On one side, I wouldn't hand thousands to a total stranger in order to take a test drive even if I had witnesses to the event. On the other side, how are you going to know if the Financial Responsibility Card you've been shown is for insurance that hasn't been canceled? A new rider or someone between bikes probably isn't going to have MC insurance. I'm pretty sure that my auto insurance doesn't cover me what-so-ever on my, or anyone else's, bike. I believe it' got to be separate. Furthermore, how are you going to know if the insurance is minimum liability or liability and collision? If the rider is under-insured for any damage or personal injury to themselves and/or to others, There's a possibility that you'd end up being responsible for the deficit amount that your combined insurances wouldn't cover.
I think you're going to find that a lot of your pb's are not going to even have current liability, almost none are going to be willing to hand you the purchase price in cash, and very few are going to be willing to write you a large check to hold prior to the deal's close.
I didn't even ask to test drive my 650. I saw it's condition, the odometer reading, heard it run, and handed the owner a check. I was the first one to look at it, and I could actually feel the owner(s)' apprehension on the issue hanging in the air. I'm a dead-on judge of character, and I didn't need a test drive. It was a "you had to be there" situation.
Thinking back, having driven nothing but a Honda CM250 Custom in 33 years, I didn't want to drive the much larger bike until I could get it on my country road at a time of day when the road would be empty. There are a few of us that have that sense of responsibility, but don't expect it from all of your pbs.
In fact, when I sold the Honda CM250 two weeks later, I knew the guy who wanted it. However, he'd just passed his test, so I went out behind him on the 650. Going out a mile or two was fine. Coming back, I watched the guy run away from me, reaching 55+ mph on our country road that was still damp from the previous day's rain. I maintained 40 mph and was not pleased. I just shook my head, he kept it upright, and I guess everything worked out.
My advice is to choose the biggest empty parking area you can find and offer it or nothing. Ask for proof of insurance even in the parking area, but don't expect many to have it. You can also ask for the purchase price, but be prepared to hold a much smaller depo against potential damage. Most of all, make your terms crystal clear when setting up appointments. I'm looking at it this way: If the pb wants to open that particular model up and go through all the gears, there's got to be a dealer somewhere with the same or similar model. Dealers are usually well insured. I had a very small business and it was surprisingly inexpensive to carry a million-dollar liability policy.
Way back when the Gold Wing first came out, I, a long-haired leaping gnome at the time, was in the next town, on foot, with a couple of hours to kill. I decided to spend some of that time daydreaming at the Honda dealer. Salesman comes up behind me and the brand new Gold Wing and says, "Want to take her for a ride?" "Uh...sure." Didn't even take my ID. Moments later, way down the four-lane... I would have sworn I was going 50, looked down and was going 85. The thing was smoother than any car I'd ever been in and, as far as acceleration, seemed just shy of the nitrous-oxide boosted vehicle I had ridden in. Ah, but those days are long gone. The world's changed a bit. Anyway...
I'm a back-roads type of guy, so I'm hoping that I'll be as happy with my little pony as I am now. It'd be nice to have a 6th gear for a few interstate runs, but I'll just have to deal with the rev on those occasions. Everyone I've seen comment on the 650 says that it'll run 70 mph all day, every day, with no ill effect.
Best of luck with it. Let us know how things go.
Last edited by 650vstar2003; 01-25-2012 at 01:05 AM.