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Frank Angerano

Tips On Buying a Used Bike/ATV

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So here’s a question. I have seen a few members that have recently purchased a used bike/ATV.   Also a HUGE amount of so called new members who have purchased a used bike and have come here “just here for a manual”.

Some have been disappointed with the bikes and or knew they were getting a broken bike with some mechanical  experience thinking hey I can fix it.   So here’s my take on buying a used bike. Anyone who has followed some of mine and other members posts about what to look for when buying a used bike here’s a few pointers on what to look for. 

1. I always check the oil and look for moisture, metal shavings and color. 

2. Feel the compression or take a compression tester with you. 

3. Check for spark (if the bikes not running)

4. Take a small jumper pack to verify that the starter cycle works and the bike cranks.

5. Look for bent or cracked frame/welding that was done on the frame from maybe a wreck.

5. Mismatch plastics by looking under neath.  

7. Bolts on the engine/frame that look like they are stripped from someone taking the bike apart. 

8. Any kind of scilicone or gasket adhesive that was used on a cover plate or engine seem where the engine was taken apart.  

9. Patches on the exhaust pipes with sheet metal or jb weld patch material.  

10. Wiring messes on the harness like bundles of tape where the harness was opened up and taped up  for an after market device or just plain butchered up.  

11. Put the bike in gear (running or not) and roll the bike back and forth to see that the gears work and you feel resistance like the engine is trying to spin while pushing it forward as if you were push starting it   

12. I keep a vin# decoder website on my phone as a favorite to double check the year of the bike .

All though nothing is fool proof these tips will help you along while buying a used bike. Not only that but  it will help you negotiate a fair price for a bike that may have one of the above problems.  

I have minimized this entire process down to about 15 mins. I buy all the time so I don’t expect you to do the same or have a compression tester etc but use some of these tips when buying and go into the purchase with confidence! 

I would like to hear anyone else that has any input on buying a bike and what to  look for! 

 

Edited by Ajmboy
Updated Title for Better Search
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Hello, great tips. I bought my first atv used and boy did I get screwed. These tips are exactly what I needed to know. The previous owner told me the bike was perfect and great condition. Only to find out the clutch was completely burnt out. No air filter, missing screws on the frame and fender. Front differential not working all the bearings broken and the screw is broke off in the case. I can go on and on. The shocks are leaking oil. The list goes on. I appreciate your list of tips. 

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34 minutes ago, ericmaruba said:

Hello, great tips. I bought my first atv used and boy did I get screwed. These tips are exactly what I needed to know. The previous owner told me the bike was perfect and great condition. Only to find out the clutch was completely burnt out. No air filter, missing screws on the frame and fender. Front differential not working all the bearings broken and the screw is broke off in the case. I can go on and on. The shocks are leaking oil. The list goes on. I appreciate your list of tips. 

 I still have yet to check my air filter lol. I know where it is, have even opened the seat cover 2-3 times

@Frank Angerano I'm just getting going, did not have the land nor county (lived in bay area city too long). I thought I did well on my first pick, but on the drive home I got that sinking feeling I missed a few and almost everything heh.  I appreciate these tips and I will test these out on a couple bikes I have no interest in just for practice maybe I'll end up with a lucky find!

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Ranchers! I have no interest in Honda, not technical or valid - just personal heh

so, Imma stock up on some testing parts, Frank.. please share links to your trusted vendors!

 I'm going to push the one that doesn't start: https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/snw/d/west-sacramento-honda-rancher-350/6792299892.html
how would you test the one that we'd have to all lift or winch?

image.png.0ee74d3ffd139520d72eb9c5ea7d30f5.png

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Quote

1. I always check the oil and look for moisture, metal shavings and color. 

also how?  for shavings you'd have to drain. do you drive around with 3 quarts and drain dolly? :D

side note for greasy/oily hands: what gloves? so far, I like the 7mil HF gloves about 14cents each

 

Edited by pokerl0w

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No I don’t drive around with 3 quarts of oil 🤔. I use a white paper towel. I twist it up as tight and long as possible and stick it down into the oil fill plug and pull it out.  You can tell by the color if there is any moisture in it as well as the looking at the over all appearance of the oil.   But anyone can add fresh oil to a motor and pull a fast one.   

 

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7 hours ago, pokerl0w said:

Ranchers! I have no interest in Honda, not technical or valid - just personal heh

so, Imma stock up on some testing parts, Frank.. please share links to your trusted vendors!

 I'm going to push the one that doesn't start: https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/snw/d/west-sacramento-honda-rancher-350/6792299892.html
how would you test the one that we'd have to all lift or winch?

image.png.0ee74d3ffd139520d72eb9c5ea7d30f5.png

I agree that Hondas are crap as far as performance and durability.  If i were to drive a Honda like i drive my bayou (and that still doesnt hold up), the Honda turn out looking like the one above...  I know no life but the savage full throttle wound out life...  Polaris and Yamaha are the way to go

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From research I thought Honda's were good bikes. Why are they crappy? What is the biggest con?

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I don’t think they are crappy by any means.   It’s just a preference. I would take a guess and say there are more Honda’s out there then any other older bike. Honda makes a great product.  

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so.... debates aside, do ya'll pick up bikes like that wheeless rancher? and if so, probably no oil, so I'm checking mainly frame and suspension, possibly electrical? I should carry a spare battery now that I have a roll of bounty in the back heh

and @JacobSlabach I wasn't saying crap :) I was stating opposite, actually. I know very little about all these bikes. But I do not want someone to nod their head like they know my bike when I say "honda" because they own a civic. I want them to do like they have already done "bayou!? is that a swamper?" :D fun times

oh and again @JacobSlabachif I really didn't like them or figured it would never run, then that's very no fun. my thinking was I'd build it, they would come, sell it - I learned and had some fun with ya'll. and be easy to part with a rancher for me, at this time in my atv career

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2 hours ago, pokerl0w said:

so.... debates aside, do ya'll pick up bikes like that wheeless rancher? and if so, probably no oil, so I'm checking mainly frame and suspension, possibly electrical? I should carry a spare battery now that I have a roll of bounty in the back heh

and @JacobSlabach I wasn't saying crap :) I was stating opposite, actually. I know very little about all these bikes. But I do not want someone to nod their head like they know my bike when I say "honda" because they own a civic. I want them to do like they have already done "bayou!? is that a swamper?" :D fun times

oh and again @JacobSlabachif I really didn't like them or figured it would never run, then that's very no fun. my thinking was I'd build it, they would come, sell it - I learned and had some fun with ya'll. and be easy to part with a rancher for me, at this time in my atv career

yea ok.  my main point was that a Honda could not stand how I drive atvs.  Did not mean to throw shade at anything, I would get a Honda to resell if I found a good deal too..  just wouldn't want it for myself.

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6 hours ago, ericmaruba said:

From research I thought Honda's were good bikes. Why are they crappy? What is the biggest con?

biggest con is most definatly the trans.  Even that 'automatic' bikes have transitions like cars and have trouble finding the right gear to give that perfect balance between power and speed that you get with cvt, which for me is everything.  Another one that comes to mind is the rigid axle in the rear.  VERY easy to flip and trust me, I know from experience.  at least the bayou has two shocks in the back and a flex axle where one side can absorb and still give the other side support.  But for me, the trans is the biggest flaw with hondas.  if you took a cvt trans with the same power and an automatic trans and raced them, the cvt would win every time.

but if you were looking for just a ride here or there farm use bike, a honda would probably do great.

6 hours ago, Frank Angerano said:

I don’t think they are crappy by any means.   It’s just a preference. I would take a guess and say there are more Honda’s out there then any other older bike. Honda makes a great product.  

I do agree that they are great bikes, just not as good as polaris, yamaha, arctic cat, or canam

but dont get me wrong, I'm not a Honda hater- just not for high performance which is what I'm looking for.

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@JacobSlabach Thanks for your honest opinion. I never owned an ATV before and have been learning by trial and error. I have one with a solid rear axle. I will use it for trail riding and hunting. I have heard good things about the independent rear suspension. I bought a used bike and was a tad impatient when searching, so what i though was a good bike was a broken bike. I hope to try many other bikes in the future and hopefully my next buy is a better one. 

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25 minutes ago, ericmaruba said:

@JacobSlabach Thanks for your honest opinion. I never owned an ATV before and have been learning by trial and error. I have one with a solid rear axle. I will use it for trail riding and hunting. I have heard good things about the independent rear suspension. I bought a used bike and was a tad impatient when searching, so what i though was a good bike was a broken bike. I hope to try many other bikes in the future and hopefully my next buy is a better one. 

yes definitely the worst mistake you can make when buying a used atv-  getting in any kind of hurry..  dont ask me how I know--  just check out my thread '97 bayou 300 runs bad'

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lmfao ... my wife is too upset to even look at mine ... and then I ran across this just now on craigslist:

image.thumb.png.ae1c48037651faf2053ab52fc5a628f3.png

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One thing that got left off that most people overlook. I'm a professional mechanic and I overlooked it. THE DIFFERENTIALS, check them for leaks, proper oil level, and condition (i.e. if its brown its got rust in it and the bearings are shot, or if its got metal in it). also play in the bearings. I just had to fix my 07 420 Rancher rear diff because I didn't check it when I bought it. If I had it woulda been cheaper. Even with this list of things to check for you can still get a bike with problems. Most of the time 4wheelers get beat to Hell. I know every one I've ever ridden has. Never rolled one fortunately, been close. They go air-born and get over-reved, buried in mud and spashing through the creek. I won't own any ATV other than a Honda. They take the abuse the best I've found. Cheap and easy to fix too, except for the tools of course. Those are stupid expensive. I may be offering a cheaper tool to pull Honda diffs apart here pretty soon. Gonna see what my machinist buddy says on the cost of making them.

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On 1/15/2019 at 9:02 PM, Ahren Longo said:

One thing that got left off that most people overlook. I'm a professional mechanic and I overlooked it. THE DIFFERENTIALS, check them for leaks, proper oil level, and condition (i.e. if its brown its got rust in it and the bearings are shot, or if its got metal in it). also play in the bearings. I just had to fix my 07 420 Rancher rear diff because I didn't check it when I bought it. If I had it woulda been cheaper. Even with this list of things to check for you can still get a bike with problems. Most of the time 4wheelers get beat to Hell. I know every one I've ever ridden has. Never rolled one fortunately, been close. They go air-born and get over-reved, buried in mud and spashing through the creek. I won't own any ATV other than a Honda. They take the abuse the best I've found. Cheap and easy to fix too, except for the tools of course. Those are stupid expensive. I may be offering a cheaper tool to pull Honda diffs apart here pretty soon. Gonna see what my machinist buddy says on the cost of making them.

I will give that to Honda-  they do take about anything you throw at them (at least the es and foot-shifts do)  I really dont like how the automatics like the Rubicon perform--  they are 500cc (big) atv that feels like its got a 110cc engine in it)  I will say that after watching my buddy run his 02 Sportsman 500 70+mph (no joke) and jump it over 4 feet in the air over and over again and swamping it just about every week with no snorkel and mud/water up to the racks, I feel pretty good about how Polaris (at least the sporstmans) hold up.  His carb finally blew up after keeping the throttle pegged on some trails for over an hour..  He takes care of other peoples stuff..not his own..  He used it this way for i think about 4 or 5 years before the carb blew up and he popped a front axle..  now hes switched over to his 04 sportsman 400 and uses the 500 for parts..

Edited by JacobSlabach
typo

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Some good tips in this thread, wish I read it b4 I bought my quad. I prolly would of walked away from it.

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It happens. I’ve missed a few problems myself.  The first two bikes I picked up were a hot mess. I bit the bullet and bought what was needed and fixed them. One I still have is my bear tracker runs great. Actually one of my very first posts here at Quadcrazy.   The second which was the worst was the Polaris 90 cc two stroke. I put about $300 into that bike to get it back to good plus the manhours.   Nobody thinks about the manhours!  

The bayou 220 I just posted needed a $13 dollar part and gasket kit, I could have just bought the one gasket for $8 bucks but picked up the entire set for $38 bucks just Incase I needed something else. The labor to get to that part was quite involved. I picked the bike up for a few hundred bucks put the parts in for about $80.  Labor was about 10 hours to get it where it needed to be. Bike turned out great runs great and I’m currently putting  it up for sale since I found a newer Polaris 300 4x4 that my boy likes. So if I get my price then it’s gone and I upgrade with the money. 

Having said that I have 95% of a bayou gasket kit for my fellow Quadcrazy members. Let me know who needs what.  Everything is there except for the bevel gear housing cover gasket.   

Anyway bottom line is don’t beat your self up.  Worst case scenario the plastics and racks are worth a lot of money in parts if you have to part it out.  You will get most if not all of your money back in parting it out  

You live and learn.   

🤷🏻‍♂️

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I should of checked the differentials but didn't take any tools or flashlight with me. Got it home and changed all of the fluids and found that water gotten into each differential. The back prolly just needs resealed but the front one has a bad pinion bearing too. If I had the light I could of seen the wet area around the shaft. 

The front is prolly too big of a project for me. Taking it to a reputable atv mechanic next weekend. 

Live and learn don't take the sellers word , the machine was just serviced and ready to ride...

 

 

 

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I once purchased a really clean bike only to find out that the oil drain plug was stripped. Chunks inside the case, liquid gasket holding in the plug. Didn't find it until it came time to do the first oil change, the seller had "just done it". I was so mad it sat for a few years until I switched the case. Even knowing what to look for wasn't enough to outdo a crooked seller. Always remember that any bike is not the last one you will see, if there is too much suspicious, leave it.

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I fond this to be helpful.  I printed out this thread and will take along with me when/if I go to pick up a bike.  but at the end of this article, theres a very helpful checklist geared toward buying a running used bike:  I would combine Frank's post to this checklist- between the two, its gonna be hard for them to pull a fast one.  https://www.atv.com/products/how-to-choose-the-right-atv-622.html

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