Everything you need to know

How to buy a used motorcycle in Thailand - Guide

What type of bike fits your personal needs. 

Before you just go outside to your local Thai motorbike dealer you should consider a few things first.

In Thailand it is very important to think of the type of bike you should drive. It depends on multiple factors like your driving skills, your risk tolerance your budget and much more. At the end you must brainstorm for what you will use the bike?

Many expats in Bangkok use it for their daily commute to work and shopping. As the traffic is terrible many foreigners in Bangkok face the risk for the time, they´ll save compared to sucking in car during rush hours. On the other hand, some “farangs” use the bike for leisure only.

Make sure you know what riding style you have and that you know what you expect from a motorbike.

(If possible) Buy from a reputable dealer. 

Since car dealers only make a profit if they can trust their customers enough to make a sale, they have a keen interest in stocking high quality, well-maintained bikes. In addition, they usually offer some sort of guarantee that will save you from being burdened with repair costs if something should go wrong in the first few months of your thai bike ownership.

Tip: if you can fully trust the dealer or don´t have any kind of warranty, bring someone with you. You can hire a Thai mechanic to check the bike for you!

Search online marketplaces for specific motorcycles and models.

Used motorcycles are constantly being offered on Facebook Makretplace or e-commerce sites such as Kaydee or Craigslist.

Actually, many bikes can be found on Facebook as people in Thailand sell everything there. It gives you good search results and you can filter by price location and more.

Tip: Think carefully about who you are buying from – if important details are missing from a particular offer or if the bike shown is obviously in poor condition, take one pass and move on to the next.

Find out the average price range of the bike you are interested in.

Search for a specific brand, model, and year and get results from multiple websites. Evaluating your options directly will give you an idea of what the bike is worth given its age and history of use. From there, you can think about whether it fits into your budget and how much you might be able to give a seller who asks for a lot (which can and likely will happen)

– Please note that the prices quoted may vary significantly depending on mileage, condition and availability, as well as other factors such as custom parts.

Evaluating a Motorbike’s Condition in Thailand.

Note the miles on the odometer.

There are no final “good” or “bad” numbers in terms of mileage, as different bikes are built for different purposes to different specifications. The most important thing is to compare the external appearance of the bike with the recorded mileage. If they do not seem to be in line, it may be better to explore other options.

– Try not to analyze too much. If it’s a showdown between two bikes of the same model and one has 15,000 to 20,000 kilometers less, it’s clearly the best deal.

– Do not get carried away by a motorcycle with 30,000 to 50,000 kilometers on the engine unless it is obviously in poor condition. With proper care, many motorcycles have as high a maximum mileage as some cars. So there is a good chance that you will have plenty of time on the road.

Condition of the general appearance of the motorbike.

Look at the bike from top to bottom and front to back, paying particular attention to key components such as the frame, front end, mudguards and side covers. Some wear and tear is not uncommon on older bikes, but for the most part, chrome and paint should be clean, shiny and rust-free and there should be no dents, scratches or other visible signs of damage.

– Bring a flashlight if you are forced to do your inspection in low light conditions. A multimeter can also be useful to test the voltage output of older bikes with batteries that have not been changed for some time.

– Look out for motorcycles that have not been washed for some time. A little dust and dirt may not seem like a big deal, but it could indicate that they are neglected elsewhere.

– A good history is worth a lot.  Check the green book of the vehicle. It´s a good sign if there are not too many pre-owners.

Get on the bike to test the suspension.

Ride the saddle and hop gently up and down. The forks or notched parts connecting the front wheel to the frame should absorb the movement and return quickly and quietly to their original position. Conversely, the rear shock absorbers should hold firmly to prevent the rear of the bike from getting too wet

– Adjustments, squeaking, and poor shock absorption as well as obvious visible damage such as scratches, cracks, dents and rust are signs of a suspension system that has been frequently misused.

– Keep your eyes open for oil from shocks or struts. It could come from a broken seal

Inspect the tires for excessive or uneven wear.

It is perfectly normal for the middle third of each tire to be slightly smoother than the surrounding area. However, flat spots or noticeable off-center wear can be caused by bad driving habits such as heavy braking or skidding. Damage such as this not only weakens the tire, but also unnecessarily strains other parts of the bicycle that are not so cheap or easy to replace

– Likewise, blunt or diagonal scratches can indicate alignment problems.

Check the seats and other areas of wear for damage.

Materials such as leather and rubber can deteriorate very quickly, especially if the previous owner has traveled a long distance. A torn saddle or a loose running board does not necessarily mean that the bike is a wreck. However, if all-important points of contact are hit and there are obvious signs of wear or damage to the frame and the surrounding area, it means you have probably seen better days [13].

– If the bike you are evaluating has saddlebags, be sure to look inside and outside. Hard bags must be completely free of tears or holes, while both the fabric and seams of soft bags must be intact, without tears, fine stitches, or abrasion.

– Do not let worn upholstery prevent you from continuing with the purchase if you are satisfied with the general condition of the bicycle. These parts are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace.

Check the fuel and oil tanks for rust or deposits.

Unscrew the fuel cap on the body of the bike and look inside with the flashlight. There should be nothing floating in the fuel itself and no rust or corrosion on the tank walls. Then observe the color of the oil, which is normally visible through a sight glass on one side of the engine. When it is clean and syrupy, you are ready to go. If it is dark, it is possible that a while has passed since the last change.

– If you see shiny metal flakes in the oil, the bike is a can. This means that the used oil has been left standing for so long that you eat the oil chamber from the inside.

– Do not try to skip this part of the inspection and think about changing oil and fuel later. These fluids are the elixir of life of a motorcycle and play an important role in the performance and overall condition of the car.

Remove the seat to ensure that the internal wiring is in good condition.

It is not necessary to be an experienced technician to understand if there is something wrong with the electrical compartment. Just take a quick look to see if everything seems to be connected securely and in the right place. Ideally, each of the wires should still have the original factory plugs or a suitable replacement for the aftermarket if they have ever been machined.

– The electrical system of a motorcycle has much more to offer than the battery. It also includes the alternator, rectifier/controller headlight, fog light and any additional modules that are attached, such as a built-in GPS unit or garage door opener.

Test the battery voltage and look for a value between 10.5 and 12.

With the seat turned off, connect the multimeter to the positive and negative terminals of the battery to determine how much juice is contained in it. It should provide approximately 12 volts while the bike is off and no less than 10.5 while running. If you get something lower for both test phases, consider it a red flag.

– If you don’t have a multimeter, start the bike (or ask the owner to start it) and listen to the engine move. If it turns slowly or the headlight dims briefly, it means that the battery is not supplying enough power to drive the starter or alternator.

– An empty battery is also an indication that a motorcycle has not been ridden for some time and could also indicate that it has other problems related to not being used.

Take your bike for a test ride.

Start the engine first and listen for unusual noises such as creaking, rattling, or grinding of the wheels. If there are no obvious problems, you can ride without any problems on a well-constructed road that offers safe conditions. Pay close attention to how the bike handles acceleration, cornering, braking, and shifting. Everything should be smooth, stable, and responsive.

– If the salesperson is not willing to let you try the bike yourself, check if he or she is willing to let you in as a passenger, or at least to watch and listen carefully to understand how you ride.

– Do not forget to take your driver’s license and insurance card with you on the test ride. It is also a good idea to be prepared with a helmet and other safety equipment in case your salesperson does not have them at hand.

Tip: Check the bike thoroughly again after riding back, this time for leaks or drips. If something has cracked, you may not be able to find it out until you have taken a spin.

Talk to a local dealer to arrange a detailed inspection.

Even if you decide to buy your bike from a private person, it is advisable to have it inspected by a third party before signing an agreement. Most dealers and small bicycle stores are happy to act as intermediaries in private sales for a small service fee. If you spend a few dollars more now, you can save a lot of time, money and effort in the future.

– If the owner is reluctant to involve another party, this may be because the bicycle has problems that you are not supposed to see.

– Requesting an independent inspection is especially important if you are shopping online and cannot personally inspect the bike.

Completing Your Purchase

Scan the VIN of the motorcycle for mistakes or inconsistencies.

A vehicle identification number or VIN number in Thailand is a unique serial number that legally identifies a vehicle. On most motorcycles, the VIN number is located on the steering neck area of the frame directly behind the headlight. Check this number against the number on the official title to make sure it matches!

– Never do business with a seller who does not have the vehicle green book at hand. While it is no guarantee that a motorcycle will be stolen, it is not worth the risk.

– In rare cases, chassis numbers can be changed or forged for criminal reasons. If something on the chassis number looks suspicious, it is important that it is checked by a qualified professional at a nearby dealer.

Ask for motorcycle service book and/or receipts.

Responsible owners are almost always in possession of documents that prove the maintenance history of their motorcycle (this is often not the case in Thailand). If the owner is a DIY enthusiast, ask if he or she has kept a log or similar informal record of how much work he or she has done on the bike over the years.

– A long maintenance history is not necessarily a bad thing – in some cases it may indicate that the owner has taken very good care of the bike. What is more important is to take a close look at what is (and isn’t) there and make sure they keep up to date with the great things.

Think about your budget when negotiating the final price.

Check retail price lists or read the announcements to get an idea of the bike’s market value. Then place these numbers next to your approximate budget to determine the exact amount you would be willing to spend. Most used motorcycles do not sell for the price you ask. So don’t be afraid to haggle a little to reduce the number to something more convenient for your wallet.

– When it is time to bid, be realistic. Sellers lowballing can only insult them and make them less willing to compromise. Don´t forget people in Thailand don´t want to lose face.

– You can arrange the payment details with the seller after you have agreed on the price. In most cases you will pay cash or transfer directly from a Thai bank account.

Fill out a sales contract and take copies if the owers ID card.

(so that your vehicle can be legally transferred)

The seller should provide you with a formal bill of sale, which can be printed online or obtained from your closest DLT. This form documents the brand, model and VIN of the motorcycle, as well as an accurate mileage and details of the financial transaction between you and the previous owner. 

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