Advice on Buying a Used Motorcycle

May 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Buying Advice

Motorcyclists know the pleasure of driving that few people do. Well, okay, maybe convertible drivers count on a certain level too, let’s face it – it’s not exactly the same. That pleasure is the freedom by being in the open, feeling the wind around you as you journey from one place to another. But before you pack your saddlebags you’ll need a motorcycle that gets you from point A to point B. Not everyone can afford a new ‘Hog’ but buying a used motorcycle might be just up your alley. Keep in mind though – purchasing a cycle isn’t as easy as handing over some cash and taking to the open road.

Years ago if you wanted a used motorcycle you walked into a dealership or searched newspaper’s ads hoping to find someone willing to part with their ‘baby’ and not charge you a small fortune in the process. Today, the rules of purchasing have changed for buyers and for the better.

Finding A Deal

You still have dealers and newspaper classifieds to turn to when looking for a used motorcycle but now there are other factors to consider. Cities all over the world grow larger meaning more people are out there with products to sell. But at the same time, with invent of the Internet, the world seems to have shrunk so that hot deal that’s three counties or parishes away is much easier to snag up thanks to the web.

But before we get into all of that, let’s look at the pros and cons of how you can begin your search:

1. Auctions

2. Dealers

3. Newspaper Classifieds

4. Friend or Acquaintance

5. Classified Web Sites

1. Auctions – You can get great deals at auctions but on the flip side you could get a real lemon. Sure, you can inspect a motorcycle at an auction, and you can even hear it run, but without a mechanic standing next to you to inspect it, you never know what you’re going to get. Auctions are a bit like gambling – sometimes a slot machine pays out and sometimes it takes all your money. A used motorcycle from an auction could turn out to be a prize or a piece of junk. If you’re willing to take the risk to gain something wonderful then auctions are a good source for used motorcycles, or other vehicles.

2. Dealers – Typically you will pay a little more for a used bike at a dealer, but there are many benefits to putting them on your places to shop.  As a general rule the used motorcycles sitting on a dealer’s showroom floor have been thoroughly inspected by factory trained technicians. So you are probably going to get a bike that is mechanically sound. Also, most dealers will stand behind the bikes they sell as they value  your return business and their reputation.

3. Newspaper Classifieds – Newspaper classifieds can also have inflated prices you’ll find with dealerships but it has less to do with inspection fees and more with emotional attachment. Motorcycle riders often love their bikes deeply and that comes with a larger price tag as a result (no matter what the true value of the bike might be). And sadly, even though they have an emotional attachment, not all cyclists take care of their bikes as they should, including things like regular maintenance. So as with auctions you’re never quite sure what you’re getting. Also consider the blind factor of many newspaper advertisements. You could read an ad that says, “Beautiful chopper. Must sacrifice,” but when you get there it’s a rusted 50cc scooter with uneven handlebars. You just wasted precious time on absolutely nothing.

4. Friend or Acquaintance – You’ll get a great deal from a friend or acquaintance, right?! Maybe but then again maybe not. Sometimes a friend will truly ‘sacrifice’ a used motorcycle because they value your friendship. But if you have a problem with their used motorcycle will they take it back? Will they say ‘You broke it, you bought it’? Will they agree to have it returned but harbor silent animosity toward you? And in the end, will you lose a friend over something as trivial as a sale? Buying anything from someone you know, used motorcycle or anything, can be a thorny situation. That’s why it’s best to always use caution and get the ‘ground rules’ for returns worked out well in advance before any money changes hands. Praying that nothing goes wrong and that your friend will stick to their word should trouble arise wouldn’t hurt either.

5. Classified Web Sites – Classified web sites don’t have many of the disadvantages as the above-mentioned sources. You might run into the emotionally attached seller, an overpriced used cycle or something that’s not mechanically up to speed. But the pros of classified web sites, like Buy a Used Motorcycle, have far more advantages.

First, you can actually see pictures on classified web sites and, often enough, more than just one angle. Unlike many newspaper ads or magazines, you’ll know that it really is a chopper that’s for sale and be able to see the front, back, sides, etc. Second, you can view the price along with more details on the used motorcycle itself. Newspaper ads only offer so much space but web sellers are allowed to post more information about the motorcycle such as location, inspection history, cycle history, and such.

When it comes to classified web sites for used motorcycles you get more information upfront, which saves valuable time.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Okay, so you’ve found the best avenue to purchase your used motorcycle be it online, dealer, or friend. What’s next?

First, consider the manufacturers and the models you like. Get it narrowed down to a couple of selections. From that point, do your homework on each one. This means researching used motorcycles via the Internet to get an idea of the price range. You can also look in trade magazines to get a feel for what your used cycle is worth and everything it has – engine size, clutch or automatic, etc. Remember, knowledge is power so the more you know about the bike you’re interested in, the more buying power you’ll have.

If you find a used motorcycle that looks like a good deal and fits your budget ask for the maintenance history and see if you can take it for a test drive. Be sure to notice if it starts quickly, doesn’t sputter and rides smooth.

If all appears okay let the buyer know your thoughts and ask if you can take it to a mechanic for a check-up. Many people skip this step because they think they know best but a mechanic can do a diagnostic check to make sure everything is in good shape. Just because you can’t see a problem doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Asking Price or Haggle – What’s Best?

Some sellers really do ‘sacrifice’ their motorcycles with the price they are offering but others do not.

If someone is only asking a few hundred less than a new bike, definitely try to talk them down by pointing out how overpriced their used motorcycle really is. However, do this tactfully. That means don’t call them a con-artist while waving your finger in their face. It means showing them print advertising for the same make and model. They might be willing to come down in price for their cycle at that point but then again they might not. If the answer is no then simply thank them for their time and move on to another bike that’s in your price range and worth what you’re paying.

When Money Changes Hands

First, If you’re doing an on-line sale remember to confirm the seller’s contact information. Get the sellers name, address and telephone number. An email address alone isn’t enough so make sure you keep their other information around. Before you hand over any money it’s important to make sure this information matches the title they are signing over to you for obvious reasons. Shop carefully though since there are an increasing number of fake escrow services. As with the cycle seller, don’t turn your money over until you’ve fully checked out the service and be sure you understand all terms of the escrow arrangement.

As you see there are many resources for people in the used motorcycle market and any of them can work depending on your wants and needs. Just take some time to examine all your options and you too can be one of the easy riders out there tearing up the roadways without breaking the bank in the process.

Cash is still king. If you think it isn’t, then make sure the check clears the bank first.

March 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Buying Advice

Investigators in Northern Ohio are looking for a man by the name of Lamar Johnson who they believe has purchased several motorcycles and some trucks with fake checks. In all the transactions, Johnson allegedly paid for the bikes with bogus checks. By the time the sellers realized that the check was no good it was too late.

One of the victims called “Eugene” sold his Honda Sport Bike for $6,000 to Johnson through craigslist. Eugene says Johnson showed up late at night and paid with a U.S. bank check.  “It looked like a legitimate check,” Eugene said. It looks like Eugene should have been a bit more cautious.

You can read the rest of this story here.

We posted the above story as a reminder on how to handle payments when you are selling your motorcycle.

Make sure you receive payment by either cash or a certified check. If you decide to take a cashier’s check or a certified check, be sure to ask the issuing bank to verify that the check is genuine and the account contains sufficient funds to cover the check amount. Wait until the check clears before you hand over the keys and transfer the title.

With that said, we still believe cash is king. If you are uncomfortable with large amounts of cash then you can always go to the bank with the buyer and make an electronic transfer to your account.

Get more Motorcycle Buying Advice

Source [, Read Entire Story]

2010 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide Motorcycle Review from Motorcycle USA

The first FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide hit the scene in 1993 and quickly became revered for its kicked-out, wide-set front fork legs pitched at a heavy rake, and mini ape-hanger style handlebars. For a production motorcycle, the Wide Glide gained reputation as a hot chopper, especially for a bike. While Dyna models are known as the lightest-handling Harleys but steering on the 2010 Dyna Wide Glide is heavy and turn-in slow on sharp turns. The 2010 Dyna Wide Glide gets its name from its wide-spaced forks and exposed dual rear shocks.
straight from the factory. Over the years, its styling remained staid, but it did see internal changes as the Harley engine evolved from the Blockhead to the TC 88 to its present iteration, the TC 96. Its gearbox has also been updated from a five to six-speed unit, but the motorcycle’s overall appearance fluctuated little.

Read Entire Review

[Source: Motorcycle USA, YouTube]

Buying Tips for Used Motorcycles – Puppy Dog

January 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Buying Advice

So what do puppies have to do with negotiating for a motorcycle? It is assumed that you want to get your bike for the least amount of your money, and that you are looking out for your own best interests. However, you might be unwittingly working against yourself if you are unaware of a strong emotional force present in every transaction.

** The following is excerpted from my book, The Perfect Motorcycle: How to Choose, Find and Buy the Perfect New or Used Bike. I hope the information provided here will give you a framework to guide your motorcycle purchase. Space limitations preclude an in-depth discussion of the subject. You can find out about the book at There are also 18 checklists and worksheets available for download at that you can use to supplement the information in the book.

Professional sellers know many ways to tip the scales in their favor and get the most money for their products. Professional selling methods include techniques to close the sale to prospective buyers, appropriately called “closes.” The Puppy Dog Close is the most powerful closing technique used by sellers to win an emotional commitment and to even have the prospect help sell the product to them. But, what the pros don’t tell you is that this technique can be used on either side-you can also use this approach in your favor. It is also important to realize that this emotional mechanism is in play in every sale, even when a professional isn’t involved.

Here’s how the close got its name: You walk past a pet store window, and see a pen full of puppies and think they’re cute. You also consider their training, how their cries will wake you up, and the expense for their food, vet care, leashes, collars, and grooming. People don’t like change. You were doing fine before you walked past, and it will take effort to change the current situation. The scale will tip in favor of the seller and you will take action to take a puppy home, only if the every one of the objections you have to dog ownership are overcome. You are looking for reasons not to get a puppy.

The savvy pet shop owner picks up a dog you were looking at, approaches you, hands you the puppy and says, “I see you were looking at this puppy. I know it’s hard to decide. I’ll tell you what. I’ll lend you a dog pillow, a leash, a food bowl, a book about this type of dog, and I’ll give you a week’s worth of kibble. You can take the dog home to see how it works out. Bring it back in a week, if you don’t want it, and I’ll refund all your money.” Now, if you take the dog home, you will have crossed an emotional line. You will look for every reason to keep the puppy.

The scale has been tipped in favor of the seller. Again, people don’t like change. It would take a lot for you change the current situation and return the dog to the shop. So, you get a little howling or chewing on the coffee table? No biggie. Even your brother-in-law does that. Heck, in the last week, you showed “your” dog to all your friends, took pictures of it to share with coworkers, and even named it. The dog is emotionally yours, and you are invested in taking responsibility for it. You are now working for the seller in the negotiation, and the sale is almost certainly closed.

In professional sales, the seller uses techniques to get you to emotionally “own” the product. They will get you to imagine yourself enjoying the benefits of ownership. They will get you to sit on the bike and imagine what it would feel like to be on the open road. They will use language to paint a mental picture like, “What do you think your buddies will say when you ride up on your new bike?” and “Won’t it be great after a long day’s ride, sitting in your garage with a cold beer, looking at your beautiful bike parked next to your workbench?” “Let’s see if we can get the manager to get you test ride on your bike.” Once you emotionally cross the line and own this bike in your mind, you begin doing their job for them.

The “puppy dog close” is used by marketers and sellers every day in many ways and guises you might not have considered. Common examples are; moneyback guarantees, trial subscriptions, first-month free rebates, test drives, and introductory prices. These programs are used to lower the cost or risk of acquiring the product and get the consumer emotionally owning it while additionally making it difficult to undo the new relationship.

The bottom line of all this puppy talk is you need to be aware of this impulse in yourself, and emotionally disconnect yourself from the outcome of the negotiation to get the best deal. Regardless of the source you decide to buy from, reseller, individual, or auction-if you picture yourself with this bike in your driveway, stop! Motorcycles are just products, like a can of soup, or a piece of lumber. Your words are important, too. What you say and what you feel can be different. You can say, “I want to buy this” but you could really mean. “I want to get the best deal.”

Think about how you could use this puppy dog strategy in reverse as a buyer. Once you have convinced the seller that you are likely to buy that motorcycle, he will look for reasons to finish the sale with you rather than someone else. So, if you say, “I’ll take it,” and if the buyer believes you will, you now have the upper hand and can negotiate from a stronger position. Up to the point where the title transfer is signed, you have the ability to tell the seller you changed your mind. In some states, you can even change your mind up to a couple of days later if you have buyer’s remorse. Of course, if you decide to “puppy dog” the seller, you should only do so if you really want to buy the motorcycle and the terms of the deal are close to those you want.

Now that you are aware of this technique, don’t let sellers “puppy dog” you, and don’t haphazardly “puppy dog” sellers, either. You shouldn’t disappoint people for sport by reneging on a purchase, but you can often wring a few concessions on a bike you want to buy by continuing to negotiate after indicating that a deal has been struck.

Used Motorcycle Inspections

January 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Buying Advice

Especially for new riders, inspecting used motorcycles can be daunting. The following is excerpted from my book, The Perfect Motorcycle: How to Choose, Find and Buy the Perfect New or Used Bike. I hope the information provided here will give you a framework to guide your inspections. Space limitations preclude an in-depth discussion of the subject. To learn more about the book, go to The book is available in the Publications and Marketplace sections of this website.

One of the keys to finding the perfect used motorcycle is evaluating whether or not the bike you are looking at has been well-treated and is mechanically sound. The best way to determine the fitness of the one bike you want to buy is a three-pronged approach. You will 1) interview the owner, 2) inspect the machine, and then 3) go home and review what you have learned. Do all of this before you make an offer.

You can save time and money by interviewing the seller by phone or email before you look at the bike in person. You will learn which bikes are worth scheduling and taking a trip to go see, and which ones you can take off your list of possibilities. And afterward, it’s important to objectively assess the facts about your inspection away from the motorcycle with a post-inspection review.

There are forms available for download at that you can use for phone or email interviews, in-person inspections, and a post-inspection review. When you arrange for face-to-face appointments, remember to bring along the completed interview form to verify the previous answers to the questions.

Take special note: The inspecting stage and negotiating stage are separate. By separating the stages, you will be in a much better position to get a great bike at a lower price. Do not negotiate with the seller in this inspection stage of the process! If you can separate the looking and the negotiating into two discrete activities, you are also less likely to shade your purchase by the infatuation factor (falling in love with the motorcycle you’re currently looking at). If you need to get a bike quickly, separate the inspection from the negotiating with at least a coffee break to review your findings, away from the seller.

It is also important to mention that during the motorcycle evaluation, the data transfer needs to be one-way only from the seller to you—not the other way. Don’t share what you are looking for or what you find with the seller. You are simply gathering information objectively about the seller and the bike, and recording your reactions to them. You’ll see later how this one-way communication strengthens your negotiating position.

The Golden Rule of inspections is document everything! Write down the answers to the questions the seller is giving you, and everything you notice about the bike, the seller, and your reactions. Not only are you gathering valuable data for review later, you are much more likely to receive truthful answers if the seller sees that you are documenting their answers.

Performing inspections will serve multiple purposes.

  1. The information you collect will give you a good reference point to compare different bikes for the rest of your riding career.
  2. You will strengthen your negotiating position with the seller by demonstrating your expertise.
  3. An inspection will also predict work and parts required to bring the bike to safe riding condition and highlight the costs to doing so, in the negotiations.
  4. As important as the inspection is to determine the condition of the bike, you’ ll be face-to-face with the seller to evaluate their motives and trustworthiness as well.

Following are the steps involved for a meaningful assessment of the bikes you selected. Each of the steps is discussed in detail in the book.

1. Telephone or e-mail interview

a. Ask the seller questions about the mechanical condition, a history of use and maintenance of the bike, and any transferable warranty

b. Ask the Power Question – “Is there is anything at all wrong with this bike?’

2. Inspection

a. Check the VIN and validate the title

b. Inspect the tires

c. Check and study the fluids

d. Evaluate the motor

e. Assess the electrical system

f. Examine the general overall condition

g. Go for a test ride, if you are an experienced rider and have the seller’s expressed permission

3. Post-inspection review

a. Away from the seller, review your findings against other bikes you have inspected.