How To Sell A Motorcycle On Craigslist

Here are some great tips on selling your motorcycle on Craigslist. Some people are in such a hurry to sell their motorcycle they don’t think about taking the time to write their ad and it either gets flagged off or gets little to no response. Then I’ve seen some people have no clue what their motorcycle is worth and price it so low it looks like spam.
I seen this posted in the motorcycle section of Denver’s Craigslist this week three different times. It was flagged off really quick, so I thought I’d post it here.

Motorcycle selling guidelines for the mentally deficient (Denver Metro Area)

1. What you owe on your bike has absolutely NOTHING to do with how much it’s worth. It’s hard to swallow, I know, but just because you got suckered into buying that bike at full MSRP plus ridiculous fees (setup, delivery, documentation) with a worthless 4-year warranty doesn’t mean it’s magically worth more when you need to sell it. Your bike is still worth the same as every other similar bike that is for sale this week.

2. “Like new” and new are not the same thing. That bike of yours (like your car) lost a big chunk of it’s value the second you rode it off the lot. It doesn’t matter that you have never ridden it since, it is still a used bike. If it is 3 years old (or 1 month old) it is worth substantially less then a brand new bike from the dealer. In fact people prefer used bikes that have been ridden as opposed to bikes that have sat in a garage collecting dust.

3. Price your bike competitively. Do your research. Check Kelly Blue Book, Nada, local forums, other Craigslist ads, etc. Try to get an idea what your bike is actually worth on the open market. Keep in mind that what you are seeing on Craigslist are asking prices. If you see the same bike on Craigslist week after week after week then obviously it is priced too high. Factor in the mileage, condition, etc when deciding on a number. If your bike is priced higher than all the similar bikes for sale then it’s probably not going to sell anytime soon. Suck it up, price it a hundred bucks or so lower than comparable machines on the market, be willing to negotiate, and watch it sell fast. The alternative is to let the bike sit and depreciate more every day, it is certainly not going to increase in value over time.

4. This really should go without saying but, POST SOME PICTURES. GOOD ONES! I know this is hard to fathom, but would-be buyers, especially the ones that actually have the money, like to see what it is they’re buying. That means you should not be taking pictures with your cell phone, or posting pictures you stole form the internet, or tiny pictures that show no detail. Borrow a digital camera, take a bunch of really good pictures, and upload the best ones. If you seriously want to sell your bike good pictures are mandatory.

5. Be descriptive in your ad. What year is the bike? What is the exact model? What is the actual mileage? What is the color? What is the condition of the bike? How much is left on the tires? Do you have clear title in hand? Any damage or flaws? What features does your bike have over similar bikes? What extras are you throwing in? etc.

6. Put the year, make, and model in the title of the posting and state the price in the box Craigslist provides for that purpose. Don’t use stupid titles like “@@@Look@@@” or “Must See!” or “great bike for sale”. The only reason people click on those annoying titles is to flag the ad. Most people are looking specifically for one or a select few models of bike and those are the only ads they want to see.

7. Aftermarket equipment does not automatically raise the value of your bike. Buyers prefer bikes in stock condition, so modifications and aftermarket equipment and extras can actually LOWER the value of your bike to many buyers. Aftermarket equipment should be used as a tool to sweeten the deal, NOT to increase the asking price. Modifications are not an investment and if you want to get your money back from your shiny new windscreen, you should take it off and sell it separately from the bike.

8. Using the work ‘FIRM’ in your ad just makes you sound like a idiot, especially when your motorcycle is priced $2800 higher than everyone else is pricing the same bike. Wondering why it’s still for sale after 3 months with no hits? Particularly annoying is when a seller combines “MUST SELL!” with “FIRM!”. “FIRM” means inflexible, “MUST SELL” means you are flexible and willing to go the extra mile to unload the bike. It’ can’t be both so which is it?

9. Be honest about your bike’s condition. A scratch here and there? Bit of rash on the tail? No problem, shit happens…but BE HONEST about it. There is nothing that tees off a buyer more than driving across town to view a ‘flawless’ bike, only to find out that it’s a total piece of crap with blown fork seals, bald tires and cake frosting on the chain. If it looks like it’s been dragged behind a garbage truck, chances are a buyer is unlikely to overlook the damage. Honesty is kind of important when selling a used bike with no warranty, and blatantly lying about your bike is going to chase away potential buyers.

10. Put your phone number in the ad then answer your phone and watch your email. Buyers who have the money, are impatient as hell and itching to buy something. If you want to sell your bike, you’re going to need to be responsive to the people who want to buy it. If you don’t answer your phone and respond to email only once a week then chances are buyers are going to buy elsewhere.

11. Use effective words and consider using ALL the various spellings of your particular motorcycle in your ad. This way, if someone searching for a ZX-10R, they’ll see your ad even if they type ZX10R, ZX10, 10R, Ninja, etc…it’s so simple, yet often completely overlooked.

12. Don’t pad your ad with every brand name of motorcycle so that your ad comes up in every search. It just pisses buyers off and causes them to flag your ad. If it is not a Harley, don’t put Harley in the ad. An FZ6 is NOT a “poor man’s Ducati”. Buyers are typically looking for a specific brand and model and if they are looking for a Road King they don’t consider a Nomad or Road Star to be the equivalent.

Good Luck buying or selling on Craigslist.

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5 Comments »

  1. Dear EGIB (Jeff):

    You offered some very good pointers here. My crowning achievement as a professional writer came when a friend of mine asked me to do a Craigslist write-up for an old Aerostitch riding suit, complete with holes for street cred and sweat stains for track credibility. We did this as a joke, He would have been content to get $10 for the wornout suite. He got over $100.

    There is nothing like the power of suggestion.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

    Comment by Jack Riepe — March 13, 2010 @ 8:54 am

  2. Good stuff. Correct about people looking for a certain model. I sold a bike on Craigslist about two years ago. When the guy showed up to ‘look’ at it with a trailer and his wife and kid, I knew he wanted it. They also drove 100 miles to get here. He still tried to talk me down. Didn’t work. I got what I wanted, he got what he wanted.

    Comment by WILLY D. — March 14, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  3. Great info, but how to best handle test rides? Don’t want to look like an idiot when I let someone test ride my bike and he never returns. Any recommendation on this. Just hang onto drivers license and hope it’s legit?

    Comment by Dave — July 8, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

  4. I have qa 2007 honda shadow for sqale. Like new 1300 miles 750cc engine.
    Windshield, lots of chrome, front floorboards, saddlebqags. This is a cruiser.
    Price 5,000.00 dolars. 662-560-7883 or 66s 562 7191.

    Comment by jackie yow — July 12, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

  5. I have here in my garage five (5) classic CB-750’s for sale and completely restored by me and my sons. I have two 1969 one being a Sand Cast, one 1970, one 1972 and one 1974.
    Any suggestions how to sell these beauties and get what they are worth ??

    John Moore by email or call
    (210) 496-2001

    Comment by John A. Moore — September 12, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

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