Towards the end of 2022, I bought myself a 2022 KTM EXCF 500 with 38 hrs on it. Funny thing is I wasn’t in the market for one. Browsing Newsnow I was just comparing prices for two bikes I had dropped at a dealer in Guernsey for sale and rather than selling anything (more on that later) I saw the 500 advertised. The low hours and price seduced me and within 2 days the 500 had been added to my already overcrowded garage. I paid just shy of £8k for it from a large UK dealer. The buying experience was good, I mean, who doesn’t like taking money. The delivery from up north to Surrey was quick and efficient and cost me £120. Thing is that the advertising was, as I found out a little later in the garage, a little misleading and herein lies my advice to all buyers of secondhand bikes, even low-hour ones from large reputable dealers. The ad said “All our used motorcycles receive a thorough inspection by our technical team prior to collection”. Now you could be forgiven on that advice to trust that the bike was safe and ready to ride – or could you?
When the bike was delivered it looked okay, it was a little dirty for my standards. I just thought the dealer could have been a little more meticulous. A slightly dirty bike is something I would have expected buying privately. Skip ahead, and as I do with all my bikes, new or used, I drained the oil and changed the filter as part of my own pre-ride check. I’m glad I did, the filter was barely okay, not new, and the oil had seen better days. That raised alarm bells, so I opened the radiator cap and ahem, no coolant to be seen. I drained the cooling circuit and rather than finding any coolant the jug filled with dirty water, distilled or not I couldn’t say but whatever it was, there wasn’t enough of it. The 500 takes 1.2l and there was barely half that. So I flushed the circuit, replaced the hoses with a silicone SAMCO bypass kit and filled it with Engine Ice coolant and an AS3 2.0 bar cap. The 500’s are known for getting a little hot and a higher pressure cap can help with that. I then removed the stock fan and replaced it with a programmable Trail Tech fan set to 70 degrees.
At this stage I was pretty sure that the bike had not been well maintained by its original owner and had simply been given a wash and brief spruce up before going on sale by the dealer. Safety was now my concern. I did a suspension check and my suspicions were confirmed, The bolts on the triple clamps were well loose, as were the pinch bolts on the front axle – not good. Internally things didn’t look any better, on inspection the fork seals were seriously dirty and the snap rings were rusted. So in went new fork seals and snap rings. The bikes Heim pivot bearing on the shock was seized and needed replacing. How after 38 hrs? I don’t know and again the top shock bolt was about half tight and nowhere near safely fastened. I was now convinced that the technical inspection alluded by the dealer was in fact an apprentice mechanic sipping tea while leant over the bike having some chit chat with mates in the workshop.
In the end I stripped the bike completely and rebuilt it from the ground up. The thing that pissed me off the most was that the bike was delivered ‘unsafe’ and for a novice rider this could have been pretty troublesome, dangerous even. Not a single bolt on the bike was at torque spec. I’m not a torque zealot but you don’t deliver a bike with loose handlebar clamps, rear top shock bolt, pinch bolts rear axle and engine braces, all loose to the point of negligence.
So, buyer beware – make it a habit to check your bike is safe before you put your life in its hands, even from a dealer that advertises that they do a pre-collection check-up. Bollocks they did!
Fast forward a week or two and with a little TLC I now own a cracking motorcycle that I knew was sound in every way.