Spring has officially sprung! You’ve been tinkering with your bike all winter and you’ve treated yourself to a new jacket. The sun is out, the roads are dry it’s time to hook up with your biker buddies who are emerging from their winter hibernation. But they’ve not just treated themselves to a new kit, they’ve bought new bikes! Now you’re on one of the oldest bikes in the group, but that doesn’t bother you, does it?
You love your bike, you’ve had it for years, you’ve bonded. You don’t need to follow the crowd and you don’t need anything newer. But maybe you fancy the latest tackle, with more rider aids, power, or comfort. If you do, maybe it is time to sell and think about something a little newer?
Assuming your new bike will be a replacement, rather than an addition to the stable, essentially have three options when it comes to moving on your old bike – trade in, private sale, or a bike buyer website, such as We Buy Any Bike. A trade in against a new bike with a recognised dealer is your safest bet. There’s virtually no risk involved and it’s almost instant. They may not be interested in your bike, if it’s not the kind of stock they think they can sell, and they will only offer you ‘book’ or ‘trade in’ price which is considerably lower than expected sale price, as they’ll be looking to make a profit by the time it’s left their showroom with a new owner at the helm. A bike buyer will do the same, possibly even lower, as they too will be looking to make a nice little earner by moving it on, but they tend to be less choosy when it comes to what bikes they’ll buy. To achieve the best price possible, you’re going to have to sell it privately. That can appear daunting, and it will be more hassle, but hopefully our simple guide to selling a bike privately will help keep you on the straight and narrow.
Be realistic –
You may love your bike, you’ve done so much together, but you must forget about that, it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay, and they won’t immediately love it like you do. To a potential customer, it’s just a bike. Look around and research what other bikes in a similar condition and mileage to yours selling for? Make sure the price is in the ballpark, otherwise you’re going to get messed around and waste money on advertising.
How low can you go? –
What’s the lowest you’ll take for it. If you’re asking £5000 will you take £4500? In a private sale a potential customer will always haggle. Set a for sale price, (see above), then think about the minimum you’d accept, and stick to it. Even if they promise you cash in the next hour, stick to your guns.
Clean it –
Sounds obvious, but I see so many bikes for sale described as ‘perfect condition’ which simply aren’t. The more time you spend cleaning the better. Remove bodywork, luggage, get really in there. It wants to be as perfect as possible. If you can’t be bothered or are too busy, then get it professionally valeted, at a cost of £30-£100 depending on the finish.
Aftermarket items –
Just because you’ve spent thousands modifying your bike with aftermarket items, it doesn’t mean it’s worth thousands more. Indeed some aftermarket items can turn even potential buyers away. Is it worth converting back to standard and selling the parts separately? Anodised coloured bolts, tiny number plates and illegal exhausts may scream ‘boy racer’ but genuine luggage, tall screen, and a Scottoiler will be seen by many as a sign of a careful mature owner. Also think about your next bike. If you’re staying with a similar model aftermarket items may be transferable, solid panniers from a BMW R1200GS fit the newer 2019 BMWR1250GS for example.
Worn items –
A meticulously clean chain which is perfectly adjusted attracts potential buyers like seagulls to spilt chips. Would you buy a bike with a worn, rusty saggy chain, no you wouldn’t. Tyres are the same. How much mileage is left on the rubber, are they squared off, are they the correct pressure, have they been used on track. Melted track day tyres may impress your mates, but not potential buyers. Think what you’d look for in a new bike and try to get your bike up to that standard.
Does it start? –
If your bike has stood for some time make sure the battery is charged and the bikes starts, first time. A non starting bike is an instant no sale, or a perfect excuse to whittle the price right down.
Have as much history as possible, such as old MOTs, receipts for any servicing and for any parts you’ve fitted to the bike (which are still fitted, of course). The history not only verifies the mileage but also gives the impression of a responsible owner. Make sure you have the log book, and it’s correct and in your name, with the right colour of the bike and the correct address. You can also carry out an HPI check on-line. Normally the potential buyer does this, but if you can make their life easier, all the better. Finally present all the paper work professionally in a folder.
Smile please –
Finally now it’s clean, in mint condition you can take some pictures. Try to be a professional as possible. The bike needs to be static, with a clean background, it’s all about the bike remember. Shoot from the same level as the bike, so the camera is in-line with the fuel tank, don’t shoot down onto the bike from head height. Photograph both sides, the front, rear and three quarters. Take a few detail shots, the perfectly clean chain, the factory fitted genuine luggage, even take a picture of the paperwork, making sure to hide any personal details, such as your address. Also avoid any picture which determines the location of the bike, such as signs in the background. Sadly, some thieves use small ads to find the location of potential prey. Make sure the background is clear, with no house numbers and clearly identifiable garage, sheds etc. And finally, we don’t need any action pictures. Yes, your wheelie over the mountain at Cadwell Park was impressive, but it’s going to turn off potential buyers, equally they don’t want to see a touring bike fully loaded with luggage in the Alps, even if it does look picturesque.
The advert –
Give as much detail as you can, don’t forget the year, model, mileage, history and most importantly your contact phone number. Remember to be as honest as possible, it’s a legal requirement. The bikes must fit the description that you give, written or verbally even in private sale. Is the price ‘best offer’? Don’t use cliché terms like, ‘must see’, or ‘first to see will buy’. Again, sadly think about bike thieves, don’t give your precise address.
The sell –
Never accept a cheque unless the buyer is willing to let it clear before collecting the bike. Cash is king, either in the form of a bank transfer or actual readies. Don’t allow a test ride, unless they pay for the bike up-front as a refundable deposit. If they are seriously interested in your bike, they will have bought cash. Before they take a test ride ask them to sign a document which confirms they are on the bike, their name, address and insurance. This can be written out by you, simply signed by both parties. This covers you if they do anything illegal on the test ride. Remember to be polite and do your homework so you can answer questions without hesitation. When was the bike last serviced? How long have you owned it?
The exchange –
Remember cash is king, and once you’ve counted it, fill out the logbook correctly, and write out a small receipt. If you’re concerned a ‘seller’s contract’ can be found and downloaded on-line. The contract should be signed by both parties. This contract gives a legal time of sale. If they get zapped by a speed camera on the way home, you won’t have to take the points. Remember you can also change the logbook and ownership online, and you’ll also have to inform your insurance company immediately and either cancel the policy or transfer it to your new bike. Not cancelling the policy could have implications if the new owner has an accident, as it may result in a claim against your insurance.
Finally, wave goodbye and stop crying. You’ll have a new toy sitting on your driveway before you know it.