Before buying a new motorcycle you must see the paperwork unless you are absolutely certain you know what you are buying (i.e. you're a mechanic who can fix any problem!). Any motorbike that has been looked after will have the following documents:
Previous service history
The motorcycle tax disc should (legally) be held somewhere on the motorcycle. Check to make sure the motorcycle tax disc holder is secure and that it cannot be easily ripped off, as tax discs can be stolen, forged and used on other motorcycles. Tax is a legal obligation unless the vehicle has been declared 'SORN' (off road). Click here to find more about road tax and prices.
Previous service history
Service history can say a lot more about the motorcycle than first meets the eye. A motorcycle that has regularly seen a qualified mechanic (and has the receipts to prove it - the owner's word means nothing in this situation) is far more reliable than if the owner has worked on the bike themselves. The mileage should add up with the tax disc and logbook. Keeping the service history in tact and providing receipts if and when you sell the motorcycle will definatly add value to the motorcycle.
The motorcycle MOT certificate is not as reliable as it sounds. The MOT test centre checks to see whether the motorcycle meets certain criteria, but does not guarantee that the motorcycle is 100% roadworthy. The MOT certificate proves that the motorcycle has passed the bare minimum standards to ride on the roads; without it the motorcycle is not roadworthy and you will need a van or trailer to take the bike away.
A HPI check is vital when you are unsure of the motorcycle's past history. In theory we should all get the HPI check when buying a second motorcycle, although some people take the risk and live without. The check includes:
Checking to see whether the motorcycle has any outstanding finance. It has been heard that motorcycles have been bought (second hand) and then the new owner has been charged the finance through the deception of the previous owner. So in reality in this case the seller pays a fraction of the cost of the motorcycle (through finance paid monthly for example) and recieves the lump sum of selling the motorcycle. According to www.hpicheck.com (who supply HPI checks) the second hand car industry sees 24 out of every 100 cars sold still subject to finance agreement. So beware!
Checking to see whether the motorcycle has previously been written off. Motorcycle insurance companies 'write off' motorcycles with too much crash damage (meaning that the motorcycle has to be scrapped and cannot be repaired due to the extent of the damage), however some still find their way back on the road. You certainly do NOT want to buy a 'written off' motorcycle.
Checking to see whether the motorcycle has been stolen. You certainly do not want to buy a stolen motorcycle either! The only way of checking this (apart from the HPI obviously) is the V5, which can be forged or altered. We are not all detectives, and do not have time to perform lie detector tests when buying second hand motorcycles.
Checking to see whether the motorcycle has been cloned, i.e. whether or not there are identical motorcycles like yours, with the same number plate, make, model and identification number.
Checking the mileage to see whether it matches up to the HPI National Mileage Register.
The V5 document
The V5 is the vehicle registration document, and should be kept by the current owner. A motorcycle without the V5 should NOT be bought unless it is for non-road use (for example the race track).