Things to check when buying a used motorbike

Things to check when buying a used motorbike

If you’re buying a second-hand motorbike, it’s important to do some checks to make sure the vehicle hasn’t been stolen.

Before seeing the vehicle, ask the seller for the registration number, make and model of the motorbike, the MOT test number and the vehicle tax details.

You can use an online service to check whether there’s outstanding finance on the motorbike: search for ‘check if a motorbike has outstanding finance’.

If you know the make of a vehicle and its registration number you can use the DVLA vehicle online service to find out

  • when its current vehicle tax is due to expire
  • the date that a statutory off-road notification (SORN) expires
  • the date it was first registered
  • colour
  • engine size
  • year of manufacture
  • CO2 emissions
  • current vehicle tax rate.

Check these details against those given to you by the seller and use them to check the motorbike’s MOT test history and its current MOT test status on GOV.UK.

You can also get a vehicle identity check. This will tell you if a motorbike has a ‘VIC marker’ (vehicle identity check marker) on its vehicle record, which shows that the motorbike has been written off or stolen. Find out more about the vehicle identity check at GOV.UK.

Hold the V5C up to the light to check the ‘DVL’ watermark is there. If not, the document may be a forgery.

Remember that the V5C is not proof of ownership: make sure the seller has the right to sell the vehicle and that the V5C matches the vehicle’s details and all other documents provided.

Look out for stolen V5Cs.  If the seller has a blue V5C with a serial number in the following ranges, don’t go ahead with the sale (the serial number is in a white circle in the top right-hand corner of the V5C); contact the police when it’s safe to do so

  • BG8229501 to BG9999030
  • BI2305501 to BI2800000.

Don’t buy the motorbike if you think the serial number has been altered or if part of the V5C is missing.

Don’t buy the motorbike if the vehicle identification number (VIN) has been tampered with or is missing: it’s usually on a metal plate somewhere on the steering head. Before buying a motorbike, check that the VIN and engine number match those on the V5C. 

Remember, if you have any doubts, don’t buy. Buying a cloned motorbike could result in you losing the motorbike and the money you pay for it.