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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys and gals. I'm a new rider (I don't even have a license yet but am planning on attending an MSF course in the near-future). I've heard nothing but spectacular things about the Vulcan 750 and decided to get one as a first bike. Since this is my first bike, I'm not sure of what to look out for. I've found a '97 in my area for a good price that I'm going to check out soon but would like to go in with some questions to ask so that I don't end up getting a troublesome bike.

Basically, can any one give me a list of questions to ask and things to check out? Also, any other general first-time buyer advice would be wildly appreciated! :notworthy

Thanks in advance. :motorcycl
 

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HAWK
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1. When was the last time the Splines were checked and lubed.
2. has the Stator ever been replaced and if so how long ago.
3. What type of Batt is in the bike(you want a Maint Free).
4. any Modifications done to the bike.
5. General maintinance log.
6. Age of tires.

That is a couple I would ask.
 

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Ask about damage history. When I was searching the internet for a bike I found several with salvage titles. ??? Was this from a wreck or perhaps a hurricane? I would also ask, if not the original owner, if the bike has ever been owned by a young man. Nothing bad about young men, used to be one myself, but they tend to be harder on bikes then us old farts.
 

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I also would like to commend you on a very fine choice in motorcycles. I absolutely love my 750. All the power I need in a package that is light and extremely easy to maneuver. I could go on and on. Again congrats.
 

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and if the guy is clueless to what a stator is or a spline or sees no need for a maintance free battery, look elsewhere for another vn750. chances are he barely took care of it, if he has no clue to what those parts are.

ride safe, J
 

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One small point I suggest you flush out in the conversation is whether the bike has been standing awhile un-ridden. It may be that the owner is old or doesn't ride any more, or has lost interest, or whatever. It isn't a bad thing, but you will have to be very wary of getting on it and riding it home any great distance. Things kind of congeal with lack of use - make sure it gets a full service first before you trust it.
 

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and the Adventure Cycle
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HERE is a post from the Vulcan Verses on things to look for when buying used.
 

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Drive less, ride more...
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No vomit on my bike, please.....!

Chad above recommended a maintenance-free (sealed) battery.

Here's (partly) why.

A regular battery (i.e., with several caps for adding water) will sometimes burp up its some of its liquid contents, spilling acidic fluids beneath.

So you want to do a visual inspection on the electricals and the frame below the seat, and look for signs of this kind of spill. You'll see a rust pattern in the shape/direction that fluid would normally run anyway, or maybe a white powdery/chalky residue under the battery somewhere.

Also, look for signs of corrosion/acid damage on the electricals/wiring under the battery (in the area of the regulator/rectifier).

A real spill like this can spell trouble for you later on.

Before learning about what a great find the VN750 is, I once walked away from an otherwise very nice used Honda Shadow for the above reason.

If you don't see signs of this sort, install a maintenance-free battery when you get a bike, if it doesn't already have one.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks alot for all the words of wisdom. I'll be sure to go over all the points suggested here.

I can't wait to get riding one of these beasts.
 

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Obviously, we owners and members of vn750.com expect our bikes to be taken care of and we are lucky enough to have found this forum, so we have knowledge that most non forum members won’t have. If you expect that a bike from a non forum member has been taken care of to any high degree, you will probably be disappointed. Most dealerships don’t even know about the spline lube issue, or that lubing the rear spline is part of the periodic maintenance schedule, or the need for an MF battery. Some even recommend a wet cell! So you’ll want to approach a used, non forum member owned bike with these things in mind.

I highly recommend taking off the seat and visually inspecting the battery compartment and surrounding area for corrosion. I’d also take a volt meter with me and test the battery and charging system. You should see around 12.5 volts on a battery with everything turned off. At idle, is should be at around 12 volts. Rev the engine to around 4000 rpms and it should jump to 13.5 volts or higher across the battery. If this all tests out, the charging system is probably in good shape.

It’s much harder to find out how the rear splines are doing. If the guy wants to sell the bike, he might not object to helping you pull the rear end to check them out. Suggest that you take photos so that if you didn’t buy it, the next guy can see that they are in good shape. Print out my procedure and take it with you. It takes about 2 hours but I wouldn’t buy one without knowing, unless it was an unbelievable deal for the money. (just my opinion) I know this is a stretch, but once you’ve been through a bad spline experience, your priorities get realigned.

Anyway, what everyone above mentioned for you to check is right on the money. I just wanted you to understand that a lot of this stuff will bring a “huh?” reaction from the seller, unless they happen to be in the “knowledgeable minority”.
 

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The above are all excellent points. I was just looking at a '93 in my area that was going for cheap ($1500 - low miles), and figured a couple of things into that: first, assuming the bike was well-maintained, then $1500 would be an awesome deal. I've come to assume - per Fergy's post - that most people don't know what a spline is, so at 10K miles...what can I expect the wear on the splines to be? Probably not too, too bad, but if I don't check 'em, what'll it cost me (via eBay) to replace 'em? Do I feel like doing that? In this case, given the low initial cost, it'd be worth it; if you're looking at a bike that's at average or high retail, though, you might think about those "hidden" expenses that can crop up (and add up, quickly).

So, kinda figure your costs on worst-case/best-case scenario, and see if the former is still affordable. There appear to be a lot of these bikes on the market right now (guess folks are jumping to the 900), so don't fret too much if you pass on something that looks iffy. Another one will come along.
 

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Drive less, ride more...
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Note, too....that keeping shaft drive splines properly lubed is required maintenance on ANY shaft drive motorcycle (e.g., Gold Wing, FJR, Shadow, etc)....and not just on our VN750.

You can read up on the proper grease to use for this, and more info, by clicking the following link (and then scrolling down to the part labelled, "spline lubricants"):

http://motorcycleinfo.calsci.com/Shaft.html#Grease

Obviously, general purpose grease is not sufficient for keeping driveshaft splines properly lubed.

Although the VN750 is a very good bike for beginners (and beyond!), be sure to treat it with respect, since it is a fast bike, especially for its size.

To prep for riding in traffic--and also for the MSF class (don't fail to take this beginner class!)--you would do yourself mega-proud to practice the riding exercises (in a vacant parking lot) that are described beginning in the following link:

http://motorcycleinfo.calsci.com/MotorcycleIntro3.html#Practice

Good luck!!!........:D
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Alrighty. I asked the owner of the 97 the following questions:

1. When was the last time the splines were checked and lubed?
2. Has the stator ever been replaced and, if so, how long ago?
3. What type of battery is in the bike? Is it maintenance-free?
4. Have any modifications been done to the bike?
5. Do you have any kind of maintenance log?
6. How old are the tires and how much tread would you say is left? Also, how much padding is left on the brakes?
7. Was the bike ever dropped or damaged in any way?
8. Are you the original owner?

He said he didn't know that answer to any of the questions other than the fact that he knew the bike was not dropped.

Assuming the splines have not been lubed, what kind of damage could be expected from a bike with 16,000 miles on it? Also, what would it cost to replace the splines? I really like this bike, so if it's not something too expensive I may just foot the bill for it.
 

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John, the 97 is before the "sleeping spine lube guy" era at the factory. It probably has some factory lube on them. With 16k miles, if it had some lube, you are probably OK. Of course, you'd want to get in there and check/lube them asap with some Moly 60, but I'll bet you are ok. If you had to replace the final drive and drive shaft coupling, it could be anywhere from $100 to $300 depending on what kind of deal you found for the parts. I'm always watching for them on Ebay and usually they go for between $100-$200. It's not too bad. It's also not a big deal to replace them. It's in my procedure, as I have replaced mine. I actually have a spare final drive that has good teeth, but it has a leaky seal. It slings gear oil while you ride, which isn't enough to get low on gear oil, but just enough to make your back wheel get black and streaky. I'd let it go real cheap, but who ever bought it would want to replace that seal before installing it, and they'd still need the drive shaft coupling, which I think new are around $60.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Sounds good. Thanks for the very informative replies and helping out a newbie. :notworthy

Assuming everything else it OK with the bike (battery wise, etc), I'll pick it up and check the splines before I do any riding other than getting it home.

Once again, thanks alot.

EDIT: He's asking $2600. I would negotiate anyway but how much room do you think I have with the "I dont know" factor considered?
 

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8. Are you the original owner?

He said he didn't know that answer to any of the questions other than the fact that he knew the bike was not dropped.

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Ha ha...does he know if he's the original owner?? :D $2600 isn't bad, really, but DEFINITELY check the charging system. A bad stator won't cost you a lot of money, but it will cost you a lot of time that would be better spent riding.

Actually...let me add this: when was the bike last inspected? That'll give you answers to some of the questions about tire tread, brake pad wear, etc. I know when selling a car, the vehicle's more likely to sell if it's been inspected just prior to being put on the block. You might see how willing he is to have the bike inspected - if it passes, you can add the $75-$100 for inspection to your cost (since you'd have to have it done anyway). And if it fails, then he needs to do some work anyway to get the bike ready to roll.
 

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Unfortunately Cindy, everyone, inspection in Jersey is a joke. I just took mine for it's first inspection in April. He came out of his air cond office. Had me turn on the left blinky, right blinky, hit both brakes, horn. Slapped on a sticker and said see ya later !
In some states, inspection could be a joke and not very reliable.
 
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