A used dirt bike is a great way to get into the sport or upgrade from a current bike you've outgrown without breaking the bank. A used dirt bike is obviously much less expensive and the cash saved can be spent towards upgrades and replacement parts that fit your riding style.
However, you can also end up with someone else's junker if you're not careful. Therefore, buying a used dirt bike requires some mechanical knowledge and a bit of savviness. Knowing where to go is your first step because most people don't ride dirt bikes around the neighborhood with "For Sale" signs stuck to the back fender.
Where to Buy a Used Dirt Bike
The best place to buy a used dirt bike and where you're least likely to get ripped off is at your local Motocross track. That's probably the first place most riders looking to sell their dirt bikes would post an advertisement. Local riding clubs are a great bet too. Get in with one and you'll be miles ahead. Someone will know someone who is trying to sell their old dirt bike.
Plus, if you're a parent with a young one and with the growth spurt Motocross is presently enjoying lots of kids ride today and those same kids eventually grow out of that first and second dirt bike. There's a good chance you'll see those bikes for sale on a bulletin board at your home track. Buying a used dirt bike is a great way to introduce your child to the sport without dumping your savings account on a brand new bike. If he or she decides it's not for them or they bust it up their first time out, you've saved yourself a bit of financial heartbreak. See our Kids Dirt Bikes - Choosing the Right Starter Bike to help you decide what bike is best suited for your child.
If you're having a hard time finding a used dirt bike for sale or the right one for your riding needs then look at local online dirt bike forums and then finally Craigslist. While, it's hoped that acquaintances or people you see weekly at the track are on the up-and-up, be vigilant wherever you shop but especially with strangers from the Internet. Craigslist is a popular place for used dirt bikes, as you'll soon discover, but don't take their descriptions at face value. See the bike for yourself and inspect it closely.
This photo is similar to what you'll see in a "Used Dirt Bike for Sale" flyer or ad
Whatever bike you're looking at purchasing the advertisement should include photos and general specifications like the model and model year, brand, engine size and type. Dirt bikes also come with a VIN which you can have checked through the DMV for $25. Check out How to Read and Check Your Motorcycle or ATV VIN for more information and where to find the VIN if the owner doesn't know.
Lastly, some dealers buy and sell used dirt bikes. You won't get the same deal as you would through a private party but a reputable seller is likely to stand behind the integrity of the bike and even offer a limited warranty.
Test Ride and a Mechanic
If you're a parent who knows nothing about dirt bikes you'll need to do some homework. Find a trusted friend who does know something or locate a mechanic who can check out the engine mechanics. Get their approval before handing over cash.
Regardless of your dirt bike expertise, ask to take the bike for a test run. If you've been riding for a while you'll know whether the bike is in good condition. Check for fluid leaks and any damage from past crashes. A lot of dirt bikers tend to buy a used bike and replace most of if not all the parts with after-market upgrades anyway. If you fall into that camp then your primary concern is the engine. Replacing all the other components tends to be pretty easy but if you're stuck with a busted up engine then you might as well have bought a new ride.
Ask questions. Do the answers seem made up? Does the seller stumble and fumble trying to explain away something? If your gut tells you the dirt bike may not be as in pristine shape as the owner claims it to be - trust your instinct. Be patient and don't fall for the first dirt bike you see. There's plenty out there. Make sure you'll be happy with your purchase. A used dirt bike is much less expensive than a brand new one but they are far from cheap.
If a seller is trying to pass off this dirt bike as ready to ride then move on - Photo: RacerXOnline
If you're still unsure of the bike's promise then ask about taking the bike to a mechanic unless of course you've brought one along for the test ride or you more or less qualify as one. Most sellers should be OK with that but don't expect them to let you ride off with it for a check-up. The seller doesn't know who you are either so they'll probably want to meet you with the dirt bike at whatever shop you're deciding on.
Finalizing the Purchase
If the owner of the dirt bike you want has read How to Sell Your Used Dirt Bike then there's a good chance you've got some paperwork to fill out and you'll need to hand over cash.
The paperwork not only protects them but you as well. Ensure by all means you receive a Bill of Sale receipt with "Paid in Full" marked on it. The last thing you want is to fall in the hands of a trickster who'll come back and claim you never paid up and the bike - you rightfully bought - is stolen. If you can convince the seller to take a check then you've got all the proof you need but don't expect to be so lucky. Would you take a check?
Additionally, some states require registration some states don't. Be vigilant and find out the rules in your state. Check with the local DMV about what paperwork is needed to buy a used dirt bike. If dirt bike registration is required be sure you get the title from the seller in addition to a bill of sale. Otherwise, the bill of sale is all that's needed. Remember the VIN? Get that written down on the bill of sale as well.
We've laid out a game plan to help you with the best purchasing experience possible but in reality buying a used dirt bike is unlikely to be very complicated. The dirt bike community is close and one many people get into because of the family-oriented focus. You'll likely have great luck finding the right bike for the right price at the track or through someone who knows someone selling a well taken care of dirt bike. Most people pamper their bikes like a baby which explains why buying used is so enticing and because of the close-knit community your chances of running into a huckster are pretty slim.