Not everyone can afford a new bike. And getting a second bike becomes a better idea when you go used. But what do you look for when you’re looking at a ride someone else has called their own? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Compare – look at other models in the same year and see what kind of shape they’re in to get an idea of what to expect and look for.

Mileage – lower is better, but not if the bike’s been sitting unridden for five years. That means the basics like gas, oil and tires could be bad and the uncirculated, aging fluids may have already started causing problems.

Footpegs – check for scrapes. We’ll lean in to the twisties with the best of them, but well-worn edges mean the bike has been ridden hard. Keep looking or take your chances. (See mileage!)

Tires – flat in the center means lots of freeway riding. Clean to edge mean some hard riding (see Footpegs!). And if the tires are new, you just saved yourself a few Benjamins.

Oil – pull that dipstick and check it out. How clean is the oil? Is it full? If it’s sludgey looking and low, keep looking.

Maintenance Records – even if the current or previous owner did the work himself, they should have done themselves and future owners a favor by keeping track.

Missing or Damaged Parts – owners of damaged bikes rarely discount the bike for what it will really cost to replace what’s broken or missing. Get your own estimate if you’re that intent on buying that bike.

Paperwork and Registration – Bikes that have been out of the DMV system for any length of time are going to present you with more hassles than the bike is probably worth. Unless you like dealing with government agencies and the poor saps who work for them, keep looking!

Thanks to The Total Motorcycling Manual once again. Our go-to for info on essential skills and tips.