Motorcycles inspire feelings of nostalgia, sentimentality and freedom from the restrictions of a normal life. The decision to sell a motorcycle is a hard one, but sometimes it’s necessary to take that next step. If you’re going to part with your favorite machine, make sure you get a fair price for it. Here’s how to sell a motorcycle for as much money as you can get for it.
10 Tips on Selling a Motorcycle
1) Know your vehicle
If a buyer knows more about your motorcycle than you do he or she is at a big advantage. Even worse, your buyer will start to doubt your credibility on the maintenance of the vehicle. By being able to communicate the attributes of the motorcycle, along with sharing first hand experience with it, a seller can clearly explain the benefits of his/her motorcycle and make them easy to understand.
2) Be prepared
Have all your documentation ready, examples include:
- Ownership – the legal document with your name and the motorcycles VIN #.
- Used Vehicle Information Package – this is a document in Ontario which has information such as the list of previous owners, title status of the vehicle (clean, salvage, write-off), and more. This document will change names based on the state or province.
- Bill of Sale – samples can be found online, but at a minimum the bill of sale should clearly state the date, the VIN#, the purchase price, the name of the buyer and seller, and their signatures.
- Safety Certification – Vehicles can be sold either in “as-is” condition, or certified by a mechanic. Generally a certified vehicle can be insured and then plated immediately, but a vehicle sold “as-is” must be certified before it can legally be put on the road.
- Certified vehicles also inspire more confidence in shoppers, as your bike will have to be inspected by a professional in order to get certified. Thus, vehicles being sold certified can often sell for a bit more than those sold as-is.
- Past History – Whether you’ve maintained your motorcycle at a dealership, garage, or yourself, you should have some receipts for service and parts. These will prove to your buyer that your motorcycle has been as carefully maintained as you say it has.
- Various miscellaneous – Extra keys, owner’s manual, spare parts, service manual, etc.
3) Sell to everyone, but be selective with who gets to a test ride
List your bike in every form of free classified you can. Kijiji, Craigslist, Trader, local niche sites, get your motorcycle listed everywhere. Want to reach an even wider audience? Bring your bike to a local motorcycle meet and throw a “FOR SALE” sign on the seat.
When it comes to test rides, use a “test rides only with cash in hand” policy. If a rider wants to test ride your bike, let them, but hold on to a sum of cash that you agree on, and will return when they bring back the bike undamaged.
4) Be flexible
Not everyone can have cash available on short notice. If it makes the difference between having or losing a sale, I will take a cash deposit, on agreement that the buyer will pay out the remainder by a set date. You can also have them receive a partial payment receipt, similar to the Bill of Sale.
The document should contain all of the info previously mentioned under Bill of Sale, plus a mention that they’ve left a non-refundable partial payment for X amount and have Y amount outstanding, with the outstanding balance to be paid on a specific date. This protects both the buyer and the seller, so you should each have a copy.
5) Make an ad that says it all
Share the history, condition, and modifications. Upload at least five pictures. This will save you from having to waste time emailing people more pictures individually. People gravitate towards advertisements loaded with pictures, and they want to really see the bike before going out of their way to see it in person. So paint an accurate picture to sell your motorcycle. The fewer surprises your prospective buyer has when he/she sees your motorcycle in person for the first time, the happier your buyer will be.
6) Your modifications probably hold no value, make peace with that
More often then not, modifications are a sunk cost as soon as you want to sell your motorcycle. Spending thousands of dollars boring out an engine or doing a half dozen dyno runs and custom tuning does not increase your motorcycle’s value at a $1:$1 ratio. To buyers, deviations from stock translate into a potentially less reliable motorcycle. The bike may have a bit too much of the previous owner’s personality for a new buyer’s taste.
Your modifications are great. They’re an expression of you, and of your wants and needs from the machine. But your mods are like a fine custom tailored suit. Unless you find someone with the same taste and size as you, your mods hold no value. Price your motorcycle accordingly.
7) Consider selling extras separately
I spent weeks trying to sell this 2007 Harley-Davidson Sportster. Summer turned to fall and as it began getting colder and colder I knew there was no way I could get $6,000 for my Harley. The bike came with saddlebags, an extra seat, an extra gas tank, a windshield, and other extra parts. I took everything non-essential off of the bike, re-listed it for $5,500, and sold it two days later. Then I sold the extras separately for an extra $800. I ended up ahead of my asking price.
8) Be realistic
You’ll get plenty of low-ball offers. In most cases these offers are out to lunch, offering you pennies on the dollar for what your motorcycle is worth. But it works both ways. Plenty of buyers are completely clueless when it comes to what his/her motorcycle is really worth.
To get a realistic sense of the value of your bike, look up what other motorcycles of the same model and approximate age and mileage are going for in your local classifieds. You can even reach out to other sellers and ask them what kind of offers they’re getting.
9) Identify your buyer’s interests and speak to them
Is your buyer looking to make a logical purchasing decision? If so, talk about the practical features of your motorcycle and its purchase. On the other hand, many motorcycle purchases are impulsive, and buyers’ minds need help justifying what the heart wants. Recognize your buyer’s motivations and make your vehicle relevant to them.
This might also mean leveraging something really different about your bike. If you’ve traveled all over the country or internationally on your motorcycle, and it’s well suited to the task, consider listing your bike for sale on the ADVRider forum. You could also look for niches in your motorcycle types. Examples would be listing an Aprilia for sale on ApriliaForums.com or listing a cafe racer for sale on caferacerforsale.com.
10) Have fun
Above all else, have fun. Make selling your motorcycle an enjoyable experience both for you and for your buyer.
Still not working? Check out these unconventional ways of selling your motorcycle for some less traditional tips.