For example, even if you pay $500 for a standard bike from the early 90s, fluids for it are just as expensive as they are for a one-year-old motorcycle. The same goes for brake pads or tires, by the way.
Oh, and if you neglect brake pads, go and check how much does a brake disc cost. Most bikes have at least two, but many models have three brake discs.
The second thing you need to remember is that tires are even more important on a motorcycle than they are on a vehicle. While having old or otherwise worn tires on an automobile is extremely dangerous and can increase the risk of a crash, it does not mean that you risk falling out of your vehicle if you hit the brakes too hard.
Moreover, motorcycles require specific maintenance, just like automobiles do, and ignoring this will cause a perceptible difference in handling and road behavior.
For example, motorcycle forks need to be serviced regularly, every two years or so—depending on the bike. Most used bikes out there probably require changing the oil in the forks and making sure that their seals have not gone bad.
Why is this indispensable? Well, if your front suspension is not as good as it is supposed to be, the bike will tend to lean forward more than it should under braking, as well as have unpredictable or outright dangerous behavior when encountering bumps.
As a general idea, if the fluid does not move when you wiggle the handlebar, or if it behaves like jelly, cannot be seen, or has a dark color, its replacement is long overdue. Your best bet would be to walk away from that motorcycle if you cannot change it the day you buy the bike, as its maintenance was neglected, and it may be a safety hazard.
The biggest risk for new riders is that they assume that the used bikes that they acquire are in perfect running condition, which is rarely the case, especially with old motorcycles offered at a low price.
As Canyon Chasers advises, it is safer for you to assume that none of the fluids have been changed, and the regular service on the bike has been neglected entirely.
Be sure to budget for every one of those items before buying a bike. You can find bike parts online on numerous websites, and we suggest making a list of must-have items for each bike before even scheduling a meeting with the seller.
Look for a new air filter, spark plugs, brake fluid, oil, fork oil, fork seals, tires, and even brake pads. Factor in the cost of all those items as minimum maintenance, and then add the price of a chain and sprocket kit, plus labor.
As you will see, most cheap bikes will no longer be cheap once you make that list. On the other hand, you would feel stupid if you paid $3,000 for a used motorcycle and crashed it because you skimped out on a set of new tires for it. Watch the video below for more tips on the matter.