Introduction: How to Sell a Motorcycle

Selling a motorcycle used to be as easy as putting an ad in the classified section of your local newspaper or parking it in the front yard with a for sale sign on it. It's not that simple anymore. The risk of theft from leaving your bike unattended is simply too great these days. Many thieves are surprisingly talented and they don't even need the keys to make off with your ride. They know how to get around all of the locks, kill switches, and usually carry bolt cutters that can cut through any chain or cable. Photo by Schweizerisches Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons.

Some thieves don't even bother waiting for you to leave your bike unattended before making their move. Many motorcycles are stolen right in front of the owners. The way the scam works is simple: A person will show up to your house and act interested in your bike and ask if he can test drive it. He may even show his driver's license with the proper motorcycle endorsements. Once you give him the keys, he is gone forever. He just rides off for his “test drive” and never returns. But what about the vehicle he drove to your house? The thief will usually have another person with him to drive that vehicle away.

The Risk-Free Way to Sell a Motorcycle

There are several ways you can safeguard your motorcycle and sell it without any problems. Here are a few things to consider when selling your motorcycle.

Step 1: Choosing the Best Advertising Outlet

One of the easiest ways to advertise your motorcycle for sale is with an online classified ad listing site. The site will ask for information like your street address, city, and state, and other relevant information. The best way to protect your bike from thieves is to not list your street address. If they don't know what street you live on, they can't find the bike you are selling sitting in your driveway with the for sale sign on it. There are numerous sites online that offer free and paid listings. Photo by Boston Daily Advertiser via Wikimedia Commons.

Step 2: The Sales Pitch

Once you have settled on a specific classified ad listing site, you now have to make your motorcycle look very attractive to potential buyers. Take lots of pictures. Show every angle of the bike. Write the best description possible. Be sure to point out all of the extra features and showcase any extra accessories you added to the bike. And if you kept all of the maintenance records, then tell them in the ad listing. Photo by: See page for author via Wikimedia Commons.

Step 3: Showing the Bike

So a potential buyer has contacted you and he now wants to see the bike and possibly test drive it. There is some debate as to whether or not to allow someone to test drive your motorcycle. Here are a few things I require from any potential buyers before I allow them to test drive my bike:

  1. Proof of motorcycle endorsement from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  2. Proof of motor vehicle insurance.
  3. A copy of his drivers license.
  4. A signed waiver saying if he wrecks the bike or damages it then he is responsible for all repairs.

This is a good time to talk about your motorcycle insurance. Before allowing anyone to drive your motorcycle, make sure you are fully covered.

Step 4: Closing the Deal

Negotiating can be tricky. When I advertise motorcycles for sale I always bump the price up a bit so I will have a little negotiating room. Ultimately, you want to be able to negotiate the price down so the buyer feels like he is getting a good deal and you are getting a fair price. Photo by Dan Beard via Wikimedia Commons.

How Do You Find the Right Starting Price?

I often check the used prices for my make and model on sites like Cycletrader or the Motorcycle Trading Post. This gives me a good general idea of what to ask for my particular bike.

Step 5: Accepting Payment

If you have a lien on the motorcycle, it is best to go to the bank that currently holds the lien and pay them directly and get the title changed to the buyer's name. Some banks can give you a copy of the title the same day but others will have to mail it to you. Photo by I, Chicareli via Wikimedia Commons.

Cash is always king. I only accept cash or a cashier's check when making a large financial transaction for a motorcycle. Do not accept money orders or personal checks.

View some of my other instructables here:

How to Push-Start a Motorcycle