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4. Brakes

Squeeze the brakes and check their firmness. Mushy is bad and can indicate poor maintenance or even a worn-out master cylinder. Ka-ching! A quick look will tell you if there is any brake pad left, but you'll also want to check the overall system. Grab the caliper, especially the rear, and check for any side-to-side play. A bit is normal, but a lot can be dangerous; it may require replacing the sleeves or, in the worst case, buying a complete caliper. Also, check the rotors for straightness by spinning the wheel while holding something (a key will do) on top of the swingarm or on the front of the fork leg to see if the rotor is bent. Additionally, an extremely worn rotor is a sign of heavy use and can be a precursor to other, more-significant wear and tear on the bike.

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