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How To Sell My Motorcycle Successfully For The Most Cash

Jun 23, 2021 9:00:00 AM / by RumbleOn Road Captain

How to Sell Your Motorcycle Successfully For the Most Cash

You’ve finally made up your mind about selling your motorcycle. The problem now is figuring out the best way to get the most cash for your ride. We’re here to lay it all out there for those looking to sell your Harley-Davidson, Yamaha, Honda, or any other motorcycle for the most cash.


Table Of Contents


 

How Much Is My Motorcycle Worth?

The first step you may want to take before selling your motorcycle is to understand what it might be worth. In general, we find that the biggest factors that contribute to pre-own resale motorcycle valuations are vehicle condition, vehicle miles, proper maintenance, and vehicle modifications. 

For example, if your motorcycle currently has worn-out tires, replacing them will fetch more dollars versus selling the motorcycle as is. Outlined below are all the major factors that go into motorcycle valuation. 

 

Factors that contribute towards motorcycle resale value:

Motorcycle Valuation Factors Treemap

  1. Vehicle condition - The overall vehicle condition is the biggest contributing factor in the value of a motorcycle. Motorcycles in excellent high-quality condition will have a better resale value and will be appreciated by any buyer.

List of items factored into determining the condition of a motorcycle:

    1. Mechanical

      1. Engine

      2. Transmission

      3. Suspension

      4. Exhaust

      5. Chain

    2. Frame/Chassis

      1. Frame damage

    3. Replaceable parts

      1. Fairings

      2. Sliders

      3. Handlebars

      4. Windshield

      5. Bags

    4. Wheels/Tires

      1. Stock vs custom

      2. Size

      3. Tire condition

    5. Corrosion

      1. Chrome parts

      2. Wheels

      3. Forks

    6. Rust

      1. Depending on the area

  1. Vehicle miles - Motorcycles are driven a lot less than cars. The national average for motorcycle miles traveled per year ranges between 2,000-3,000 miles. As it relates to valuing a motorcycle, they work in thresholds.

    A bike with 9,000 miles is valued more than a bike with 12,000 miles, but not more than a bike with 9,700 miles. In another example, a bike with 15,000 miles may have more value than a bike with 20,000 miles, but not more than a bike with 17,000 miles.

  2. Vehicle modifications - Depending on the type of modification, they can either increase or decrease the value of your motorcycle. Big-ticket modifications such as stage kits, exhaust, and/or tour packs, which are expensive, can help the value of your motorcycle. Other modifications such as poor custom paint jobs, removed factory parts, and/or poorly attached extended swing arms can hurt the value of the motorcycle. Other small modifications, such as accessories, make little to no difference in value.

  3. Market - Motorcycle values are driven by supply and demand. If there is more supply than demand, naturally bike prices are lower. If there is more demand than supply, the opposite is true.

  4. Seasonality - Motorcycles are worth more during riding season, which is typically between the months of April through September. Even if you live in states that typically do not have harsh winters (California, Texas, Florida, etc), the market overall has an impact.

  5. Rarity - A motorcycle becomes rare (valuable and sought after) when it has one or more of the following: niche market, low or halted production, and/or limited factory paint. As with any collectible, for a motorcycle to become both rare and valuable, it must be something that demand exceeds supply and something people can and want to buy and possess. 

  6. Age of the vehicle - New, classic, vintage, or antique? A new motorcycle starts to depreciate in value the moment you take ownership and ride it off the dealership lot. The value of an old motorcycle may start to increase if your motorcycle is at least 25 years old and classified as a classic. Anything older and modified may be considered vintage or antique which may bring even more value.    

  7. Runnability - Does the motorcycle run or not? Does it have a battery issue and/or a fuel issue? The same motorcycle that runs well is worth more than one that cannot run at all.

  8. Miscellaneous (Number of owners) - In some cases, specifically applying to private sales, it helps if the vehicle has a low number of owners. It can be perceived as if the vehicle has been taken care of properly. Although this plays a small factor in valuations and not every buyer values this, it could be used to your advantage.

With these factors in mind, in the next section, we’ll cover motorcycle resale value calculator tools that give you an estimate of your vehicle’s worth. Do keep in mind that, we have not discovered the perfect tool that takes all the above factors into account. We find that the pricing calculated in these tools is typically overinflated when compared to actual resale prices. These tools are quick to show you a price, but these sources will not write you a check for your bike.

 

Motorcycle Resale Value Calculators

Motorcycle Resale Value Calculators

RumbleOn - There is no better way to sell your motorcycle than to have an actual cash offer in your hands. While other tools mentioned below will provide you with an estimated valuation, they won’t be the ones paying out. 

RumbleOn gives you a cash offer in minutes. As far as we know, we’re the only one in the Powersports business that does this. There is no risk or obligation to follow through as the decision is still yours to accept or decline.

Kelley Blue Book - KBB has been around for a very long time and, consequently, is top of mind when it comes to getting vehicle valuations. Their large database will often give you a price range for any vehicle, but that price should be taken with a grain of salt. Read our breakdown about the accuracy and reliability of Kelley Blue Book values.

NADA Guides - The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has been around just as long as Kelley Blue Book. NADA typically provides pricing information with the presumption that motorcycles are all in great condition. From the FAQ on NADAguides.com - “NADAguides does not use a depreciation schedule to determine the value of used vehicles. We use auction data, retail data, asking price data, as well as macro and micro-economic factors and judgment among other things in an attempt to depict the used vehicle market.”

Hagerty Insurance Agency - Hagerty is the world’s largest insurance provider for specialty collector vehicles. Although their valuation tool doesn’t offer the largest database, it does pull in data from peer-to-peer sales as a factor. Read more about Hagerty’s factors in their valuation tool.

Classifieds/Peer to Peer Marketplaces - Another way to get a sense of how much your motorcycle is worth is to browse through seller listings on classified sites. Do keep in mind that these are prices that sellers are listing their bikes for sale, but usually not the final sale price. On RumbleOn at the time of this writing, you’re able to browse over 55,000+ vehicles listed for sale by dealers and individuals to find pricing on similar motorcycles. 

 

At the end of the day, the value of your motorcycle is the amount an individual or entity is willing to pay for it. Vehicle valuations are done on the vehicle itself and not changed by what is owed on the loan if you have one. If you owe money on your motorcycle or are in a negative equity situation, read our article on how to sell your motorcycle with a lien on it.

How To Prepare Your Motorcycle For Sell

To prepare to sell your motorcycle, you’ll want to 1) prep your vehicle for the next owner 2) gather all vehicle paperwork, and 3) find all your keys. If you’re selling to RumbleOn, we’ll help you through all the paperwork after you accept the cash offer, making the process as easy as possible. If you’re selling your motorcycle through other channels here are some recommendations to ensure you have everything you need to get the most cash and make the selling process as easy as possible.

 

Motorcycle Maintenance

Motorcycle Maintenance

A fully functional motorcycle will fetch far more cash than a motorcycle that does not work. We wrote a comprehensive mechanical checklist to ensure your motorcycle passes the buyer inspection. We know, in some cases, it may not make logical sense to exert the time, money, and effort in getting your motorcycle up to pristine specs, especially if the costs associated with it exceed the value of the motorcycle. A big part of selling your motorcycle is managing your own expectations of what price you’re willing to let your motorcycle go.

 

What paperwork do I need to sell my motorcycle?

  1. Title - The vehicle title is documented proof that you are the rightful owner authorized to sell the vehicle in question. If you’ve lost your title, you’ll need to apply for a new one. Application requirements vary from state to state, but the best way to start is at your local DMV.

  2. Bill of Sale - A bill of sale is a receipt that the seller gives the buyer. This legal document includes all of the details of the motorcycle written out as a means to prevent fraud in a private sale. Check out our article on how to prepare a bill of sale to get started.

  3. Vehicle Registration - You can sell a vehicle without a vehicle registration as long as there is a title, however, if you have a lien on the bike, you may need a current vehicle registration.

    Can I sell my motorcycle with a lien on it? 

Yes, you can still sell your motorcycle if you still owe money on it. If you need additional help, we wrote a how-to guide for selling your motorcycle with a lien on it. In short, you’d have to work to remove the lien. Be aware, the process of selling a motorcycle with a lien on it is different versus if you fully own your motorcycle.

  1. Proof of Residency - In some cases, you will need to show proof of residency such as a utility bill (water, electric, or gas) listed in your name with the current address and dated within the last 30 days. If you don’t have these documents (for example, if you live with someone else), the buyer may have an option to vet the other individual for approval. Similar to a driver’s license, this is another identity verification step. When selling to RumbleOn, we use proof of residency to verify motorcycle pickup location.

  2. Drivers License - Whoever is on the vehicle title will need to present their driver’s license. Showing your driver’s license is simply an identity verification to show that you’re actually the owner authorized to sell the motorcycle.

  3. Motorcycle Keys - While not exactly considered paperwork per se, don’t forget that if you have multiple motorcycle keys to include them as part of your sale.

Do I need everything mentioned above to sell my motorcycle?

No. The truth is, you could sell your motorcycle with no paperwork (like a salvage vehicle). If you do this, you’ll need to fully understand the risks you’re taking. Imagine this, John sold Jane a bike that didn't have a title, then Jane attempts to get a title, but the DMV tells her that John did not legally own the bike. 

Buying a bike without a title could mean that it is stolen or it could still have a lien on it. So now, Jane is out thousands of dollars for the purchase and either a) need to return the stolen bike to its owner or b) pay off the lienholder for the remainder owed on the bike. 

For those reasons, we recommend that you would need the title and bill of sale at a minimum. If you were to sell to RumbleOn, we would need all of the above and we work with you to ensure you have all of the correct paperwork. Paperwork legitimizes the sale from a legal standpoint and protects both the buyer and seller.

 

Motorcycle Photography

Motorcycle Photography

Whichever sales channel you end up using to sell your motorcycle, you’ll need to take great motorcycle pictures to attract buyers. We believe anyone can take great photos of their motorcycle using a smartphone or a simple point-and-shoot camera. Without going into the nitty-gritty technical details of ISO, shutter speed, and focal length, you can follow our tips to take your motorcycle photos as well as a professional photographer.

 

Motorcycle Photography Tips

Motorcycle Photography Tips

 

Wash Your Motorcycle

Before taking out your camera, make sure your motorcycle is properly washed. Just imagine it as though you were in the market to purchase a bike. Pictures of clean motorcycles are more visually appealing and allow potential buyers to see more details about your bike. We’re only going to touch on the basics here, but if you’d like to take your motorcycle photography to the next level, read our dedicated article about taking great motorcycle photos.

 

Background

You’ll want to take pictures of your bike in an aesthetically pleasing place. Someplace where the background is free of distractions so the focus is on the bike, not a trash can. This could mean taking your bike outside or finding a clear space in your garage.

 

Lighting

Avoid harsh lighting or low lighting. Sunlight can be too bright in the afternoon, which makes photos overexposed or creates harsh shadows. On the opposite end, the light can be too low in the evening, which could introduce grainy-looking images that don’t show enough detail of the bike. You typically want to take photos of your bike early in the morning or at dusk, which photographers call the golden hour.

 

All Angles

You’ll want to take photos of your bike from all angles. This is especially important when selling your bike online since the buyer is not physically present to inspect the bike. Not showing a particular angle of your bike may make a buyer look for other listings with better, more detailed, photos.

Motorcycle Photoshoot - Photos to include in your seller listing

  • Front and backside
  • Left and right side profile (make sure the profile pictures are from tire to tire with no angles)
  • Odometer reading
  • Modifications
  • Closeups - In the name of trust and transparency, we recommend showing it all. If your bike has blemishes or damages, it helps to be upfront with it so there are no surprises on the buyer's side.

 

Tripod or Steady Hands

Zero SR Electric Motorcycle

The number one cause of blurry photos is moving the camera around while you’re taking the shot. To prevent blurry photos from happening, take photos using a tripod or a surface to rest your phone against. If you don’t have one, be like a statue, and DON’T MOVE half a second prior to pressing the photo capture button and half a second after. 

This tip should work great during early dawn/dusk times. If you’re still finding the images blurry, you're most likely still too shaky and need to be more still. If THAT still continues to be problematic, you’ll need to find more light in your environment or a better camera.

 

Motorcycle Video Tips

Some sales channels allow you the option to upload a video of your motorcycle. If this option is available, we recommend taking advantage. The same guidelines outlined in the motorcycle photography section (ie: background, lighting, angles, etc) apply when creating a motorcycle video. As you keep those guidelines in mind, see below for additional filmography tips.

 

Film horizontally (avoid VVS)

If you’re using a smartphone, we’d like to recommend filming your video horizontally as opposed to vertically. There is a rather satirical video explaining why one should avoid Vertical Video Syndrome (VVS). In short, the reason why you should be filming horizontally is the fact that computer monitors are in landscape mode. Creating a video vertically will create black left and right borders, effectively showing less of the bike.

 

What to film

When filming, you’ll want to start by doing a full 360-degree walkaround. Position the camera at hip level with the motorcycle fully in the frame (wheel to wheel) as you steadily walk around the vehicle. Assuming you don’t have a gimbal, keep your hands steady and roll your feet to keep your upper body from bouncing up and down preventing camera shake. 

After that, get close-ups of the odometer, tire tread, modifications, and anything out of the ordinary that a potential buyer should know. You may also want to demonstrate starting up and shutting down the motorcycle as well.

 

Video length

You will want to be mindful of the length of the video. While it needs to be long enough to showcase the motorcycle, you don’t want to spend too much time focused on one specific area of the bike or not show enough. 

If you’re able to, we’d recommend keeping the video to one to three minutes in duration. Anything longer than that and you may lose the viewer’s attention. That video length also helps to ensure that the video file itself is not too big in size to upload to the listing site. 

 

Sound/Audio

We recommend filming in a location where it is free of background noise and quiet. While you can get away without speaking in the video, it could help if you need to call out specific things that would be included in the sale. You may also want to start your bike on the video to demonstrate that the bike is in good running condition.

 

Putting it all together

Here is an example of a great video walkaround for a Yamaha FZ8 motorcycle.

 

Where To Sell Your Motorcycle

Where To Sell Your Motorcycle Table

RumbleOn

Given that you’re at RumbleOn, we believe we are the BEST place to sell any Powersports vehicle because we’re the only destination where you can sell your vehicle for cash in minutes in a fast, easy, and safe way. The entire process is 100% contactless with free vehicle pick up with all transportation arranged for you.

 

Pros

  • Fast - Answer a few questions online regarding what kind of motorcycle you own and its condition. RumbleOn will then send you a fair market cash offer in minutes. There’s no wasted time creating an account to list your vehicle for sale or dealing with tire kickers. This is the fastest way to get cash into your bank account.
  • Easy - The transaction is 100% contactless and online. You can literally sell your motorcycle while sitting on your couch. RumbleOn helps with all of the necessary paperwork and pays you once complete. After that, RumbleOn arranges free vehicle pick up and transportation and all you have to do is make sure the garage is open.
  • Safe and Secure - Payment is done securely via Venmo, check, or wire. RumbleOn is A+ BBB accredited and has purchased thousands of vehicles since IPO.
  • Fair Market Value - As we detailed earlier, RumbleOn’s cash offers are based on a fair market value encompassing all of the major contributing factors in real-time at the time of your cash offer application. Price haggling is mandatory for other sales channels, but not with RumbleOn.
  • Thousands of Happy Customers - You don’t have to take our word for it. Read hundreds of customer reviews on here.

 

How To Sell A Motorcycle Privately

How To Sell A Motorcycle Privately Table

Pros

  • Higher cash offer (maybe) - You might get top dollar when you list your bike on peer-to-peer marketplaces. If you prefer to go this route, we also have the option where you can list your bike and set the price you’d like to sell it for. RumbleOn’s marketplace is unique in that we allow you to list it for free versus other classified sites that may charge a listing fee.

Cons

  • Slow and inconvenient - The biggest drawback in selling a bike yourself is the fact that it takes a long time. To sell your bike on peer-to-peer marketplaces, you will need to spend the time signing up for accounts, properly describing your vehicle details, and pricing it competitively with other bike listings.

    Furthermore, the time to sell your bike after it is listed is not guaranteed. For the lucky ones, a bike can be sold within 1 day of listing. From our own experience, a bike can take 3 months or more after being listed to attract a serious, committed, buyer. 
  • Fees - Many marketplaces require seller listing fees. When you list your bike for sale, your listing starts high in rank order. As time progresses and more people list their motorcycle for sale, it pushes your listing down. This creates less visibility for your bike so you get diminishing interest over time.

    Marketplaces may offer promotion incentives which means the seller pays a fee to promote the listing to bump it to the top. As you might guess, as soon as that promotion period ends, your listing will be immediately dropped down on the search page.
  • Haggling is mandatory - Listing your motorcycle on classified marketplaces means that haggling is required. Be prepared to deal with lowball offers and people who are not serious prospective buyers. Negotiating comes with the territory on these marketplaces.

    For the initiated, haggling is a fun endeavor, for others, it is a chore. Every seller has to deal with potential scammers on these channels.
  • Unsecure - You are wholly responsible for all communications, paperwork, and payment. Unfortunately, many classified marketplaces do very little to protect your information and privacy. They seem to attract more bad actors relatively compared to the other sales channels. For these reasons, you never know if you’re dealing with someone trustworthy. 
  • Transportation - Motorcycle buyers are more willing to purchase a vehicle that is further away from them versus purchasing a car. What this means is that if you got a buyer in another state, you may need to arrange transportation services for pickup and delivery.
  • Test drives - If you do allow interested buyers to test drive your motorcycle, these scenarios create risky liable situations.

 

How To Sell A Motorcycle To A Dealer

Pros

  • Fair Market Value - A lot of dealers buy and sell motorcycles. You shouldn’t expect to receive the most cash if you’re opting to sell through dealers, with that being said, you should at least get a fair offer. Keep in mind that dealers may discount retail pricing because they have expenses to pay. It will cost money for dealers to recondition the vehicle, list it for sale, and have it sit on their lot before it sells.

    Some dealers also offer to sell your bike on consignment. This means that you won’t get paid until the bike actually sells which may translate to a higher payout versus opting for the full payout upfront.
  • Trade-In - If you’re looking to trade your bike in for a new one, dealers may also have special offers and incentives that may not be available from other sales channels.
  • Local - There are more than 8,000 Powersports dealers in the US, which means there is a good chance you can find a dealer close to where you live. By working with dealers, you’re able to save a lot (but not all) of the selling hassles, such as the back and forth communications between you and the buyer. 

Cons

  • Inconvenient - If you’re selling to a dealer, you will most likely have to go to the actual dealer for them to physically assess the value of your motorcycle. While this is part of the normal process it does require time out of your day to make these arrangements.

 

How To Sell A Motorcycle To An Auction 

Auctions

Mecum

eBay

 

Pros

  • Higher cash offer (maybe) - Similar to selling your bike privately, you might get more cash when you list and sell your bike through an auction marketplace. Auctions create competition between buyers who compete to outbid on price and subsequently drive the motorcycle pricing up.
  • Vehicle Spotlight - Another benefit to sellers is vehicles are spotlighted. Mecum, for example, has their own featured vehicle section on the website. In addition to the hosted live event, auctions are also broadcasted on TV. 
  • No Negotiation - Auctions remove the hassle of the seller negotiating with buyers. Since auctions have a set start and end date, you know exactly when the motorcycle will sell. Buyers come ready and prepared to buy which maximizes your vehicle's exposure to the auction audience.

Cons

  • No Sales Guarantee - Even though auctions all have a start and end date, it doesn’t guarantee that you will sell it at the price you’d like or even sell it at all.
  • Sell Rights Locked In - Some auctions require sole selling rights for a period of time before and after the auction, which means your asset won't be liquidable during that lock-up period.
  • Limited Exposure - Some auctions require the buyer to register. For better or worse, this creates exclusivity which in itself limits the total number of eligible buyers.

 

Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, you’re now fully equipped to know how to sell your motorcycle for the most cash that makes sense for your situation and vehicle. The good news about the buy and sell market is there are multiple options. For us at RumbleOn, we’ve created a solution to make selling a motorcycle fast, easy, and safe. Whether it is your first or last avenue, RumbleOn is always ready to buy your bike.

If you’re wondering what you’ll do with all of that cash after you sold your bike, browse our growing inventory for your next dream ride. We’re here to help you buy, sell, trade, or finance the perfect power sports vehicle that fits your lifestyle.

Topics: Motorcycles, FAQ, motorcycle basics

RumbleOn Road Captain

Written by RumbleOn Road Captain

Your fearless leader in all things to do with motorcycle education. I cover tips and advice for motorcycle riders, motorcycle product reviews, and pretty much anything I think is useful to my fellow bikers.

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