Buying Used Bikes

Before you buy a used motorcycle, do the following to prevent your being taken. Or worse.

Ask to see the title. If the owner's name on the front of the title is not the same as the name of the person who is selling you the bike then walk away from the deal. I know, you want a bike really bad and he or she is telling you that a title is really easy and cheap to get but if that were true then he or she would have a valid title. The title can be the most expensive and hardest to find part on any used motorcycle. No title reduces the value of the bike to scrap metal.

Check to see that the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the title is the same as the VIN on the neck of the motorcycle. All motorcycles sold in the USA have a VIN number. If you can't find the VIN or if it looks to have been modified then walk away from the deal. Don't let them fool you into thinking the bike is so old that it never had a VIN number. Motorcycles that old end up in high end motorcycle auctions and not on Craigslist.

Type the complete VIN into the search box here at Check other online databases as well. If it comes up in any online data base then it has been reported stolen and you should walk away from the deal then call the police agency that is investigating the theft. If you don't know the agency then call the closest police agency and report it to them. Unfortunately, not all stolen motorcycles are listed in online databases. Also, run the complete VIN through Google, Bing and several other search engines as you never know what you might turn up. I've used this to find recalls, flood damaged vehicles and more.

If everything checks out then accompany the owner of the motorcycle to a notary public. All title work should always be completed with a notary as witness and legitimate notaries will refuse to notarize documents that aren't signed while they witness the signing. I know the law concerning Notaries because I went to school and became a certified Notary Public. The only time a notary public can witness his or her own signature is when he or she is also a licensed automobile and motorcycle dealer. And even that doesn't hold true in every state.

Do these things and you'll remain in the clear. Fail to do these things and you could end up being arrested and convicted of possession of a stolen motorcycle. Or at the very least, watching a deputy sheriff come and take your baby away.