Buy second hand R6 from a private owner

Hello there,
just created an account here as I’m looking to finally pull the trigger in my first motorcycle in London. So far I owned a motorcycles in Italy for ~5 years and finally today I have decided to eventually get one in London and I’m looking for some suggestions in how to proceed.

Today I’m going to check this Autotrade advert about a 2018 R6:

I can not see the license plate from the posted pictures so I was thinking to pay Experian to run a license check when I meet the owner in person. Is there anything specific you suggest me to pay attention for since it’s a private to private transaction?



some very good tips here


Hello Fabio, welcome to LB!

I’m sure the video above is useful (I like that guy’s videos) but not had time to watch it. Some points I would check:

  • Go in the daytime, night makes it very hard to see issues
  • Run a vehicle report as you said to make sure:
    • Description matches the bike
    • It has no outstanding credit/finance
    • It’s not stolen
    • It’s not an insurance write-off
  • That it comes with a V5C document
    • Check the VIN and Engine number on the bike match the document
    • Check the colour matches the bike. If not, why? Has it been repainted due to a crash?
    • If milage is mentioned, does it fit the bike’s mileage?
  • Does it have a service history? Take the time to go through all the paperwork do not feel pressured
    • Is the service history for the bike?
    • Has all the scheduled maintenance been performed? (print out the maintenance schedule before)
    • Does the mileage match the bike’s mileage?
  • Tell the owner you want to hear the engine when it’s cold so not to warm it up before you get there
  • Does anything need replacing? If so you might want to negotiate the cost of the items off the price:
    • Chain & sprockets
    • Brake pads
    • Battery? (does it start okay)
  • Test the electrics, i.e. instrument cluster, horn, headlight, main beam, indicators and brake lights (front and back brake activation)
  • Look closely at everything, has anything been repaired? Bodywork, part replacements, etc. This could be indicative of a crash. Was the crash declared? What were the details? Who repaired it?
  • Does it run okay? No funny noises? No leaks?
  • Does it have an alarm? Does it come with manual/all fobs
  • Does it come with a tracker? You’ll need to change the owner details
  • Does it come with all keys, i.e. spare and emergency key (if applicable)
  • Does the owner have any parts/accessories for it they want to also sell? Make sure you get any standard parts you might need in the future, i.e. number plate/hanger, exhaust, etc, for MOT, etc.

Probably more, but that’s what I can think of off the top of my head. Remember, everything is negotiable so if something isn’t quite right, it’s an opportunity to negotiate the price :slight_smile:

Test ride - Very important, will tell you if there’s any issues with the engine, gearbox and brakes. Sometimes very hard to arrange with a private seller though. You may have to leave the money for the bike with them, and you’ll need to be insured. Check the tyre pressures if you can, if the bike hasn’t been used in a while the pressures are probably too low and will give you an incorrect impression of the handling of the bike.

I would take another biker with you, they can give you a second opinion and help with staying with the person/cash if you go for a test ride. I would check where you are being asked to meet in advance, look it up on Google Maps street view. If you are not certain of your safety then ask to meet somewhere public, i.e. a supermarket carpark, near the entrance where people are.

If you buy it, get a written receipt from the owner. i.e. it should say:

  • What you bought
  • Who you bought it off
  • How much you paid
  • The date/time

I’m a paranoid type, so I have also asked for a photo of the seller and the bike before. This is useful as it has metadata in the photo that says where and when you were with the seller, backing up the receipt.

You will also need to fill out the new owner section on the V5C. Again - make sure you have insurance and road tax before riding it.

If you buy it between 7am and 7pm, you can change ownership on the DVSA website immediately, no need for the paper v5 to be posted off.

Then you can immediately tax it too.


Also, those brake/clutch levers are awful, I would ask why they were fitted (like the video says, watching it now!) and then get rid of them if you buy it. I would strongly recommend putting the original ones back on. If they’re cheap Chinese copies they may fail on you when you need them (had it happen to me once). Plus short levers are stupid.

Also make sure the bike is cold and hasn’t been warmed up. Make is easier to start and can hide countless issues.

I like to see vehicles being started from cold.


From a technical perspective i can’t add more than what has been said. Most important advice is to be prepared to walk away. Every bike I’ve bought had been the first one I’ve seen.

I got first two right but on the third one I believed the explanations for something that wasn’t running right (even after a short test ride)… My heart really wanted the bike.

Whilst I got it fixed easy enough, it was an expense and a ballache to take it to mechanic a few times to sort it all out.

Not travelling the country to see a bike helps as after a long drive you kind of think ‘well I came all this way and it doesn’t sound like a bit niggle/ issue’.

Regarding test rides, it can be a bit complex with admin if the bike has been SORNed plus you want to be insured and then getting refunds if the test ride reveals something…also most people won’t give you (rightly) a test ride without full cash in hand and (sometimes) proof of insurance.

A way around it is to ask the owner to drive it up down the road and ask him to shift through gears as he goes past. I did that for my buyer when he came to view it.

Ive insured the bike to test it myself, since I’ll be buying insurance anyway, have the quotes ready, and then buy the insurance then.

If it’s a pickle, your only down an adm I n fee. I’ve only bought cheap bikes privately though, where I can give them the cash while I ride it.

All my motorbikes have been bought from dealers so I’ve never been through the pitfalls of a private kerbside deal but when I bought my Brompton bicycle from a private seller I was nervous about him having just joined the forum where I saw the ad, often a give-away that the seller isn’t straight, so I did a bit of googling on him and found his story checked out. Then I was content it was a legit sale.

How is this normally done? Some used bikes change hands for serious money. Do people really leave a wedge of £9,000 cash with someone they’ve just met? Do you transfer funds to his account?

I bought mine from a well established member of a forum of a particular motorbike brand… Which made me put aside my concerns. Although it later transpired he hadn’t been active on said forum for a while.

To be fair he never ‘lied’ officially, just a lot of ‘Don’t Knows’ and ‘Haven’t used it for a year / it’s been in the garage’ sort of answers.

After taking a few bits of the bike apart, we think he was a home mechanic who tried a few things that ‘worked’… until they didn’t.

It didn’t help that this purchase came soon after I had bought a proper stinker of a car from a yahoo home dealer. Two lessons in very quick succession.

Both vehicles were old so from that day I’ve vowed to only look for newish vehicles (i.e. still in warranty) or buy from an official dealer.

When, and if, that happens is unknown.

1 Like

I’ve done both really… Left cash to go on quick test ride.

Also done bank transfer to drive car round.

Personally, nowadays I’d do bank transfer both for selling or buying as it’s more traceable. Just don’t cock up the account number and do a test with £1 first!

1 Like

Good idea :+1:t2:

Yeah it’s happened with a bike before that it just took about half an hour to update on his online account so we were just sat there making idle chat…luckily had done the £1 so were pretty sure it was ok

Had we not I would have been bricking it for half an hour. Which can be about right depending on last night’s dinner.

1 Like

Before you do anything, first check out you can get insured for it and if so, that it’s affordable.

Something like a £9,000 clean R6 is going to be very attractive to thieves & so will cost a fair bit to insure. If you’re living in London and you don’t have a garage, you may struggle to find anyone willing to insure you at all.


I think generally bank transfers are getting better, but when I bought a car privately a few years ago it took about four hours to show up in his account (transfers from my bank are instant, it was his bank that was slow). That was frustrating. We had to leave the seller and go spend some time exploring the town we were in.

Also, £9k for an R6 sounds like a lot. If I was spending that sort of money on a bike, I would want a dealer’s warranty/support for the reasons mentioned in this thread.

Very good advice as well about being prepared to walk away if it isn’t absolutely perfect.

1 Like

A smart thing to do is view the V5 and check that the frame and engine numbers on the V5 match the bike. When I sold my old CB500 a potential buyer did that and I thought it was pretty smart. I hadn’t thought of it myself.

I always run a quick MOT history check via:

If there are issues highlighted, it gives you a good idea what to look for.m i.e. oil leak, misting on fork etc.

It also helps prove mileage and generally shows the dogs from the pampered garage queens, as far the bikes history.

Obviously only useful on bikes more than three years old.

1 Like

Thank you for your time and care in replying to my post. It’s literally unbelievable how all of you contributed in helping me out with my question. Full disclosure, I was feeling very stupid in buying a motorcycle in a country where I had only one friend that I could ride with but this community showed me such a warm welcome that I feel I can pursue my passion and sharing with it with many others. Thanks!

Yeah yeah what about that R6 though?

Although everything checked out legally I just didn’t feel it was the right thing to do for me. The price of the bike given the mileage and all the extra was way cheaper that what the market offers. The seller even knocked off £400 by himself by just asking if he would consider offers.

I might be missing a great opportunity but without a way of riding the bike and with so many extras I just didn’t feel confident a had the full picture and pull the trigger.

What’s next?

Back to Autotrader looking for other R6s within my budget that can give me more confidence is the right thing to do.
Finally, thanks to you all I know have a very comprehensive TODO list I’ll keep always with me when going and check out a new bike to luckily soon ride together!

Thank you all!


A quick glance at that advert and the less than desirable bits I saw, apart from it being an R6, were 2 owners in less than 3 years from new, the condition of the tyres in images 6 & 10 and the front brake guard. The rear sprocket looks to be worn more than you’d expect in 5,500 miles but that may just be the camera angle.

I wonder how much track time it has seen!