How to Prepare Your Motorcycle for Sale

Posted on
5 min to read

Saying goodbye to a motorcycle that’s been a trusted companion on countless journeys isn’t an easy decision. The winding roads and shared adventures have become intertwined with cherished memories. But as priorities shift or the allure of a new bike beckons, the choice may be inevitable. 

Navigating the process of selling your motorcycle requires careful consideration and thorough preparation. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps involved in preparing, presenting and successfully selling your used motorcycle. 

Step 1: Inspect your motorcycle

Before listing your motorcycle for sale, conduct a thorough inspection to present it in its best condition. Start with routine maintenance. If you’re familiar with motorcycles, consider checking the air filter, spark plugs and battery. 

Follow these steps to ensure the motorcycle is in top shape and help you prepare for any questions from potential buyers:

  • Controls: Examine the throttle, brakes, clutch and cables to make sure they work smoothly without any sticking. If any of the controls feel “off” be sure to note them on your listing.
  • Tires: Inspect tire tread depth and overall condition, looking for signs of wear, cracks, or bulges that might indicate the need for replacement. Refer to the production date, as some tires may be considered “expired” or must be replaced due to age.
  • Lights: Check headlights, taillights, turn signals and brake lights to confirm they’re working correctly.
  • Oil and fluids: Check your oil and fluids to ensure they are at the recommended levels. It’s not a requirement for selling, but having fluid replacement maintenance records goes a long way and provides proof that your motorcycle has been well maintained.
  • Stand and suspension: Assess the center or side stand for stability and functionality, and the suspension for leaks, excessive wear or damage.
  • Electrical components: Check that there are no loose connections or frayed wires in battery connectors and wiring. Test the horn, turn signals and any other electrical components. Make a note of any aftermarket electrical accessories that may have been added.
  • Chassis: Thoroughly inspect the chassis for any signs of damage, rust or structural issues. Pay particular attention to the frame, swingarm and any welded parts. If you’re not sure what to look for, contact a professional for more details.

Consider if it’s worth spending the money on repairs before selling. If not, mention any existing damage in your listing and inform the next owner of any safety concerns before selling. Finally, note any quirks or unique characteristics of your bike that a buyer would want to know.

Step 2: Clean your motorcycle

A pristine appearance will enhance the appeal of your motorcycle to potential buyers—and could even score you more money in the sale. Follow these steps:

Wash the exterior:

  • Begin by rinsing with a gentle stream of water to remove loose dirt and dust.
  • Use a mild detergent or motorcycle-specific cleaner and a soft sponge or microfiber cloth to wash the entire bike thoroughly.
  • Pay attention to hard-to-reach areas such as under the seat, around the engine and between nooks and crannies. Try to avoid electrical components, such as the engine control module and wiring to prevent potential electrical issues.
  • Rinse off the soap to prevent residue buildup, then dry the bike using a clean, soft cloth to avoid water spots.

Polish and wax:

  • Apply a quality motorcycle wax or polish to protect the paint and give it a glossy finish.
  • Gently buff the wax or polish onto the surfaces using a soft cloth, following the product’s instructions for the best results.
  • Focus on chrome or metal parts, applying chrome polish to restore shine and prevent rust or corrosion.

Clean wheels and tires:

  • Use a wheel cleaner to remove brake dust and grime from the wheels, following product directions for safe application. Avoid getting products on tires, as they might become slippery and dangerous to ride on.
  • Scrub the tires with water to restore their black finish.

Final touches:

  • Use compressed air or a detailing brush to remove dust and dirt from hard-to-reach areas, such as crevices and around the bike’s controls.
  • Wipe down the seat and any leather or vinyl surfaces with appropriate cleaners or conditioners to revitalize and protect them. Replace grips if necessary.

For more information on cleaning your motorcycle, check out our guide to motorcycle detailing.

Step 3: Capture good photos

High-quality photos help to attract potential buyers. Showcase the bike in its best possible light with this process: Begin by selecting a clean, clutter-free background that doesn’t distract from the motorcycle. Capture the bike from various angles, including close-ups of unique features, the front, side and rear views. Shoot during the day in natural light to reveal the true colors and details. 

Don’t forget to include shots of any maintenance records, additional accessories or upgrades that come with the bike. 

Step 4: Organize paperwork

Before you get too far in the sales process, you’ll want to gather all the necessary materials to streamline the transaction and transfer ownership smoothly.

  • Title: This is the legal document that proves ownership. After the motorcycle is sold you will fill out the required sections, sign and verify that there are no liens or outstanding loans listed on the title. 
  • Bill of sale: When the sale is complete, create a comprehensive bill of sale that includes the sold price, date of sale, buyer and seller information and any specific terms of the agreement. Both parties should sign this document.
  • DMV paperwork: Check with your local DMV to confirm all documentation needed for transferring ownership. This could include a transfer of title, a release of liability form and other specifics based on your location.
  • Test-drive agreement: Consider creating a test-drive agreement if you plan to allow potential buyers to take the motorcycle for a spin. This should outline the terms and conditions of the test drive, including insurance coverage, responsibilities and liabilities.

Step 5: Determine the motorcycle’s value 

Setting the right price for your used motorcycle is crucial in attracting potential buyers while ensuring a fair deal for both parties involved. 

Start by doing some research to gauge the current market value of your bike. Many online resources offer suggested list prices and let you browse current listings, including J.D. Power and Cycle Trader. Consider exploring Facebook Marketplace and some of the most popular used car websites for values as many offer information for motorcycles. Recognize that factors such as mileage, repairs and maintenance records history, dents, scratches or even light damage can influence the motorcycle’s value. Be transparent about these in your listing. 

You can also browse online listings to find pricing for similar motorcycles in your area. Consider factors like the make, model, year and overall condition when comparing prices. Customized bikes might be more challenging to evaluate and compare, so factor in the value of any modifications or upgrades when determining your price.

Finally, be open to negotiation. Having a clear understanding of your bike’s worth will help you navigate negotiations confidently and prevent short-changing yourself. At the same time, be sure not to overprice and drive away potential buyers—you may find it takes a lot longer to sell your bike that way.

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