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Found this over on MCN..good stuff if/when you're in the market for buying a new (or new to you) ride. :)

Feel free to add your own experiences/tips as well.

How do you avoid buying a bike that's been crashed? It's simple enough if you follow expert buyer Nick Jefferies' checklist:

Bars: Move them to full lock in each direction. If they touch the tank the steering lock-stops have been broken. Look for touch up paint on the tank where the bars hit.

Gaps: Compare the relationship between the handlebars and fairing on both sides. Badly unequal? Walk away.

Mountings: Fairing are often reoplaced after a crash but their mountings rarely are. Check for bends of paint flaking. Fairing panels should fit together cleanly and evenly.

Stickers: Check they line up against each other. In good light look for differences in the shine of panels. Look for manufacturer's warning stickers next to the filler cap on top of the petrol tank.

Bends: To see a bent frame, look for gaps between the petrol tank and frame to be equal on both sides. Look for a front wheel that's been bent too close to the bottom of the front fairing. It's a sign of a front-end smash - even when the forks have been replaced.

Frame: On painted frames damage is easily hidden with filler and paint - or aftermarket frame protectors. Walk away from a bike with a damaged headstock.

Seals: Check for leaky fork seals which leave an oily smear and a black ring of oil on the chromed slider. Bounce them a few times; even if it's been cleaned before you got there you'll see evidence.

Exhaust: An end can is easily replaced - so look at the collector box. Big jubilee clips and shoddy welding are signs of a bodge.

Engine: Look at the engine casings. If scratched it's a sign of a light crash. If it's been heavier they will have been replaced - but then the ageing of the metal around the join will be different. On a modern bike leaking oil is your best clue to serious damage.

Receipts: Look for bikes with the owner's handbook, paperwork and receipts. Not many stolen bikes will have all that included.

Bodywork: Replacement bodywork hides a number of sins. Look for non-standard bodywork, custom paintschemes, and polished or re-painted wheels. Ask why they are there - if the owner knows there has been a crash, he is obliged to tell you if you ask.

Nick's final tip: "Damage doesn't necessarily mean a bike's not good - as long as it's being sold for the right money. You ony have problems when a bike has been involved in a big crash and has been tarted up to hide the problem."
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