Introduction: How to Sell a Used Motorcycle - Tips & Tricks
Runner Up in the
Wheels Contest 2017
This is an entry in the
Epilog Challenge 9
So that time has finally come around, huh?The times they are a changin' and you need to get rid of your old bike. Either you've outgrown it, you're a new parent, financial difficulties or any other reason. While selling a vehicle isn't difficult per se, there are definitely tips and steps that get forgotten since it isn't something you do frequently. Here I'm going to go over, step by step, my actual experience selling the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS pictured above. Hopefully it helps make the job easier for you when the time comes.
Even if you don't need this now, I'd recommend 'Favoriting' it as a bookmark for future reference. If you own a motorcycle, eventually it'll come in handy and you won't remember where you saw this.
Let me also mention now that this guide is being written as a comprehensive, quasi-definitive manual for the competent motorcyclist who wants to sell their bike for maximum profit (hopefully to fund their next bike). It assumes the bike is in decent condition, well-enough kept, and that you're willing and capable of putting in a small effort to make your bike as attractive (read desireable/valuable) as possible. The goal here is justifying an above average price tag in a reasonable time frame, not a quick sale for rock bottom pricing.
Selling a vehicle is similar in all states, however each specific state has it's own particularities. This guide is written from Florida's perspective. If you live in another state, make sure you check out the specifics of your location.
All information in this article is the writer's subjective, limited opinion. The veracity or actuality of any information herein contained is not guaranteed and should always be verified.
Step 1: Get the Paperwork Ready
Disclaimer:I am not a lawyer, and I have no legal training whatsoever. This is not legal advice. This is simply a random, free post on the internet and you should treat it as such. No claims whatsoever are made regarding the legality or enforceability of any of these documents. I am simply posting what I used should others want to use it as inspiration to write their own documents. I strongly encourage you to rewrite or edit any and all documents to represent and address your particular concerns and needs. If anyone unwisely decides to use these documents, or documents derived from them, it is under their own voluntary, exclusive responsibility. Always consult a lawyer first.
Let's deal with the paperwork aspect first so we can get it out of the way.
You should always consider selling your bike yourself. Keep in mind that, if you "trade-in" your vehicle, any dealership is going to keep anywhere between 10% and 50% of the bikes value (meaning they're going to pay you that much less than what they ultimately sell it for). If they take on the risk of buying a bike in an unknown condition from you, you bet they are going to need to make a profit to make that worthwhile. Not only that, but they can't have your bike taking up space for months. They need to price it to sell fast to whoever walks through the door. It's not possible to wait for the ideal buyer who's looking for this exact bike, and is willing to pay dearly for it. The moral of the story is that selling a vehicle yourself is always going to make you a substantially larger payday (provided you put in the effort). While you might be nervous or insecure regarding how to go about it, the process is pretty straightforward and it wasn't designed to make things difficult for you.
Regarding paperwork, there are a few documents you are going to want to have at hand. I'm simply going to post what I used should anyone want to use it as a reference.
- The vehicle's Title: This is what's required to prove ownership and officially transfer the vehicle. It's the most important document.
- Bill of Sale / Sale Agreement: This is what establishes the sale's conditions. I've attached the agreement I used.
- Vehicle Sale Holding Deposit Agreement: The easiest way to get a buyer to commit is to get them to leave a deposit. An agreement is used just to formalize that.
- Vehicle Test Drive Agreement: If you let anyone test drive the vehicle, have them sign an agreement first to protect yourself.
- Test Drive Envelope: If you have a printer that can print on envelopes, you might as well print this out. It's to put the money for the test drive inside to avoid misunderstandings. Both of you sign on top of the fold of the sealed envelope. I used a Epson WF-3640 feeding an envelope through the rear slot.
While you're at it, get a FLHSMV Vehicle Information check (or your state's equivalent). All it takes is a title and VIN number, and it will let you know if there's any lien on the vehicle, number of previous owners, etc. This is something you want to check for errors, and then save as a PDF to give to the buyer or provide the link for them to check themselves. If you have a lien on the vehicle, get it settled and your title in hand before proceeding.
Finally, you may or may not have an up-to-date license plate for the vehicle. If you transferred the plate to another vehicle (or let it expire), but still need a license plate for test drives, you can request a Temporary License Plate at your local tag agency. In Florida it costs 10$ (currently), only lasts 1 month, and you can only request it once (allegedly). On the bright side, explaining why you have an expired temporary tag (if it expires before you sell it) is much easier then explaining why someone is test driving your bike with no tag at all.
Note: Tax-wise, there is seldom anything to worry about. I mean income tax here. You will rarely if ever get more for the vehicle than what you paid for it, so you shouldn't have to pay taxes on whatever is made (though check for your particular situation).
Step 2: Take Care of Pending Issues
Now is the time to tackle all the work you've been procrastinating about for the past year.
If you're not an avid mechanic, that might be little more than checking tire pressure and shaking the bike around for anything loose. If the chain is really loose and you don't know how to adjust it, take it to the mechanic, but beyond that I'd really avoid spending anything at all on labor.
However, if you're into the hobby and you already have the skills and tools necessary, there are plenty of dirt cheap, quick repairs and maintenance you can take care of which prospective buyers will be grateful about. While this generally won't raise the sale price, it will help sell the bike quicker, as well as turn indecisive buyers into payers. It should take less than a weekend to take care of all of it. Things you might want to consider are:
- Adjust throttle, brake and clutch play - 0$
- Replacing any burnt out or malfunctioning light bulbs - 0-10$
- Replace any missing screws, bolts and nuts - 0-5$
- Repair anything broken that is easily visible and cheaply replaceable (if it isn't visible in a preliminary inspection, and doesn't affect safety, don't bother).
- Change brake fluid (if over two years old, it's most likely absorbed water) - 10$
- Test the battery and replace if it has trouble staying over 12 volts. The 30$ or so it costs to replace it is much less than what it will cost you if a buyer hassles you over an engine that struggles to turn over.
- Clean/replace engine air filter -15$
- Change antifreeze - 10$
- Check brake pads & Rotor condition
- Inspect tires - This is a tough one. If they are blatantly in need of changing them, change them. But if not simply decide on a discount you're willing to give the buyer so they can put the tires of their choice on it (but only mention it if they bring up the topic themselves).
- Lubricate control cables - <1$
- Change Engine Oil - Ironically, this is the most debatable point. If you buy a used vehicle, the first thing you should do is change the oil, regardless of whether is has been allegedly changed or not. If a seller tells me that they purposely didn't change oil so I'd be able to check the condition of the oil myself, I'd have a lot of respect for that. It's the honest, educated position, plus you save time and money not doing the job. Personally, I think either changing it and mentioning it as a plus, or not changing it, explaining why, and offering to change it if requested are both equally valid positions.
While you're at it, and depending on the value of your bike, the expected type of prospective buyer, and the demand for it's parts, you might also want to consider removing any upgrades or replacing certain OEM parts. As an example, some OEM mirrors cost 140$ (the pair) or so (Used - Like New. You'd be surprised how often stand-still drops break them), whereas a pair of decent generic replacements cost closer to 30$ (if you advertise that as upgraded extended mirrors, it's not a bug, it's a feature!). If you replace them and sell off the OEM ones on Ebay, you can easily make a profit with no impact on the resale value. Same goes for certain upgrades (many aftermarket fender eliminators and slip-ons cost less than the OEM components (in good condition), and are desired upgrades for buyers. Other parts like OEM safety reflectors (which most people remove) or license plate brackets have value in the part market, but are completely unnecessary for the bike (most people remove them anyway). This is more the sort of thing you should do while you own the bike, rather than just before you sell it, but giving the bike a final look around and checking some prices is often worthwhile.
Also, if you will be buying another bike, see what parts can moved from the old bike to your new bike. Common examples are custom license plate frames, oil drain valves, expensive upgraded LED bulbs, certain accessories, etc. In case of doubt, and if it doesn't raise the resale value, remove it and decide later what to do with it. If the buyer specifically asks about it, you can always "find" it before delivering the vehicle. You can easily save/earn hundreds of dollars this way. Worst case scenario pay it forward gifting it on your favorite forum.
And finally, since you don't know how long it will take to sell the bike, fill up the tank and put some gas stabilizer in it (remember to run the engine to circulate it through the fuel lines). If it doesn't have one already, install a battery charger harness to keep it permanently tethered to a battery maintainer. You should always be ready to show the bike at a moments notice, so keeping the battery at full charge is imperative.
Step 3: Give the Bike the Wash of It's Life
A motorcycle sale is like a job interview. If you don't come in groomed, you've probably got other issues, too. The number one reason people prefer to buy new over used vehicles is that they can never be sure how that bike was treated. If you don't wash it thoroughly for a sale when it's supposed to look it's best, then you probably never took the time to wash off the bird droppings while you owned it. And if you aren't taking care of something so trivial as washing, then forget about basic maintenance.
I'm a stickler for detailing, so I've spent a lot of time trying out products until I've found what I like best. As far as my steps and the products I use for a perfect wash, here we go. While it looks intimidating, this will easily raise the sale value by around 10% in 5-6 hours.
- Wet the bike: Just soak it in water and let it soften the crud for a few minutes. If it's sunny, keep wetting it to make sure it doesn't dry.
- Wash it with a strong detergent: The first step is to strip off any wax, bug guts, road crud, tar, etc etc. You get the idea. I personally use a Foam Cannon Gun with some Chemical Guys Bug & Tar Heavy Duty Car Wash Shampoo. I use a pressure washer which saves an insane amount of time and effort. Of course, a bucket and some dishwasher soap would also do the job. Just make sure whatever you use strips off the wax. Also, concentrate on the wheels (brake dust) and use a stiff brush on the chain to get any superficial rust off. For that, a chain brush, a rear stand, and the bike idling in first gear makes a quick job.
- Clay the Vehicle: Claying a vehicle is a professional car washer's secret. It's what makes paint feel super smooth and silky to the touch. And a motorcycle has so little body work, and you're in direct contact with it so often, that it's a no brainer to spend the the 15 minutes it takes to do so. It frequently removes debris that can't be removed any other way, and without any damage or swirls at all! I'd recommend Mothers Gold Clay Bar System.
- Wash and Liquid-Wax it: We'll want to remove all the residue from the clay, as well as remove any debris that we've loosened in the process, or any crud that's been softened since the first wash. For this step I'd recommend using a Wash & Wax, which has a water soluble wax. One plus is that it protects all the inaccessible nooks and crannies (think all the exposed wires, brackets and hoses around the engine) from as much gunk sticking to it, as well as from the sun's UV damage. In particular, focus around the engine, behind the bodywork, or anywhere else you won't be willing or capable of waxing by hand. Then dry by hand. This makes a world of difference.
- Take Care of the Wheels: A clean bike with dirty wheels is a dirty bike with a careless owner. Clean these by hand applying special attention. And given the caked-on residue from the brake pads, it does take time. The first overall wash certainly won't have completely cleaned the spokes. A rear and front stand make the job a lot easier. The important parts are de-greasing, removing all the brake dust manually with a brush or microfiber towel (specially the spokes and hub), and then sealant.
- Polish the paint: This will take out the superficial scratches in the clear coat, and will give it a much nicer shine after waxing. I use Mothers California Gold Pure Polish.
- Glaze the Paint: Though the polish will remove superficial scratches, there will still be scratches too deep to polish out. A glaze will help fill in those gaps, hiding them and leading to a much more uniform shine.
- Appy a Sealant: There are two types of "waxes": Sealants and "true" waxes. Sealants are a synthetic version of wax. The consensus is that they last much longer, but don't shine as nicely or deeply. The good thing is that you can layer the wax on top of the sealant (but not the other way around). I really like Chemical Guys M-Seal Micro Finish Factory Paint Sealant. Apply it to all the bodywork, pieces of glass, the dash, light housings, etc. Pretty much anything but the matte, rough black plastics that are typically used for under-body type areas.
- Apply a Wax: When it comes to waxes, the indisputable king in the field is Caranauba Wax. It's a heat resistant, scratch resistant natural wax that comes from a type of palm tree. It provides an arguably nicer shine then sealants, but doesn't last as long. I used Mothers Gold Pure Brazilian Caranauba Liquid Wax. If you've got the time, apply two coats. This makes the paint look even better, and makes sure you don't miss any spots.
- Apply an Oil-Based Plastic Protector: One of the things that have the greatest affect on appearance is shiny, deep-black plastics. On the other hand, dull plastics with a whitish residue kill the resale value of any vehicle. I've tried a lot of products for this, and my current favorite is Chemical Guys Bare Bones Undercarriage Spray. The stuff goes a long way (I've been using the same 16oz bottle for almost 2 years now). Besides the rich, oil-based shine it gives, it helps remove the white residue that wax leaves on plastics (seriously, avoid getting wax on matte black plastic). The bottle will pay for itself with how much nicer it will leave the bike looking. Apply to all unpainted black plastics, and if you're willing to do so carefully, to the tire sidewalls. While generally not recommended, it looks so nice that this is the one time it's worth doing. Just don't get it on the tread.
- Douse with a Water-Based Plastic Protector: Hand waxing and applying liquids, while it provides the best finish, doesn't ever let you get into the nooks and crannies or otherwise unreachable areas. On pair with the previous step, this will also make your bike go from "Pre-Owned" to "Like-New". My favoritest detailing product of all is this one: Chemical Guys Silk Shine Sprayable Dressing. They deserve a Nobel prize for it. It cleans and protects just about everything and gives it that new-looking sheen. Basically spray it on everything you didn't hand wax, and then wipe it off. Specially around the engine or in the inaccessible areas, under the seat, as well as the controls. If you spray it and don't wipe it off, it will still look nice and shiny once it evaporates (as in no unsightly droplet marks). And I still haven't found a surface it's damaged, or something that didn't look better after applying it.
- Lube the Chain: Do so right away to avoid any rust forming. I'd recommend Dupont Chain-Saver, as well as laying it on thicker than usual since it might take a while until the bike is finally sold.
- Clean Off any Clear Plastics and Lenses: Some overspray or wax gobs will have unavoidably reached the mirrors and light housings. I'd use the water-based plastic protectors from before for the plastic light housings, and a glass cleaner for the mirrors.
- Wipe it off: Once you're done, give it a final wiping off (specially making sure no oil-based plastic protector or wax got left anywhere it shouldn't be).
- Put a Cover on It: Put a cover on it, even if you'll be storing it indoors, until you're ready to take pictures of the bike. And afterwards while you wait for buyers. It really helps keep dust off the bike, as well as protect from minor bumps and impacts.
Done! Next step.
Step 4: Take (Spectacular) Pictures
The most decisive of all may very well be this one. And it's also another step where you can easily boost the price by 5-10%. We are visual, suggestible creatures. Just look at the budget of any corporation's marketing department. If you take pictures good enough to make your prospective buyer want your bike, you'll be sure to linger in their mind. Think that the pictures are what they will be sending to their friends for opinions, and what they'll be looking at after you've told them you can't go as low as they want. You need good pictures.
I've attached the actual pictures I took for the sale of this motorcycle. A whopping 39 good pictures came out. Later I simply picked and chose the ones I liked most depending on how many I could use for the listing in question. The more pictures, the better (though maybe not more than 39. It's a bit overwhelming as is).
I looked for a pleasant, uncluttered background without cars or people (for the most part, a bit of waiting was involved). I used a Sony A600 Mirrorless camera with a 50mm f/1.8 Lens. The fixed 50mm prime lens is what really allows for the razor sharp focus of the subject, and the nice blurry background. That's exactly what you should be looking for. Precisely this type of tasks are the ones that make photography a hobby that pays for itself, as pictures like this will measurably raise the sale price. If you want more information on how to take good pictures, Instructables has this free course, as well as guides on every photography aspect under the sun. An added bonus to good pictures is building your credibility as a a careful, competent person who would have taken care of the vehicle.
Finally, as you have probably noticed from the pictures, I added call-outs to any features the bike had using the free program Paint.net. While you really should remove any unnecessary upgrades (few are ones the buyer will be willing to actually pay above market price for), most will not be worth the effort or cost. At the very least document them.
Note: Post-processing pictures (white balance, shadows, etc.)? Good.It's necessary if you shoot RAW. Butretouching pictures? Bad. If you're an avid photographer retouching scratches like you'd retouch a pimple is both trivial and tempting, but don't even think about it. It's fraud. If there is some discrete scratch you'd like to avoid being seen, retouch it with some paint (or a sharpie if necessary, but I'd recommend an oil pen). That's a repair. But if there's an unfavorable angle that doesn't look as bad in person, just delete the picture. Don't get yourself in trouble in such a stupid way.
Step 5: Document the Bikes Specs and Maintenance
With used vehicles, it's all about how it's been kept and maintained.
I remember how my dad once told me about an old guy who sold him a beautifully kept Camaro, and gave him a whole notebook full of all the maintenance or everything that was ever done to it in almost two decades of ownership. That stuck with me, and I've meticulously kept a log of all the maintenance and upgrades I do to my vehicles since. With apps like Fuelly's aCar, these days the effort is trivial (really, download that app. You won't believe how valuable the information is). Once I was ready to make the log of all the work that's been done on the vehicle, I simply exported it in Excel and formatted it to my liking.
I made a log with all the bike's specs,basic information, upgrades, expenses and maintenance. The upgrades let's the buyer know explicitly why your bike is worth the asking price, and what they'll be receiving. The expenses drives home the point that you've spent a lot of money, and that you shouldn't be expected to give them away for free. The maintenance makes clear what's been done and what hasn't, assures the buyer the vehicle is in good condition, and gives them an idea of how to take care of the bike in the future. And the specs helps you answer any questions the buyer may have (weight, dimensions...) when showing the bike in person.
This is also a great place to place notes regarding any of the bike's quirks you don't want the buyer to forget (specially so they don't bother you again later), like reminding them to use a battery tender if the motorcycle has an alarm (which discharges the battery) so they don't complain about the battery discharging on a weekly basis.
I've attached a template based on the file I used so you can fill it in with your bike's details. Whether this would raise sale price is up for debate, but it certainly will help the buyer choose your bike over a similar used bike from another owner which doesn't have as much information.
To make the PDFs and image folders easier to share, host them online (Dropbox is a good choice). And to make it even easier to share without the links becoming obsolete if you need to change the file, as well as make it look more trustworthy, use a custom URL Shortener like Rebrand.ly. That way you can turn a link that looks like this:
Look like this:
The real benefit, however, is that if you ever need to change the dropbox link (if you move the file, change it, etc), you can simply change it at the Rebrand.ly website without having to give a new link to all the prospective buyers. You should use this both for the Work Log, as well as for a folder with all the highest-quality images of the bike.
Step 6: How to Determine a Bike's Price
I have a time-tested, failproof, dead simple method for this. I don't. There's nothing more frustrating then advertising something unique for sale, only to have it sell within a day and find out you under-priced it.
If you are not in a hurry to sell your bike, list it at around 10-40% more than what you'd pay for it, and then slowly lower prices depending on how many interested buyers you get and their demeanor. Remember, it's the buyer who decides the price of goods, not you. Some are even (inadvertently or not) willing to overpay! Knowing a "correct" price is much more important if you're trading in the vehicle at the dealership, or when people used to post ads in the newspaper which would run for weeks without the possibility of modification. It now takes only a few minutes and clicks to change the price on all your listings, so there isn't any need to fret about getting it right on your first try. Just price it high.
The good thing about online advertisements is that it saves you the embarrassment of saying a ridiculous price to a savvy buyer, and you'll only get messages from those that think your high price is somewhat reasonable. Most bikes are under-priced anyway if you take into account the thousands spent on farkles. If a buyer wants your specific combination, you've struck gold.
Step 7: Create Online Listings
Where you list your vehicle determines your market demographic. Clueless, first time riders typically end up at the dealership. Those who want a cheap steal go to Craigslist. And those that don't know where to start looking check Ebay.
In any case, I'd recommend making a default listing and copy-pasting it at a few sites for free. Each site has it's own policies, image requirements, etc, but all in all it's quick and painless at all of them. These are the ones where I ended up posting.
- Craigslist: All private motorcycle sales start here. Posting is free, they allow plenty of images and a relatively straightforward interface. However they live up to their reputation. You should expect to get serious offers (as long as the price is low enough), but also expect about 50% of messages to be scams.
- Ebay Motors: The king of private sales. You'll get the most views here, and also people that are willing to pay more for a quality vehicle with good pictures (seriously, pictures are everything). You might get a 10-25% scam message ratio, which is good. It doesn't cost anything to list, but if the sale goes through Ebay, you'll be billed an around 100$ fee (which is fine if the buyer pays asking price without haggling). However it's a mess since Ebay does not allow you to interchange personal information, and almost no one buys a vehicle online without looking at it in person first. In practice, most people end up swapping a phone number or email (even though it's against policy) and contacting each other that way to set up a meeting. Whether or not the buyer confirms the sale via Ebay or not is their choice. I wouldn't push them either way. One positive here is that if you already have an Ebay account with years of use and plenty of positive feedback, it will do wonders for your credibility as a seller.
- CycleTrader: This is the old school option from when people used to look for used motorcycles in magazines. Here you'll find serious buyers who know what a bike's worth, and has probably been through the process many times before. Posting is free, though there are many limitations. Expect virtually no scam messages, but don't expect too many interested buyers either. This site gets a lot less views than the prior two.
Remember to not post your address on the listing. But do post a general zip code or area where you're willing to show the bike. Double check grammar and spelling.
Regarding paid listings, unless it has been months without a serious buyer on the horizon, I wouldn't bother with them. The best sale is when the buyer is looking for you, and not when you're advertising indiscriminately to uninterested people on the internet.
The last thing you want is a buyer who wants to be your new riding buddy, or wants to depend on you for any mechanical issue for as long as they own the bike. There's no need to give out permanent personal contact information. Use Google Voice to get a free virtual phone number which you can post online. You can receive and send text messages, as well as receive and make calls. Once you're done with the sale you can change or delete the number. The same goes for emails. Make an "email alias" (Outlook, Gmail and all the rest provide them at no cost or inconvenience) so you can receive and send emails regarding the sale without being bogged down by spam messages for years to come. Delete it once you're done and that's that.
Step 8: Get Ready for the Scams
The images posted above are actual scam messages I received in the course of selling this bike.
One of the beauties of the online world (or Cragslist in general) are the scams. They're so prolific that they've even got their own comedy niche. You can expect that anywhere between 10 and 50% of the messages you will receive are scams. However, it's nothing to fret about as long as you take it with humor. They are almost unequivocally blatant so they are easy to catch. The concept works on volume, not quality. They themselves don't want to spend unnecessary time trying to convince you for nothing so they will drop red flags just to weed out anyone who is too smart to fall or won't do things their way. There will just about always be clear red flags by the second message. Among the tell tale signs are:
- Unnecessary, excessive information (I'm an FBI agent).
- Bad grammar (sadly, this is all too common these days to be decisive).
- Odd methods of payment (Western Union? Run. Paypal? Extreme caution)
- Offering payment in excess of requested amount (Run)
- "I'll have my auto towing agent pick it up" (Extreme caution)
- Everything has to be done ASAP
- I'll pay by check. Give me your complete information (Extreme caution)
Like most things in life, it's hard to precisely describe. However, just be observant and there is little to worry about as long as you do things right. In practice all that matters is using a secure payment method.
Step 9: Give It a Pre-Show Inspection
Don't expect to be showing the vehicle to clueless buyers, and don't expose yourself to the embarrassment of something not working in the middle of showing the bike to someone else. Inspect the vehicle beforehand just as you'd expect an educated buyer to do so.
Better yet, hand the list to the buyer for them to inspect the bike. You've checked it yourself so you know it will pass. This will also be very appreciated by those not mechanically inclined (they will most likely skim over the list and not put too much effort into checking anyway), and does a lot to boost your credibility as a trustworthy seller. An added benefit, legally speaking, is getting their explicit signature stating that they've inspected the vehicle to their satisfaction, not found any issues that would make it unsafe, and agree that no warranties were expressed or implied.
Attached you'll find the PDF version of the inspection checklist above. It shouldn't take you more than ten minutes to check everything on that list visually, and can avoid ruthless haggling or unnecessary discounts down the road.
Step 10: The Encounters
So you've finally been contacted by someone that's interested enough to want to see the bike in person. Great! Send them all the information you have on the bike before hand to avoid forgetting any selling points. Print out the work log and any information you have on the bike and put it in a clipboard with storage (it will make your life a lot easier) with a couple of pens.
Prior to meeting, decide the lowest price your're willing to accept, and stick with it. You will be asked to "knock a hundred off, just 'cus". As long as you know what's your cut-off point, and you've already prepared yourself to walk away from the table, you'll be fine.
Regarding the where, if you are not too keen on meeting buyers at your home, choose a public parking lot. McDonald's and Burger Kings (or the like) are perfect since they are well known, trust worthy, have well illuminated, open parking lots as well as tables to sign the papers (and big windows to keep your eyes on the bike). Another great option is a police parking lot (many stations actually encourage this). Ideally it should be one close enough to your home that the engine doesn't get warm getting there (you'd be lucky, but I had a Burger King 100 ft. away. I basically pushed the bike there). You really want to have the engine cold for inspection (and remind this to the buyer for brownie points). "Cold start" and all of that. Note: Be aware that some buyers may be put off by meeting anywhere else but your home because it feels "shady". It's a valid point. At the end of the day it's your choice.
Once you've met, relax, answer the buyer's questions, and let them inspect the bike at their leisure.The bike's condition and spec sheet should sell itself.
And finally, but worth mentioning, if possible, exercise the 2nd Ammendment if you know what I mean (or bring a friend that does in exchange for lunch). With money and expensive goods, having some protection helps everyone be more trusting since you're not as vulnerable.
Test drives are a finicky thing in the motorcycle world. Thankfully most buyers are already conscious of this. There are plenty of opinions on the subject (and I won't delve into them here), but my personal opinion is test drives are only allowed with a signed Test Drive Agreement and full payment in a sealed envelope. Any serious buyer will understand. I don't hold a grudge against those who don't think that's acceptable, but I'm not fond about being flexible on it. In the vast majority of cases all is well and you can dispose of the papers fifteen minutes later.
Did you notice those scratches in the pictures of the bike? 75% of them were made in the street behind the dealership before the bike had made it's first mile (the owner was a middle aged, skinny female that was nervous). Even a competent biker can get anxious about a stranger's bike and large amounts of money, so it's a justifiable position. Honestly, many buyers themselves won't ask about a test drive to avoid breaking anything. A good portion are satisfied just hearing it run on it's kickstand in a parking lot.
Questions the Buyer Will Ask
- Can you throw in any gear? Expect around 75% of prospective buyers to ask this. Seriously. Look, I get it, buying motorcycle gear can be more expensive than buying some used bikes, but it is beyond me why someone would be interested in sweaty gear in the wrong size. Sell your gear on it's own on Ebay if it's in good condition (you'll make more from people who actually want it), and explain to the buyer why it really wouldn't be in their own best interest (if nothing else because you're unlikely to share sizes). It's also the right moment to explain the importance of motorcycle gear (if your ATGATT, you won't resist anyway). Nonetheless, if they insist, offer to get them a new helmet if they tell you their size. You can get them for as low as 40$ (I'd recommend LS2 Helmets). They probably wont bother to answer back with their size but if they do, the expense is trivial compared to a motorcycle sale.
- Do you have any parts for it? If your bike has any upgrades, you might have some parts. However if the parts have any value, you really should just sell them on their own through Ebay or an online forum to people who actually need and value them. Ideally you should have sold them the moment you took them off. OEM parts are typically so expensive that many upgrades are economically worthwhile (I installed a 110$ Danmoto Slipon to later sell my pristine OEM exhaust for almost 200$). If not, the parts that we're in a dusty box in your garage will turn into dusty parts in their garage. The reality is that no buyer will expect a discount because a bike doesn't include any parts, nor will any buyer pay more because it does.
- I'm looking for a good deal / What's your lowest price?: I'll admit this one ticks me off a bit. I won't give you a different price just because you asked me for my "lowest price". I don't have a "highest price", either. Asking "what's the price?" is a much more polite way of getting the same exact answer. If someone wants a reasonable discount, justify it. It doesn't even have to be a good reason. Point out a part that needs replacing, or tell my you just got married. Even better! Show me a comparable bike listed for less. It's your choice how to deal with low-ballers. Personally, if the first sentence is "I'm looking for a good deal", my answer is "Me too. Let me know if you find one".
Step 11: The Deal
Finally! Someone who's willing to put their money where their mouth is and pony up the cash!
Once you find a buyer that's ready to either pay a deposit or the full amount, sit down, check the payment, and sign the pertaining agreement together. The "safe" methods of payment are cash, cashiers/bank check, and wire transfer. Depending on the situation, it just might be best to pass by the bank together to cash in the money.
After that's done, sign the title and hand it over with the keys. There really isn't much more to it than that. Congratulate them, and let 'em ride into the sunset while you just rejoice in this whole ordeal being finally over.
Bonus tip: If you want to be an A+ biker in my book, gift 'em a Guardian Bell. This is one tradition worth keeping alive.
Step 12: Sold the Bike. What Now?
So you've sold the bike. Great! What now? Thankfully, not much.
In Florida it's the buyer's responsibility to register the bike. Once you've signed the title and handed it over, typically there isn't anything for you to do. Even if you were to go to a tag agency with the buyer, no information or signature would be needed from you. That's good news since it takes away a lot of hassle.
However, if you want to cover your back, you can file a "form HSMV 82050, Notice of Sale" (or your states equivalent, if applicable). It's not obligatory, but provides some legal protection. If you don't feel like filling it, don't. I imagine the majority doesn't, but it is reassuring if the buyer's a bit shady.
Finally, while unrelated, if the buyer has questions, or you just want to know, the additional costs after the sale (for the buyer) are somewhere in the ballpark of the following numbers (for Florida, in other states it will vary):
- Tax - 6-9%: The buyer will have to pay a sales tax on the official purchase price, depending on the county.
- Title fee and Agency Fee - 80$: To get the bike titled to them, it will cost somewhere around this. There will typically be an actual title fee, plus the small fee that the agency bills for the service.
- New License Plate - 60$: If the buyer needs a new license plate, it will cost around this.
- Cost to transfer an already owned, unused license plate - 15$: If the buyer already has a license plate and wants to put in on their new bike, it will cost around this.
*Prices are just approximations and will depend on the tag agency, county, or some politicians whims.
Step 13: Celebrate the Sale Buying a New Bike!
Congratulations. You've made it to the final stage of this 13 Step Program. The bike is sold and the payment has cleared. You can now forget about this whole PITA process for another few years.
Jokes aside, hopefully you've found this helpful. If you have any tips of your own, or would like to post a eulogy for your now ex-bike (with pics), I'd be happy to hear about it below.
As far as how things went for me with this particular motorcycle's sale, I'll give you a summary if you're interested.
It took about a month and a half to sell. It was first posted at 6499$, and was reduced a bit every few weeks until it came down to 5499$. Around that price is where I ultimately left it since messages from buyers started to become frequent enough (1 to 3 a week). Only one potential buyer ever got around to inspecting the bike in person, but it wasn't really the type of bike they were looking for, and I wasn't flexible enough with the price to make it worthwhile. The lowest offer anyone made was 4500$, which I rejected. Other offers were in the 4800$ range, which I also rejected.
I was in no hurry to sell, and I was selling in the middle of winter when most people aren't looking to buy motorcycles. I was perfectly willing to wait until summer in hopes of a buyer with a higher budget. Given that just a few months prior the new model of this bike had came out, waiting a bit more wasn't going to impact the price too much anyway.
I'm still not sure exactly how I ended up taking the messages from the person that ultimately bought the bike seriously, given that they were on a Caribbean island. Normally that would be a clear scam giveaway. Ironically enough, we conversed until the point where I took their offer seriously. They accepted my first price of 5299$ and didn't try haggling, and made a deposit until we figured out how to proceed. I was just thinking that if they tried to walk out of the deal, I'd be able to keep the not insignificant deposit and that's that. Though I originally thought they'd come to pick up the bike, they eventually decided to have the bike shipped. All I had to do is drop off the bike at a nearby cargo agency with the papers. Though more complicated than a local sale, it was an interesting adventure.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Keep the rubber side down!
Step 14: Addendum - International Sales
This won't be of any interest to the majority of people, but since it ended up being (unexpectedly) my case, it might be worth mentioning. Though it shouldn't really be your first choice, don't completely disregard international buyers. While they won't necessarily pay you more, they will typically accept whatever the vehicle is listed at (or close to it), recognizing the added hassle.
The real difficulty is differentiating actual international buyers from scam artists (what an ironic word for a thief). Personally, I'd say that the best giveaway is if they invest time and effort trying to find out about the bike, give some personal background, and in general show genuine interest in the sale and it's details. Checking out they're a real person on Facebook doesn't hurt, either. If you think they're real, but don't want to go all in yet, tell them to make a deposit via wire transfer. Give them a bank account number you don't use too much, and move the money out of the account as soon as it's confirmed. Doing things like that the risk is virtually all on them and not you. Remember, they have as much reason to believe you are scamming them, as you to believe that they might be scamming you.
Once the deposit arrives you can give them a hand with any ground work, which will normally be little more than visiting the cargo company of their choice. They should take care of all the shipping details and costs. You should not have to do much more than drop off the bike. And since they won't be registering the vehicle in your state, I'd definitely file a Notice of Sale in this case.
By the way, given new regulations (as of 2018), you may find that the shipment company tells you that it is better for the vehicle to be shipped as if you are shipping it as still yours, with the sale effectively taking place on delivery at the destination. As of yet, I haven't found much information on the topic, but it seems to be a justified claim on the shipper's part to make the shipment easier with less hassle for all involved.
Moral of the story is that, as long as you're careful and the price is right, it isn't imperative to completely refuse international sales. Just trust your intuition and be as careful as you'd be with any other buyer.
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