Selling a used motorcycle

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Selling A Used Motorcycle

Tips you can use to move it fast

Selling your motorcycle can be as simple as taking a picture and running an ad… Or it can be a terrifying experience finding out what your bike is actually worth in the market place – opposed to what you think it’s worth. Having sold a number of bikes and being the facilitator for many bikes that are bought and sold in the Northwest, here is some sound advice to help you along the A-Z’s of selling your bike.

Get your paperwork in order

The first thing you want to do when you sell is to get together the paperwork that you will need to close the sale. This includes not only your current registration and pink slip, but a buyers/sellers declaration which you can obtain from your local Department of Licensing. In Washington you can download one from the DOL website.

If you’ve been consistent with your maintenance and have the paperwork on file from past servicing, pull it together and present it to your prospective buyer when they come to see the bike. It shows that you cared well for the bike during its life with you.

Tune it up

If the bike is overdue for service, you owe it to the new buyer to have it ready to ride before they pick it up. If you don’t, you may be setting yourself up for getting nickeled-and-dimed down. While you’re at it, replace the tires if need be, make sure your chain is in good order, adjusted and lubed. These are all things a meticulous buyer will look at.

Clean it up

You want top dollar for your bike? If so it better look good. Set aside an hour or two to thoroughly detail your bike. Don’t just give it a 15 minute washing - instead wax it, remove any exposed corrosion, treat your seat and any other rubber or vinyl parts with the right rejuvenators. Caution: Do not apply such to the riding surface of your tires.

Take a nice photo

We see a lot of photos of used bikes come through here. Most of which are pretty good, a few are so-so and some are just downright painful. If you plan to shoot the bike outside, be sure the sun is shining on the side of the bike you’re shooting (provided it’s a sunny day), the sun should be behind your back as you take the photo.

Also pay attention to what’s around the bike. Is there a garbage can in the photo, is there clutter behind the bike or are there other vehicles in your photo that will take away from the good looks of your machine? Shoot the bike so there’s no clutter in the background and try to shoot the bike outside, not in a garage where inevitably the lighting will be horrid and other things nearby will clutter the shot.

Which owner took the time to get a nice photo of their bike?  What would that say about how well they maintained it while they had it?


It costs money to change the price in an ad. Price your bike right the first time, which will help you sell it faster and eliminate the cost involved with changing a price.

To find out what your bike is worth, you can go online for free and visit two sites that will let you know where you stand on price:

What’s Effective – What’s Not?

At Sound RIDER! we’ve been running used bike ads since 1999. We watch our competition and keep tabs on how our sellers ultimately sell their bikes. It’s allowed us to determine what works best and get rid of formats that are not effective.

In a recent study we found that indeed we’re selling bikes for our sellers better than the competition. 61% of the people who advertise their bikes through Sound RIDER! sell it through our publication as a direct result of a buyer finding it in our Pre-owned pages. That means you're six times more likely to sell your bike here than on Craig's list, Ebay, Cycle Trader or otherwise.

The other thing buyers like about Sound RIDER! is knowing the bike is nearby and not off in some desolate part of the Minnesota wilderness where you’d need a float plane to go see the bike in person.  All our bikes are here in the Northwest.

As you play with these two great tools you may soon realize that all your aftermarket goodies are adding little or nothing to the value of your bike. What’s a custom seat, performance pipe and windscreen do for the value of a modern day bike – very little in terms of resale?  Very little.

"Upside down" is a term dealers use to describe a seller who owes more on a bike than it’s worth. It’s most common in the Harley market where owners load their bikes up with aftermarket accessories and later find out they can’t get what they need when it comes time to sell the bike. It’s a sad thing, but sometimes you’ve got to suck it up, bite the bullet and lose a little dough in the process of selling your bike.

If you’re upside down on your bike, better ask yourself if you’d rather sell the bike today at a fair price, or wait x number of months for it to sink in that you will eventually sell the bike... at a fair price. It’s unlikely your buyer is going to pay for you to get clean on a bike by paying over market value.

If you’re going to be negotiable on your price, always include "obo" next to the price in your ad. Which leads us to the final step of placing your ad.

Placing your ad

Decide what media you plan to use to run your ad. Will it be the daily paper, online, an auto monthly or perhaps a combination of them. Talk to others in the riding community and find out what works best for them. Talk to local dealers who sell used bikes and ask them the same.

Be sure to consider what you’re getting for your money. Would a $29 online ad that allows you 25 words and a full color photo "until-it-sells" be better than a two line classified in a daily paper for three days at $35? Probably.

If your bike is loaded to the hilt with extra goodies, chances are you will not be able to fit it all into the ad. Leave the door open by saying "and much more…call for details." Some web savvy types even create a special web page just so they can send interested parties there to see all the details.

CLICK HERE to list your bike now

PT/Summer 03

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