How to Sell a Motorcycle (The Ultimate Guide)
Selling your motorcycle can be challenging because of sentimental value and the sheer number of selling platforms.
First, who wants to part with their sweet ride after years filled with exciting and liberating road trips?!
Second, the selling process can take up a lot of your time and energy. This can make you feel drained by the time everything is said and done.
But, don’t get discouraged. The bright side is that the motorcycle selling process can be easy peasy if you do some homework and find the best options for you.
Anyone willing to put forth the effort can successfully sell their motorcycle. Just don’t get fooled by some of the resources on this topic that claim that all it’s an effortless process. Like with most things, you get what you put in.
The selling process is also not always that simple if you really want to maximize your payday.
Put in the time and energy to do it correctly the first time. Both your wallet and your watch will thank you in the end.
To save you time and give you a head start, we did a lot of the homework for you!
Continue on to learn how to become an expert at selling your motorcycle.
1. Know Your Motorcycle
Information is power. It’s important to know your motorcycle better than potential buyers. Familiarize yourself with it as best as possible beforehand.
Think of this process as studying for a test. Similar to when you were in school. Prepare for any questions that a prospective buyer may throw your way.
When was the last time you changed the oil? What about the brake fluid? When did you align the tires last?
This may involve digging out old paperwork. But you will be equipped to answer questions like these and many more.
The bottom line is you will look a lot more trustworthy in the eyes of the buyer if you are well-informed.
First impressions are everything, right? Wow the shopper right off the bat with your extensive knowledge of your bike and excitement of having owned such an awesome machine. You’re on your way to successfully selling your motorcycle.
Missing information about your motorcycle? We’ll discuss where to find the answers later in the guide on our step on getting your bike’s paperwork in order.
2. Choose Where to Sell Your Motorcycle
Now you’re an expert on your motorcycle. What’s next? It’s time to decide where and how you would like to sell your motorcycle. There are a few options available.
Trading it in at a Dealership
A trade-in at your local dealership will likely be the quickest way to sell your motorcycle. Do you want to sell your motorcycle quickly? Do you need fast cash? This is a good first stop for you.
Of course, you may have to sacrifice money for your time. Dealerships are businesses. They need to make a profit in order to stay in business.
They will offer you less money than most private buyers. You could be offered 10–20 percent less than the fair value in the private market.
On the plus side, taking your motorcycle to a dealership eliminates your need to deal with hagglers and potential scammers. Any transaction made will be safe.
Not sure if this is the right option for you? Check out our in-depth discussion about more of the pros and cons of trading your motorcycle in at a dealership versus selling it privately.
Friend, Family Member or Acquaintance
This may require some luck, but all it takes is one person with the right interest for you to sell your motorcycle.
Ask around. You may not have a friend who wants to buy your motorcycle. But maybe your friend’s friend does.
You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Take your motorcycle around town. Maybe you’ll stop somewhere and people will shower you with compliments. Let them know it’s for sale.
Even if they may not be directly interested, they may know someone who is. You can then exchange information.
Be careful about the price tag if you’re selling your motorcycle to a friend or family member. You may want to give them a good deal for helping you out. Beware of giving them too great of a deal, though. You don’t want to have regrets about leaving money on the table.
There is also the potential that they come back to you for every little issue related to your motorcycle once they take possession of it. Because the new owner is a family member or friend, you may feel pressured into fixing issues that are legally not your responsibility. This can also have a negative effect on your personal relationship with that individual.
Would you like to sell your motorcycle privately but also locally? Maybe you don’t feel like coordinating payment and shipment with an out-of-state buyer. This is the perfect route for you.
Local newspapers still run classified ads both in print and on their websites. The digital age has brought a decline in print readership, but both options still have an audience.
Some people who subscribe to print newspapers may be in the market for a motorcycle. Don’t limit your options.
Craigslist is popular for people selling items in their area. This option can be attractive because it is relatively inexpensive to list a motorcycle ($5 for 30 days). It also helps people exchange goods and services with others in their geographic region.
Exercise caution when dealing with Craigslist transactions. Many scammers like to target sellers on this site. Be sure to keep an eye out for red flags.
An Online Marketplace
You will have the highest chance of maximizing your payday if you list your motorcycle on an online marketplace.
Both generic and niche marketplaces exist. Don’t limit your options here. You could search for the motorcycle marketplace that best fits your needs. Or you could opt for a larger — but wider — audience on a site such as eBay.
Most online marketplaces will charge you a small listing fee. Listing your motorcycle will expand your buyer pool tremendously. People all across the country will see your motorcycle for sale.
Increased exposure often leads to a higher sale price. This will more than make up for any listing fee.
All it takes is one person to fall in love with your motorcycle. The more eyes that see it the better.
Buyers from outside your state may express interest. You will need to be prepared to coordinate payment and shipping. But you may get more money for your motorcycle. Selling to an out-of-state motorcycle buyer is not difficult. You just have to be a little extra careful.
If you prefer, you can also limit yourself to local buyers. Or tell out-of-state buyers they must come in person to buy the motorcycle.
Online motorcycle marketplaces are ideal for higher-value, popular and unique motorcycles. There’s more demand for those motorcycles, and buyers are willing to pay to have them shipped. Paying $500 to ship a $3,000 motorcycle is not appealing, but paying $500 to ship a $25,000 motorcycle doesn’t seem that big of a deal.
An Auction House
Keep the idea of using an auction house in mind if you’re selling a rare or unique motorcycle. Selling a vintage motorcycle for the right price can be difficult.
Someone shopping for an everyday bike won’t be your buyer. They are looking for something more practical. They also may not have the cash to pony up for these models.
You’ll want to list your motorcycle in front of the right crowd. You are dealing with a market that is very narrow. It’s best to turn to the professionals in this instance.
Auction houses will charge you steeper fees than local classifieds and other marketplaces. For example, Mecum Auctions rates start at 5 percent of your sale value.
Say you have an antique motorcycle that sells for $100,000. At least $5,000 will go to the auction house.
This option is definitely not for everyone. Use it only when necessary. Despite the steep price tag, it could earn you a lot more money when selling your motorcycle.
We know you have a myriad of options, especially at your fingertips. Take some time to really decide what will work best for you.
Businesses Offering “Fast Cash” Offers
You may see ads online or elsewhere offering you fast cash for your motorcycle. These offers can be tempting. Who doesn’t want fash cash? But these offers are rarely all they’re cracked up to be.
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. That’s the case here 99% of the time.
These businesses buy cheap and sell fast. That’s how they make a profit. If they pay too much or hold onto the bike too long, they lose money. This means they can’t offer you anywhere near market value.
To get top dollar, you always need to sell directly to the motorcycle’s next rider. Eliminate the middleman. You and the buyer can split the difference that would have gone to that third-party.
Sometimes you just need fast cash. In that case, you’re normally better off checking with your local dealerships first. They are nearby and can often close the deal much faster.
It’s not much different than trading it in. You show them the motorcycle in person. They inspect it on the spot that same day. If they are interested, they’ll make you an offer.
If you are buying another motorcycle from a dealership, it’s even simpler and more advantageous. The dealership has an incentive to give you a few extra bucks on your old motorcycle if it helps them close another deal.
Only as a last resort should you accept a “fash cash” offer. Only if you really need the money right now and after your local dealerships have turned you down or low-balled you. And even then, get at least two or three competing offers.
Your Front Yard
This is one of the most old-school ways of selling a motorcycle, but it’s still an option for sellers who have a front yard. If you’re not in a rush, it doesn’t hurt to try.
Two of the biggest disadvantages of advertising your motorcycle for sale in your front yard are limited exposure and security risks. Unless you live on a crazy busy road, not many people will see your motorcycle. It will most likely sit in your yard for many months before anyone inquires.
The second disadvantage is that it’s not safe. People can steal your motorcycle from your yard. It can also be uncomfortable and unsafe to deal with aggressive buyers who know where you live. You never know if an upset person will decide to return later to harm you.
The two biggest pluses of this option are the possibility of capturing buyers who only shop offline and the credibility it gives you as a seller.
While most people shop online, there are still some who prefer to do everything in person. They may drive by your house and fall in love with your motorcycle sitting in your front yard. They may even find you as a more trustworthy seller because you live in their community. They know that you’re a real person, like them.
The bottom line is that you should consider selling your motorcycle in your front yard only if you feel comfortable and able to deal with buyers showing up to your house. If you are not comfortable with that idea, this option is not for you.
What if My Motorcycle has a Lien?
You will need to pay off the debt before selling your motorcycle if there is a lien on it. If selling to a dealer, they will assist you with the paperwork involved. It will require a few extra steps, but you can still sell your motorcycle privately and maximize your payday with a lien involved.
Need more information on motorcycle liens? Check out our detailed explanation of buying or selling a motorcycle with a lien.
3. Set a Realistic Price
This is a big one! As human beings, we tend to place extra value on things that we own just because we’ve touched them and created memories with them.
Motorcycles are one of those items that easily become priceless to their owners. It’s part of human nature. It’s what drives many private sellers to overprice their motorcycles.
Our human nature also prompts us to assign way less value to things that we have not touched or interacted with. This is one of the reasons we always think that the asking price of a motorcycle we’re interested in should be lower.
That motorcycle doesn’t have as much value in our eyes because it has not become part of our life yet. Once it does, its value will skyrocket in our eyes.
In the world of our dreams, we always get to buy motorcycles for less than asking and later sell them for more than we paid. In reality, this rarely happens and it should not be the expectation.
The ideal approach is to set the asking price according to what the market is dictating at the moment, unless you have a super rare motorcycle. You should consider your motorcycle’s condition, any upgrades it may have, how much demand there is for it and what other similar motorcycles are selling for.
Take some time to truly figure the least possible amount you’re willing to sell your motorcycle for. If you want to sell fast, that amount should be your asking price. If you’re in no hurry to sell, you can go a little higher and see what happens.
Don’t be tricked by friends’ comments about how you should be able to get so much more money for your motorcycle. They may just be saying things to make you feel good and carry on a conversation.
Unless they’re willing to pay you that money for your motorcycle or know someone who would, don’t give too much weight to their comments.
Also, brokers and consigners tend to talk up the amount of money they can get you for your motorcycle. They do this to paint an exciting picture for you and get you to use their services. Such statements are not guarantees. Make sure to read the fine print and know the market value of your motorcycle before you enter into any agreement.
The bottom line is that the final decision is yours. It’s an important decision. Asking price is one of the most important factors that determines how quickly your motorcycle will sell. Don’t wing it. Give it serious thought.
Selling to a Dealer
Dealerships have to sit on inventory they can’t sell immediately. It makes sense that they offer you less than a private buyer. Their goal is to buy your motorcycle for as little as possible, spruce it up and sell it for a lot more.
Knowing that, don’t expect to get a great offer from a dealership.
But you don’t sell to the dealership to get the most money. You sell to them because it’s convenient, fast, and safe. Dealerships are often even faster and can offer better deals than dedicated “fash cash” buyers.
It’s up to you to conclude if the trade-off is worth it. It depends on how valuable your time is to you. Many would argue that time is money, and that’s what the dealership would argue as well.
Price valuation tools are a great place to start. At least to get a general idea. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is helpful because it provides a typical trade-in value for your motorcycle at a dealership. It also gives you the typical listing price for similar motorcycles, in good condition or better, available for sale at dealerships.
We also have our own Bike Price Report tool. It gives you information on the most expensive, least expensive and the average price of any American motorcycle model. It also tells you if similar motorcycles have sold during the past six months and what the average selling price was.
Valuation tools should only be used as a guide. If using KBB pricing, your asking price should fall somewhere in between trade-in value and the listing price at a dealership.
A general rule of thumb is to set your asking price $500–1,000 below KBB’s typical listing price. If your motorcycle is not a stock model, you may be able to set a higher asking price.
You should also keep in mind that most buyers like extras, but they rarely want to pay for them. In most cases, you will not be able to get your money back for all the customization and extras on your motorcycle. It’s the truth, despite the fact that it may not seem fair.
Condition and History
Your motorcycle condition and history will affect your asking price. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself:
- How many owners has your motorcycle had?
- Are you the original owner?
- How regularly was your motorcycle maintained and by whom?
- Do you have records of all the maintenance?
- Has your motorcycle ever been dropped?
- Has your motorcycle always been stored inside?
- How high or low is the mileage?
- Was the motorcycle ridden daily or occasionally?
- Does your motorcycle have any dings, scratches, blemishes or mechanical issues?
- Do you have all the original parts and accessories?
- Have you recently replaced the tires and/or done any other maintenance?
Just like with most things, people are willing to pay more for motorcycles that are in great condition and have been maintained regularly. You can’t expect to get the top dollar for a motorcycle that is not in top shape.
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Is your asking price fair, given your motorcycle’s condition?
Unlike cars, motorcycle sales are seasonal, especially in colder areas. Cold weather prevents people from riding. This decreases demand. Even areas with warmer weather year round see a decrease in sales.
Be mindful of the current season when setting your asking price. This can have a big impact on how quickly your motorcycle sells and how much people are willing to pay for it.
Summer is the height of the riding season. The riding season starts in the spring and tapers off at the end of August in most areas. This is the ideal time to sell your motorcycle. It is when buyers can expect to pay a premium on a new-to-them motorcycle.
Caution: Selling your motorcycle at the peak of the riding season doesn’t mean that people will pay any amount you ask for it. You still have to be reasonable and in-tune with what the market will bear.
For best results, you should set a reasonable asking price and list your motorcycle for sale between April and June. Let your listing ride the wave of the riding season.
If you’re thinking about selling your motorcycle during the slower months, don’t panic. Not all hope is lost. People are still looking for motorcycles, especially in warmer states. You just can’t expect your motorcycle to sell as quickly or for as much as it would during the warmer months.
People are always looking for good deals and unique motorcycles. Keep that in mind. If you want to sell quickly, set an attractive asking price, spice up your description and be ready to negotiate. For example, you can offer to pay for shipping for buyers who live in warmer states. It’ll grab their attention.
Extras and Custom Work
You can ask a little more if your motorcycle has a lot of valuable extras and/or custom work. But, don’t go too crazy. Keep in mind that buyers are not willing to pay more than 5-10% of the original price you paid. In some cases, you can’t get any of the money back.
If you do decide to ask a little bit more because of extras and customization, explain why. Provide details to minimize sticker shock. Justify your asking price with proof. Show and explain how your motorcycle is better than the stock version. The more buyers know, the less likely they are to have reservations.
Use price qualifiers to provide context for an asking price. Qualifiers set the table for negotiations before a buyer and seller start talking. Think about which one best describes your selling mindset. Include it with your asking price.
Here is a rundown of the four most popular price qualifiers:
- OBO: Set an “or best offer” qualifier to encourage buyers to make competitive offers on your motorcycle. If nobody offers the full price of what you originally asked for, you can accept someone’s best bid in this situation.
- Negotiable: Set a “negotiable” qualifier if you foresee earning an amount close to your asking price, but are willing to have some wiggle room. Many motorcycle shoppers will insist on negotiating with you. This qualifier makes you look more approachable.
- Firm: Some people may be turned off by a “firm” price qualifier. It’s best to avoid it, regardless of how firm you are on price. Chances are that many people will ignore it and try to negotiate anyway. You can always tell buyers that the asking price is firm when they contact you.
- Reduced: A “reduced” price qualifier informs people that you have lowered the original asking price. This helps catch the attention of buyers who have had an eye on your motorcycle. They may talk themselves into committing at the new price tag, or at least reach out to start negotiating.
Bring it All Together
Don’t wing it. Asking price is one of the most important factors. Figure out the current value of your motorcycle. Consider any extras or customization it may have. Set a competitive asking price right ouf of the gate.
Don’t start with a super high asking price just to see if anyone will bite. This is a bad idea if you really want to sell your motorcycle. It discourages buyers. It also makes you look like an unreasonable person.
You should only start super high if you don’t care how long it takes to sell your motorcycle (or, if you’re trying to show your significant other that you’re unable to sell it 😉).
Price your motorcycle too high and nobody will even bother to reach out. Price it too low and leave easy money sitting on the table.
Your motorcycle will get the most attention when it’s just listed. It’s fresh and people have not seen it before. Your asking price sets the tone for buyers’ first impressions. If your asking price is reasonable, they may even tell their friends about it. If it’s too high, they’ll laugh and move on.
Be reasonable. Set a fair asking price and that will give you a little wiggle room to negotiate. Buyers appreciate fairness.
Still not sure on your asking price? Check out our detailed write-up on figuring out what your Harley is worth, including seasonal trends and more.
4. Get Paperwork in Order
Start gathering your receipts, maintenance records and other documents as soon as you decide to sell your motorcycle. Don’t wait until the motorcycle sells. Waiting will add more stress to the final steps of the sale.
Gathering and reviewing the different types of paperwork can help you write a stronger description. It can also help you determine the most appropriate asking price. It’s a great way to remind yourself of all the valuable features your motorcycle has.
You can wait until after you list your motorcycle for sale, but it’s not recommended. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but it will be more of a hassle the longer you wait. Those who have sold their motorcycle would tell you that this step is easier in the beginning than the end. We agree.
Bonus: Take pictures of all of your paperwork. You can then include them with your motorcycle listing or email/text them to interested buyers. Don’t forget to remove any personal information that you would not want the public to see. You can do the whole process with most newer smartphones.
Your motorcycle’s title is the most important document buyers care about. They’ll want to know if you have it, and if it’s clean and clear.
Always disclose the current status of the title. Honesty is always the best policy. If you have a clean and clear title, that’s a huge selling point. Buyers will think that buying your motorcycle would be a smoother process.
If your title has a lien on it, mention it. Also, explain what needs to be done to remove the lien and get the clear title. If your motorcycle was rebuilt and re-titled, you should always disclose that.
If you’re unable to find your title, don’t panic. In most cases, you can obtain a replacement title from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The process may differ slightly, depending on the state you reside in. It’s important to check with your local DMV for detailed instructions.
You can find out what you need specifically by visiting your state’s DMV website or contacting them via phone. Most states require similar types of information, such as:
- Your driver’s license
- Your motorcycle’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
- The year your motorcycle was manufactured
- The make of your motorcycle
- The model of your motorcycle
- The color of your motorcycle
- The current odometer mileage
- Your license plate number
Exercise caution when providing your VIN. It’s a long sequence of letters and numbers. Ask to repeat it to avoid mistakes. Providing an incorrect VIN to the DMV will cause delays in the process.
You may also need to state the reason you need a replacement title.
For example, in the state of Florida, you can request a replacement title in person or via mail. To apply in person or via mail, you must do the following:
- Complete Form HSMV 82101,
- Provide proof of your identity,
- Provide your current odometer reading,
- Disclose any lien-holders, and
- Pay the duplicate title fee.
The title replacement fees and procedures vary by state, and change from time to time. In some states, it is possible that you will be required to sign it in front of a public notary or DMV representative.
Worried about giving out your VIN? Check out our explanation on the safety of giving out your motorcycle’s VIN.
If you’re like most of us, you have not been neatly organizing all of your maintenance receipts. It’s okay. There’s still hope to gather them all, or most. If you’re one of the rare people who know exactly where their receipts are, this is the time to dig them out.
Blow the dust off. Look them over to refresh your memory of what is up-to-date. See if there is anything you absolutely need to take care of before putting your motorcycle on the market. To get the top dollar for your motorcycle, you should take care of any needed repairs.
Much like your title, don’t become hysterical if you find out you’re missing some files. If you can remember the service shop in which you received most of your service, you’re in good shape.
Many businesses have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system where they keep track of transactions for each customer. Check with your repair shop and see if they can print you a new copy of your records from their system. Chances are that they can either print or email them to you. There may be a small fee, but it’s worth it.
Bonus: Organize your service receipts by date. It’ll help you create a stronger sales pitch and write a more detailed description for your motorcycle.
If your service shop is unable to provide copies of your maintenance records, there’s still hope. You can ask them to give the dates of your appointments for the past 6-12 months.
Pro Tip: Mention the name of the establishment that has been maintaining your motorcycle in your description. It’ll reassure buyers that you’ve been taking good care of your motorcycle. They may even be familiar with the establishment.
Test Ride Agreement Form
Test rides are optional and at the seller’s discretion.
If you choose to allow buyers to test ride your motorcycle, you should sign a document stating who is responsible in case something happens to the motorcycle during the test ride. Putting together the paperwork earlier in the process will allow you to feel more organized and prepared down the road.
Need more information on test rides? Jump ahead in the guide to our step on offering test rides while selling your motorcycle.
Does your motorcycle still have a valid factory or extended warranty? It may be transferable to the new owner.
There is usually a window of time after the private sale finalizes that allows for the transfer. In some cases, a small fee may be charged.
A multi-year warranty remaining on a shiny bike will only make it that much more attractive. Warranty transfer processes will vary depending on the warranty provider.
Check with your dealership, the motorcycle’s manufacturer or third-party warranty provider. Here is some information on the Harley-Davidson Extended Service Plan and Indian Protection Plan transfer processes.
If your warranty is transferable, mention that in your sales pitch. Also, make you know how much time is left on it. An attractive warranty can definitely sweeten the deal.
Bill of Sale
Not all states require a bill of sale when selling a motorcycle. However, the following states do require it: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Even if your state doesn’t require a bill of sale, you should still have one for your records. It’s always better to err on the side of caution. To be absolutely certain, check with your state’s DMV. They may have a blank bill of sale that you can print and fill out. If your state doesn’t require a specific form, you can use our bill of sale.
In general, a bill of sale must include the following information:
- Buyer and seller information
- Witness information
- Motorcycle information
- Payment details
- Purchase details (ownership transfer date, warranty information, “as-is” protection, etc.)
According to DMV.org, 22 states currently require a state-specific bill of sale to be submitted at the end of a transaction.
In general, it’s always a good idea to complete a bill of sale when selling a motorcycle. It offers you protection, in case the buyer drags their feet in transferring ownership with the state. It also makes the ownership transfer process easier for the buyer.
5. Consider Removing Extras
Hooray, we’ve gotten through most of the paperwork early on! We can now have some fun by focusing on the actual motorcycle.
This will help you present your motorcycle in the best light. The goal is to highlight its sizzle and make buyers fall in love with it.
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
We know you love your sissy bar. Your Vance & Hines exhaust pipes make you sound like the baddest dude/lady on the block. Your Carlini Ape Hanger handlebars make you look like a total badass.
And you think your Klock Werks windshield is absolutely sick.
We don’t blame you. Motorcycle riders are a passionate bunch. You only get one life — live it on your terms. Treat yourself. Break the bank on aftermarket upgrades to your pride and joy.
Just don’t expect to get nearly what you paid for your extras if you leave them on your bike.
The problem is that we all have different tastes. We all have over 99 percent of our DNA in common with each other. But this is where the <1 percent comes into play big time.
Nobody can fault you for what you think looks gorgeous on your motorcycle. But there is a chance it may be the biggest eyesore to someone you’re trying to sell to.
With that in mind, we recommend that you remove extras from your motorcycle. Put back the stock parts that came with it. In your sales pitch, mention that you have extras that can be purchased for additional money.
Pro Tip: Take photos of your motorcycle with all the extras on it. Remove the extras. Put the stock parts back on, and take pictures of the motorcycle again. That way, buyers can see what your motorcycle looks with and without all the extras.
Separate Your Tastes From the Sale
Frustrated sellers with customized bikes often inquire about why no one is biting on their listing.
They often set their asking price exceptionally high because “that’s what they paid for upgrades.” You should get this thought out of your mind as early as possible.
It’s very rare that a prospective buyer will have the exact same taste in aftermarket parts and accessories as you. It’s likely that a buyer can be turned off by the extras on your motorcycle. They may make the motorcycle less attractive because they’re not the buyer’s taste.
We recommend that you treat the extras as extra and optional. Give the buyer the option to choose. Of course, there are exceptions to this. If your extras are super desirable and rare, then you should make them the focal point of your listing.
Still not convinced? Our post on selling a customized motorcycle includes some brutally honest feedback from other riders that may change your mind.
Options for Your Aftermarket Parts
Have no interest in keeping your upgrades for a future project? Throw them in as a “bonus” when selling your motorcycle. Sweeten the deal if you’re experiencing difficulty selling your motorcycle. It’ll definitely make your offer stand out.
If that’s not up your alley, sell your aftermarket parts as an add-on. Clearly communicate in your sales pitch that the parts are not included with the motorcycle. They can be purchased for additional money. Disclose how much more.
What if the individual who purchases your motorcycle passes on your aftermarket parts altogether? You still have the option to sell them separately.
Pro Tip: Take photos of all of your aftermarket parts, and include them with your listing. Buyers want to see everything included in your deal.
6. Repair any Minor Mechanical Issues
Just like with most things in life, you always want to put your best foot forward. This also applies to selling your motorcycle. You want it to be in tip-top shape when it hits the market.
Definitely consider fixing any mechanical issues that exist with your motorcycle before you list it for sale.
This doesn’t mean to break the bank on repairs — especially if you’re in a financial pinch or hurry to sell your motorcycle. Whatever you can afford to fix, fix it. It’ll help you get more money for your motorcycle. Most buyers are looking for a motorcycle that doesn’t have mechanical problems.
If your plan is to sell your motorcycle as a fixer upper, you can skip the repairs. There are definitely buyers who are looking for fixer uppers and basketcases as project bikes. Just make sure to make that clear in your conversation with potential buyers.
You don’t have to spend money to repair your motorcycle if you don’t mind getting less for it. That’s a perfectly fine position to have. You just can’t expect to get the top dollar for it.
At the end of the day, weigh the pros and cons of spending money on repairs. Then decide what makes the most sense for you and your budget. Only you can make that decision.
If you’ve been tinkering with motorcycles for most of your life, you may even be able to do some minor repairs on your own. Go ahead and check everything out. See what you can fix before you put your motorcycle on the market.
Here are some cheap fixes that won’t take up much time:
- Replacing your engine’s air filter
- Checking your brake pads
- Replacing any light bulbs on the fritz
- Changing your brake fluid, antifreeze and oil
- Replacing any missing nuts, bolts and screws
- Tightening your chain
- Testing your battery
Anything you can do to improve the current condition of your motorcycle is a plus. It’ll help you impress buyers and get more money.
Get an Inspection
If you’re not mechanically savvy, take your motorcycle to a reputable mechanic for an inspection. This also applies to sellers who are mechanically savvy, but don’t care to do extra work.
After you get an estimate for repairs, decide if it’s worth it to spend the extra money. Most inspections cost between $100 and $150, which may be waived if you commit to do the recommended repairs.
Either way, a thorough inspection will give you peace of mind. It’ll also help you fine tune your sales pitch when talking to buyers. It’s important to be honest with potential buyers regarding your inspection results.
Disclosing the results of a recent inspection gives you credibility as a seller. You’ll be perceived as honest and transparent. Buyers will appreciate that.
Once your motorcycle is in show-off condition, go ahead and print out a few pre-show inspection checklists.
Run through one on your own. See if you like what you observe. Ensure that you’re satisfied with how the checklist grades out. Be prepared to hand one over to anyone who comes to look at your bike.
This will do wonders to improve your credibility in the buyer’s eyes. That means your chance of selling your motorcycle just increased again.
7. Wash Your Motorcycle
Humans are fascinated by shiny things. That’s one of the reasons people love clean, shiny motorcycles. They sparkle and make us happy.
That buyer’s happiness will help you sell your motorcycle faster. The goal is to make buyers fall in love with your motorcycle at first, sparkly sight.
Think about what you would want to see when shopping for a motorcycle. You find one that you like. You show up to see and test ride it. To your shock, it looks dusty and dirty. That kills your excitement and triggers negative thoughts. You walk away, and look for a motorcycle that looks clean.
Don’t let potential buyers have a similar experience with your motorcycle. Spruce it up, so it sparkles and sizzles. Give buyers all the reasons to want it.
You can do the wash yourself or take it to a professional detailer. Either option is okay.
Want to make sure it’s as clean as possible? Check out our guide on how to comprehensively wash your motorcycle.
In general, you should be mindful of the following:
The first step of cleaning your motorcycle may take some research before you start. Not every motorcycle is the same. It’s important to grab the right cleaning agents for your ride.
You’ll need different cleaners for the main body, the wheels and the leather pieces.
Remove all of the leather pieces possible before getting down to business. Does removing the leather expose any electronics? Be sure to cover them up before you begin cleaning.
A cheap and readily available approach to this is placing trash bags over these components. Secure them in place with strong tape for added protection.
Rinsing the motorcycle will work better with a pressure washer. This will uncork any stubborn dirt from the body, but it’s not absolutely necessary. A foaming spray is recommended to better ensure you’ll hit every spot.
Don’t use a super powerful pressure washer. It can cause damage to your paint and other exterior components. To be safe, always test the pressure washer before using it on your motorcycle.
One tip that flies under the radar is using bug repellent during your comprehensive wash. Apply the repellent after you rinse the soap off. Rinse again after you’ve applied it and let it sit for a few moments.
It may be an overlooked step, but it will help keep your bike looking pristine and free of pests.
Follow the instructions on the cleaners for both your wheels and leather pieces. It is possible to do damage to these units if you act carelessly. Again, use a cloth that has no dirt, rock particles or anything else that can cause cosmetic damage.
When it comes to drying, you have a few options at your disposal. If you have a leaf blower handy, whip it out and rev it up! If not, a quick drive around the neighborhood will do the trick.
Proper drying will help safeguard your motorcycle from streaks that standing water causes. It’ll give it that fresh and clean look that we all love.
Make sure you finish the drying process with a clean microfiber cloth or a comparable tool. You don’t want to undo all of your hard work with a dirty rag.
The Wax and Worship
Finally, it’s time to wax your bike. People often overlook this step. You shouldn’t. It will help immensely with limiting sun and scratch damage. It’s the final touch that brings it all together. It will make the motorcycle look sparkly and amazing.
Take a step back and admire your work! To keep your efforts from going to waste, it’s important to store your motorcycle indoors. Protect it with a cover if you have one. It’ll extend the life of your wash.
If you don’t wash and detail your motorcycle, buyers may perceive it as less valuable. They’ll look at it and assume that you don’t care much about it. It will affect their overall perception of the motorcycle’s condition and upkeep. If it looks like you gave up, buyers are likely to give up as well.
8. Take Quality Photos
Now that you’ve cleaned your motorcycle, it’s time to show it off. This may come as a surprise to you, but the majority of private sellers use terrible, low-quality motorcycle photos.
They don’t take the 30–60 minutes needed to capture 10–20 really good shots that fully show the motorcycle for sale.
These are the most common photo mistakes sellers make:
- Blurry photos taken with low-resolution cameras (certain cell phones included) and/or with a lot of movement.
- Photos with poor lighting, such as inside a dark garage/storage and after sunset.
- Photos with garage clutter in the background, or too many other motorcycles.
Keep in mind that photos — along with the price tag — are crucial. The quality of your photos determines if buyers will click to learn more. That’s why it’s so important to get it right the first time.
For online listings, photos allow buyers to get the full feel and take mental ownership of the motorcycle before they even see it in person. Naturally, buyers gravitate toward photos that grab their attention and allow them to fully see what the motorcycle looks like from all angles.
The good news is that almost anyone can take good photos. Most recent smart devices have good cameras. Add some patience and a hint of strategic thinking, and you’re on your way to great photos.
Want to dive deeper into taking good motorcycle photos? Check out our article on using high-quality photos to get the most when selling your motorcycle.
Let’s run through the most important aspects of taking great photos!
Make Mother Nature Your Backdrop
Get your motorcycle out of the garage or storage unit. Unless you have an incredibly spacious, impeccably lit and flawlessly clean garage, it’s not a good place for photos. Even if it’s super tidy, it still makes for a boring backdrop. Take photos inside a garage or storage unit only if you have to.
Once you’re outdoors, you’ve got several choices:
- Your driveaway, if it’s not cluttered or in a shadow area. Make sure that other vehicles or contents of your garage are not in the photos. Also, don’t include house numbers or any landmarks that will enable people to figure out where you live.
- Your favorite park.
- Beautiful lakefront or beach.
- Secluded road. Be very careful not to put yourself in danger. Pay attention to any vehicles that may be on the road.
- In front of lush greenery (trees or bushes).
- Your favorite road trip destinations. If there are other motorcycles present, make sure that they’re not in your photos.
Pro Tip: If you don’t want your license/registration plate to be visible in photos, you can temporarily cover it up with a sheet of paper. You can also edit it out after the fact. Either option is fine.
Lighting, Lighting, Lighting
Even if you choose an amazing location, your photos will not turn out great if the lighting is bad. Bad lighting will cause your photos to look dark and gloomy. It can also distort the true look of your motorcycle, such as the paint color.
Good lighting allows you to show exactly what your motorcycle looks like. It gives photos clarity, crispiness and natural feel. The goal is to make buyers feel as if they’re seeing the motorcycle in real life.
Here are a few useful lighting tips you should consider:
- Take photos in the morning or afternoon. The ideal time, known as the Golden Hour, is one hour after sunrise and one before sunset. The worst time to take photos is midday. The sun is way too bright.
- Make sure that the sun is behind you and reflecting off the motorcycle. The sunlight should not be behind the motorcycle as you’re taking pictures. The motorcycle will not be very visible.
- Avoid shadows in your photos. Pay attention to how the sunlight is hitting the motorcycle. Reposition it if you notice any shadows in the photos.
- Don’t take too long. The sunlight changes as the day changes. This means that the way your photos look will change as well.
- If you’re taking photos inside a garage or storage unit, open the door or a window to let natural light come in. Take photos with the natural light behind you, hitting the motorcycle. Never do it the other way around. Your photos will look too dark.
If you live in an area where it snows, you can still take pictures when it’s bright outside. You should retake your photos once the winter weather passes if your motorcycle has not sold by then. It’s a great way to freshen up your listing and attract new buyers.
Don’t be Shy, Take Many Photos
It’s time to fire up your phone or camera! Don’t be shy. Take a whole bunch of photos. You don’t have to use all of them. The goal is to get a good variety of photos. Many sellers make the mistake of taking one photo, which is not a good idea.
To really show potential buyers you went above and beyond, we recommend taking between 20 and 30 photos. Just two or three are not enough to show all angles and features of your motorcycle. At the same time, try not to go overboard. Everything in moderation.
Do a 360 around your motorcycle and take photos of every angle. Take close-ups of features you feel are important to the motorcycle, including the paint color, designs and custom art. Think about what angles and features you’d want to see if you were a buyer. Capture those angles and features.
Make sure that you’re not standing too close to the motorcycle when taking photos. Buyers want to see the whole motorcycle, as well as some close-up shots. Give them a variety of photos.
Go in a natural order, so buyers can get a comprehensive tour of your motorcycle. Don’t jump around. It’s very frustrating when one comes across a motorcycle listing with photos that are out of order. The very first image shows the seat instead of the entire motorcycle.
Snap some photos of any aftermarket parts or gear you plan on selling with the motorcycle. Only listing those items in the description is not enough. Give buyers what they want without making them ask.
Finally, don’t forget to take photos of any blemishes, dings and other types of damage. Buyers definitely want to know about those.
Check out these amazing photos from some top sellers for inspiration.
(Include dealer photos to give examples here instead of shouting out)
Don’t Overthink It
Taking quality photos has become easier than ever. Sure, a DSLR camera would be great to have, but it’s not at all necessary.
Most smartphones and digital cameras are capable of taking great photos that will grab people’s attention. If you don’t have access to one, ask a friend, relative or neighbor to help you out.
This is an important step. It should not be taken lightly or overlooked. If you take the time to put in the effort, it’ll really make a difference in selling your motorcycle.
9. Include a Video
We strongly recommend adding a short video to complement your photos. It’ll add a “real life” aspect and give you more credibility as a seller.
The ideal video length is between 45 and 90 seconds. Anything longer than that is too long. Most people don’t want to watch long videos.
Here are some easy tips for shooting a great, short video of your motorcycle:
- The video should start with you starting the motorcycle, and letting it run for a few seconds. The goal is to show that motorcycle is in working condition and what it sounds like when it’s running.
- Display the odometer and other gauges on the dash while the engine is running. Show they’re in proper working order. If your motorcycle has a sound system, show it off a little in the video as well.
- Do a 360-degree walk around the motorcycle. Don’t walk too fast. Show what the motorcycle looks like close-up and while standing a little bit away from it.
- Zoom in on any unique features, including the current mileage reading.
- Try not to make erratic or shaky movements. Stay as steady as possible.
- If you’re recording with your phone, hold it in a horizontal position. Not the way you would hold it when placing a call.
- Mention what makes your motorcycle unique and what you love about it. Don’t play loud music in the background.
- End the video by thanking the viewer for watching. If you have someone to help you record, you can also end the video by getting on the motorcycle and riding away.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a pro or own some fancy camera. You can probably use your cell phone to shoot a really good video. The most important part is to capture and show what buyers would want to know about your motorcycle.
(Include dealer videos to give examples here instead of shouting out)
Want more information? Review our extensive guide to filming a video when selling your motorcycle.
10. Take Time to Write the Description
Sellers sometimes overlook the importance of a nicely written description. They write a couple lines of text and call it a day. Don’t be one of those sellers. Take 30–60 minutes to write a detailed and easy-to-read description that makes the case for why people should buy your motorcycle.
“Why do I have to take time to write a description if they can see everything in the photos and videos?” you might ask. That’s a good question.
Humans are visual creatures, which means that we need to be told and shown things. Your photos are the showing aspect, and your description is the necessary telling.
As humans, we love stories. That’s one of the things that sets us apart from other species. It’s how we build relationships and sell things. The best sales pitches tell good stories. Your description is your sales pitch for selling your motorcycle. Make it a good story that buyers will want to read and share.
And it’s not just basic information pertaining to the motorcycle. Year, make, model, asking price, color, condition, mileage and location are all must-have information for any motorcycle buyer.
That’s just the starting point. The most interesting parts come next.
Additional, Important Information to Include
Avoid generalities at all costs. “Runs great, mint condition, msg for more info” sounds lazy. It sounds as if the seller gave up. You never want buyers to think that you’ve given up on your efforts to sell your motorcycle.
Your role is to be the biggest cheerleader for your motorcycle. You want to tell the whole world why your motorcycle is the best motorcycle. You can do that by crafting a nice description that includes the following points:
- Current holder and condition of the title
- How many owners your motorcycle has had over its lifetime
- How and where it has been stored
- Its maintenance records
- Any major services done on your motorcycle
- When the most recent work was done
- If it has ever been in an accident, dropped or laid down
- Any aftermarket parts you chose to leave on
- Any extras you’re willing to throw in with your motorcycle
- What type of riding it was used for
- The reason you’re selling it
- What you’ll miss the most about it
- Your favorite thing about your motorcycle
Have questions about your title or other paperwork? Jump back in the guide to our step on getting your paperwork, including your title, in order.
The overall goal is to make a solid sales pitch for why someone should buy your motorcycle. As they say in sales, focus on the sizzle instead of the steak alone. The sizzle sells the steak. Your motorcycle’s story (description) is its sizzle.
One other thing to be mindful of is how people are going to find your motorcycle. You should include important keywords and phrases that people may be searching for in your description.
Many existing motorcycle marketplaces allow you to search by keyword if you wish. Think of all the different phrases someone could use to search for your motorcycle. Include those keywords to help garner more attention toward your bike.
The easiest way to do this is to think about what words buyers may be searching for when looking for a motorcycle like yours. Use those words in your description if they make sense.
Don’t just use certain keywords for the sake of using those keywords. The keywords you use should match the overall context of your listing.
Don’t Waste Keystrokes
Don’t be angry or aggressive when writing your description. Avoid screaming (typing in all capital letters) at those viewing your ad. That type of tone makes you look unapproachable.
Don’t mention scammers or lowballers. Don’t give them any power. Chances are they won’t even read what you wrote. Most scammers are robots who will not heed your warning. Instead, your description will sound silly. So, you still lose.
Only focus on the people you want to read your description. Your goal is to make a good impression on them and prompt them to inquire about your motorcycle. Everyone else doesn’t matter.
We recommend that you write your description before you list your motorcycle for sale. Save it as a Word or Google document. You can then copy and paste it when you’re ready to list your motorcycle. It’s easier to think when you’re not under pressure.
Shorter paragraphs and bullet points almost always read easier than long paragraphs. You should also avoid extra long sentences. They’re more difficult to comprehend.
Assume that most readers are skimmers. They’re looking for not a novel. But, don’t forget the smaller group of readers who want to read as much information as you can give them. They want to know all the details before they buy something. That’s where the deeper, story aspect of your description comes in.
11. Be Transparent and Truthful
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous step, but it’s so important that it deserves a deeper dive. Plus, it not only ties into the text description of your ad. It also affects other aspects encompassing your efforts to sell your motorcycle.
Be upfront about the current status and condition of your motorcycle, and the reason you’re selling it. Honesty is always the best policy. Buyers will recognize and respect your approach.
The Golden Rule
Treat people the way you would like to be treated. Keep in mind what it would feel like if you were shopping for a motorcycle. Try to view the entire process from the buyer’s perspective.
Imagine how you would feel if you found the motorcycle of your dreams. You read the description, look at the photos and arrange to go see it in person. You’re super excited.
When you show up, you immediately notice that the motorcycle is not exactly as described. The seller never mentioned that it has a few scratches and the extra accessories are no longer available.
Just like any reasonable person, you get angry and walk away.
You never want interested buyers to have this type of experience when trying to buy your motorcycle. It rarely ends in a positive outcome for either side.
Be honest, professional and courteous. Keep your word.
12. Establish Terms of Payment
This may slip your mind until you’ve come to a price agreement with the buyer. But it’s crucial to consider it beforehand to avoid being backed into a corner (‘cause nobody puts Baby in a corner).
Explore All Payment Options
Think about how you want to be paid for your motorcycle before putting it on the open market. Take a moment to research your options.
If conducting the transaction in person, the safest and easiest method is to meet at the buyer’s bank. You can ensure that the funds you receive are legitimate. It can also save you time.
What if the buyer lives far away and can’t do the transaction in person? There are still safe ways to complete the sale.
Many first-time motorcycle sellers are familiar with wire transfer services. A couple of the most popular are PayPal and Western Union. These platforms can be safe, but fraudsters also frequently use them.
Western Union has more of a reputation for being unprotected. You may be surprised at how scammers pull it off with PayPal, too.
If you choose to use PayPal or Western Union, contact them directly to verify the transaction. Go to their website to look up their contact information. Don’t click on any links or call telephone numbers sent to you by the interested buyer. They could be fake.
Our suggestion is to use some type of escrow service to complete the transaction. Many of these services charge a service fee. The fee amount is usually a small percentage of the transaction amount. The service fee for a $15,000 motorcycle is usually between $150 and $200.
The best part is that escrow services protect both the seller and the buyer.
You can also contact your bank and ask them if they can assist you. Some banks offer escrow-like services to their customers. They may be able to help you verify the buyer’s payment before you hand over the motorcycle. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Cashier’s Check Warning: Contrary to popular belief, cashier’s checks can be fake. Counterfeit cashier’s checks are actually very common. They look so realistic that even some banks are initially fooled by them. Your best bet is to ask your bank to verify a cashier’s check and also contact the issuing bank to make sure that the check was drawn on a real account. Overall, be very cautious.
Make the Decision That’s Best for You
Decide which payment option is the best for you. If you don’t feel comfortable with PayPal or Western Union, be upfront and firm. Don’t let an interested buyer dictate how you prefer to be paid. Know your limits and don’t budge.
Take some time to explore all possible routes. Figure out what is most convenient for you. This way you can make sure that any transaction you decide to go through with is protected and secure.
13. Be Ready to Negotiate
Expect the majority of interested buyers to want to negotiate the asking price of your motorcycle. It’s part of selling any big-ticket item. It’s actually a red flag if the buyer doesn’t want to negotiate, and just agrees to pay whatever you’re asking.
To prepare yourself for negotiation, you should:
- Give yourself a little bit of wiggle room in your asking price.
- Know your absolute lowest amount you’re willing to sell your motorcycle for as soon you list it. That way, buyers will not be able to push you around.
- Come up with two or three reasons your asking price is fair. You can use these points to counter buyers’ offers.
- Be ready to walk away. If a seller is not willing to pay the bottom amount you’re willing to sell your motorcycle for, tell them you’re out. Don’t ever let buyers sense your desperation to sell. They’ll use it against you.
- Be firm. Don’t give off the impression that you can be easily persuaded to make exceptions and take a lowball offer from buyers.
In negotiation, it’s more important to talk less and listen more. Your asking price has already set the tone for the negotiation. Your main role is to entertain offers, counter and accept the offer you like the most. You have the upper hand. Don’t lose or show it.
The same rules apply when negotiating in person, via telephone or online.
14. Post Your Ad
Select the Best Platform for You
There are several online motorcycle marketplaces out there to choose from. ChopperExchange is one of them. But it’s not the only one. There are also broader marketplaces, such as eBay and Craigslist.
Each option has its own unique pros and cons. Take some time to explore your options and decide which one is right for you.
Are you trying to sell your motorcycle quickly? Posting your ad in multiple areas may be something to consider.
Not sure where to sell your motorcycle? Head back to our step on selecting the best place to sell your motorcycle.
How to be Contacted
Should you add a phone number to your listing? Yes, unless you strongly prefer not to speak to interested buyers via telephone.
In general, most buyers prefer to call and ask questions. This is especially true of seasoned riders who consider themselves more old school. They value hearing someone’s voice and having a conversation.
Many motorcycle marketplaces also have a message system. Buyers can send direct messages to sellers who chose not to disclose their telephone number. This is a fine option.
We highly advise against listing your email anywhere in the description of your ad. This will increase the chances you receive messages from spammers.
15. How to Spot Scammers
We live in the age of African princes looking for assistance in claiming their riches and damsels in distress who need someone to rescue them. Online scammers have been around for decades, and are still thriving. Many have become really good at tricking people into handing over their hard earned money to them.
As soon as you list your motorcycle for sale, it’s normal to receive messages that sound too good to be true. Don’t panic. It’s happening to other people who are selling things online. It’s par for the course.
The most important part is to carefully consider every offer that comes in. Look for red flags. Don’t get blinded by the dollar amount. If it’s too good, it’s probably not real.
The good news is that most scammers use a similar strategy. First, they cast a wide net by messaging as many people as possible. They then wait for the few who respond. People who are most likely to respond are individuals who are pressed to sell their motorcycle quickly and/or are going through a tough time in life.
The next step for the scammers is to start weaving their story. One of their favorite stories is that they’re buying a motorcycle for a relative. They offer to pay you extra money that will need to be wired to a shipping company. The price is not an issue because the motorcycle is a gift for a loved one.
In reality, neither the shipper or the loved one are real. The shipper is actually the scammer. The wire transfer or cashier’s check that they sent you is also fraudulent. You’ll be responsible for giving all of the money back, including the “shipping” money you wired via Western Union.
This is just one of the common internet scams. There are many more. Let’s briefly look at a few of them. Most scammers resort to one of the following red-flag moves:
- Insist on overnighting a cashier’s check for more than the asking price.
- Don’t try to negotiate the asking price.
- Don’t ask many questions about the motorcycle — just want to buy it.
- Claim that the motorcycle is a gift for a loved one who lives in another country.
- Only want to communicate via text messages. Claim to be on a military base, oil rig or another remote area that has no cell phone reception.
- Have a sob story that is difficult to follow and makes no sense.
- Copy and paste when texting. You can tell if their message includes legal marks (®, ™, ©) that are not commonly used in text messages.
- Sound like they are very far away or muffled when speaking on the phone. There’s often a clicking noise in the background. They’re most likely using a Google Voice number.
- Email you a link to a website that looks like PayPal. Look at the URL and make sure that it says paypal.com. If it doesn’t, it’s some type of a scam.
- Are overly pushy and aggressive, and are not acknowledging the things you’re saying to them. They just want you to agree to accept their fraudulent payment.
Anyone Can Fall for a Scam
The popular belief is that only less intelligent or gullible people fall for online scams. That’s actually totally false. According to Maria Konnikova, the author of the The Confidence Game, there is no specific personality or intelligence level that makes certain people more likely to fall for scams.
The reality is that any of us can fall for a scam if the scammer reaches us when we’re going through a tough time in life. We’re emotionally and mentally more vulnerable in such situations. That’s when scammers make their move.
Also, people who are highly intelligent and well versed in certain fields are more likely to be conned in those fields. Their confidence gives them a false sense of security. This makes them ideal targets for scammers.
Instead of thinking that you’re too smart or wise to be scammed, make an effort to be more skeptical. Ask your friends for their opinion. Ask your bank. Ask us. Google it to see if other people have received similar offers.
Also, have some fun, like this TED Talk speaker did in 2016.
16. Be Patient: Bend but Don’t Break
It’s easy to become frustrated if it takes more time to sell your motorcycle than you had imagined. This feeling can intensify if you’re in a pinch, or come across too many scammers or tire kickers.
Remind yourself that other sellers are probably going through similar emotions. Ask yourself if it’s possible that your expectations may have been too optimistic. There could also be something going in the motorcycle industry that’s slowing things down.
Take a deep breath and consider the options still available to you. If there’s will, there’s a way.
With your optimism in tow, consider the following options:
- Lower your asking price. If you initially listed your motorcycle at a higher price, that’s likely the reason it hasn’t sold.
- Take and upload fresh photos.
- Make tweaks to your description.
- Reach out to the advertising platform to find out if there are any valuable upgrades that would benefit you.
- Record and upload a video of your motorcycle.
- Share your listing on popular social media platforms.
Keep in mind that you’re selling a big-ticket item. This means that it’ll take some time to sell since it requires a significant amount of money. It’s a lot more involved than selling a vacuum. It takes time for the right buyer to come along.
17. Offer Test Rides (Under Certain Conditions)
Many sellers are hard-set on not letting anyone hop on their motorcycle before a sale is finalized. It’s certainly justifiable to take this stand.
Some sellers are open to allowing test rides, but under very specific conditions. One of the conditions is to allow the buyer to be the second passenger while the seller is in control of the motorcycle.
Let’s take a look at some important things to consider if you choose to allow test rides.
Forms and Funds
For ultimate protection, you will want a form signed by both parties. The form will explicitly state who the liability falls on in the event of an accident.
Coinciding with the form, you may also want money to exchange hands. There is no “right” amount to request. The full asking price should be fair in the eyes of any serious buyer.
Insurance and Legalities
It’s important to have everyone involved protected legally as well. Ensure that whoever is going to test ride your motorcycle has the proper insurance coverage. Ask them for their driver’s license. Take a photo or make a copy of it.
Make sure that the person has the required gear and knows how to ride a motorcycle. It may be a safe move to require anyone who test rides your motorcycle to wear a US Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet. Make sure the person meets your state’s laws for operating a motorcycle.
Best Areas to Meet
Choosing an appropriate meeting place is also important. When dealing with a high-dollar transaction, it’s important that everyone can feel as safe and comfortable as possible.
Don’t invite interested buyers to meet at your house. It may not be safe. Also, don’t take the motorcycle to their house.
A general rule of thumb is to meet in a public place. Try for an area with a high amount of foot traffic in the daytime. It would be very risky for anyone to try and pull anything illegal in a setting with so many eyes watching.
One of the best places to meet is at the potential buyer’s bank. If you can meet during business hours for a test ride, you may be able to kill two birds with one stone.
Some of the other great places to meet are:
- Your local dealership, if you have a relationship with them.
- Your local DMV office.
- Your bank, especially if it has a spacious parking lot.
- Your insurance broker’s office.
- Your work, if you work in a large office building with security.
If possible, you may feel more relaxed if you bring someone along with you. It would be even less likely for the prospective buyer to try anything if you have a witness.
Pro Tip: Don’t meet at the police station. It may seem like a safe place to you, but many people don’t feel comfortable meeting there. It’s not a relaxing place to meet. It may be overkill that can sour the deal.
18. Sweeten the Deal to Tip the Scale
People love free stuff. That’s no secret. We live in a world where it regularly feels as if we are nickel and dimed for everything under the sun. So, a free gift may surprise someone and make them overly appreciative — even if the item in question isn’t all that remarkable.
Motorcycle gear isn’t cheap, either. You already know this given the fact that you’ve already owned a bike.
Say you have some gear you have outgrown. Or you really want to make a splash with your future purchase and acquire all-new gear for your brand-new motorcycle. If either scenario is the case, consider gifting it to the new owner.
Tidy it Up
Keep in mind that if you haven’t ridden in a while, you probably haven’t worn your riding gear in some time. Take a few moments to dust it off. Clean it up and make it really look enticing to the new buyer.
Nobody wants a grubby leather jacket.
Maybe you’re fixed on parting with your gear the same time you sell your motorcycle regardless. You may want to consider mentioning this from the start.
Still undecided on giving away your gear? It may be helpful just to keep the option open as a backup plan.
19. Finalize a Deal
A deal is in the works now. You’ve found a buyer and agreed on a price. What’s left? It’s time to decide how the buyer will pay you and collect the motorcycle.
Finalize the Payment Terms
Some people may not have all the cash on hand to buy your motorcycle outright. They may need to secure financing from a third party.
Harley-Davidson offers a Rider-to-Rider Financing Program for these cases. Other motorcycle manufacturers may have similar programs.
If they opt for this option, you will need to meet at a local Harley-Davidson dealership. Provide them with the proper information and discuss terms and rates. Once the buyer’s credit application is approved, Harley-Davidson will take care of most of the legwork.
The service does charge a fee, which will vary based on your area. This covers an inspection of your motorcycle along with the completion of various paperwork.
Soon after completion, you will receive a check for the total amount that you had agreed on. From this point forward, Harley-Davidson is now responsible for collecting payments from the buyer.
Be aware that this can only be done with both the buyer and the seller present. This will not work if you’re unable to meet in person.
If the buyer is using another financing institution, you’ll need to meet at their location.
This is why it’s important to find out exactly how the buyer plans to pay for the motorcycle. It’ll dictate when and where the transaction will take place.
Selling to a Buyer Located Out of State
If the buyer is unable to meet in person because they live far away, you’ll need to decide if you’ll use an escrow service. You’ll also need to decide how you’ll ship the motorcycle.
If you decide not to use an escrow service, your local bank may be able to provide you with some feasible options. Each bank is different. You’ll have to contact them to find out if they have any experience with large online transactions, and if they can assist you.
Not sure what types of payment to accept? Just back up to our step on setting your payment terms.
Explore Shipping Options
Shipping your motorcycle can seem frightening to first-time buyers and sellers.
- How do I know it will get to the correct location?
- How do I know it will make it safely?
- What if my motorcycle gets damaged?
- How do I know I’m getting a good deal?
We’ve done some homework and feel that we have compiled a few good resources for motorcycle shipping.
Not all shipping companies are equally good. You’ll have to do some homework to find out if a shipper has a good reputation, how much they charge and if they service the area you want to ship your motorcycle to. For example, some shippers don’t deliver large items to New York City because of the traffic and toll fees.
You should also decide who should pay the shipping cost. You can offer to pay or split the cost to sweeten the deal. You can also ask the buyer to pay the full amount. Any of the three options are fine.
Most motorcycles can be shipped for around $500 in the United States. Some areas are cheaper and some more expensive. The shipping company can give you the exact amount when you contact them for a quote.
20. Tie Up Any Loose Ends
The process for completing the sale of a vehicle varies depending on the state you live in. We will go over the most important parts, but be sure to check with your local DMV to lock down the specifics.
What you’ll need to do the day of the sale:
- Prepare a bill of sale. Make a copy or take a picture of the completed form. Submit the original to the DMV to prove that you no longer own the motorcycle
- Transfer the title to the new owner by completing the bottom portion of it. The new owner will then have to request a new title to be issued in their name. Make a copy or take a picture of the title before you hand it over.
- Make a copy or take a picture of the buyer’s driver’s license and insurance card.
- If there is a lien on the title, you’ll need to take care of it. You may need to submit a form required by the DMV.
- Take care of the warranty transfer, if applicable. There is usually a grace period between the time the vehicle changes ownership and the last day to transfer the eligible warranty. A fee is sometimes involved.
- Decide what you want to do with your license plate. You can keep it if you’re planning to buy a new motorcycle soon. Otherwise, you should surrender the plate to the DMV. Do not keep your tags without registering them with another vehicle, though. You may be subject to license suspension or other punishment.
- Contact your insurance to let them know that you sold the motorcycle.
The buyer will be responsible for paying sales tax at the time of registering the motorcycle in their name. The information in the bill of sale will be used to determine the amount of sales tax owed.
It’s rare, but you also may have to pay sales tax as the seller. If you end up selling your motorcycle for more than the amount you purchased it — plus the cost of any upgrades you may have made on it — you will be subject to capital gains tax.
That’s it! Once everything is signed, sealed and delivered, say your final goodbyes. It’s a tough goodbye, especially if it was your first motorcycle. But it was time. You know that.
Don’t forget to take a couple of photos of your motorcycle before you hand it over.
They say every end only presents a new beginning. Let’s begin, shall we?
21. Start Looking for a New Motorcycle!
You didn’t really think we were going to end on a sour note, did you?
Letting go of your motorcycle is one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do. Motorcycles aren’t necessities. They’re not cars or trucks; you don’t just buy one to get from point A to point B.
You made the decision to become a member of the biker community because it’s a passion that runs in your blood like no other.
If you sold your motorcycle to attend to pressing financial matters, it may not be time to buy immediately. But your time will come again one day!
If you sold your bike to trade or upgrade your ride, why not see what your new cash can buy?
What’s more fun than browsing for a new-to-you motorcycle?
Correct answer: Nothing.
Consider All Options
Think about how much better of a position you will be in this time around. Both in knowing what to look for in a motorcycle, as well as the buying process itself.
Say you bought a Sportster and it didn’t have quite the power you were looking for. Or say you had purchased a Road Glide and just felt it was just a bit too bulky for your taste.
Now is your chance to right your wrong.
Don’t be afraid to take some time to really browse around. You don’t want to rush into or settle on anything. Especially with the price tag that comes with a motorcycle.
Get a Feel
Consider going to a dealership to check out some motorcycles in person. Even if you don’t want to purchase from a dealer. Sit on some of the ones you like and see how they feel. Take it for a test ride.
But what if you do happen to fall in love with a motorcycle right away? Don’t feel inclined to pull the trigger right then and there. Take some time to evaluate what deals exist out there.
Browse different dealer locations. Consider looking into what private sellers have to offer.
After all, you will be intimately familiar with that process if you’ve made it this far. Use what you’ve learned on the selling side to capitalize on your buying power.
You now have all the information you need to sell your motorcycle. Do you think we missed anything? Or maybe you still have a question? Let us know in the comments.
We’d be happy to respond to any questions or comments you may have about selling your motorcycle.
22. One Last Thing
It doesn’t have to end just yet.
Plenty of buyers are looking for their next motorcycle on our marketplace everyday. Do you want to sell your bike now? You can list your motorcycle for sale right now. Your bike will be on the market in minutes!
Our marketplace has thousands of motorcycles listed for sale too. Are you ready to buy your next motorcycle? Browse our collection of 20,000+ American motorcycles and get back on the open road.
Decided to buy or sell elsewhere? That’s great, too. We hope this guide helped you get all the information you needed.