Tips for selling your motorcycle or ATV
Originally featured in ATV Magazine
by Jon RhodigAugust 17, 2009
Invariably in this economy with unemployment at all time highs (circa 2009) some ATV and motorcyclists will need to sell their machines. Whether it be purely for financial reasons (can’t make the payments), needing to downsize/up size, or just getting rid of that “spare” machine that the wife or kids don’t ride anymore. What follows is some tips on how to get that ATV or motorcycle sold quickly so you can move on-what ever the reason might be.
Alright if everyone was perfect their machines would be in near immaculate condition, but in reality all machines will have some blemishes or problems. The key is to set the buyer at ease (by the appearance) that there are no major issues possibly plaguing the machine. It has been proven that a well kept exterior on a car/truck can increase its ability to sell quickly for top dollar than one that has had its exterior neglected but is still a solid, reliable vehicle. The same will apply to your ATV or motorcycle, the old adage “Do not judge a book by its cover” does not apply as potential buyers WILL judge your ATV motorcycle by it's initial appearance (or cover).
What to do: Remove any “custom” graphics or other personalizing items like stickers, numbers ect… Light scratches can be taken out easily by reading one of my other articles Give your Machine a face lift . Replace any broken plastic or torn seat covers. It may cost some on the front end but it will reap benefits on the bottom line in getting all of your asking price as well as the selling in a timely manner. Basically you don't want to give the potential buyer any easy reasons to low ball you. Always take good pictures for your listing. Read on.
Light oil/grease leaks should be thoroughly cleaned. Major oil leaks should be fixed IF it is financially available to do so. If the machine is well used and it is apparent that your asking price reflects this don’t bother, just be honest with your buyer. Fix any obvious broken or worn parts. Depending on the age of the bike or ATV some of this will be expected by buyers.
Below are some examples of what you should avoid in your listing.
DO NOT list your machine in this manner. Here are some examples of what NOT to do. Photos withheld for anonymity.
1980 GT 80 – Need it gone – $270
Seriously, need it gone. It’s complete, it used to run before I started messing with it. I have all of the parts.
It leaks a little oil, the tubes in the tires may need to be replaced. It won’t take a lot to get it running again.
The buyer is thinking: Ok, so if it used to run before You started messing with it, what else is wrong with it? If it will not take a lot to get it running again-then why don’t You have it running and sell it as a running bike? This seller could probably get a few more dollars and it sold quicker if it was a running bike, especially because it is a small starter type bike for a child.
Or how about this next one
1994 Yamaha Moto 4 350cc $1300
Good condition, lots of power for hauling that deer out of the woods! Has racks front and back for hauling good tires. Needs break lever and kill switch and could use new hand grip gas shut off leaks but I priced all this at Yamaha dealer $50 fixes it. Hate to see it go.
The buyer is thinking: Ok, if $50 and a simple carb clean will fix it up like new, then why didn't You spend the $50 and keep riding it? Better yet why would I pay your asking price if it is (assuming) in non running or safe operable condition. The red flags are easy to see in this listing. For one thing the price is too high for such an old machine, but not only that it needs some work before the new owner can even ride it. If the seller lowers the price a bit, fixes the minor issues (if it is true that all it needs is a carb clean) list it as a fully functional running ATV he will could get close to his original asking price.
As you can see you don’t need to do a complete overhaul of the engine but if the ATV is in decent shape but just not running you can increase the potential for getting top dollar with a running, mechanically sound ATV.
This should be a no brainier, but as the examples above and below illustrate spelling and grammar project to your potential buyer your level of intelligence which also gives the buyer a preconceived notion of how diligent the seller might have been with maintenance and repairs. Obscene spelling and grammar errors can turn a buyer away and click on someone else's ad, even if your machine is the best condition and lowest price. Below is an example of this.
hoda cr 250 – $550
run great call will trad for a hours trailer call casey @ ###-###-#### no emals thanks
screamin yamaha viagra!!!! – $1350
bad a$$ 82 yamaha virago 750cc v-twin bike. bike looks newer than 82. bike is loud, has lots of stuff done to it, new carbs,carb boots,oil change,k&n air filter,after market mirrors, rear tail light, and blinkers, which one is broken, but the tail light has blinkers in it, so you dotn need the other blinkers. has almost new dunlop tires wit about 300 miles on them. motor crashers, new front fender, new vinyl for seat. bike has original tool set also. bike is really really loud with cobra pipes. loudest one out of the whole pack. this bike is great for a begginer, or a woman, or really any one. 29,000 miles but tha dont stop it. has a little starter problem, starter on ebay is $20 or you can just tap the starter to start, and it starts every time. one great bike. willing to trade for a nice tuck. please call me ###-###-####, i dont check my emails often.
I have a hard time taking these ads seriously enough to even contemplate contacting the seller, even though both of these bikes look “OK” in the photos they provided. Your listing should be short and sweet and to the point. No need to write a novel as this will turn buyers off as well. Telling them every detail in an ad can also raise suspicion that there is something majorly wrong and your trying to draw attention away by talking about all the little meaningless details. On the converse a six word sentence and contact info doesn’t “hook” the buyer enough to even consider contacting for an appointment to see the machine. The best ads tell the buyer accurately what is being sold and one or two distinguishing features as well as plenty of contact info. And most importantly it is formatted correctly with correct spelling and grammar.
Setting your price:
Setting the asking price is quite subjective. The value can vary greatly from geographical area, demand or popularity for that type of machine in that area, and how many other machines are for sale in your area. Of course it goes without saying that the condition of the machine is probably the most defining factor. The best advice I can give is to research your machine’s popularity and what other people are asking for their machines that are similar in nature. The key is not to try to “chase” the market with an overly high price that you just end up having to keep reducing to even get a nibble of a buyer.
It may be helpful to ask friends what they would pay for your machine, usually they can give you an insight on what is a fair price that will generate some interest. Be modest, face it your not going to get new price for a used machine. ATV’s and motorcycles are considered luxury items and are NOT investments. If your trying to get out from underneath a loan/lien on the ATV or motorcycle you first will need permission from the lien holder to sell and it is rare to get the exact price that you owe on the machine, so take that in to account when pricing so you don’t overprice just to cover your loan/lien.
A word about upgrades and aftermarket parts. Just because you put a $800 exhaust system on your machine does not mean you added $800 worth of value to said machine. with things like this it is always better to sell the exhaust separate if you want some of your $800 back. Buyers usually want to personalize the machine to their tastes, not buy someone else’s idea of the “perfect” machine. Aftermarket parts are very taste specific in some cases. The best approach is to return the machine to as close to stock as possible leaving a blank slate for the buyer.
This is not a comprehensive list of everything you should do when selling your machine, I just wanted to touch the high points. Remember clean it up, fix it up, and price it right and your buyer will come.