Top 5 Ways to Sell a Motorcycle
Have you decided to sell your motorcycle? Or maybe just searching for what to do when that time comes? Either way, you’ve found the right place.
Selling your motorcycle can feel overwhelming at the start. With the popularity of technology, there are more options than ever. And they all come with their own pros and cons.
Different sellers have different wants and needs when parting with their motorcycle. We’ll go through each option to explain what makes it a good choice along with some potential drawbacks. We hope that one of these is right for you!
Online Motorcycle Marketplace
If you want to get top dollar for your motorcycle, your best option is a private-party sale. The most common way to conduct these is through marketplaces and classified sites. Motorcycle marketplaces are especially helpful because they are specific to what you are selling. They also help advertise your motorcycle to a national audience.
ChopperExchange falls into this category. We encourage you to find what works best for you.
Maximizing your Sale
Selling your motorcycle privately eliminates the need for a third party. Dealers, auction houses and other resellers will never allow you to maximize your sale. This is simply because they need to turn around and sell the bike again. They need to make a profit. They wouldn’t be able to do that if they sold it at the same price they bought it for.
These options can work if you are short on time or urgently need the money. If you have ample time and can be patient, it is best to try and sell to another rider.
Here at ChopperExchange, we specialize in helping people sell American motorcycles. These include the brands Harley-Davidson, Indian Motorcycle and Victory, among others. If you are selling a non-American motorcycle, our sister site CycleCrunch is an option. No matter the marketplace you choose, they will have a team of experts available to help.
Marketplace teams help riders sell their bikes quickly and easily. They are able to answer any questions you have about the listing and selling process. They can also help you stay safe against potential scams. This is a very helpful benefit, particularly for first-time sellers.
Many marketplaces will charge a fee to list your motorcycle. Most can be listed for around $50 or less. Some sites also offer free listing options, although free listing options/packages tend to be limited in features.
Motorcycle marketplaces are also helpful because they can provide you with resources along your selling journey.
Pricing your motorcycle correctly is the most important factor in selling your motorcycle. Price it too high and waste your time (and money on the listing fee). Price it too low and risk minimizing your return.
Some marketplaces have their own pricing tool to help sellers. If you choose one that does not, they still may be able to help by referring you to external pricing tools that they use.
Motorcycle marketplaces have often compiled reliable resources for other parts of the transaction, too. If you and your buyer are not able to meet in person, this can be extremely helpful. Their experts can refer you to shipping agents, safe online payment portals, financing and insurance information, etc.
Another useful way to exhibit your motorcycle nationally is through a popular classifieds site. These are generally less specific as far as items being sold. However, they can be helpful due to the large user base that some have built.
One possible advantage of other classified websites is the listing fee (or lack thereof) associated with them. Many of these classifieds are free, have a small fee or structured features to help out small-time sellers.
For example, eBay offers lower rates for sellers who list a motorcycle under $10,000. In some cases, it’s possible to defer a portion of the listing charge until after your motorcycle successfully sells.
Craigslist is another popular classifieds site. Their listings are separated by geographic region, although it’s possible to search outside your set region. Craigslist currently charges $5 to list a motorcycle on their site.
Facebook marketplace is another option. It operates similarly to Craigslist in that listings are separated by location. However, this option is free to use with a Facebook account (also free).
Larger Base = Broader Categories
Listing on a popular classifieds site over a motorcycle marketplace has some disadvantages, too. You may see a large user base on one of these platforms and think, “wow, so many people are going to see my bike!”
It’s true that many people may glance at your motorcycle while browsing one of these sites. However, these audiences are not solely looking to buy motorcycles. Think of what you can find on eBay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Almost anything, right?
Keep in mind that while some of these platforms have massive user bases, they do not specialize in motorcycles. Your listing will likely have more impact on prospective buyers using a focused marketplace versus a general one.
Scam Threats & Customer Service
Another downfall of using popular classifieds or a general marketplace is an increase in scam activity. Scammers love to target sites with large audiences and high-ticket items for sale.
Available data tells us that eBay has 187 million users, Craigslist averages about 250 million visitors per month and Facebook has nearly 3 billion users!
Sure, these sites may post tips on what to look out for regarding scams. But good luck trying to get in touch with them regarding anything specific. It’s unlikely that you would be able to reach many by phone. Email communication may be automated or delayed as well.
With a smaller, more specific marketplace, you will likely receive better customer service. You can ask questions directly related to your situation and gain advice on how to proceed. Some of these platforms also have a way of filtering out spam messages, reducing the likelihood of you having to deal with any of this in the first place.
Friend, Family Member or Acquaintance
Do you know anyone in the market for a motorcycle? Perhaps you know somebody who knows somebody? If you do, this may be the easiest route to choose for a sale.
Even if you can’t think of someone immediately, it may be worth it to explore this path thoroughly. Think of people who have expressed interest in your bike or motorcycles in general. Ask them. If none of them are viable options, you can ask if they know anyone who may be.
Selling to a friend or family member does create one unique issue. It’s an issue relating to the most important factor of a sale: pricing. Ideally, you’d like to do them a favor by knocking a few bucks off since they’re willing to take it off your hands.
Be careful about giving out too great of a deal, though. You don’t want to leave money on the table and regret not selling it elsewhere. You also don’t want to rip off and strain your relationship with anyone close to you. Take some time to work out a fair agreement.
The other downside of selling to a friend or a family member is proximity. If the motorcycle has issues after you sell it to someone in your social circle, they may expect you to fix it or issue a refund. You may also feel obligated to do so because you are personally connected to the new owner.
Go Old School
If your friends and family aren’t interested, there is still hope to sell it locally without using the internet. Check to see if there are any nearby motorcycle events or rallies in your area. Socialize with riders in attendance and let them know your motorcycle is for sale. Maybe someone there is looking to upgrade or downgrade in size. If not? They may have connections in the market for what you’re selling.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to bust out the ol’ FOR SALE sign. You can start with using it in your yard or driveway for your neighbors to see. You can also take it with you when you run errands with the bike, and pop it on in the parking lot. Your bike will be exposed to a ton of eyeballs this way. And, you guessed it, the humans behind these eyeballs all have connections as well.
Be aware of any and all opportunities to sell this way. The perfect buyer may be closer than you think.
Automobile dealerships elicit a vast majority of opinions from the public. Some believe they are incredible resources for selling an expensive item so quickly. Others view them as evil entities looking to rob sellers blind.
Dealers can be Helpful
While there are undoubtedly some shady dealerships out there, it’s unfair to label all of them as such. Every industry has good and bad apples.
Motorcycle dealerships can be very helpful resources, especially in two scenarios: if you are pressed for cash and need it quickly, or you plan on buying a motorcycle to replace the one you are selling. If either of these apply to you, consider a dealership to be your first stop.
Convenience at a Cost
Quick cash or credit towards a shiny new bike sounds great, right? It is, but it will most likely come at a cost. As we mentioned at the top, selling to a dealer will not allow you to maximize your sale. Keep that in mind when going in to negotiate.
Conducting a bit of research before approaching a dealer is a good idea, too. If you are looking for a particular bike, browse multiple dealer sites. See where you can get the best deal.
It’s also important to know your bike’s value before trading it in at a dealer. Their first offer may likely be underwhelming, because that’s how negotiations work. Head in with a relative figure for your floor and go from there.
If they can’t meet you at a fair price, there are other dealers out there. If you are looking at one of their units to trade for, this will help you in negotiations. Dealers are always looking to make a sale. It’s likely they will value your bike more if you can help their sales department in return.
Are you trying to sell a vintage motorcycle? Or maybe you have something very rare? It can be difficult to sell something so expensive. It’s possible that none of the options we’ve mentioned so far are your best bet if that’s the case.
Focused Buyer Pool
Thankfully, auction houses exist. The market for classic, vintage and rare motorcycles can be volatile. Not only can the time of the year affect this, but the state of the economy can as well. Many are still reeling from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people who were focused on saving up for that classic bike no longer have that option.
Auction houses ultimately help get your valuable motorcycle in front of the right audience. People bidding on these auctions are serious about spending money. They aren’t looking for a 2006 Sportster 883. They are in search of something more unique.
Expert Help will Cost You
Experts and professionals are also there to help at an auction house. There are many out there to choose from, but Mecum Auctions is worth checking out. They focus on collectable cars and antique motorcycles. Many auction houses may be willing to help you sell, but may also host a broad range of other items as well.
It’s worth noting that using an auction house will be more expensive than using a marketplace or classifieds. In most cases, it will be a percentage of what your motorcycle sells for. These percentages typically start around 5, but can vary.
For example, let’s say you sell an antique Harley for $100,000. This would mean that you owe the auction house at least $5,000 for facilitating the sale. This may seem steep. But, if you were to sell it elsewhere for $75-80,000, then this is a bargain in comparison.
What’s the Best Choice?
Ultimately, the best option is whatever your personal preference is. Consider which factors are most important in your vision of a perfect sale.
Are you hoping to earn the most amount of money possible on your sale? Consider listing with a marketplace or classifieds site first. Keep in mind that patience is important. Shooting for top dollar will require you to spend more time waiting for buyers and fielding inquiries.
Conversely, if you’d like to sell quickly, see what nearby dealerships can offer you. It will be less than another rider will give you. But, if you want quick cash and help with paperwork, dealerships can be a great option.
Maybe you have something very rare, or a bike that your friends are interested in. Both auction houses and local sales can be good matches depending on your situation. Either way, make sure you know what your bike is worth first.
Still deciding on your next motorcycle before selling? It’s never too early to start browsing!