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If you want to buy a moped or scooter and learn to ride there are a lot of decisions you’ll have to make. Bikesure straightens the curves and explains what you’ll need to do before you can hit the road on your first bike.

In the past we’ve looked at the different scooters and mopeds on the market. What you can drive depends on your age and experience, but whatever you’re buying there are certain things that you need to do.

If you’re planning to buy a moped new, you’ll be able to get help with these requirements from the dealer. However, if you’ plan to buy a moped second hand and privately it’s good to know the kind of things you should watch out for, especially if you venture into Facebook marketplace, Gumtree or any of the other places online that might be tempting you with what appear to be “bargains”.

buy a moped

How to buy a moped: Check it out

It’s relatively simple enough to weed out the most obvious lemons during the online phase of your search for a new bike. As much as you might be able to convince yourself that you’ll easily get that non-running bargain running again, the likelihood of it being more trouble than it’s worth is too big to ignore. So these can probably be ruled out immediately.  

Other potential bargains, like obscure brands, should be checked – for example, you need to make sure there are dealers and mechanics nearby who can help you look after it. If it’s currently being sold and there’s at least one dealer nearby, then that’s an indication that finding spares and getting repairs won’t be a gigantic hassle.

Once you’ve found something, the next stage is inspecting it in person. Things to look out for include scrapes on the bodywork, or on the ends of the handlebars or exhaust. This could indicate that it’s been involved in a crash at some point and may mean there are bigger problems with it, that you’d only find out about when you have taken the plunge and decided to buy a moped or scooter. 

Next to check is the forks. First, bounce them up and down and make sure they don’t leave oil rings on the shiny parts – if they do, it means the fork seals need replacing. If there are any holes rusted into the forks they will need to be replaced.

After that, roll the bike forwards a couple of times applying the front and then the rear brakes. You’re checking to make sure there’s no grinding noises here, which could mean the drum needs cleaning or that the brake shoes need replacing. Follow this up by turning the handlebars. It should be a smooth, silent motion. If it’s not then the bearings are suspect. Another bad sign and good reason not to buy a moped.

Check the tyres are in good condition, with a tread of at least 1mm. At least tyres are relatively easy to replace, so by itself a duff one is not a dealbreaker.

If it passes these tests, then you can ask the seller to start the bike for you. Listen for knocking and thumping sounds as the engine idles, as it’s a big sign that the engine is knackered.

Assuming it’s not, then the next thing to do is give it a test ride.

buy a moped

How to buy a moped: Papers, please

If you decide to buy a moped or scooter the seller should provide you with the V5 logbook, and an MOT certificate if the bike is more than three years old. Check the frame and engine numbers to make sure what’s in the log book matches, and that the name and address in it are accurate. Genuine log books have a watermark, which you can see by holding it up to the light.

Before you buy a moped or scooter you should also check the bike’s MOT test history and its current MOT test status. If everything checks out, you then just need to decide whether you want to buy it.

One of the advantages of buying a second hand bike is that in some circumstances it can lower your insurance payments, as well as costing less than new. There’s plenty of other expenses you’ll need to cover, including passing the Compulsory Basic Training course, getting your licence, along with road tax, and not forgetting protective gear and accessories like toolkits for minor repairs.

That all adds up, but Bikesure will help you keep the overheads down with a competitive insurance quote that won’t compromise on quality. Bikesure’s best prices are usually available over the phone so call 0330 123 1028 or request a free call back at a time that suits you. 

Picking your first moped

Insurance, Motorbikes, Scooters