What to Look for When Buying a Used Dirt Bike – A 2020 Guide

what to do when buying a used dirt bike

Are you looking to buy a dirt bike, more so buying a used dirt bike? You are probably wondering what to look for when purchasing a used dirt bike.

You can easily avoid being screwed over when buying a dirt bike by taking some time to inspect the dirt bike.

The process might be quite long and requires your full attention, time, and some basic knowledge.

You don’t have to worry, because, in this post, I will discuss the things to look out for when buying a used dirt bike.

Buying a Used Dirt Bike Checklist

The most important thing you should have is ‘buying a used dirt bike checklist.’

You can prepare a list of things to do to make sure you do not leave out anything important.

The checklist should contain what to check when buying a used dirt bike to ensure you purchase one that is in the best condition.

There are two main activities in the checklist;

  1. Conducting a background check
  2. Inspecting the used dirt bike

Conducting a Background Check

This involves researching details on the dirt bike you want to buy. Check out for the brand, model, make, and year of manufacture.

It is also vital that you know the features and the price range to establish how much is a used dirt bike. 

You should compare the specs across different brands and models to come up with the best.

This helps you determine whether you are getting value for your money when purchasing a specific dirt bike.

Once you pick a specific brand and model, it is necessary to find out other people’s experiences with the same.

You can do this by going online to look for the bike’s reviews. Look out for likes, dislikes, comments, and complaints.

Check out my reviews on specific dirt bikes by clicking here.

You can also do it offline by getting information from a rider who owns or has experience with that specific type of dirt bike.

From reviews and forums, you can pick other relevant information such as how to handle the dirt bike, riding it, and its maintenance.

Conducting a background check is vital as it helps you make an informed decision when buying a used dirt bike.

At the same time, it gives you foreknowledge, especially when it comes to inspecting the bike.

Inspecting the Used Dirt Bike

The worst mistake dirt bike riders do, especially when buying a used dirt bike, is shopping online for the bike and awaiting delivery.

Actively participating in the search and research on the bike goes a long way in ensuring value for your money.

When inspecting a dirt bike, you should ask yourself a these questions:

  • What is the outside condition of the dirt bike?
  • Is the engine hot? (If yes, then you should probably assume it may have an issue with starting. Wait till it cools down and try starting the engine before you buy it.)
  • What is the state of the wheels? Are they running? (Do this for both wheels)
  • What is the state of the wheel bearings? (Check both front and back wheel)
  • What is the state of chain and sprocket?
  • Has the dirt bike had an engine rebuild?
  • What is the state of the radiator?
  • What is the fluid level?
  • What is the state of the dirt bike headset bearings?
  • Are the fork seals leaking?
  • What is the state of the dirt bike air filter?
  • Check the state of the engine oil.
  • Check the dirt bike compression
  • Does it have a rear disc guard?

Get a rear disc guard from MojoMotoSport by clicking here.

With a thorough inspection, you may save a few bucks or reject a dirt bike that is faulty and beyond repair.

Inspecting the used dirt bike involves you paying a visit to the seller to check out the dirt bike. So here is what to look for in a used dirt bike;

Outward Appearance

Well, as much as looks can be deceiving, but I say trust your guts! Do not go for anything that does not look appealing to you, as it might not be the best.

Choose something that you are excites you and one that your confident will ensure performance.

This is the only time you can judge. Put the bike on a broad scale and ask yourself whether you like it or not.

The Surrounding

Look at the bike’s environment. If you are at the seller’s home, you can look out for the condition of other vehicles and motors around the compound.

If they are in a poor state, likely, the bike is also not in the best condition. At this moment, you have to trust your instincts.


Look out for bends and cracks on the frame of the used dirt bike. The frame is an essential asset in ensuring the stability and steadiness of the bike.

Bends and cracks on it are likely to cause accidents as they make the bike unsteady. At the same time, look out for corrosion on the frame.

A lousy frame will cost you significantly on repairs and replacement.


You must consider the height of the chair.

You can ask the seller to allow you to sit on the bike to establish and whether the current level of the seat favors your height and ensures comfort during riding.

Also, look for wear and tear on the seat.

You may require to make a replacement later if you fail to notice the height and the seat’s condition.

Engine and Engine oil

Check the type of engine on the bike, whether 2-stroke or 4-stroke. Also, confirm the condition and the level of the engine oil.

Does it have any signs of an engine rebuild? This will give you an idea of whether the previous owner used to take care of the engine.

Dirty engine oil is unhealthy for the bike’s engine.


A corroded chain often reduces the bike’s performance.

Ensure the chain is clean, well-lubricated, and has no signs of corrosion as this will ensure the chain’s durability.

The chain should also fit perfectly. Long and hanging chains are a sign of wearing out.

Check out the condition of the sprocket teeth and groves. Frequent use of the dirt bike wears them out, and they need regular replacement.

Wheels and Rims

Take time to inspect the dirt bike wheels and rims and be keen to look out for bends, cracks, and rust.

There is no significant safety concern with rusting, and it is just a matter of appearance.

The corroded and battered wheels make the bike look old and ugly.

However, cracks and bends are quite an issue, especially when on the rims. A cracked rim damages the tire and can cause a tire blowout.


Look out for wear and tear on the tires. Worn out tires are dangerous to ride in since they tend to lose pressure.

Low pressure, in turn, leads to tire blowouts.

Worn out tires are also unstable and can cause accidents since the rider loses control of the bike.

They also have a massive impact on the bike’s fueling.

Air Box

You must inspect the dirt bike’s airbox. The section should be clean, and the air filter should also be clean.

A clean airbox and air filter ensure excellent performance on your bike.

If dirt gets into the engine, it could damage it and cause damage to other parts of the bike.

Brakes and Brake Pads

Inspect the brake fluid and the brake pads. Most bikes come with a wear indicator groove on the brake pads.

A missing wear indicator groove is the first sign of a worn-out brake pad.

Open the brake fluid reservoir to check on the amount of the brake fluid remaining.

You should also check on the condition. Dirty brake fluid may lead to reduced functioning of the brakes.

For the brakes, you can only inspect their functioning by taking a road test.


You should check the type of handlebar on the dirt bike. Check its flexibility and the rise to ensure it is comfortable for riding.

At the same time, look out for corrosion and strength. A handlebar should steady to be able to support your preferred type of riding.

Exhaust Pipe

Look out for cracks and bends on the exhaust pipe. Be keen to see that the pipe is also not broken.

You can also identify a broken exhaust pipe by the production of noise.

A faulty exhaust pipe cause malfunctioning of the engine as it does not allow the displacement of gas.

Road Test

You can ask the seller to allow you to take a road test. This helps you check on a couple of things:

  • Transmission – monitor how the bike behaves during the changing of gears from one to another.
    There should be a smooth transmission between the gears.
  • Clutch – try rolling the on the gas when on any gear with the clutch out.
    If the bike does not rev, then the clutch is not engaging. Also, ensure that the clutch is adjusted correctly.
  • Brakes – you should press on the brakes to know whether they are working or not.
  • Engine – when you start the bike, you should be keen to listen to any noises in the engine.
    Unusual tapping sounds are a sign of an engine malfunction.
    Monitor the startup of the engine: if it is hard to start, there is a problem with the engine.
    Watch out also for the production of smoke. Blue smoke shows oil leakage while white smoke shows the head gasket is leaking.
  • Carburetor – of course, you cannot see the inner parts of the bike, but you can determine their condition.
    Monitor the engine power throughout the road test.

VIN Number

It may sound weird to go checking the VIN on someone’s bike. But come to think of it, you are planning to buy the bike, so why not?

It is essential to look out for the dirt bike’s VIN to make sure you do not buy a stolen bike.

You can find the VIN on the right side of the bike. Take note that the number is not altered or defaced.

Compare the VIN Number on the dirt bike with that of the seller’s paperwork showing ownership of the bike.

While conducting an inspection, you might also consider checking on the following;

  • Suspension
  • The bearings on the wheels and the steering
  • The coolant
  • The radiators
  • The fork seals
  • Free movement of the swingarm

What Are the Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Dirt Bike

When buying a used dirt bike, it is important to have information from the seller concerning the bike’s history and performance.

You can enquire on the following from the seller;

  1. The reason behind selling the bike
  2. Any major problems with the dirt bike that require your attention
  3. The type of maintenance that the bike undergoes and the frequency
  4. The duration of the term of ownership
  5. Any involvement of the bike in an accident and the damages sustained
  6. Proof of ownership

What is the Average Price of a Used Dirt Bike

The price of a used dirt bike depends majorly on the condition of the dirt bike at the time of purchase.

Other dirt bike factors that determine the price of a used dirt bike include:

  • Brand, make, model, and year of manufacture
  • Features and specs of the bike such as speed, torque, power, and battery
  • The use of the bike; whether road or off road and street-legality

For most dirt bike brands, the price depreciates per year at an average of $1000 per year.

You can easily calculate the current price of a used dirt bike by subtracting $1000 per year passed.

Here are examples of some familiar brands;


A new 2016 model of a Yamaha YZ450F with a four-stroke engine and a fuel capacity of two gallons costs around $8600.

The used dirt bike of the same type and brand can go for around $5000.


The four-stroke engine of a new 2015 Kawasaki KX450F costs around $8700.  And when used, it costs $3000.

What is the Best Time to Buy a Used Dirt Bike

The period during autumn and winter is the best to buy since the prices are lower at the time.

This is because most people would rather sell the dirt bikes for lower prices than keep then over winter.

During winter, people rarely ride in the cold, so they opt to sell them.

On the same note, the weather can get terrible, causing weather-related disasters.

This can precipitate the sale of dirt bikes for families and corporates. You should take advantage of this.

On the other hand, during spring, there are many riding activities and competitions.

It is at this time that most people are buying dirt bikes. Therefore, the prices hike.

February is also a good time to get yourself a dirt bike. Being a short month, the salespeople’s commissions are not structured well.

He is likely to cut any deal to meet his commission plan. Towards the end of February, you can get an outstanding deal when buying a dirt bike.

My advice is to sell in spring, buy during winter.


Buying a used dirt bike is a task that requires you to be cautious and knowledgeable at the same time.

You have to know what to look out for and what to look in to.

Before you go out buying a used dirt bike, research on the bike’s accessories so that you will know what and where to look.

Daniel Mose

Daniel is a big fan of dirt biking. I own KTM 250 SX-F. I love learning how to maintain this dirt bike and ensure it lasts long while serving me without any issues. Join me in this journey as I document stuff that we, as dirt bike lovers, ought to know.

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