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Buy My Motorcycle

There are numerous ways of enhancing a classified or auction listing to persuade someone to buy a motorcycle.

Pictures in a classified or auction listing can generate greater interest. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Pictures in a classified or auction listing can generate greater interest.

Buy My Motorcycle

Motorcycle owners looking to make some extra cash or upgrade to a new set of wheels often wonder the best way of getting people interested in buying their bike. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula that guarantees a quick sale and a large profit. However, there are a number of easy ways for motorcyclists to make the most of their bike's value and attract buyers to their online auctions or ads in the classifieds section of a local paper.

Selling Condition

Motorcycles in all states of condition are bought and sold each day. A quick search of local classified ads on craigslist shows an assortment of motorcycles ranging from like-new sport bikes to decades-old cafracers and cruisers. Some owners even decide to part-out their motorcycles by dismantling them and selling the individual parts (e.g., wheels, suspensions, body panels and exhausts). It is also common for repair shops and bike owners to sell motorcycle sections that have been damaged in a crash. Given the number of potential buyers who will see an online ad, especially in major metropolitan areas, owners should be able to sell their motorcycles regardless of the bikes condition, as long as they adjust the price accordingly.

Setting a Price

The easiest way to determine a motorcycles basic value is by looking it up in the Kelley Blue Book. This up-to-date database contains estimated retail and trade-in values for dozens of different makes and models. For the sake of comparison, sellers can also get estimated retail values from NADAguides.com. After finding a motorcycle's estimated value, sellers can then adjust the price upward or downward according to the bikes condition and the value of its aftermarket accessories. For example, many motorcycle manufacturers offer add-on parts and performance upgrades, which can significantly increase the value of a used bike; the opposite holds true for cosmetic flaws, structural damage and high mileage, which lower the retail value.

Writing an Ad

According to eBay, a motorcycle ad should contain the vehicle identification number (VIN), a description of the bike's remaining warranty coverage and the title history. This information proves to potential buyers that the motorcycle for sale is in good operating condition and has not been wrecked, perhaps more so than a written description or even a photograph.

After providing a bike's VIN and title history, sellers are free to write the ad however they want. Many online classified ads simply give a short description of the bike for sale, including the model, make, color and mileage. However, some sellers choose to add more detailed descriptions of their motorcycles, including information about the history of use (e.g., commuting, racing or cruising on the weekends), accessories and performance modifications.

Choosing a writing style for the ad is more or less a matter of the seller's personal taste. Some owners like to write catchy descriptions of the motorcycle's comfort, performance or quality. Other owners simply write up a short paragraph that explains why they bought the bike, what they enjoyed about it and why they decided to sell.

Taking Good Pictures of the Motorcycle

Motorcycle owners do not need to take professional photographs of their bikes in order to sell them. Cobra Country gives these basic guidelines for getting shots that are clear and compelling:

  • Take pictures at dawn or dusk; midday sunlight produces shadows that detract from the color and condition of the bike's paint
  • Use a flash bulb when shooting in broad daylight
  • Zoom in on the motorcycle so that it fills the frame, leaving trees, buildings and other vehicles out of the shot

It is also a good idea for sellers to take multiple pictures of the motorcycle from different angles. Extreme close-ups can be nice, but it is usually better to give potential buyers a well-rounded look at the motorcycle's exterior, including its appearance from the front and rear. Sometimes a well-lit picture of the side of a new or like-new bike is enough to convince potential buyers to make a bid. Whatever the angle, sellers should avoid taking pictures at night, because viewers will have a hard time making out the motorcycle's details.

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