The headaches of buying a second-hand bike (Part 1)

So recently our favorite Newby, Training Wheels, purchased himself a new bike. For financial reasons he had opted to buy a second-hand bike. We were bike hunting for weeks before we found a suitable candidate. A little yellow gremlin of a Suzuki RF 400 cc.“The perfect little machine for Training Wheels to build confidence and enjoy the ride” we all thought. Little did we know of the torment to come…

Knowing the machine had a few bumps and bruises from a hard life, Training Wheels still opted to purchase the bike, subject to myself and Mechanical MacGyver helping him catch and kill the minor bugs in the machine. At that point the plan was simple, fix a few oil leaks, fix a water pump, and mend a bruised exterior. We loaded the bike onto the trailer and set off for home.



T’was a fair Saturday afternoon as we arrived home. Horror struck as we were unloading the bike. Oil was gushing from the top of the front forks. The fork seals have met their end and are now allowing precious fork oil to rush by. As horrific as this sounds we kept hope. We had replaced many a fork seal on my VFR 400. It would only set us back in time and munch on Training Wheels’ reserve funds. All the bike spare shops were closed, so we set about sealing all the other oil leaks and tidying up some shoddy electrical work. I would order new fork seals at the start of the new week.


Saturday passed and Sunday arrived. We set off finishing the last few oil leak fixes before firing the engine for the first time. Filled up all the vital fluids and held our breath in anticipation. Alas… coolant came pouring from beneath the motor… The aged pump had let go and will function no more. Another kick to our deadline and budget, but we will make do. Just one more part to hunt in the new week.

So the new week arrived with the dawn of a Monday morning. Time to tear apart the front shock absorbers to find out what seals needed to be ordered. To my utter surprise, a previous grease monkey had made an utter mess of a dodgy shock reconditioning job. The horrific site of seals fitted upside down, and siliconed into place… truly a gruesome sight for any savvy back yard mechanic. As a result, the little machine had been dubbed “Dodgy”.

At Monday’s end a new water pump had been sourced and fitted, along with fork seals on order for later that week. Hopes are high as we prepare to test fire Dodgy once more. With a few splutters and whines the little gremlin roars to life, however gurgling sounds can be heard from the radiator reservoir. “Nothing more than air bubbles being forced out” Mechanical MacGyver held firmly, “Should be running smoothly by morning.”

Alas, as Tuesday dawns Dodgy’s little motor had hydrolocked. Two cylinders had filled with water as a result of a blown head gasket. Dodgy will run no more…

Dodgy’s little power plant will now have to be ripped apart in order to salvage the situation. Out of time and far over budget and still nowhere near having a rideable bike we must carry on. A new, or at least a reasonable second-hand head gasket needs to be sourced to breath new life into the heart of a previously very neglected machine.


So this is our story thus far. Stay tuned to find out if Dodgy will live again.

Ride safe and enjoy the journey.



6 thoughts on “The headaches of buying a second-hand bike (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: The headaches of buying a second-hand motorcycle (Part 2) | The Bike Addict

  2. Pingback: Heroes from our past | The Bike Addict

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