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Selling is a skill that’s one-part art, one-part science, and one-part luck. When you want to get the most money possible from a motorcycle, you’ll need to approach the transaction from the buyer’s benefit.

What about your bike makes it worth your asking price? How can you document its features, options, or custom components in ways that add value?

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Instead of eating the depreciation costs that come when riding motorcycles full-time, these tips can help you make your money back (and maybe some profit!) through a private sale.

Step #1: Know Its Value

It helps to know what NADA and Kelley Blue Book say your motorcycle is worth because many buyers use those figures as a foundation.

It would help if you also looked at the current listings in your area to see what price comparable motorcycles are currently selling for other owners.

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If you get too ambitious with your pricing, there will be few offers. You can get a quick sale at a low price, but you’ll be leaving money behind.

The asking price doesn’t have to be the final cost. Talk about some offers, be honest about the bike’s condition, and have some patience. There’s a deal that will be coming.

Step #2: Choose a Selling Venue

Cycle Trader is a decent spot for people who want a motorcycle that’s easy to get without costing a lot. When your bike is a classic or antique, you might get more exposure on eBay or a local auction house.

A hand-built custom ride could sell better on Instagram profiles like ChopperSwapper. Specialty racing motorcycles might get more attention on a specialty forum or website.

The point is that a private sale needs to go where it receives the maximum exposure from interested parties.

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Step #3: Make Motorcycle Insurance Adjustments

Your motorcycle needs to stay insured until it sells. If you’re no longer riding it, consider putting some money toward a comprehensive policy. You’ll receive protection from storage-related damage while waiting for the right buyer.

If you still ride your bike or intend to allow test drives, you’ll need to maintain the minimum liability insurance for where you live.

Are you still paying for your motorcycle? If you financed your bike and are still making payments monthly, you typically can only change your coverage once the sale occurs and ownership transfers.

Some owners feel that they can stop insuring their motorcycle once they stop riding it. That can be a costly mistake.

Step #4: Figure Out the Title Status

The best option is to have a clean and clear title. That is only sometimes possible, so it helps to know the status of this paperwork before trying to sell the motorcycle.

If a lender has a lien on the title, explain the situation when listing the bike for sale. Some buyers don’t know how that process works.

You’ll want to correct that situation whenever possible if you don’t have a title.

Some titles have significant errors that go unnoticed once you’re trying to sell the motorcycle. Taking the time to review the information now before a buyer discovers the issue can prevent delays.

Step #5: Think About Your Schedule

You’re busy with work, home responsibilities, and trying to ride on the weekends. When selling a bike privately, you can either set appointments or plan a weekend where people can stop by to see the motorcycle.

Don’t leave it on the street with a “for sale” sign on it. You might get some offers that way, but a serious buyer wants their mechanic to inspect the bike first.

Step #6: Choose a Safe Meeting Spot

These days, it’s not advisable to have a stranger come to your house to inspect a motorcycle. Pick a neutral venue where you can meet. If someone has a preferred mechanic, offer to take the bike there for a quick inspection.

man taking bike keys in a shop

Some local police and sheriff departments have set up spots outside their buildings for these transactions to occur.

Step #7: Plan the Advertisement

The key to a successful sales listing is to take a lot of pictures. Some sellers try to capture everything in its best light, but an authentic approach will get you more buyers that offer a fair price. A fundamental principle of sales is to under-promise and over-deliver. If you can accomplish that with your listing, you’ll be in good shape to get the price you want.

Step #8: Responses

At this stage, you’re ready for responses. There will be scammers and spammers trying to make a quick buck. Drop the junk and respond to the prospects that seem genuinely interested in the listing. It also helps to allow a test ride to let the potential buyer start forming a relationship with the motorcycle.

Buyers might come with cash or a financing option. Checks bounce, money orders can be forged, and other options can be faked. If you get a copy of the driver’s license with whatever payment method you accept, you can have more peace of mind completing that private sale.

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Mike Navarette has more than a decade of experience in the auto insurance industry, but that's not his true passion. He loves getting on a motorcycle to explore roads he's never traveled. You'll find Mike in the garage working on something when he isn't helping clients or leaning into curves. It's sometimes a side hustle, more often a favor, but it keeps his hands busy doing something productive. Since the first time his father strapped on his helmet and took him for a ride, Mike has loved bikes. That passion, along with a desire to help others through a deep understanding of insurance policies, led to the creation of Motorcycle Ride Coverage.

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