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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I'm interested in purchasing my first bike, and the Ninja 300 seems like a great purchase for a beginner.
I've seen a couple of nice ads for Ninjas, but since I'm a n00b I'd like to examine the bike prior to purchase.
Does anyone have a clue how/where should I perform such examination, if at all?
Do you have any tips for me regarding how to filter the bike (currently: asking for clean title in hand, service history, etc).

Thanks!
 

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You can tell a lot by looking at the condition of the chain. If the person is on top of the maintenance, the chain will be rust-free and properly adjusted.

Look at the tires. Depending on the age of the cycle, it may still have original tires on it. After about 5 years they should be replaced, especially if they were not that great to begin with.

Look at the color of the engine oil. If it looks completely black, it may have not gotten regular oil changes.

The general look tells you most of what you need to know. If it looks beat and neglected - it usually is.

With a used Ninja you can expect some tip-over damage, so look closely at the fairings for cracks and scuffs. They may not be a big deal, but it will effect how much you should pay.

Check the book values and look at plenty of ads to get a feel for high and low prices in your area. Be prepared to pay a bit more if it's immaculate, but don't be swayed by the inclusion of a $1000 3-year "Extended Warranty" or Service Contact that they want to get their money back from. It doesn't matter if they over-paid when they bought it - that doesn't make it worth any more to you.
 

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You can tell a lot by looking at the condition of the chain. If the person is on top of the maintenance, the chain will be rust-free and properly adjusted.

Look at the tires. Depending on the age of the cycle, it may still have original tires on it. After about 5 years they should be replaced, especially if they were not that great to begin with.

Look at the color of the engine oil. If it looks completely black, it may have not gotten regular oil changes.

The general look tells you most of what you need to know. If it looks beat and neglected - it usually is.

With a used Ninja you can expect some tip-over damage, so look closely at the fairings for cracks and scuffs. They may not be a big deal, but it will effect how much you should pay.

Check the book values and look at plenty of ads to get a feel for high and low prices in your area. Be prepared to pay a bit more if it's immaculate, but don't be swayed by the inclusion of a $1000 3-year "Extended Warranty" or Service Contact that they want to get their money back from. It doesn't matter if they over-paid when they bought it - that doesn't make it worth any more to you.
Great advice!

During my search, which was a couple months ago, my BF checked out the lights to see if there may be electrical issues by turning the bike on and flipping the turn signals too. There a couple that had some lights not turn on (high beams and turn signal). For me, electrical issues are a no-go. We saw one where the shifter by your left foot was totally crushed in. Replaceable but speaks of damage earlier and if the owner wasn't careful or smart enough to replace that small bit, it is a bike I'm not getting. Who knows what else he wasn't able to "fix".

If you can, get someone to test ride it for you. A person with experience who knows how a bike should feel. Or someone who you trust who has or had a bike.
 

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Take a look here - How to sell a used bike. There's a "used bike checklist" in there somewhere you can use, plus seeing things from the sellers side is the best way to learn what to do and not do. You'll definitely get a lot of useful tips out of it.

The biggest thing to be weary of that no one will tell you if you're buying at a dealership - Only talk about the OTD (out the door) price. With used bikes it isn't as bad, but it's still bad. You can expect to pay a few hundred extra buck in random fees that won't get mentioned until the end. Don't agree to a sale (or leave a deposit) at a dealership under any circumstance until you've seen a paper with the price you agreed to on it.

Though it looks like you're looking at private sales, perhaps. That would be a good idea. Regarding test drives, that may or may not be a possibility. You definitely shouldn't take it for granted because stupid falls happen. And a lot of new riders actually don't ask about test rides on these types of bikes, ironically enough.

Yeah, like mentioned elsewhere, demeanor matters as much as condition. You never know what's hiding under the covers - though it's rarely as bad as we all fear. In that sense I go a bit against the grain in that I'd suspect less of a bike with used-looking oil in good condition, rather than a bike with absolutely new oil since it means I don't know how the old oil was. It's not bad, but it can obscure things. Similarly, like @jkv45 said, the chain gives a good idea of condition. If it isn't maintained, nothing else is.

As for the rest, it really depends on you. If you're okay with scratches and dents for a first bike, perfect. If you're not, that narrows down the choices. In any case, seek and ye shall find. Good luck!
 

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Bringing someone with you that rides is a plus. They don’t have to know everything, but should be able to look over the basics, as if it was their own bike. Local motorcycle forum helps too.

If you want one checked out here in Houston, shoot me a pm, I’ll go check it out for you, but you should be able to find a nice one around you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
These are some really good advices, thank you all!
I'm definitely going to follow through with them.

As mentioned, I am looking to purchase from a private seller - tomorrow I'll make some calls to near by bike shops (mechanics) to see if one of them will be willing to check a potential bike for a fee.
I will also ask a friend with 10 years of riding experience to come with me, to ensure I'm not missing anything.

Super exciting, will report back once I make a purchase (hopefully!)

Thanks again!
 

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Good luck. Don’t let your excitement overrule good judgment.

And with whatever you get, don’t forget to have fun.
 

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These are some really good advices, thank you all!
I'm definitely going to follow through with them.

As mentioned, I am looking to purchase from a private seller - tomorrow I'll make some calls to near by bike shops (mechanics) to see if one of them will be willing to check a potential bike for a fee.
I will also ask a friend with 10 years of riding experience to come with me, to ensure I'm not missing anything.

Super exciting, will report back once I make a purchase (hopefully!)

Thanks again!
I think most shops will do a check for a fee (easy money now and potentially a lot more later), but some sellers aren't going to be interested in the added hassle. Unless you actually give them the money (buy the bike), with the understanding you can return it if it doesn't check out, they will have to take it to the shop for you. Most sellers aren't going to want to do that.

Any shop is going to find a laundry list of stuff that they want to do - fluid changes, tire replacement, and a host of other maintenance items that should be done if not documented - and the bill for all the work could be huge. Most sellers are going to know that, and are not going to want to deal with it.

I've never taken a vehicle to a mechanic to have it checked out, and I've bought and sold dozens. After a few basic checks (visible maintenance items, questions to the seller, and listening to it run) you can usually get a feel (good or bad) for the owner and vehicle.

If you want to have it checked out it's not a bad idea - just expect some resistance from the seller - and a big estimate of what's needed. Any used cycle is going to need maintenance done and things replaced, so don't be discouraged.

Learning to do the work yourself is rewarding and also makes riding safer for you. You can't be running to the dealer every time the chain needs adjustment.
 

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If you have someone test ride make sure they make sure the odometer works (counts).

I bought an SV with an odometer that didn't work and I didn't realize it till I got the bike home.

Lesson Learned.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks to your advices, I've skipped the mechanic checks and did the majority myself.
Break pads got tons of 'meat' remaining, chain is a bit rusty (will replace, along with sprockets), did not know how to check oil but the bike got only 3000mi and 1 service has been performed. Odometer works (rode for 1mi and ensured it went up).
checked title against the VIN, checked title against ID of owner. everything's good.
tires got probably 1000-1500mi remaining, will upload here picture to see what you guys think - i trust that you've got better 'eye'.

This is a 2015 model SE w/ABS, original owner, got a little ~0.5" scratch on the side, and cracked odometer screen (owner says it happened when he left it outside in the sun once).

I was quoted: $230 for tires, $200 for chain+sprocket, $375 for odometer (will not do it, going to buy a new case off of ebay and try to fix myself).
We've agreed on $2600 purchase price.

Are the aforementioned quotes OK? Should/can I optimize?

Thanks everyone!
 

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Sounds like a great deal to me. I hope it isn't precipitous to say congratulations on your new bike!
 

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2600?? Great price. Looks good. Put some decent rubber under it and a chain, and go have some fun. >:)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks everyone!!

Any recommendations regarding tires, for someone who's not tracking and mainly commutes?
 

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Sport touring tires like the Michelin Road 5 or Dunlop Roadsmarts are a good all around tire with good grip and mileage, but I'm not sure about the sizing. I've been running full sport tires for years, but tire technology has improved and the sport touring tires are now much better.

I personally don't like Pirelli cycle or car tires. I've had numerous set over the years, but find they dry-out and lose traction much quicker than I think they should.

If you don't have it, get more gear - jacket, gloves, pants, boots - everything.

I've been riding on the dirt, street, and track for over 40 years, and wear all of it all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
On a 2nd look I'm not sure there's a need to replace, can you advise whether I should or shouldn't, from a safety standpoint?
 

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Regarding safety gear: will ride with helmet, gloves, jacket w/elbow shoulder and spine protection, ad hoc jeans with knee protection, and boots. I'm not a kid, and not going to cut corners here.
 

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Tires look fine for the moment. Don't waste good rubber and use them up before replacing. You shouldn't be pushing the bike so hard as to make a difference anyway in the short term.
 

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The tires look good and should only be 3 years old at the most, so you should be fine. I would figure the chain is fine too and probably just needs a good cleaning and lube.

AGATT
put all the odds in your favor. Sweating is temporary, road rash is forever.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Good point about chain, will check it out.

Thanks for your comments about tires, I'll give them another season or two
 

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Tires look fine for the moment. Don't waste good rubber and use them up before replacing. You shouldn't be pushing the bike so hard as to make a difference anyway in the short term.
That's terrible advice!

I could give a crap if I "waste" "good" rubber. I've s**t-canned almost brand new OEM rubber because it sucked.

OEM tires are not usually that great, and they don't get any better as they age. To read a tires production date, look for 4 numbers on the sidewall in an oval like "2616". The first 2 numbers are the week of the year of production, the second are the last digits of the year (2016).

5 years on a cycle tire is plenty, no matter how much tread is left. Less if the tire wan't great when brand new. Don't skimp or put it off.

Even if you aren't cornering aggressively you still want good tires to provide maximum traction in an emergency stop.
 
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