We all love our motorcycles but, for whatever reason, very few are faithful to our bikes forever. Most of us like a change and will sell our bikes from time to time, and when that time comes we always like to get the best resale price.
But what factors influence what someone is willing to pay for a motorbike? Here are 10 factors to consider when it comes to the resale value of your pride and joy.
It goes without saying really, that bikes in good condition will command a premium over average or poorly presented examples.
Bikes that look unloved are less desirable than minters and savvy buyers will haggle over every little detail.
As the seller, there is no excuse for advertising a dirty bike. Cleaning the bike, detailing it and making sure the chain is lubricated and adjusted correctly is a minimum and shouldn’t present too much of a hassle.
For other scratches, damage and service items it’s important to consider your return on investment. A bike with a dented tank, for example, may be perfectly rideable, but will have a big impact on the resale value of the bike. Consider the cost of repairing and replacing any light damage, but consider that the cost of carrying out the work may be more than the resultant increased value and desirability of your bike. In that case, it’s probably best to advertise as is and let the new owner decide what to scrub up.
Any insurance claims will also show up on the bike’s history and affect the value of your bike. These markers show that an insurance claim has been paid out on the bike. Category D (often attached to stolen and recovered or lightly damaged bikes) and Category C (beyond economical repair) bikes can be repaired and put back on the road and, regardless of the quality of the repair, it is highly unlikely that they will attain the same resale value of a similar condition bike that hasn’t had a claim against it.
Supply and demand
Before selling your bike, make sure you know your market. Check the internet to find out prices of other bikes that are up for sale, and make sure you know the specs and condition of these.
If there are loads of similar bikes on the market then you’ll find it hard to make top dollar unless your bike really stands out from the crowd. If there are only a few on sale, you might be able to put in a cheeky price that will hook in a buyer desperate for your rare model.
Advertising images and description
Most people are going to judge your bike by the pictures and words you use to advertise your bike.
Don’t lie, but sell it in the best possible light. Be descriptive in the text and take nice pictures. A dark picture taken in the corner of a dingy garage will never make a bike look good. Take them outdoors, ideally in good light and with an undisturbed background.
Like condition, buyers will judge a bike on its mileage. Modern bikes only usually average around 4,000 miles a year, meaning that condition and a good service history will usually be more desirable than a grubby one with a fewer miles on the clock.
Most modern big bikes are capable of handling high mileages though, but big numbers on the clock will always affect the resale value.
Many motorcyclists like to modify their bikes but buyers generally like their bikes to be as close as possible to factory specification, especially as they approach classic and vintage status.
If modifying a bike, it’s always a smart idea to keep the original parts. That way you can return the bike to stock condition at the time of resale and make a few extra quid by selling off the aftermarket parts separately.
Heavy modifications like custom paint jobs will always polarise opinion and narrow down your potential customer base. Buyers will usually barter on the price with modified bikes, as they may want to replace the offending parts.
For old bikes, originality can make a huge difference to the value, not least because factory spare parts are often unobtainable. Generally mint, unrestored classics fetch the most, followed by nut and bolt restorations using original parts. The difference in prices can often be staggering.
For all originality rules, some carefully chosen accessories can make your bike more desirable in the second hand marketplace.
Some things are just meant to be. Triumph’s naked Street and Speed Triples are always more saleable when fitted with the neat little fly screen, while Ducatis and Termignoni end cans go together like bread and butter.
Big BMWs are always more saleable when fully loaded with extras, and so few RT tourers and GS adventure bikes are sold in base spec that they are always less desirable. That makes them good value to buy, but more difficult to sell on when you want something different, as buyers of these bikes will inevitably want spec like heated grips and cruise control fitted.
Good aftermarket gear from respected brands like Touratech and Wunderlich can also add to desirability on big adventure bikes, but most stuff from third party companies is less wanted and at best will have no impact on the value of your steed.
Timing of sale
It’s hard to quantify this, but there is a definite seasonality to motorcycling in the UK.
Generally speaking, riders many leisure riders bring their bikes out in the spring and park them up for the winter when the nights draw in.
It therefore goes without saying that fewer riders go looking for bikes in the winter months but, likewise, more bikes tend to come on the market in the sunnier months. Ultimately it is a classic case of supply and demand. If your bike is rare and highly desirable, buyers are likely to be queuing up regardless of the time of year. For more everyday bikes, you’re likely to achieve a better price due to increased demand – just make sure your bike stands out though, as you’re likely to be fighting with plenty of other stock trying to catch the buyer’s eye.
The revival factor
Nostalgia sells and motorcycles are no different. We all remember our first bikes, or the ones we lusted after as teens, and as we get older and have more income, it’s not uncommon for riders to go seek out their first loves.
That means that bikes which were once desirable but then slipped into banger status can often become hot property again some 20 to 30 years on, as Forty and Fiftysomethings go out in search of their youth.
Stuff that could be picked up for a song when they were five or six years old can be extremely desirable these days. Early Honda Fireblades, Suzuki RGV250s and even original kids’ monkey bikes are all appreciating these days as a result of increased demand from middle aged enthusiasts.
Continuing on the theme of supply and demand, rarity factor often comes in to play in the used bike market.
It’s often the case that bikes which never really took off when new, think Yamaha GTS1000 or Kawasaki W650, suddenly find themselves in demand decades later.
These bikes often sold in small numbers or were heavily discounted when new, only to find themselves in vogue as fashion changes.
It’s not only old bikes that are rare. Brilliant new bikes can come in the market from time to time that see demand outstrip supply. Early Triumph Daytona 675s, modern Nortons and limited edition exotica like Ducati’s Superleggera are all recent examples of bikes that could even be sold on for a profit by customers looking to make a quick buck.
The introduction of a new model can have an impact in the value of your motorcycle, especially for nearly new stuff.
It’s human nature that we want to ride the latest and greatest, so when a manufacturer introduces a new and improved version of a popular model, it can have an impact on the prices of second hand bikes. This is because demand goes down and supply usually increases, with riders trading in old bikes and dealers discounting old stock to make space for the newer models.
If you ride a current model bike that’s more than two years old, the chances are that it is ripe for an update sooner rather than later. Most new bikes are launched at the big winter shows, from October onwards, and while manufacturers rarely announce replacement models in advance, there can be telltale signs. Spy shots appearing in the media and special deals and finance offers in the dealerships are tell tale signs that a new model is on the horizon. If you’re thinking of changing bikes, that may well be a signal to sell up before prices take a heavy fall.
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