25 Things You Must Look For When Buying A Used Dirt Bike

When buying a used dirt bike, or any vehicle for that matter, you never truly know what you are getting. Just because the seller says it was rebuilt, doesn’t mean it won’t grenade on you an hour after you get home. You don’t know what exactly has been done to it, and they may not have rebuilt it correctly. Not everyone lies about what they have or what’s been worked on, but some people just don’t know. That’s why it’s YOUR job as a buyer to do as much research and scrutinizing of the bike as possible. The more you know about the model of bike you’re looking at, as well as the bike itself, the better you can judge its value.

If you’ve never gone to look at a used bike before, asking a friend to come along that is very experienced with wrenching on bikes is highly recommended because they generally know what to look for. However, you can use this list of things to look for to give yourself a jump-start on bike mechanics 101.

These guidelines relate to motocross bikes, trail bikes, 2-strokes, 4-strokes, air-cooled and liquid-cooled bikes for every make.

  1. “Just look at it” – Upon arrival, you can sometimes tell if a dirt bike is a cherry, or if it is a complete junkbox on wheels. Look at the plastic, frame, and over-all cleanliness of it. If it was put away wet often, there will be a lot of stains and dirt caked on the bottom of the engine/chassis.
  2. Look At Surroundings – This doesn’t pertain to the bike specifically, but while looking at it, take a look around. Where and how is the bike sitting? Is the garage/place clean? How does the seller’s other vehicles look? If everything is clean and looks well taken care of, there’s a good chance the bike was, too. This alone shouldn’t be the determining factor though.
  3. Frame Damage/Straightness – If the dirt bike has been in a major or numerous crashes, the frame or subframe usually shows it. Check for unusual bends/cracks at the welds or where two sections meet. If the subframe is bent, it’s usually easy to see by looking at the bike from the rear. The fender will usually lean more to one side. If it’s too far to bend back, a used subframe is anywhere from 50-200 bucks depending on the bike.
  4. Wheels – Take a close look at both wheels for bends or cracks, as well as missing spokes. If anything is damaged or missing then the bike was ridden hard or rode on rough terrain. Spin the wheels to see if they wobble at all. Used wheels in good shape can be expensive.
  5. Tires – Are the tires worn out or cracked from old age? If they don’t have any sharp edges then you’ll want some fresh rubber for a big increase in traction, which is not only safer, but it will put more power to the ground. A pair of tires can cost close to 200 bucks or more, depending on what kind of performance you’re looking to get.
  6. Suspension – You may need to get it re-valved for your weight, or it may just need to be serviced if the seller hasn’t done it in a while (or ever). This could be as little as new oil and a charge of nitrogen (rear shock).
  7. Bearings – There’s quite a few bearings on a dirt bike, and most of the time you can expect them to be needing new grease at the minimum. Move the wheels side-to-side to check their bearings. If there’s any slop they they need to be replaced. The steering stem has bearings and are usually under-greased from the factory. If it’s hard to turn the handlebars, they may need to be replaced.
  8. Swing-arm/Linkage – With the bike on a center stand, move the swing-arm up and down, as well as side-to-side. It should move freely without binding. If it’s rough or wobbles, it will need to be serviced and may you may need a new bushing kit.
  9. Air Filter – If the seller won’t let you take the seat/panel off to look at the filter, he/she is probably trying to hide something. If you’re looking for a good running and reliable bike, it’s probably best to walk away if they say “No”. If they comply, take a look at how clean the filter itself is, as well as the rest of the airbox. Someone who takes good care of their bike will keep these both clean.
  10. Engine/Transmission Oil – This is just as important as the air filter, if not more so! Most bikes will either have a dipstick or a sight glass so you can easily check the oil level. You should be able to see some oil at least at the minimum level. If you can’t see oil, there’s not enough to properly lubricate. If it hasn’t already, it will cause damage, and is one of the leading causes of blown engines. Many air-cooled trail bikes, such as the Honda XR lineup, is so reliable that some owners never change the oil. Eventually it will run low and will start smoking or seize. However, some dirt bikes require you to start and idle them for a minute in order to check the oil. Make sure you know how to check it before you go.
  11. Chain – Chains can last a long time if they are taken care of. On the flip side, if the chain is never or rarely cleaned and lubed, it can wear out faster than the top-end on a motocross bike. Check for kinks, as well as how far it is on the adjuster. If there’s no room left for adjustment, it’s because the chain is stretched out and is in need of replacement. If the chain has a lot of corrosion or skips at all, it’s toast.
  12. Sprockets – Sprockets usually wear with the chain. You can often get one rear sprocket, and two front sprockets out of the life of a chain if properly maintained. Look at the teeth for any chunks missing or odd shaped teeth from wear.
  13. Brakes – Look at the brake pads for wear. If they’re close to the limit marks or metal, they need to be replaced. Also take notice of the brake fluid in the master cylinder(s). If it’s low or dirty, it may need to be flushed out. Most of this is just maintenance, though, and isn’t too costly.
  14. Coolant – Pop the radiator cap off and check the coolant level. It should be at or near the top. If it’s low then the engine may have overheated and spit some coolant out the overflow tube.
  15. Radiators – After you look at the coolant, take a closer look at the radiators. Are they smashed or bent? How do the fins look? If it looks like it’s been poorly repaired or patched up, you can count on needing a new one, which can be expensive, depending on what you get (new/used/aftermarket).
  16. Handlebars – They can get bent easily if the bike was flipped or wrecked. You can usually tell just by looking at it, but by a simple test ride you should be able to feel if they are bent or not. Aftermarket handlebars often means that the stock ones got bent, along with the possibility of other parts in the process, so pay close attention if so.
  17. Levers – Brake and clutch levers are very easy to bend/break. They are fairly inexpensive, but if more than one needs replacing, the repair bill quickly adds up. The shift lever and rear brake pedal can get bent as well. Make sure the shifter is on tight. If it’s sloppy, the splines are probably worn and it’ll need a new one.
  18. Seat – Does it have any rips? If the cover was replaced, was it put on correctly? This has little to no mechanical function, but some of us like our dirt bikes looking nice.
  19. Fork Seals – Fork seals are cheap and fairly easy to replace with the right tools. However, it can be time consuming, and is quite spendy to have a shop replace them. If they are barely seeping, you might be able to get away with just cleaning them.
  20. Engine Noises – Start and let the engine idle for at least a minute. Listen for any rattling or ticking. If it’s a 4-stroke and it ticks with the RPM of the engine, it’s probably a worn timing chain or tensioner. Fairly simple fix on most bikes. If there’s a rattle that gets noticeably quieter when the engine is fully warmed up, it may be piston rattle, which will require a rebuild.
  21. Transmission – The best way to test the transmission is by riding the bike and shifting through all the gears. It should shift easily up and down through all the gears, with or without the clutch. If you hit a ‘false neutral’ in between gears, it may have a bent shift fork, which requires the cases to be split (a lot of labor).
  22. Clutch – You can test the clutch while you’re riding as well. How big is the ‘friction zone’ or how much movement does the clutch lever have from disengaged to engaged? Or does it even fully engage? A slipping clutch will rev out and the engine may feel really low on power.  You can try dumping the clutch while in gear to see if it slips or engages and stalls. If it stalls or quickly goes to the correct RPM then it probably won’t need to be replaced.
  23. Exhaust – Look at the head pipe for dents or bends. If there’s any major damage, you’ll want to get it repaired or replaced. A crushed pipe will be lacking power. Also listen to the exhaust note. You can usually tell when there is little to no muffler packing because it’s loud and raspy. A freshly packed silencer is relatively quiet (depending on the specific silencer), and will sound nice and crisp. Packing is pretty cheap, but it’s not very fun to replace.
  24. Carburetor – You’re probably not going to be able to internally inspect the carb, but you can get a good idea on how dirty it may be when trying to start it and riding it. If the bike is hard to start and/or has a bog down low, there’s a good chance it will need to be cleaned. This is often the case if the dirt bike has set for a number of months (or even weeks).
  25. Recalls – If you’re going to spend a lot of money on a dirt bike, you might as well get to know your stablemate beforehand. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever these days with the internet. Do some research on the specific make, model, and year of the dirt bike you are looking to buy. Every bike will have common problems after years of use, and while some may cost more to fix than others, you can save money in the long run by planning ahead if you know that your particular bike may need a special part or ‘fix’ in the future.

I know all of this may seem like a lot to take in right away if you’ve never looked at a used dirt bike, but it gets a lot easier the more you do it. Like I mentioned above, it’s a great idea to have a knowledgeable person with you to help. Also, do not be afraid to walk away from a bike. Everyone may say that they have the nicest and fastest bike, but if you want a clean and reliable dirt bike, it’s better to wait than wasting your hard earned cash dollars on a pile of junk that’s going to sit in the corner of the garage after blowing up on your first ride.

Ride safe!

-Tom Stark

Is Parting My Dirt Bike Out Worth It?

So it’s time to make a decision. Your bike just took a dump, and you’re deciding whether you should part it out, rebuild it, or just sell it as is. Unfortunately, there’s not always a “best way” to go for everyone…

Rebuild The Bike?

Lets take a quick look at what rebuilding the bike can do for you. Two or four-stroke, it’s going to cost several hundred just in parts if the bottom-end of the engine needs work. If it’s a 2-stroke and just the top-end is fried, you can re-plate the cylinder and get a new piston kit for around 300 bucks. If the cylinder doesn’t need re-plating, then consider yourself lucky and just rebuild it. On the flip-side, a four-stroke can cost a lot more, especially if you have a shop do the work. If it needs top and bottom-end work, you can figure it will cost somewhere in the $1500-2000 range for parts and labor. In this case, you aren’t going to get most of that back if you sell the bike after the rebuild. If you’re on a tight budget, doing a rebuild is probably not the best way to go unless it’s a few hundred dollars or less.

Sell It Like It Is

Selling your bike as-is may be the easiest way to go since you don’t need to do any work on it. The down side is that you will get a lot less for it, due to the fact that it needs a rebuild. People that are looking to buy blown up bikes want them for dirt cheap. You can ask a little more for it, but you may be sitting on it for months before it sells. Unfortunately, this is the risk that you have to take. The only reasons I would sell a dirt bike like this is if I really needed cash fast, or if I bought the bike for next to nothing so I know I’m not losing much.

YZ250F Needing Work
YZ250F Needing Work

Can I Make More Parting It Out?

What dirt bike do you have? Is it a popular one that has a high demand for used parts? If so, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to break even. Depending on what broke on the bike, you can sell whatever engine parts are good, the wheels, forks, swing-arm, shock, triple clamps, handlebars, plastics, gas tank, electronics, carburetor, foot-pegs, frame, levers, and quite a few more miscellaneous parts and bolts. Unfortunately, to make the most money you will have to use eBay for most of your used dirt bike parts. You’re going to lose a fraction of your profit, but it will be much easier to sell the parts, and you might be able to get more out of them anyway.

Go to eBay and start looking at prices of some of those parts I just listed and write them down. They all start to add up, and if you still have a lot of good engine parts, there’s a good chance you’ll break even, and possibly make money…

If it’s so easy to sell parts on eBay, why isn’t everyone doing it? That’s a good question, and there’s a good reason for it; it takes a lot of time if you want to sell every part. If you are busy with a full-time job, family, or other activities, it’s going to be difficult to take pictures of all the parts, post them on eBay, wait for someone to buy them, package them, and bring them to the post office. This can take weeks, if not months to sell most of the parts. You can expect to sit on several piddly parts that people aren’t interested in.

That may sound like quite a bit of work, and it is, but if you have the time and patience then it can be worth it. I would consider myself a cheapskate, and if I had more time on my hands I would definitely consider doing this as a part-time job. Some people do this as a full-time job, so you know it’s possible to make money.

Well, there you have it. It’s now up to you to decide which best fits your scenario. Good luck, and if you need any help feel free to comment or email me through the ‘Contact‘ page.

-Tom Stark

How Much Is My Dirt Bike Worth? Top 5 Factors

“What is my bike worth?” is a common question people ask when they are looking to sell their dirt bike. While there are numerous factors that determine how much you can or will get for your bike, there’s never a set price for any certain make and model bike. To give you a better idea, I’ll show you the top factors that influence the value of your dirt bike.

What color is your bike?

As weird as this may sound, some bikes sell more quickly and for more money than others. It can depend on your location, but generally, red and blue bikes are easier to sell. Why? Because people like the colors red and blue. That’s not to say you aren’t going to sell your lemon, lime, or orange-colored bike quickly. This has just been my speculation based on the used bike market for the past 8-10 years, and probably will be for a while.

Three 125 2-Strokes
Which Flavor Do You Have?

How Many Strokes?

Two-strokes have been getting more popular around the country, and even the globe in the past couple years. They are cheap to maintain, easy to work on, and a blast to ride. This means that their value has noticeably increased, especially if the bike is in good shape. Four-strokes are still conquering the motocross world, but a 250F or 450cc MX bike that’s more than 5 years old is more than likely beat up. If you’re comparing the two, a 2-stroke is going to hold it’s value longer because an engine rebuild is a lot less costly.

Different Strokes For Different Folks
Different Strokes For Different Folks

How Many Aftermarket Parts?

Sure, you can add $3000 worth of aftermarket parts to your $1000 dirt bike, but that doesn’t make it worth $4k. In fact, some people prefer stock or close to stock bikes. Why? A bike with a lot of aftermarket parts has been messed with more than a stock one. This increases the chance of something not being put back on the bike correctly and failing in the near future. The people that want aftermarket parts on a bike are looking for something that is set-up for their kind of riding, which is not very common. If you want to get the most return on your used dirt bike, put the stock parts back on it when you put it on the market, then sell the aftermarket parts separately.

Lots of Bling
Lots of Bling

Check The Market

While KBB and NADA may give you an estimate of how much your bike is worth, it’s just a guesstimate. To give you a good idea, check your local market for how much your model dirt bike is worth. Try to get an idea of how much one in good shape is priced at, and how much a beat up one is. Once again, these are still estimates, but are more accurate because they’re real, and they’re local. Why are they still estimates? Because 99% of the time the seller does not get the asking price. The used dirt bike market is all about haggling. For example, if you want $2100 for your motocross bike, try listing it for $2400. That way the buyer will think he’s getting a deal if he works you down to what you wanted. However, there’s still no guarantee you’re going to get what you want for it.

Was It Maintained?

This is usually the number one factor in selling a used dirt bike. Most people that come to look at a bike are going to know right away if it has been maintained at all. First of all, is the bike clean? Does it start up right away and not make any unusual sounds? Have the oil and filter(s) been changed regularly? What kind of shape are the chain and sprockets in? Has the engine been taken rebuilt? If so, who did the work? How many hours does it have? These are all common questions that you should ask yourself before you try and sell your dirt bike.

This Bike Looks To Be Mint!
This Bike Looks Mint!

Still Not Selling?

Has your bike been on the market for a while and still not sold? Perhaps you are asking too much. If you aren’t getting any calls or emails from your ad, consider lowering the price 100-200 bucks. Also, how descriptive is your ad? Does it have any pictures of the bike? If it doesn’t already, try adding some info about the bike that people calling would ask. Another important factor in selling a dirt bike is the time of year. Are you trying to sell it in the winter/off-season? If so, it’s going to be harder to sell it, and you won’t get nearly as much for it. The best time to sell a bike is in the spring when riding season is right around the corner, or is just starting. When kids, and even adults, see others riding, they see how fun it looks and instantly want a bike for themselves.

If you need more help on selling a bike, check out my other article for tips on How To Sell A Dirt Bike.

-Tom Stark

What Is The Most Reliable 250F Dirt Bike?

A very common question asked by new riders or people that have never owned a 250 four-stroke motocross machine. First of all, it depends on what year dirt bike you are looking at. 250F’s rapidly changed from the first years until now, and many of them had problems that needed to be solved.

250F Motocross Bikes

Although the manufacturer’s had problems with their high-performance quarter-liter four-strokes, Yamaha pretty much had it figured out from the beginning. They were the first to come out with a 250cc 4-stroke motocross bike (YZ250F) in 2001, which is 3 years before any other manufacturer’s got on the band-wagon.

Yamaha’s YZ 250F become an instant success once riders started winning on them. In 2001 and 2002 the bike came with manual-decompression, making it a task to start the bike at times. But the only real problem the bike has ever had was in ’01 with a weak crankshaft that would go out on some bikes. In 2003 the Yamaha 250F came automatic-decompression. Up until 2006 the bike had no problems. The ’06 YZF did have a valve problem, but Yamaha recalled every one of them that was sent in. Riders that have had or been around 250F’s know that Yamaha was always the most reliable in the early years, even if it wasn’t the most powerful.

2004-2006 were embarrassing years for the other manufacturer’s. Kawazuki’s KXF/RMZ250 was a nightmare on wheels, especially when not properly maintained. Honda’s CRF250R often ate valves like Americans eat McDonald’s grease burger’s. By ’07 the companies (excluding Yamaha) started figuring out the kinks in their 250F’s….

If you are looking to get a 2008 or newer 250F and are deciding based on reliability, just pick a color. Really, pretty much all 250F’s now are reliable IF, AND ONLY IF, you take care of them. Doing regular maintenance on a 250 four-stroke is very crucial and will make them last much longer. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get 50+ hours on a stock top-end, as long as you aren’t Pro or riding it on the limiter all day long.

Maintenance means changing your oil every 5 hours or so (oil filter every other oil change), cleaning your air filter every 1-2 rides, believe it or not cleaning your bike will make it last longer, lubing and cleaning your chain every ride, and re-greasing the bearings 1-2 times a year. There are a few more things you should do, but just doing these simple things will allow you to ride your 250F much, much longer.

250F Motocross Bikes

As soon as you get the key maintenance steps down, there are just a few things left to do to make sure your dirt bike stays in tip-top shape. It is extremely important to keep the valve-train in good running order. To be sure of this, the valve clearances should be checked at least once a year (every 15-20 hours of ride time to be safe). Contrary to what most people think, the cam/timing chain should be replaced with a new one every year. If the chain breaks or seizes, the valves also seize and will be hit by the piston, causing massive damage to the engine. Buying a new timing chain is cheap insurance, so keep that in mind. I will get more into these topics in future articles.

Other than doing the normal maintenance, choosing the right bike mostly depends on its history. If you’re buying a new 250F then it’s no big deal, but buying a nice used one can be difficult. A good bike to buy is one that is clean, has low hours, was properly maintained, and the owner isn’t trying to hide anything.

Take your 250F’s to the track with a Dirt Bike Carrier.

Good luck, and remember that maintenance is more important than anything on a 250cc 4 stroke motocross bike!

-Tom Stark

You Can Find a Good Motocross Dirt Bike For $1500 or Less

Let’s face it, motocross is not a cheap sport. When races cost around $30 per class, then paying for gas (both bike and vehicle), parts that break, memberships, and the list goes on. Although it seems like dirt bike racing is only for the wealthy, especially in this economy, I can help get you get started into this awesome sport by showing you how to find a cheap race bike. Not a beat-up POS, but something that runs or may just need some TLC.

This Is A RACE Bike We’re Talking About Here

Before I go into much detail, there are a couple things I must tell you. If you aren’t willing to do some mechanical work, or even learn how, there’s no use buying a motocross bike. If you want to buy a dirt bike and not have to do much of anything to it, get a Honda XR. Motocross bikes are high-tech race machines, so they will break sooner or later. By keeping up on simple maintenance you will help prevent major failures and big repair bills, though.

POS Motocross Bike

Lastly, before I get started, if you are on a budget then do not get a four-stroke motocross bike……. I repeat, DO NOT buy a four-stroke. Although they are easier to ride faster and have many advantages over two-strokes, you don’t want to get one and have to put 2k into it because it ran out of oil or dropped a valve. You’ll be right back where you started. If you really want to stay on a budget then start out with a two-stroke, trust me.

What Bikes Are Good?

Now the reason I said $1500 is because you almost always have to put some money into a used dirt bike. You should be able to find a decent bike for around $1000, so you have 400-500 if it needs any work. There are many good two-strokes to start out on, so finding one shouldn’t be that difficult. The hard part is finding one that hasn’t been beat on and neglected, too much. Yamaha’s have always made great two-strokes, both 125 and 250’s. 2001 and newer were excellent bikes. If you want a 6-speed YZ125 then don’t get a 2002-2004, but that doesn’t mean they are bad bikes. 2005 and newer would be the optimum choice because they switched to all-aluminum frames, but finding a cheap one may take some time.

Your best bet for a Honda is probably a 2000-2001. The CR250 those years has been touted as one of the best in its class. The engine is powerful, suspension is good, and handling is great (even though it’s not quite as good as the 4th gen; 2002 and newer). The aluminum frame CR125 is known by its “slow-as-a-snail” engine just because it has no-bottom end power, and the power-band isn’t as usable as other 125’s. I think this bike would fine for beginners if it’s properly set-up and geared, as the handling is great. There are many things you can do to the CR125 to make it more competitive; most of which are cheap (more on that in a future article). 2005 and newer CR’s finally became good all-around bikes, but by then the four-strokes took over and Honda quit making their two-strokes after 2007.

Suzuki two-strokes are good all-around, but you’ll want a 2001 or newer. Kawasaki didn’t make the greatest 125’s early on, but that could be easily changed, if you put money into them. 2003 and newer are great if you can find them.

What To Look For In A Cheap Dirt Bike?

A cheap bike is fairly easy to find… Finding one that needs the least amount of work is what you’re looking for. Generally, the lower the hours a bike has, the better the shape it will be in. When searching through the classifieds after you decided which bike to get, look for a motocross bike that has been maintained. If the owner actually took care of it, you won’t have to replace as many parts. A stock bike will probably be the best because it won’t have been tampered with. Don’t worry too much if it has modifications though.

Work ‘Em Down!

Once you find a relatively nice bike, the first thing you should do is try and work the person down on his/her price. Remember, patience is key. In most cases, the longer you wait on buying a bike, the more willing the owner will be to go down on their price. Whatever you do, do not let emotions get in the way. I know this may sound dumb when talking about buying a bike, but I know of many people that were too anxious when looking for bikes that they either bought the first one they looked at or didn’t wait for the seller to go down on their price. Do not be discouraged if the first bike or two is not in your budget or is too beat up. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY IT! Just walk away if the owner is being less than honest or if he/she won’t budge on their price (unless of course it’s already a steal).

Going To Look At Your Future Baby…… Maybe?

When you go to look at a bike, there are many things you’ll want to check over. The main parts that wear out or break are: levers, tires, suspension, top-end, brakes, clutch, chain/sprockets, handlebars, radiators, subframe, wheels, and plastics. The cost for these parts add up quickly, but a lot of them are maintenance, so if they are worn/broken then you should deduct some from the price of the bike. Levers, brakes, and sprockets are relatively cheap, but the main areas you should be concerned about are the engine, suspension and chassis (whether they’re worn, damaged, or straight). Also, you may want have the owner take the seat off to get a look at the air filter. If it’s clean then he/she probably takes at least some care of their bike.

P.S. Used two-strokes almost always need a new piston, so that should be one of the first things you do to the bike after buying. Even if the previous owner said it was just rebuilt, it’s a good idea to pull the jug and find out for yourself. I’ve made the mistake of not doing this and it cost me dearly. Besides, you’re only down about $25 in gaskets if it’s fine, and you’ll have a clear-conscience.

Bring Cash, Test The bike, Keep Silent…

Cash Talks

After you look the bike over real well, ask if you can ride it. Remember to bring cash because some people won’t let you ride the bike without it. As you’re letting the bike warm up idling, listen for any knocking, rattling, or other unusual noises in the engine. Once the bike is warm take it for a spin, going through all the gears and using the clutch. Everything should be crisp and tight.  Signs of a worn-out clutch are slipping, not fully engaging, or whacking the throttle wide open and the clutch disengages. A clutch kit runs around $100-150, possibly more if it needs a basket or hub.

Don’t Jump For Joy Yet

If everything checks out on the test run then proceed by checking over the bike once again just to make sure there’s no major damage. Remember what I said about being patient. The longer you stall while looking at the bike, the higher chance of the seller reducing his/her price or telling you something about the bike he/she didn’t before (very common if the seller has a big mouth).  When you make an offer (if you haven’t already over the phone or email), it’s usually best if you go about 200-300 below what they’re asking in cash. Possibly more if you think he/she is willing, based on his/her mood and what they’ve told you. But if they seem pretty firm then offer $100 less. If they really want to sell the bike, money talks.

They Didn’t Take My Offer…..?

Don’t worry if the seller didn’t take your offer. There are several things you can do after this… First of all, there’s a good chance they will counter your offer and go in-between their asking price and what you offered. If it’s still a good deal then go for it. If they don’t take your offer, though, you can offer a little more to see if they bite. Otherwise, if the bike just isn’t worth much more than you offered because it’s so beat up, all you have to do is walk away and find another bike…. There are plenty more out there, it just takes time.

Here’s The Typical Scenario

Typical used YZ125

Let’s say you buy a 2003 YZ125 for $1000 that’s in relatively nice shape. Not that bad of a deal, but it needs a little work. The previous owner said he did the usual oil changes, but that’s about it. It’ll need a new air filter for sure ($20). The chain and sprockets are pretty worn and will need to be replaced soon ($100). Plastics have some scratches but aren’t broken. The levers are bent ($20), and the bars are a little tweaked, but are fine if you bring them back with a little muscle. Brake pads are almost to metal ($50). All fluids should be flushed and replaced: oil, coolant, brake fluid, fork oil ($50). Fortunately the previous owner just replaced the rear tire, and the front still has plenty of tread, so we’ll leave that alone. Now before you go and start tearing parts off this bike and tuning it up, I HIGHLY recommend you get a Manual for your bike. If you want access to more manuals online, CyclePedia has many to choose from. It will make your work MUCH easier, and you won’t be breaking bolts from improperly torquing them.

Last, but not least, is the engine (Like I said before, I’d recommend taking the top-end off to see what it looks like, even if the previous owner said it was just rebuilt). On this bike the piston has some usual wear marks, but it and the cylinder are not scored. So, we’ll just order a new top-end kit: piston, ring, circlips, and wrist pin ($90), as well as a new top-end gasket kit ($20).

Most of These Parts Can Be Bought From Amazon.com

Let’s do the math!

  • ’03 YZ125: $1000
  • Manual $25
  • Filter: $20
  • Chain/sprockets: $100
  • Levers: $20
  • Brakes: $50
  • Fluids: $50
  • Top-end/Gaskets: $110

This reaches a grand total of………

$1375 for a great bike that will last for quite some time……. Which leaves you with $125 for gas, replacement parts, modifications, or towards your next bike! Good luck, and don’t forget to be patient!

-Tom Stark