How to Get Top Dollar When Selling Your Motorcycle

How to Get Top Dollar When Selling Your Motorcycle

You may be contemplating on whether to sell your motorcycle to a private buyer or to a dealership. Each has its own benefits.

If you decide to sell privately, it’s likely that you will get more money for your motorcycle than you would at a dealership. To further ensure that you get the amount your bike is worth, it is important to know how to negotiate

Knowing how to negotiate properly will further increase your chances of getting what your bike is worth, or perhaps even a bit more. 

Many people avoid negotiating because they feel it requires deception or aggression. This is a common misconception. Simply think of negotiation as the process of communication between seller and buyer. 

To get step-by-step negotiation tips for selling your motorcycle, continue reading below!


1. Look up the value of your motorcycle.

Always look up the value of your motorcycle before setting your asking price. ChopperExchange offers a free Bike Price Report. Our report tells you how many similar bikes are listed on our website, how much they’re selling for and the average asking price of the ones that recently sold on our website. 

Kelley Blue Book® and NADA Guides® are two additional free resources you can use to find the value of your motorcycle. These sites will generate both the trade-in value and the listing/retail value.  

The trade-in value is the amount a dealer would pay for your current motorcycle when you buy another motorcycle from their dealership. The typical listing price is how much the motorcycle would cost someone if they bought it from a dealership, without trading in their current motorcycle. 

For example, the trade-in value of a 2010 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic® is $7,050. Whereas, the typical listing price is $9,625.

The listing price is more than the trade-in value because when a dealership buys a used, traded-in vehicle, they may have to make repairs before putting the bike on the market. For this reason, you should list your motorcycle $500 – $1,000 below the typical listing price.

If your bike is listed above the Kelley Blue Book and NADA Guides values, it’s likely that you won’t receive any inquiries from interested buyers. 

2. Research other sellers. 

You should also search for motorcycle listings of the same make and model as the one you plan on selling. Knowing what’s on the market will help you price your bike accordingly. 

If your motorcycle is a popular make and model, is the only one listed in your area, is in pristine condition and is listed during riding season, it’s likely to be an easy sale. You may even be able to increase your asking price above the bike’s typical value.

3. Gather your maintenance paperwork. 

If the absence of mechanical issues will be one of your selling points, you’ll want to have proof to present to interested buyers. Therefore, you’ll need to gather your motorcycle’s maintenance paperwork. These documents are important because they prove that your motorcycle was well maintained and that any issues were repaired. 

If you don’t have the paperwork on hand, you can contact your repair shop and request that they email your maintenance records to you. Of course, this will depend on the shop’s record-keeping system. You can also add a video to your listing of you starting the bike and letting it run for a few minutes.  

Also, take care of any minor mechanical issues before listing. This will increase your motorcycle’s perceived value. To save money, you can do the repairs yourself or ask a friend/family member for help. 

And remember, maintenance doesn’t stop at mechanical upkeep. Aesthetic maintenance is also important. Of course, you won’t need to provide detailing history to interested buyers. However, washing your motorcycle or having it detailed prior to listing is important. It will give the impression that your motorcycle has been well maintained both aesthetically and mechanically.

5. Price reasonably but competitively.

Now that you have researched and gathered the information mentioned above, you can price your motorcycle. Take all of the factors mentioned above into account. 

When determining your asking price, you should determine three different amounts: your ideal/maximum selling price, a reasonable selling price and the lowest amount you’ll settle for.

  • Your ideal/maximum selling price is the largest amount you can possibly charge. Keep in mind this number should still reflect the value of the motorcycle. 
  • A reasonable selling price is an amount between your ideal selling price and your lowest selling price. This amount should be about $500 – $1,000 below the typical listing price. 
  • Your lowest selling price is the lowest amount you are willing to accept for your motorcycle. You would settle for this amount if you feel you are out of options. 

You should list your motorcycle at a reasonable selling price. Don’t list at your ideal/maximum selling price. This may sound counterintuitive, but listing at the maximum price will deter buyers. Especially if other sellers have listed the same motorcycle, in good condition, for less. 

Your initial asking price creates the first impression. If it’s too high, interested buyers may think that you’re unreasonable and may not even bother contacting you. Also, keep in mind that the first 30 days of your motorcycle listing’s life are the most important. The listing is considered fresh and it receives the most exposure during that period. That’s why you should lead with a competitive price.

You also don’t want to list at your lowest selling price. This is because most private buyers will try to negotiate a lower price anyway. It’s important to leave some room for negotiation.

6. Have a plan. 

Before you list your motorcycle and begin to speak with interested buyers, you must have a solid plan. Think of each possible scenario and have a plan for each. 

It’s likely the buyer will have questions about the bike. Tell them the general info about the bike and anything you think will heighten their interest. Depending on their response, you’ll need to evaluate whether you should stick to your original asking price, increase your asking price or lower your asking price. 

Negotiation Tips

1. Speak with multiple buyers. 

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You may not sell your bike to the first interested buyer you speak with. Speak with multiple buyers and determine the best offer. 

2. Put your best foot forward.

When corresponding with potential buyers, be cordial. Remember that the buyer is also vetting you. It sounds silly, but no one wants to give their hard-earned money to someone who comes off rude or standoffish. It’s also extremely important to promptly respond to inquiries.

3. Make your selling points.

It is important to develop selling points so that when a buyer makes an inquiry, you have information to support your asking price. 

Routine Maintenance 

As mentioned above, you should provide documents of your motorcycles maintenance history. Most buyers are not interested in purchasing a fixer-upper. If you can prove that your motorcycle has received regular maintenance and is in good working condition, it will be more valuable to the buyer. 

Vehicle History Report

You could also offer to “show them the Carfax®.” For a fee, you can generate a report on your motorcycle by simply entering its VIN number. Carfax checks for information such as registration history, warranty information, service history, salvage titles, major accidents, etc. 

The report will verify any information you include in your description or share with the buyer. This will positively affect the buyer’s perception of you. It goes without saying that it is important for a potential buyer to trust you. Understandably, buyers are wary of scammers

Features and Aesthetic

Think about the things that you love about your motorcycle. What makes it valuable? Does your bike have a passenger seat? Is it ergonomic? Perhaps, it has brand new tires or glossy chrome exhaust pipes. Features, aesthetic and comfort are all great selling points.

4. Don’t hesitate to close the deal.

Sweeten the deal.

There are many things you can do to increase your chances of closing a deal when negotiating. For example, you can decide to stay firm on your price if there are only a few hundred dollars between the buyer’s offer and your asking price. Then, you could offer to sweeten the deal by including some extras such as a windshield, a bike cover, a helmet or saddlebags. 

Tell the buyer if you need to consider other offers. 

If you are moments away from selling your bike and the buyer begins to hesitate, you can ask them to reconsider. Be honest and transparent. Mention that you will be accepting the best offer. 

Let them know that you would like to sell the bike to them and that it would be a shame if they missed out because of a few hundred bucks. State that if they are unwilling to meet you at your asking price, you’ll respectfully have to consider other offers. 

They may change their mind and choose to meet you at your asking price. However, there is a chance they will explore other options. It’s up to you to read them. 

Lower your asking price. 

On average, it takes 67 days to sell a motorcycle on ChopperExchange. Surely, the time frame will vary, but you can use this as a rule of thumb when thinking about lowering your asking price.

It sometimes hurts to lower your asking price, but sometimes it’s a must. If you haven’t gotten many messages or calls from interested buyers, it may be something to consider. Especially if it has been more than six months since you listed your bike and/or it is no longer riding season. 

If you’re having difficulty selling a customized motorcycle, consider replacing the custom parts with the original stock parts. Most buyers will want to customize the bike themselves to match their own personal style. 

5. Keep your cool and know when to decline an offer.

Lastly, there will be buyers that may lowball you. Don’t sweat it. Kindly decline their offer. There’s no need to waste time on a haggler who wants to nickel and dime you. 

Your motorcycle is one of, if not, your most prized possession. Understandably, it can be difficult when others don’t see the value you see. Just make sure you don’t let emotions cloud your judgment. If you’ve put in a lot of work on your motorcycle, include the specifics in your listing description. 

In Conclusion

Remember, you don’t have to be sleazy, salesy or deceptive to negotiate. When speaking with potential buyers, you can set the tone. Communicate clearly, kindly, honestly and assertively. 

The ultimate goal is to sell your motorcycle for a price that reflects its value. Using the tips above will bring you a step closer to getting the amount your motorcycle is worth, or perhaps a bit more. 

In short, the steps to get the most when privately selling your motorcycle are as follows: 

  1. Look up your motorcycle’s value.
  2. Research other private sellers who are selling the same make and model, on the same selling platform you plan to use. 
  3. Gather your maintenance history. 
  4. Make minor repairs.
  5. Wash your motorcycle. 
  6. Price your motorcycle. 
  7. Create a plan. 
  8. Speak with multiple buyers.
  9. Make your selling points. 
  10. Close the deal or consider other offers. 

Looking for more tips on selling a motorcycle? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Motorcycle.

Are you hesitant to negotiate? Or do you feel completely confident doing so? Let us know in the comments below!

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