I don't understand some things.
How did you get plates for a motorcycle if it had not been paid for and signed over to your name?
First, I'm not in your state, or even your country. I'm in Canada. Your rules may be different there, but here in Ontario (Canada) once the ownership is signed and the bike is certified as safe/fit, and you have insurance coverage, one can temporarily use the plates from an old motorcycle (in our case, the plates from my wife's existing Vstar 650) to get the bike on the road.
So, lets not worry about the technicalities about *how* I was legal to do the test ride. I was.
Replacing the clutch is not a big deal, its a standard maintenance function on a motorcycle.
How many miles does the bike have on the odo? A clutch can last the life of the bike - if the mileage is low and the clutch is worn out already, then the previous owner beat the life out of the bike.
55,000KM, or 35,000 miles. Obviously I don't know the history of the bike beyond what the seller told me, although he's only the second owner. Doubt it was beat on, the bike is in too good of shape, so I suspect that one of the two previous owners simply slipped it a lot while sitting at lights, or while launching - IE, premature/excessive wear by rider error.
It is what it is, and there's nothing I can do about it, but we agreed on a fairly top-dollar price for the bike to begin with (again, since it's what my wife wanted) but I was not willing to take delivery of it with a fairly serious mechanical issue once that came out of the woodwork.
On the topic of the previous owner knowing there was an issue or not, I don't know. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt as he seemed like an honest guy...and yes, if you rode it gently, it didn't slip..but It was the first thing I checked, intentionally rolling onto the power fairly aggressively..and the slip was immediately evident. Maybe he didn't know what a slip felt like. Who knows. Again, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, and he was willing to walk away from the sale (having given me the bank draft back and offering to return the deposit) but I said we'd get the shop to look at it before 100% calling things off. If the shop says it's a <$500 fix and he's willing to pay that, we'll still buy the bike. If it's a bigger issue, or he's not willing to fix the clutch, we have no deal unfortunately.
All things said, a little slip or a lot of slip, I'm not buying the bike like that, and yes, although I could do the work myself, I would not have paid what we agreed on for the bike if I knew the first thing I was going to have to do is start wrenching on it.