Test-driving an used bike

Hi everyone,

I’m in the process of buying my first bike. After contacting a few individuals from Gumtree, I’m a bit surprised that some of them would refuse to let me test-drive their bike. After a couple of emails, they would allow me to try it only if I provide them with :

  • a valid insurance
  • an ID (some even asked for utility statement)
  • 100% of the asked price in cash

I understand these requirements of course : no one would love someone to leave with their bike without paying or having a crash while test-driving it. In the other hand I wouldn’t buy a bike without testing it first.

So I have two questions for you guys :

  1. I wonder what are you experience buying and selling a bike : did you test-drive an used bike before buying it ? Do you let potential buyer test-drive the one you’d sell ?

  2. about this test-drive insurance, what I’m supposed to do ? I obviously don’t have an insurance yet as I don’t own a bike for the time being. Does test-drive or 1 day insurance exists ?

Many thanks,

Yep they cannot let you ride the bike without insurance. On my motorbike cover I always make sure I get the coverage that allows me to ride someone else’ bike. However, it is TP cover so they are right to expect the deposit of the value of the bike. Asking for ID is common sense also.

Obviously you may not have a bike policy yet, and in that case I would ask a mate to come and ride the bike, or perhaps ask the own to take me pillion.

If those things are a concern then you probably need to buy from a dealer where none of this will be an issue.

I’ve bought four bikes that have been fantastic, all without test riding them, one without even seeing it. I don’t have money to throw away and work three jobs. I think if you do your research, join the bike forum relating to the machine in question, inspect it with a more experienced buddy, and if it is really a pooh ride, you could always sell it. Hope that helps a bit

Mad as a hat.

Why?? Surely it’s up to them if they want to ride without insurance.

The rules have changed in recent years, I believe. Now, as the owner, you can be prosecuted if you knowingly allow an uninsured rider to ride your bike, and with this being someone that you have never met before - in the case of a Gumtree buyer - it would not be unreasonable for you to ask them for a proof of insurance…
(PS. This all comes from one of those Police/Camera shows on TV)

If they crash, it will be your insurance that get’s hit, but then your insurance company will deny liability as they aren’t covered on the policy and you as the owner will probably end up in a legal and insurance but fecking session.
To the original poster, I would never ever allow a bike that I was selling privately to be test ridden. To many theives, scammers, and scumbags around to take the risk.
If you want a test ride, find a dealer with that model of bike.

I rode the GSR around the block when I bought it, of course it was my first bike so had no idea what I was looking for, just as long as it moved! It was comfortable and it was fine. I had arranged insurance, which was for a month to allow me to keep it in Cheltenham before bringing up to London.

The KTM I added to a multibike policy the day I went to pick it up and test rode it to the guys workshop as one of the bulbs had blown. I had handed over the full price at that point and we took the paperwork with us to do it there rather than having to go back to the shop.

Personally I don’t think you will be able to tell a lot mechanically from test riding a bike, if it is your first one and you don’t know what you’re looking for… Unless there’s something catastrophically wrong with the bike you won’t pick smaller issues up. If OMC have another mechanic skills’ day, go along to that as they show you what sort of things to check for normal maintenance and you can do them to any used bike you buy to check that everything is ok.

Also be aware that whilst most bikes for sale on there are legitimate, it is not uncommon for crooks to place a false advert for a bike (or other expensive article) on Gumtree in order to lure a buyer to a location, knowing that he’ll turn up carrying a large amount of cash in order to pay for the item, they then rob the purchaser.

  1. Valid insurance required as it would an offence for the seller to let you test ride their bike without being insured;

  2. ID so that if you commit any traffic offences whilst riding the seller’s bike, they have someone to name when the form pops through their letterbox. In the one bike I’ve sold privately, I got the potential buyer to sign a bit of paper acknowledging the time he took the bike on the test ride (he did want to take it out for at least 20 mins though);

  3. Asking price in cash… you bend it, you’ve bought it - no quibble!

Like others have said, you’re probably better either taking someone who knows the score, or buying from a dealer.

When selling I would never let a stranger disappear on my
bike. I offer to take them for a pillion ride, and when they
accept (they usually do) I have never failed to make a sale :slight_smile:

I took along a mechanic who is covered insurance wise and was a lot more qualified to test ride it!

What is OMC ?


A great place to ‘get intimate’ with your bike yourself when you buy it. But that course will make you so much more clued up as to things to look for when you go buying used bikes. For the price it was one of the best things I’ve done


I remember in the 80s Wheels International had a board of photos of bikes and riders who had left their bike as security and disappeared with one of their bikes on a test ride. At the time it was a common scam. Exchange your rat for a dealer bike you get to test ride. After a few months of riding you do the same to another dealer and keep on doing so. These days with ANPR and much tighter rules on licenses, insurance, etc, and with the internet making it easier to share and check info it doesn’t happen in the same way. In those days taking photos is all you could do.