How to Sell a Motorcycle: A Complete Guide
Selling a bike is almost never an easy task. Often times it’s like getting rid of a member of the family, or at least that’s how I think about it. You look back on the rides…nay, the adventures you’d taken on your beloved iron horse, and think “do I really want to part with beautiful piece of machinery?” But the answer is “yes.” Whether it’s because you need the funds for something else or are out of space in the garage, however you got to that answer it still remains the same.
This post isn’t to pull at your heart strings but is instead intended to help you be rid of your motorcycle. So how do you go about selling a motorcycle you ask? Let’s start with the basics:
Take good photos
I hate when I come across a potential buy and the person has one picture of the bike, from a bad angle, taken with the very first phone camera ever. Save yourself from getting a lot of questions and requests for better pics and do this to begin with. Make sure you get EVERY angle/side of the bike and also take pictures of any blemishes that you know could be a deal breaker. If the person has any sense at all they’re going to come look at the bike (and likely want to test ride it) prior to finalizing the sale, so you might as well make yourself look good and show up front you have nothing [else] to hide. This will go a long way with the buyers, and although it might turn a few away showing imperfections, they are probably pains in the ass anyway who are just wasting time kicking tires and don’t want to buy a used bike in the first place if they’re that picky.
List as many details as possible
Similarly to taking good pictures, list out the details. I know that I can be especially long winded, and a lot of that is because I’m proud of the work I’ve done on my bikes, but I still like to shout it from the mountaintops. Most people won’t really care like you do, especially at first, but it never hurts to have a running tally of all the “farkles” you’ve added or a quick mention that it’s had all services completed and a fresh oil change within the last 100 miles. This is one more step in showing that you’ve got nothing to hide and the buyer will be lucky to have your hand-me-down.
Be upfront and honest
I really hope this would go without saying, but to fully round out not hiding things from buyers, just tell them the truth so you don’t get any phone calls or nasty texts down the line when they discover that thing you already knew about. When I sell a bike I like the motor to be cold so that they know it starts right up and I didn’t just spend the last hour before they got there getting it to fire so it would easily crank again when they arrived. I also like to let people know if there is a lot of interest in the bike so that it’s still first come first served, but the sooner they can be on their way the better their chances will be. I’ve learned the hard way not to hold things for people, but you can be clear about that too: “I’m not holding this for anyone as I’ve been burned in the past, and I just want you to know there has been a decent amount of interest blah blah blah…”
Now let’s go through the different outlets and the pros and cons of each:
If you’re going this route then you probably have your eye on the next prize. This isn’t a bad option, it’s quite a simple process since the dealer wants to sell you that new toy and will nearly go to the ends of the earth to get your butt in a new seat. As with buying anything from a dealer though, make sure that you fully understand the price that they’re giving you for your bike AND the costs associated with the new one. The dealer isn’t going to give you “fair” market value on your trade because they too need to make money and also cover their overhead costs. Not to get too far off topic, but if you’re not paying cash for the new bike make sure you understand interest rates and how they are applied to vehicle loans and also the total cost of the motorcycle (including taxes, dealer handling fees, the actual cost of the bike, etc.). Their job is to bring in as much cash as possible and you will pay for the “easy” experience mentioned above; for the next bundle of years if you’re not careful.
This used to be my preferred method of selling motorcycles until CL started charging to list with them for bigger ticket items like cars and bikes. I understand that they too need to turn a profit, especially because they’re an ad-free website, but the expectation has been set by allowing free postings for many many years prior, so why would you want me to pay now? The fee is pretty nominal at $5, but again, it’s more the principle of the matter. On the plus side though, the audience reach is pretty large so it is likely a good way to quickly turn your bike into cash, just make sure to steer clear of weirdos. I personally won’t sell anything to anyone without having at least one conversation with them on the phone first. Although not guaranteed, I feel like I can get a pretty good idea of if a person is going to be a whack job or not just by chatting with them for a few minutes. You can also gauge their level of seriousness and if they’re going to show or ghost you.
Similar to Craigslist, this is a great avenue for selling your bike because of the number of people you can reach, and it seems to be getting more and more popular every day. Also I think it’s a little easier to use compared to CL as the seller, just make sure you have the FB Messenger app installed on your phone as it’s more convenient than being near a computer all day and that is the contact method Facebook uses when people respond to your post(s). As mentioned above, try to do your due diligence when it comes to avoiding internet nut cases and scammers. You will get a good number of “Is this still available” and “Would you take $X” low ball messages but it’s pretty easy to ignore those; I like to just respond politely and concisely just in case they are actually interested. It’s also not worth it to get into a heated IM discussion with anyone since you’re time is probably way more valuable than that. Facebook’s revenue stems from it being an ad based platform, so they’re not [currently] charging to list your belongings which is nice. This is my new preferred method of selling motorcycles.
I personally have never bought or sold anything listed on Cycle Trader, but I will admit, I do use it to do a fair amount to see what’s out there and the going rates across the country. Mostly dealers post here so it’s likely not worth it as an individual to post here, especially since you’re probably looking for a more local sale rather than having someone fly out, etc. which could turn into a huge to-do.
Similar to Craigslist and Facebook, you have to be wary of internet strangers, but the people that frequent the specific forums you go to are likely a little more classy and less likely to come over and murder you. I have posted a few times on AdvRider.com and had some hits but nothing major just because there is a much smaller audience on each specific forum versus a larger outlet that reaches the masses. I’ve also purchased parts and accessories from the forums, and never had a bad experience so I think this is a decent outlet so long as the two wheeler is relevant to the forum. One quick note, sometimes there are different forums for local AND national or worldwide sales so be sure to post in one or both depending on what you’re interested in dealing with.
eBay Motors to me is similar to Cycle Trader in that selling with them is a little more involved, and also you know that eBay is going to take a nice cut of the sale plus the fee to list with them. You do have some more options here though, such as setting a reserve, and the pool of potential buyers is massive. Don’t forget, it’s an online auction site, which comes with its own set of rules so be sure to know what those are and make sure you specifically list things like who is responsible for what between the buyer and seller. Things like shipping, certain costs, etc. For me, eBay is a great place to buy and sell smaller items such as parts and accessories, and less an outlet for selling the vehicle although it can absolutely be done here.
This is probably the easiest way to sell a bike because you already know the person you’re selling to or else someone you know knows them. Friend of a friend of a friend’s cousin twice removed. In theory you have exactly what they’re looking for and it’s a quick signing over of the title and away they go. Until literally anything happens with the machine, and then they are on the horn calling you nonstop to get your thoughts on the problem and potentially having you come over to fix it for them. This usually isn’t that big of a deal, especially if you’re close with them, but just be cautious here because mixing business and pleasure can quickly bite you in the ass. You will also be expected to sell your bike to this person at some sort of discounted rate, so if you’re looking to sell and don’t want to take a beating on the price, I’ve found it’s best not to even mention that you’re selling to anyone you know.
No matter how you go about the sale of your bike, make sure to use some common sense:
- Take good photos, list as many details as you can, and be upfront and honest.
- Never deal with people in dark alleyways that are looking to do you harm and help take the bike off your hands for free.
- Show a little respect, the world is already full of shitheads and it’s not worth it to start off a sale/negotiation on the wrong foot.
- Delete or flag your posting after the bike sold, too many people forget to do this.
You never know who you might meet along this journey of a sale, it could turn out to be someone you have a lot in common with (obviously) who turns into a friend, riding buddy, or more! And as they say on the internet, GLWS (good luck with sale)!
Are you finally buying a Harley or Triumph?
Nahhh just a staged pic 👍🏻