This is something I stole off another forum from some Las Vegas sport bike enthusiast club. They can sue me if I infringe the posters copyrights.......hope it helps.
http://www.ducati.ms/forums/showthread.php?t=26729 - this one might really help you.
Do your research
Before you put any motorcycle through its paces, read magazine articles, website reviews and visit online enthusiast discussion forums to glean information about that modelís idiosyncrasies. For example, a BMW boxer drains the lifters when itís shut off, so it may make quite a racket when it starts up. If you didnít know that beforehand, you could walk away from a perfectly fine motorcycle.
Match the VINs
The VIN on the frame should match the VIN on the engine, and both should match the VIN on the title. If thereís a discrepancy, there should be a very good reason. If not, walk away.
Check the VIN
Call it into your insurance company for a real rate quote. Call it into the manufacturer for any recall info. And, if possible, call it into state authorities, to see if it has been reported stolen.
Check the maintenance records
Sure, these can be fudged, but when you buy a used motorcycle, you have to accept that you must rely on some level of trust. If these donít exist, ask for a verbal account of maintenance history.
Examine tire wear
Look for cupping and make sure there's at least 1/16 of an inch of tread. Check the tire pressure while youíre down there. Improperly inflated tires may hint at lazy maintenance habits elsewhere.
Test for excessive bearing play
Ask the seller to put the bike up on the centerstand. Gently tug on the fork tubes front to back, feeling for play in the steering head. Also feel for movement in the front and rear wheels and side-to-side action in the swingarm. Basically, any play is bad and a safety hazard.
Check the steering head lock
Does it work? Use the key and find out for yourself, but just as important, look for any signs of damage or excessive wear. Has it been replaced or repaired? If so, the bike may have been stolen at one time.
Examine the air filter
It should be clean and properly installed. Consider a zero-tolerance policy. Dirt in the engine is a very bad thing. Also, is the airbox intact? Extra holes (punchouts) could be fine (as long as they are outside the filter), but ask the seller why they were performed.
Check all fluid levels
Discolored brake fluid, low coolant levels and dirty (or gray) oil are all bad signs. Donít forget that some bikes have separate crankcase and transmission oilóand two dipsticks.
Perform a visual once-over
Look for any obvious mechanical issuesóloose or missing fasteners, fluid leaks, pitting in fork tubes, rust in the fuel tank, cable continuity, chain play, sprocket condition, cracked wiring insulation, etc.
Perform another visual once-over
This time, focus on cosmetics with an eye toward identifying crash signs. Look for inconsistencies in paint shade or texture. Cracks in plastic or fiberglass may be invisible from the outside but obvious from the inside. Use a flashlight and check all the cracks and crevices. Examine footpegs and sidecases for scrapes. Do the control levers appear extra shiny? Ask why and when they were replaced.
Operate all controls
Test the brakes, operate the clutch and take note of sufficient play, shift gears, flip the turn signals, beep the horn, etc. If a test ride is not allowed, then put the bike on the centerstand and do a "dry run."
If the seller isnít hip to a test ride, donít get too discouraged. Many motorcycles have gone out for test rides and have not come back. But, by all means, start the bike. Put at least four of your senses to work: listen for odd noises, look for smoke, smell for burnt oil or coolant, feel for heavy vibrations. Throttle response should be crisp off idle and significantly more smoke should not accompany more throttle.
Get out the toolbox
At the least, check air pressures (tires, and forks and shocks, if applicable). If youíre so equipped and mechanically able, test the resistance of the electrics with a multimeter, brake disc thickness with a micrometer, and cylinder compression with a compression tester.
Are extras included?
Extras you want can make the deal sweeter. If the bike has aftermarket parts you don't want, see if the owner will take them off and lower the price. Ask for any stock equipment that was replaced with aftermarket parts. And donít forget the tool kit.
ďIs this the bike I want?Ē
Often, what looks great in photographs and sounds great in website reviews, falls flat in person. Even if the bike itself is sound, if the model didnít stand up to its lofty rep, go back to the drawing board. This is your last chance.
Donít just meet the asking price without trying to get a better deal. Every item you found wrong is a negotiating point. You may get nowhere, but you might save a few hundred bucks, too. And never forget the power of these seven words: ďIs that the best you can do?íĒ
This used-bike buying checklist is courtesy of the American Motorcyclist Association. The AMA is a nationwide organization with more than 280,000 members. The AMA is all about rights, riding, racing.
Other comments from used motorcycle buyers:
Check the NADA.com or KBB value of the bike before you buy. Whatever the "low" value is for the bike is usually what should be offered unless the bike has not been ridden at all and is in absolute pristine condition.
Look at other bikes in your price range. The first bike may not be the best one to choose
CAREFULLY check the title. No title = walk away. Be sure the miles match up from the title to the bike. Be sure to properly sign the title if buying (only sign the buyer's part, do not touch the dealer or lienholder part. If the seller is not honest about the title or it "smells fishy" walk away, no matter how good the deal sounds.
There was also mention of checking the forks and fairings for spidering, and checking the shocks for compression loss- especially on sportbikes.
Ducati's are sweet ass bikes. Good luck and I hope you find what you are looking for.