If you have ever thumbed through the for sale ads or browsed online for a new motorbike, you will probably have seen bikes noted as being Cat B, C or D write offs. If these letters mean nothing to you, perhaps you should read our guide below before you invest in what looks like a bargain, but could be a potential death trap. Here is our definitive guide to Cat B, C and D (N&S) motorcycle write offs.
First off, to understand what we mean by a “write-off” we need to look at why insurers consider some vehicles to be beyond repair.
An insurance write-off is industry jargon for a car or bike that has either sustained so much damage it is unsafe to go back on the road, or it is still safe to drive but is beyond economical repair.
If a bike has been declared as unsafe then instead of being repaired the insurer with pay out cash for the loss.
If the cost of repair is deemed to be “uneconomical” this may be because the value of your car vs the ratio of costs for repair may not be considered economical by your insurer. A vehicle assessor will make a judgement call based on the individual value of your bike and estimated costs associated with the repair.
The assessors use various categories of car insurance write-off to rank the seriousness of accident damage. Up until the 1st October 2017, the four categories used included A, B, C and D, whereby the level of damage would decrease in severity by category, starting from A.
However, recently the salvage code has been updated to move the focus away from the cost of repair and now highlights any structural issues that could affect the safety of the vehicle. The new categories are now A, B, S and N.
The new Cat B is the same as the old Cat B and mean that the body shell should be crushed. It signifies extensive damage, but with some parts that may still be salvageable. A Cat B vehicle should never re-appear on road, although reclaimed parts can be used in other road-going vehicles. The simple fact here is that a Cat B write-off should not ever be offered for sale as a complete motorbike, no matter how many repairs have been undertaken. These are dangerous and should only be sold for parts if they are still fully serviceable.
Now referred to as a Cat S, these vehicles will have suffered structural damage. This could include a bent or twisted chassis. The damage to Cat C vehicle is more than just cosmetic and therefore and bike will need to be professional repaired before it can be safely ridden.
Often Cat C bikes and cars are sold at auction to motor traders and repair garages that can fix the vehicles at trade prices. If the bike has been repaired properly and to a good standard by a reputable garage, there’s no reason that any Cat C vehicle shouldn’t be as safe as a new, undamaged bike.
Now referred to as a Cat N vehicle, there will not have been any sustained structural damage, so the issue may be cosmetic, or a problem with the electrics that isn’t economical to repair.
Cat D vehicles may still not be drivable though, as non-structural faults could include brakes, steering or other safety-created components. Again, the bike will need to be professionally repaired before it can be safely ridden.
Unlike the previous categories, a Cat D bike will have been written off only because it is uneconomical to fix, not because any potential damage was so great it could not be driven again. Therefore, if the repairs are to a high standard there is no reason a Cat D should cause your any mechanical problems in the future.
Whether you chose to purchase a salvaged and repaired bike or not, always see the history of any bike you purchase, and undertake a full HPI check to ensure that you are not riding around on a bike that has suffered from significant damage in the past.