When buying a used motorcycle, it is important to determine if a bike that you are interested in has ever been in an accident.

Examine the bike for the following:

  - Deep parallel scratches on the engine cases and on plastic (predominantly above footpeg-level)
  - A different/non-standard paint job. It is common for a bike to repainted to hide past damage.
  - Paint or metal grounded off the balls on the ends of the clutch/brake levers, or off the ends of the handlebars.
  - Gas tank dents as a result of handlebars smashing into it during a crash.
  - Dents and deep/parallel scratches in exhaust pipes.
  - Turn-signal stalks ripped or bent off.
  - Cracks in the body work that may be hidden by stickers.

Mirrors and clutch and brake levers
It is very common for one side of a bike's clutch and brake levers to be bent as a result of a crash and replaced with a different color lever than the other side or even with a different style. Or, it may be hammered back into shape so that it no longer appears bent. Be on the look-out for cracked or bent mirrors, or mirrors replaced with different types of mirrors. Both are tell-tale signs that a bike has fallen down. Not necessarily in an accident, but at least tipped over. Make sure that you examine thoroughly.

It is very typical for the front forks to get bent as a result of a crash. Take a seat on the bike and see if the forks look twisted or bent at all.  A good idea would also be take the bike for a ride and see if it drives straight. Fixing twisted forks is fairly inexpensive. However, fixing bent forks is not. Either type should be a red flag for you to look for other types of damage.

Non-parallel scratches and shallow chips
If you notice non-parallel scratches and shallow chips, it is likely that the motorcycle has tipped over and has not been in a crash. Therefore, the bike will only need cosmetic fixing.

Horizontal scratches
It is possible that you will come across a motorcycle with horizontal scratches on its lower metal and plastic parts. This does not necessarily mean that the bike has been in a crash, it could merely be a sign that the owner was an aggressive driver that leaned the bike way over while turning. However, deep/parallel scratches above footpeg-level are issues to be alarmed about, though.

Bodywork damage
A crash can cause problems to the bodywork for two reasons. Besides bending the mounting brackets of the bodywork, crashes can also break mounting tabs cracking and scratching the bodywork. Look for an even seam where pieces come together and the bodywork pieces fit together easily. Also check to be certain that no aspect of the bodywork is loose in any way.

Bottom line...
If you think a bike has been in accident, move on. There are plenty of used bikes out there. You will find one that fits your needs, in good condition.

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