Friday, December 19, 2008

Used Motorcycle Selling Tips

It's no secret that there's a lot of used bikes for sale out there right now. When the economy dips, it's always going to be time to "thin the herd" as they say. In some cases it may be time to butcher the whole pack and start afresh in the future.

Over the course of my own short life, I've sold ohh I'd have to say 50 or so used motorcycles of all types. Street, Vintage, Racebike, Off-Road, Exotic.

Here's some used bike selling tips from an insider's perspective.

The first thing I always tell people is to re-install any OEM stuff you still have for the bike. Get rid of all the aftermarket goodies you had on it and hide them in your garage.

If you're like me, you can't leave anything well enough alone when it comes to motorcycles and so you've invested hundreds or thousands of dollars in aftermarket stuff. Exhaust, billet stuff, levers, seats, whatever. You need to remove all that and put back on all the heavy, ugly stock stuff that you replaced. Hopefully you still have it!

The reason for this is that prospective buyers for your motorcycle won't usually consider the value of all those aftermarket goodies you put into it. Well, they won't tell you so at least. Those are "freebies". Also, having them on the bike could even been as a shortfall. A lot of people don't want to know that you've messed with things on the bike.

You'll want to sell all the aftermarket stuff separately, probably on Ebay. Same story with these parts. Always have a photo. If you don't sell this aftermarket stuff, more than likely the next owner of the bike will!

Also, if you're getting out of the activity entirely, unless you just don't care, don't include the junk helmet or other gear that you want to part with too. People will buy that stuff on Ebay or Craigslist. If anything, it will pay for a night out for dinner.

Venues for selling the bike itself. The online sites (Craigslist, Ebay, discussion forums) are the best places to sell a used bike. I can't stand Ebay usually, too darn expensive and the buyers are rarely local. Craigslist and the dedicated forum for your kind of bike are the best places to sell it.

Always include a photo with your listing. If you don't include a photo in your listing you reduce the chances of selling your bike ten fold. It may not sell at all without a photo. Plus, you'll also invariably end getting up getting nothing but "got a photo?" emails and calls anyway. The more photos the better. And GOOD photos. Your buyer doesn't want to see your cute little 3 year old son standing on or in front of your bike. Take the bike to a bright clearing and take a full 360 of the bike and use big photos. Your buyers will be staying up late at night staring at these for days as they struggle with why and why not they should buy your bike.

Clean the bike and don't ride it as you are selling it. Clean the thing like hell. Clean the rims, clean all the dead bugs off and clean the chain.

If it's an older bike you can do a lot with a little to improve the bike cosmetically before a sale. Get new grips for the bike. Replace any nicked or broken levers. Tighten down any mirror bolts. Repair any rips in the seat. Make sure the electrics work. If you have a Ducati SS, it's ok for the fuel guage light to be always stuck in the on.

Be honest about the bike's history. Has it been down? Did you tip it over in your garage? Did your wife throw it out on to the street one night? Tell the whole story.

NO TEST RIDES. This is a touchy issue. If the buyer insists on a test ride, politely explain that it's just not in the cards. You're there to sell a bike. You're not there to give free rides to complete strangers, as they figure out whether or not they will actually like owning the motorcycle you are trying to sell in 3 months time. Warrant to them that there are no problems with the motorcycle, or if there are explain in full detail what they are and find out how much they would cost to fix. What you don't want to do is have guys come see your bike, take it out for a half an hour and tell you that your bike isn't for them. Test riding a bike for 10 minutes isn't going to give a prospective owner a full feel of the bike and as long as the thing starts, runs and stops, it's going to take a lot more than a test ride to find out if anything else is wrong with it.

Let the buyer sit on the bike, start the bike, rev the bike. I've never done it but if the bike will handle it, ride with the guy two-up even.

Accept cash only.

A great time to sell a motorcycle is the spring time. A bad time to sell a motorcycle is the winter time.

When showing a bike, make sure the darn thing actually starts. Make sure it has a fresh charge on the battery and that the gas is fresh. If it helps, take it for a little spin an hour before you show it.

Is it wise to only try to sell the bike locally? Start locally but think globally too. Shipping a bike is easier than you think and there are a number of companies who make it as easy as shipping a small box. The transaction could take longer, but at least you don't have to deal a local buyer and tire kicking.

Always sell the bike "as is". Be up front about any issues with the bike, the bike's mileage, etc. But if in a week's time after the bike is sold, the buyer comes to you about a broken chain or some internal issue, it's not your problem any more. The bike is sold.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice! Just used it to sell my bike, and everything went as well as it could have. Thanks.