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So you’ve decided to sell your motorcycle. Or maybe you’re just exploring your options on how you will sell your bike when the times comes. The best way to sell a motorcycle depends on a number of factors. It also may not be the same for every motorcycle seller. We’ve prepared the top 5 methods that we’ve found are most helpful to potential motorcycle sellers.
1. An Online Motorcycle Classifieds like ChopperExchange
If you’re looking to maximize your price, we recommend a private party sale. Many of these sales are initiated on online motorcycle classifieds. When you sell direct to an end buyer, you cut out all of the middlemen. This allows you to get the most money for your motorcycle.
Getting the Most for Your Motorcycle
If you sell to a dealer, a “cash now” business, or another reseller, you will never get the most for your bike. This is because that entity needs to make a profit. Businesses are designed to make money, and there is not necessarily anything wrong with that. It’s just the way it is, and for that reason anyone who’s going to resell your bike has to offer you less than a private party buyer. That doesn’t mean these other options can’t work for certain people in certain situations, like when someone needs or wants an immediate same-day sale. But if you can wait a week or two, it’s best to stick with selling direct to another rider.
So how do you find this private party buyer? We recommend an online motorcycle classifieds. For example ChopperExchange specializes in helping owners of Harley-Davidson® and other American V-twin motorcycles sell their bikes quickly and easily. If your motorcycle doesn’t fall into that category, there are several other online motorcycle classifieds you can choose from like CycleCrunch. Whatever site you use, you’ll end up paying a small listing fee to get national exposure for your bike. A basic listing on one of these sites will cost you $30 – $60.
Pricing Your Bike and Other Resources
On these sorts of websites, you do need to be conscientious of your price, because you have to personally set the listing price. Make sure you know what your motorcycle is worth. Most importantly remember that your bike, like anything else you may sell, is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. Setting your price too high can be a recipe for just wasting your money on the listing fee. Then you end up selling your bike several months later to a local dealership, but now you’ve lost money, wasted time, and end up getting less than you would have if you started with a fair price to begin with on the classifieds site.
Another plus of using an industry classifieds website is that they specialize in motorcycles and can often help provide you and your buyer information to complete the transaction if needed. Many have resource pages as well as toll-free and email support. They can refer you to people who handle motorcycle shipping, if your buyer is far away. Other resources often include a finance center for the buyer, selling tips, insurance information, and pricing information for your exact year, make and model.
2. Large Popular Classifieds like eBay
Another good option for getting national exposure is using a generic but popular classifieds or auction site. eBay is billed as having 160 million shoppers. That is a huge audience. Obviously, only a small portion of those shoppers are looking to purchase a motorcycle, but they do have a dedicated motorcycle section. The only pitfall is that you have to pay a rather hefty fee of $125. That works out to around 1.5% of your selling price on an $8,000 motorcycle. One upside is that you only pay if your bike sells, but buyers know this too so they may think the sellers on eBay are not as serious as on other websites where they’ve paid to list.
Another option is Craigslist. They are huge, but like eBay the audience is not only motorcycle buyers. The listings are also segregated by geographic area, so you will be limiting your window of people to those near your location. Be careful and on the lookout for any red flags of a scam when selling on Craigslist, because scammers also love to use this site.
3. At Your Local Dealership
Many riders, especially those who prefer to buy used motorcycles, avoid dealerships like the plague. Some think every employee at the dealership is out to get them. And of course, like with any industry, there are some unscrupulous people, but there are also plenty of opportunities to be had at your local dealer. You just have to realize they are a business, and they are looking to make money in the process.
The truth is that a motorcycle dealership can be your best option in a few scenarios. If you’re looking for relatively fast cash, the dealership is a great first stop to get an offer. Keep in mind that they are in the business of buying and selling motorcycles. That means there is a decent chance they’ll want to buy your bike. It also means they will want to sell it to someone else for a slight premium. This is doubly true if you are ready to purchase a motorcycle at the same time. Virtually no motorcycle dealer is going to turn down a motorcycle trade-in if it will complete the sale of another bike.
The most important consideration when selling to a dealer is realizing that you are getting slightly less money. In exchange you’ll probably sell your motorcycle quickly, simply and safely. You may have to give up 10 or 20% of your motorcycle value, so the dealer can make a profit reselling the bike to someone else. This isn’t always a bad thing, as long as you know what you’re getting in return and accept that it’s what’s best for you.
4. To a Friend, Family or Colleague
A fellow rider you know and trust can be an excellent resource for selling your motorcycle. Even if they don’t personally want your motorcycle, they may know another rider who’s been looking for a bike just like yours. You’re relying on some luck from the motorcycle gods in this case, but stranger things have happened. The hardest part here is pricing your bike if you’re selling to someone close to you. You don’t want to rip them off, but you also don’t want to lose money on your bike by giving them too great of a deal.
Take your bike to various rides and events with the idea of potentially selling in mind. You never know, you may just run into a potential buyer at Sturgis or your local poker run. Let anyone you run into at these events know that your bike is for sale. They may know someone who knows someone who knows someone that would love to purchase your motorcycle. Just keep your eyes peeled for any and all opportunities.
5. Using an Auction House
Are you selling something more exotic and rare? Maybe you’re looking to get the best price for a vintage motorcycle. This can be one of the hardest sales to complete, especially if you want to get it done fast. One of the best options here may be to turn to an auction house.
The market for vintage, classic, rare and exotic bikes can be very fickle. It can depend on seemingly unrelated market forces like the overall health of the global economy. In a bear market, someone may be far less inclined to spend top dollar on a vintage bike.
Getting your motorcycle in front of the right buyers is also critical here. Sometimes a niche classifieds website can work in this case. But, if your motorcycle is really rare and exotic you’ll want to turn to the professionals who know the most about vintage and antique bikes.
Mecum Auctions is a great place to get started, as they specialize in collectable cars and motorcycles. As with anything, the best can be expensive, and that’s the case here too. Rates start at 5% of the sale price. If your 1909 Harley sells for $150,000 that could mean at least $7,500 of that cash goes to the auction house. That’s a lot steeper than eBay or ChopperExchange. However, it may also easily pay for itself in added dollars on the sale price.
The Best Way to Sell a Motorcycle
Ultimately the best way to sell your motorcycle is the way you feel most comfortable with. Some people like to sell super-fast to their dealer as they buy their next motorcycle. Others prefer to sell locally to someone they know, even if that means waiting months and getting a few less dollars. Many like to list on niche or huge classifieds sites with national and global exposure so they can get absolute top dollar. A small few that are lucky enough to own antiques have to rely auction houses or other niche outlets.
Whatever the case, the best way to sell a motorcycle will be different from person to person. Just like some riders prefer a Harley and others love their Honda or BMW. Also, before you sell make sure you know what your motorcycle is worth and where to buy your next motorcycle.