Bike Buyers Tip: Be careful that you’re not buying a write-off
Bike Buyers is in the business of purchasing motorcycles which then find themselves on the showroom floor of the famous Fire It Up dealership in Fourways, and the number of motorcycles on the Fire It Up floor suggests they are damn good at what they do. Collectively, they have many decades of bike buying experience and will be sharing their knowledge with The Bike Show Website every Monday offering tips, advice, guidance and warnings regarding your bike buying or selling experience. For this week’s tip, we look into how your bike might have been written off without you knowing about it.
In the old days, we used to call them Code 3 motorcycles. The system worked like this – on the motorcycle’s papers, there were three codes: Code 1 meant the bike was new, Code 2 meant the bike was second hand and Code 3 indicated that this motorcycle was in an accident and insurance has written it off.
The procedure for writing off a motorcycle is thus – the insurance does an assessment and declares the motorcycle uneconomical to repair. You, as the owner, then have to go to the department and de-register it. From then, somebody can by the written-off motorcycle and repair it on the cheap, often not to quite the standard it was before the accident. When they re-register this motorcycle, it is called a Code 3.
Except that it isn’t called a Code 3 motorcycle anymore. Now the three categories are: New, Second Hand and Rebuilt. The category “Rebuilt” can be misleading for someone who is used to the Code 3 setup, because it doesn’t explicitly specify that this bike has been crashed, has been written off and has been rebuilt. In fact, bikes that have not been in an accident and have genuinely been rebuilt from various parts are in this category too.
The problem with any bike that says “Rebuilt” on the papers is that banks will certainly not finance it and no insurance company will look at it. This means that the value of this bike is probably half of what it was had it not been crashed.
Here is where the trickery comes in – some people specialise in buying written-off motorcycles and re-selling them. As we said, if it has been written off, the value is probably halved, and so re-sellers try and get around this.
The first method they use is relying on the private buyer not knowing what “Rebuilt” means on the papers, and selling for the full book value. The other method they use is buying the crashed motorcycle and getting hold of the original papers from the previous owner. These papers, of course, do not reflect that this bike has been written off. It’s when you go to register the bike in your name, and an updated set of papers is issued does the word “Rebuilt” appear.
By then, you’ve paid over the money for the motorcycle, and good luck trying to get it back.
The way around this is to find out what to look for on the papers and knowing where it says “Rebuilt”. Also, don’t accept papers that are not in the seller’s name. If the name is different, insist on receiving an updated set of papers or speaking to the previous owners.