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Yesterday we gave you our top tips for making the right choice on your new bike for 2009, now we’ll tell you how to beat the salesman and get that very bike for less.

Of course, we’ve all heard how the motor industry is struggling to cope with the credit squeeze and, despite the motorcycle industry holding up slightly more favourably than the car industry; it’s still very much a buyer’s market.

That means that there are going to be discounts on offer for those who push hard enough but be realistic. No dealer is going to be handing out much in the way of discounts for desirable new models with lengthy waiting lists but at the same time, they will be more than happy to see the back of some of the more unpopular models that struggle to sell.

From your earlier research, you should have an idea of what you’ll be looking at in terms of cost so work around that figure. As a guide, have four numbers in your head:

  • The list price of the bike. This is your guide price and negotiations will invariably start from here.
  • A realistic price that you’d just love to get away with paying.
  • A “fair” price that would leave you riding away thinking that you’d got a good deal.
  • Your maximum price – never go over this price.


When you have these numbers in mind, it’s time to talk to the salesperson.

Salespeople are well trained in the art of emptying people’s pockets and so dealing with them is an art in itself. Getting a good deal starts well before you sit down with the calculator and even the simple task of introducing yourself can help you get on the right track.

Ask the dealer’s name, tell him yours and shake hands. It’s a simple step but it breaks down a potentially restrictive barrier and increases the chances of the seller wanting to reach an agreement with you. Also make it clear that you are there to buy today.

Use phrases like “I’m willing to do a deal today” or “I can write a cheque today if the price is right”. It convinces the seller that you aren’t a “time waster” but you also signals your intentions early on that you are prepared to talk down the price on the ticket.

Draw the salesperson into dialogue about the bike; ask about some of the features and his personal opinion on it. What you shouldn’t do however, is use one of the following phrases:

  • “I really like this bike.” – This tells the seller that, you would be very reluctant to leave the showroom empty handed and that potentially, your heart is over-ruling your head. Remember that the seller should be more desperate to do the deal that you are – there are plenty of showrooms, plenty of bikes and plenty of deals out there if this doesn’t come off.
  • “I’m new to biking” or “I don’t know an awful lot about these”. – Whilst most dealers are helpful, reputable sellers, there are some out there who could exploit this weakness. For that reason, it’s best to keep your novice status to yourself.


You should keep on being courteous to the seller throughout the process. There’s nothing that get’s a seller’s back up more than a customer that comes across as rude, abrupt and arrogant. Let them go through their sales pitch but of course, don’t let yourself be overly swayed by it.

When it comes to the number-crunching, you’re likely to be presented with a sales contract detailing the list price, various other costs (such as admin fees, registration costs and delivery charges) and a breakdown of the finance deal proposal. Study this briefly and politely reject the offer. “To be honest, this is more than I had in mind” will give the seller a clear but polite indication that you aren’t prepared to pay the price that he wants you to pay.

This is where you get to use something in the industry that’s known as “chutzpah”. Some call it cheek; some call it audacity and the more that you’ve got the better.

Make the seller an offer that you know is going to shock him. He isn’t going to accept it (unless you are unbelievably lucky) but he isn’t going to throw you out of the showroom. What this does is drastically move the point of negotiation. There are plenty of price negotiations that end in “I’ll meet you in the middle” – that “middle” wants to be more in your favoured area than the dealers.

The salesperson will then make you a counter offer and this is where you turn the tables. Think or a reasonable offer (something just under your “fair” price for example) and use phrases like “If you can knock it down to £x then we’ll have a deal” or “I’ve seen it for sale online / in Bike Trader for £x, I’ll sign if you can match it.”

Don’t forget that as well as a discount on the price, you could ask for some extras thrown in to sweeten the deal. That could be anything from a year’s worth of tax through to be it a new helmet, leathers or even a year’s bike insurance.

Be persistent with this and try not to give up any ground. After this, you’re likely to be met by a series of “best offers”, “final offers” and probably even the sales manager but don’t be intimidated – in fact, push the deal.

If you feel that the negotiations aren’t quite going where you want, take a quick break and leave the showroom. Tell them that you just need to go and call a friend. It gives the seller and his manager five minutes alone to discuss the deal and at the same time, makes it clear that you are prepared to walk away.

When you return, they may make another offer. If not, push them again. As a general rule, it’s unlikely that a seller will refuse a fair deal for a third time. If they look as if they are thinking about accepting the deal, say nothing and offer to shake hands – a salesperson finds it very difficult to refuse a handshake.

Shake hands, sign the paperwork and then look forward to delivery date. Oh, and don’t forget to arrange your motorcycle insurance before you collect your new wheels!

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