ons.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-16-2017, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by DustinDuffy View Post
A point many people forget. Funny that I should see this post again today because I recently had a discussion with someone who was trying to convince me that the rusted chain was not a big deal at all. He was trying to tell me that the bike had been properly maintained, although the chain looked like a hue of orange brown I had never seen yet. I know I'm a novice when it comes to bikes, and trying to purchase my own has been a learning experience, but the forum has gems of knowledge that make the overall process much easier to handle.
The funny thing is, as soon as you point out the horrible chain maintenance and then leave, that chain is getting a good cleaning and lubing for the next guy. But the overdue oil isn't getting changed in that bike.

Here's something people like to see when buying a used bike - I save the used oil filters from all my oil changes. I put them back in the box, label it used and write the date and mileage of the change. There's no doubt then to the buyer.

Here's something sellers don't like to see when I walk in to take a look at a bike. I come with a full set of tools and a compression testing kit. I may not even have to use it, but they know that no BS is going to fly with me.

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