The Brain Bucket

Why is it So Hard to Sell a Motorcycle Online?

Nov 2, 2020 3:56:17 PM / by RumbleOn Road Captain

I Need to Sell My Motorcycle. Why is it So Hard?

Deciding that it’s time to sell your motorcycle isn’t easy, but it might be a choice that makes logical sense in your current life. That's why the act of selling the bike itself should be a simple process. If you're finding that you are having trouble selling your motorcycle, it could be for different reasons.


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It's going to be hard to sell your bike, and that comes from a combination of predictable hurdles, some of which are beyond your control. But when you can recognize the roadblocks, you can be prepared for a workaround and increase your chances of selling for a decent price. Here are the most common struggles involved in selling your motorcycle:

The right people don't see it.

I hate to say it, but your super-centric advertising on Craigslist and motorcycle-focused Facebook groups usually don't cut it. The reason it's not working? With an overly-saturated seller's market, listing sites can be polluted with fellow sellers and dealers who are also trying to find a buyer, thereby burying your own post before you can get any traffic.

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Small, heavily segmented local pages are usually not the place to find the right selection of interested buyers; and, if a best-case scenario ends with an inquiry, haggling and possibly settling on a lower price than expected is likely in the cards. The best way to sell a motorcycle without any hassle or waiting around is to find a different outlet that casts a wider net.

You've got some HIGH expectations. 

Standards and expectations exist for a reason, and that reason is sentimentality. Yes, I see those beautiful chrome accents that weren't there when you bought it, and that custom paint color you chose is really neat. But, in terms of market value, the work you put into customizing your bike typically does not translate to a higher monetary value.

custom paint selling a motorcycle

Yes, you spent some money making your bike a personal fit for you, but the more you personalize it, the less appealing it becomes to the masses. Personalization creates something niche, and highly custom vehicles are just harder to sell. Modifications tend to result in a sunken cost from the get-go. To private buyers and dealers alike, deviations from stock leave room for a potentially less reliable motorcycle, and custom touches could reflect too much of the previous owner's personality for a buyer's taste.

To set a realistic price, you need to do some research and set aside sentimentality. “Blue Books” aren't entirely reliable in terms of live-market value and have a variety of shortcomings, including a lack of regional bias. Instead, browse other true-blue local listings on motorcycle classifieds, eBay, or other private party listing sites. Take notes on the prices asked by other private sellers for the same make and model; and, remember, the more upfront, honest, and unbiased you are about your bike, the easier your selling process will be.

People can let you down. 

Okay, I'm not trying to be overly cynical here. There are some awesome people out there who respect your time and are polite and patient. But, on the other side, there are people out there who don't care about you, your time, or your efforts. They are trying to save money.

Sometimes, you'll get a laughable offer; then, in the same breath, that same potential buyer could get angry at you for trying to prevent them from shaking you down for all you're worth. I don't even need to remind you how scammers can be a huge disappointment, and some people may try to play on your emotions and get pity from you. Sifting through the flood of leads to find one genuine buyer for your bike can just be a pain.

You're treating Kelley Blue Book like it's an all-knowing being.

I know why people love Kelley Blue Book, but the reality is that their quotes are hardly ever accurate reflections of the live market. While your bike can be from a great brand, a rare model, and have low mileage, that doesn't mean that the market is looking for it right then and there.

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Getting your motorcycle value on KBB is based on how much a dealership would offer you for your bike, and KBB motorcycle values almost always have a dealer profit margin factored in. Besides, dealerships will always provide different prices based on:

  1. their location,
  2. their amount of customer traffic,
  3. the bike's popularity and ability to sell in that area, and
  4. how many units the dealership already has in its inventory.

All of these variables should be taken into account when figuring out your motorcycle's actual value, and this is one of the biggest reasons Kelley Blue Book's quote will hardly ever be spot-on. Considering Kelley Blue Book does not update their data to reflect live market changes, including demand, market saturation, and brand popularity, KBB isn't accurately updated in real time.

All in all, when you hold onto that quote that Kelley Blue Book gave you, you're holding onto an unrealistic expectation.


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Topics: Articles, Motorcycles, The Brain Bucket

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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