We have contacted Hugo López Urteaga (@hugolopezurt) from Cafe Racer SSpirit. For those of you who don’t know who they are, Cafe Racer SSpirt (@caferacersspirit) is a workshop in San Sebastián dedicated to customizing motorcycles, specializing in classic motorcycles. If you are interested in customizing a motorcycle and you want them to do all the work for you (motorcycle search, negotiation, cargo checking, customization,…) you have just found a perfect workshop.
Hugo, partner of Cafe Racer SSpirit, will tell us about some of the most important steps when choosing a second-hand motorcycle. More than 200 second-hand motorcycles have passed through his hands, so thanks to his experience we will be able to have the clearest ideas when choosing a second-hand motorcycle.
Rust: We have to pay special attention to the front fork bars. Changing the front fork bars has a quite high cost, so this is a very important point to take into account when buying a second-hand motorcycle (especially if it is classic, since age would be directly proportional to oxidation).
- Internal rust in the tank: Older motorcycles, or even more modern motorcycles, can have this problem because they have been stopped for a long period of time with gasoline inside.
- Hits and falls: It seems a logical point and undoubtedly it’s one of the first things that people notice, but not only do you have to look at the fairing, for its bumps, friction or deterioration. It's possible that a fall could have affected the chassis, which can pose a bigger problem (very serious, in fact).
- Engine noises: It can mean various errors, from a screw that is loose (this usually happens in single and two-cylinder motorcycles, especially due to their vibration), problems with the engine,… In case of doubt, and to avoid that the breakdown goes further, it is always better to contact an expert.
- Rear shock absorbers: They may be old and need to be replaced. It is VERY rare to see, for example in a classic BMW (ex; BMW R100 1980s) a motorcycle that retains its original shock absorbers since these, no matter how well they look aesthetically, the damping function will have been totally lost. New shock absorbers can save us around € 250.
- Start the engine: If the motorcycle has electric start (button) and kick start, we must test both to check its perfect operation.
- Exhaust Smoke: The colour of the smoke is an important detail to take into account. If the smoke is blue it usually means that the engine is burning excess oil. The most common reason for black smoke is a dirty or blocked air filter and if the smoke is white, it may be because of the cold, water in the exhaust or, in the worst case, because it is burning the liquid which should cool the engine.
Bonus: We have only talked about the bike itself, but there may be something “behind”. Checking loads is VERY IMPORTANT. Before buying a motorcycle (especially if the deal is from a distance) you have to make sure the chassis number is correctly located and legible, that it is not altered. With the registration you can access a report in which all information relevant to the vehicle, such as: insurance, number of previous owners, ... and the most important: Charges or Liens – are revealed. If a vehicle is loaded, it can become a big problem (impediment when changing the name and transferring, or even the power to circulate) so I always recommend checking.
These 7 (+1) points can help you when choosing a second-hand motorcycle. When in doubt, we always recommend putting yourself in the hands of an expert. You can always ask the owner to let you take the bike to your trusted workshop or get in touch with Cafe Racer SSpirit who have more than 6 years of experience.
Pictures by @bustoracing