How to sell your bike

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See also: Safety precautions when buying or selling

This is copied directly from a Craigslist posting. Author unknown, but it's good advice.

Dear Motorcycle Owners,

After spending a few minutes perusing the mighty CL marketplace looking at some used motorcycles, I thought I might take a few minutes and educate a few of you on how to actually sell that bike of yours, and how to avoid looking like a complete jackass in the process.

I thought most of these of these little tidbits were common knowledge for people trying to sell something, but that is very clearly NOT the case, evidenced by the ridiculous ads I've choked through this morning. Here goes....


1. This really should go without saying: POST SOME PICTURES. GOOD ONES! I know this is hard to fathom, but would-be buyers, especially the ones that actually have the money, REALLY like to see what it is they're buying. That means you should not be taking pictures with your cell phone, or posting pictures you stole from the internet, or pictures of your friend's bike that probably looks nothing like yours. Borrow a digital camera, take 10 or 15 really good pictures, and upload the best ones. It's not that hard! Good pictures will sell your bike, period.

2. What you owe on your bike has absolutely NOTHING to do with how much it's worth. It's hard to swallow, I know, but just because you got suckered into buying that CBR at full MSRP plus fees with a worthless 4-year warranty doesn't mean it's magically worth $11,949 when you need to sell it. Did you think your measly $99 a month payment for the last 3 months was going to make some miraculous dent in your tragic financing plan? Your bike is still worth $6800, just like every other 600rr that is for sale this week.

3. Aftermarket equipment does not automatically raise the value of your bike. Your bike is not "custom" just because you couldn't resist installing the Autozone LED's on the fairings, and that Two-Brothers exhaust that your cousin installed incorrectly doesn't change anything. Aftermarket equipment and extras actually LOWER the value of your bike to most buyers, and should be used as a tool to sweeten the deal, NOT increase the price. Modifications are not an investment, folks.... If you want to get your money back from your shiny red skull & crossbones windscreen, you should sell it separately, or kill yourself for considering such a thing tasteful.

4. The word 'FIRM' is a topic for some debate. If you have set what you consider to be a fair price and really dislike haggling, then you might consider stating that you won't negotiate. Just remember that most things for sale on CL are open for negotiation, and some people will always want to bargain. You will most likely get more inquiries w/o the word 'firm'. Also, if your aforementioned 600rr is priced $2800 higher than everyone else's, you may just wonder why it's still for sale after 3 months with no hits...

5. Be honest about your bike's condition. There is no way that every motorcycle for sale in Colorado is flawless, never dropped, and stored in the Vatican when it's not being ridden, OK? A scratch here and there? Bit of rash on the tail? No problem, shit happens. But BE HONEST about it. There is nothing I hate more than driving across town to view a 'flawless' bike, only to find out that it's a total piece of shit with blown fork seals, bald tires and cake frosting on the chain. If it looks like it's been dragged behind a garbage truck, chances are I'm unlikely to overlook the damage. Honesty is kind of important when selling a used bike with no warranty, and blatantly lying about your bike has a way of chasing away potential buyers. Crazy, huh?

6. Price your bike competitively! Do your research. Check KBB, local forums, other CL ads, etc... and try to get an idea what your bike is actually worth on the open market. Retail value means nothing. What you owe means nothing. Silly Autozone parts mean nothing. Factor in the mileage, condition, etc when deciding on a number. If your bike is priced higher than all the similar bikes for sale, guess what? It's probably not going to sell anytime soon. Suck it up, price it a hundred bucks or so lower than comparable machines on the market, and watch it sell fast. Be willing to negotiate!

7. Answer your phone! Watch your email! Buyers like me, who have the money, are impatient as hell and itching to buy something. If you want to sell your bike, you're going to need to be responsive to the people who want to buy it. If the only way to contact you is via Morse code on every third Friday between 8:00 and 8:15, chances are I'm buying something else.

8. Your 1995 Yamaha Seca II will not do 200mph. Enough said. Honesty: We've covered this.

9. Be descriptive!! Nobody cares that your R1 is "stoopid fast and pix up mad chix!" What color is it? How many miles are on it? Do you have the title, or will you be taking magic beans in payment? How are the tires? Any extras come with it? Why are you selling? What condition is it in? Why should I buy yours over all the others? These things make the difference, I swear they do. You might get 3 less dumb questions if you take the time to answer them in your ad.

10. Use effective keywords!! If you list your bike as "Stoopid fast crotch rocket, gets chix, CHEEP!", I may not see your ad if I'm searching for GSXR, R1, CBR, ZX-10R, Ducati, etc... Consider using ALL the various spellings of your particular motorcycle in your ad. This way, if someone is searching for a ZX-10R, they'll see your ad even if they type ZX10R, ZX10, 10R, or Ninja. It's so simple, yet often completely overlooked.

Hopefully with these simple tips you too can quickly and efficiently sell your motorcycle, and the rest of us can avoid pointing and laughing at you. Happy posting!!