If you’re not clued up mechanically, bring along a mate who is to check the bike over. And make sure you have full contact details of the owner and that the bike matches the log book so you can get some comeback.
And so the search for the perfect bike for less than £1,500 begins with deciding what you want it for.
Most people search out cheap bikes for commuting. You don’t need big engines to tear about town; up to 600cc is plenty, and it cuts down on bulk and weight to help you scythe through traffic. Anything below 600cc also falls in the lower tax category.
In fact, a 125cc is plenty for crossing big cities, and you can find some much newer models for our price bracket too.
Depending on the style you like, you could go for a regular in the UK’s best-selling charts, Honda’s CBR125 (2006 model, £1,394, 5,000 miles for example).
- A Suzuki Van Van’s good value too. I found a 2008 model, low mileage for £1,400 and also spotted a 2009 Yamaha YBR125 at £1,200.
- But if more power’s your thing, Chinese manufacturers are getting better all the time at producing decent quality replicas of their Japanese counterparts.
A good example is Hyosung with its even cheaper Comet GT 650 replica of the already cheap Suzuki SV650 (2006, 24,000 miles, £1,499). Or you could get your hands on an early SV650, always a favourite with commuters (2001, 1,299, 29,000 miles).
If you want a big and meaty performance bike to impress your mates with or to take to the drag strip, then you can get a Yamaha V-Max for the money. I saw one advertised fot £1,250 and this is an icon bike that now costs £20,000 new.
For outrageous top speeds then search for a Kawasaki ZZR1100 – the fastest production motorcycle in its day. The first models are easily found for our budget – and that means 180mph for less than £1,500.
Of course, you could buy a bike for less than £1,500 that you intend restoring. Investing in a future classic is a winner – Yamaha’s FS1E, a mere moped, now sells for more than £3,000.
An early model Fireblade is always a good option, although those first-ever 1998 Yamaha YZF-R1s will soon be venturing into classic superbike territory too.
These are bikes that revolutionised production bikes in some form or other, for instance the Fireblade by suddenly making lightweight chassis an important performance enhancer.
In short, nostalgia is big business, so unless you’re still a teenager, anything that brings you back to your youth is a good bet.
Who said you need to spend thousands to enjoy motorcycling?