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22nd December 2003


Top 10 Tips For Buying An Old British Bike

After an entire lifetime of buying and riding classic British bikes, Frank Westworth really should know his onions. We asked him to condense 33 years of experience into something slightly less murky than onion soup…

1. Be sure you know what you're buying. No 30 year-old bike is going to behave like a new Honda.

2. Be sure you know why you're buying it! A Norton Commando is a fine commuter bike, but it's going to need more looking after than that new Honda.

3. Join the appropriate owners' club before you buy that old Brit. They always have expert knowledge, and can warn you of the unobtainable bits and imminent disasters.

4. Go see as many examples of your chosen steed as possible. Ride as many as possible. Do not worry about being a time-waster. Better waste their time than your money.

5. Look at the old MoTs. If there's little mileage between them it's likely that the bike is ready to fail due to neglect.

6. Look at the old MoTs. If there's a vast mileage between them it's likely that the bike is ready to fail due to being worn out.

7. Check out the owner. Does he look a) honest, b) enthusiastic, c) mechanically sympathetic? A Clue: if he has lots of other old Brits then he's an enthusiast.

8. Never believe any 'genuine reason for sale'. Folk always sell their bikes because they don't want them any more. There is always a reason for this!

9. Check that all the paperwork is in order, that the bike starts easily, rides well, doesn't pour out vital fluids or belch smoke. If it does either of the latter, move rapidly on...

10. Prepare to be part of an elite. British bikes are wonderful. Official. Other British bike riders all think so. The opinions of others are irrelevant.

11. Always check the paperwork and that the bike is what it claims to be. Remember that correct engine/frame numbers and original registration numbers will help you sell it when you've learned The Awful Truth...

When FW bought these old Brits he followed absolutely none of his own advice. Like you don't!

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