What to look for when buying a used moped

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This article is a wikified version of this article written by gimmyjimmy.

This is a list of things you should check when you are looking into buying a new moped. If you don't understand how to repair and recondition an older moped and you aren't inclined to learn, go with a newer, running one. With the info from websites like this one, it's easy to keep them maintained.

Engine

Begin with the engine. Will it turn over? If it does, but it doesn't start, it could be a spark or fuel problem. Take the gas cap off and look down inside the tank. If it's rusty the carb is probably clogged and needs a thorough cleaning, as will the gas tank and fuel lines.

Look closely at the engine. Are the cases (engine halves) cracked, held with epoxy, or covered in oil and sludge? Check the engine nuts and bolts for wear from frequent disassembling; a clue that maybe someone did a hack job inside the engine.

Electrical

Check for spark by removing the plug wire and putting a screwdriver in the end of plug wire and hold it near the spark plug, kick it over and look for a spark to jump from the screw driver to the plug. No spark? Then the points, coil, or entire ignition system needs work. Look at the wiring -- any loose wires dangling? Black electrical tape, two wire twist-splices? Do the handlebar switches work? Lights and horn?

Cables and Such

Check the miles on the speedometer. Does it match the wear and appearance of the bike? Check to see if the speedometer cable is connected. Look at the cables and levers, do they work smoothly or do they bind and are rusty?

Check the cable adjusters near the levers and brake drums. If they are adjusted out to the max, the cables are stretched and need replaced. Also, the brakes may need to be replaced if your cables are adjusted all the way out. Look at the tires for cracks and dry rot. Check for chain wear, that would be excess slack, and adjustment out to the max, and sprocket wear (pointy teeth).

Alignment

With the bike on the center stand, straighten the front end, and then go about 8 feet in front of the bike, squat down and eyeball the front forks. They should be straight and even. Sometimes the handlebars may be bent and may make the forks appear to be out of alignment by sight. Double check this by sitting on the bike and looking down at the position of the tire when the bars are straight.

Performance

If the bike runs, see how it performs on flat ground and hills after it has COMPLETELY warmed up. Now you can check the brakes; try a panic stop. If a squealing sound is heard, it may need new brakes. While riding it, does it pull to one side? That could be as simple as the rear wheel out of adjustment or as bad as a bent frame or forks.

Bad Signs

Shimmy and shake could be bent wheels or bad tires. Listen to the engine for internal noises and feel for clutch slippage. After the test ride, discuss the bike's history with the seller. Wait a couple minutes and look under the bike for any drips that could be caused by bad crank seals, leaking engine cases, or a transmission seal. After a few minutes, ask to start it again and see how easily or difficult it starts. It should idle without stalling.

Appearance wise, does it have an odd ball paint job? Mismatched parts, pitted chrome, ripped seat? It all knocks off the asking price. A non-running moped should be had for under a hundred; a clean, well maintained, easy start moped could fetch several hundred.

See Also