What to do when selling your motorcycle

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

Motorcycle owners sometimes come to a time when they need to sell their beloved bike. Selling a motorcycle can be challenging, but you can help minimize that stress through research and preparation. While you might need to do more than polish your bike and put the word out, these simple steps may help you create a smooth selling experience.

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Do your research

One of the first things you need to do when selling your motorcycle is to determine its value. While you might love it, maybe that particular model or style isn't currently popular among buyers. It may generally be in good condition, but imperfections like small dents, scratches or minor mechanical issues may affect its value. The paint job might be extremely desirable, or maybe it's not a popular color with potential buyers. Whatever the case, do a little research on comparable bikes in your city, state or region.

You can find market values of motorcycles in local classified ads, websites and national motorcycle-specific classifieds, says Motorcycle Cruiser. You can also search websites like Kelley Blue Book and NADA Guides. If you have a custom bike, it may be a bit more difficult to get an idea of your bike's resale value. You may have to use your judgment and make reasonable estimates. You can also consult the previously mentioned resources to get a feel for what comparable bikes are selling for.

Prep your bike

Before you advertise and market your motorcycle, you'll need to prepare your bike to be seen and inspected by prospective buyers. Start by cleaning your motorcycle. Give it the usual once-over to remove everyday grit and grime, and then do a more in-depth cleaning of potentially overlooked areas. Motorbike Writer suggests you clean under your seat where dirt may accumulate, scrub battery terminals to remove any calcium buildup and eliminate any surface rust from chrome or metal parts. You may also want to buff out any light scratches, clean off any tar spots and give it a coat of wax, says Motorcycle Cruiser.

At this stage, it may be a good idea to apply some touch-up paint to particularly worn areas, but work with your paint retailer to match the color and sheen as closely as possible. In addition, tune up your bike so it starts quickly and easily. Run through the T-CLOCS checklist provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to help ensure that the bike is in safe riding condition. This checklist covers: tires and wheels; controls; lights and electrics; oil and other fluids; chassis; and stands.

Advertise well

According to Motorcycle Cruiser, one of the easiest ways to advertise your motorcycle to potential buyers is with a local paper (or its online version) that is specifically for vehicle sales. You may also want to contact a local motorcycle club, a dealership's bulletin board or a national motorcycle website. Remember to be honest in the description of your bike, says Motorbike Writer, and provide details such as the make, model, price and mileage.

Photos of your bike can be extremely important, as they're often the first opportunity to grab the attention of online shoppers. Photograph your bike against a simple background, says Motorbike Writer. To help avoid shadows and take advantage of consistent lighting, shoot the photos outside on a clear day and use the flash if needed. Photographing your motorcycle from all sides may also be a good way to highlight some of the selling points, such as the odometer and any particularly notable accessories.

Work with buyers

Transparency is key, so be up-front with your prospective buyers. Even if you've tuned up your bike and know it's road ready, you might want to have your bike checked by a mechanic. That way, you'll have a receipt showing the recent service and inspection to include with your other documentation, including proof of ownership, finance details (if relevant), remaining warranty and previous service or maintenance history. Chances are, potential buyers will want to see these types of documents, says Motorbike Writer.

Once you arrive at an agreed-upon price, finalize the sale by filling out a bill of sale and transfer the title. Check with your state's requirements regarding bill of sale and title transfer to help ensure you're in compliance, and mail in the transfer of ownership information immediately, says Motorcycle Cruiser. Then, make sure your vehicle registration is removed from the bike and arrange for payment.

With proper planning and attention to detail, the process of selling your motorcycle can be just as enjoyable as buying it in the first place.