Selling a motorcycle can seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re thinking about using the internet to advertise your sale. There are plenty of scams out there that can trick you when it comes to internet advertising.
I have sold close to twenty motorcycles and have used every platform imaginable to sell them, including Craigslist. I have had a lot of success selling my motorcycles using Craigslist and have learned a lot in the process. These are essential tips I’ve discovered that can help you sell your motorcycle easily on this platform.
Understand How Much It’s Worth
Before selling any motorcycle, you’ll need to understand how much it’s worth. And this doesn’t mean how much you think it’s worth. You’ll need to do some actual research about the value of your motorcycle and sell it around that price.
A good resource to find out the estimated price of your motorcycle is checking the NADA guides which is an online platform that can quickly give you prices. The prices and worth of vehicles they give are generally accurate and most buyers are going to be looking at this platform anyway before they buy a motorcycle.
You can also try looking around on Craigslist at other motorcycles for sale similar to yours in the same condition and compare their prices. The Craigslist postings will say how long it’s been up which can give you a good idea of how long it takes to sell that particular bike and for how much.
Be Willing To Negotiate
Being willing to negotiate when selling any type of vehicle is kind of a must during the selling process. Most buyers expect it. It’s okay to say “firm on price” in your listing, but just know that you’ll get a lot less interested buyers to come look at the motorcycle or even contact you.
But won’t you lose money if you become willing to negotiate? Not necessarily if you do it right. The trick is to list the motorcycle at a slightly higher price than what you actually expect to get out of it. For example, if you have an 1981 Honda CB650 that’s worth about $1,200, you’ll probably want to post it for about $1,500.
The fact that you’re willing to take the price down a few hundred dollars makes the buyer feel like they’re getting a deal which in turns helps them become more willing to follow through with the sale.
Create A Craigslist Account
In case you are unfamiliar with how Craigslist works, this section will describe how to make an account. You need to create an account in order to post your motorcycle for sale on it. Craigslist is free and setting up an account is quick.
Go to Craigslist.com and click on US near the top (unless you live in a different country). A menu of states will pop up and areas within those states. Click on the area that you live in. On the left-hand side under the word “Craigslist,” click on “create a posting.” A menu of the type of posting you want to do will pop up. Click on the little circle by “for sale by owner.”
Next, you’ll choose a category which will be “motorcycles/scooters – by owner.” Fill out the information that comes up next. Craigslist will prompt you about what information you need. Everything highlighted in green means Craigslist needs that information to continue to the next step. I recommend you put in as much information as possible.
The next step will ask for your address which you don’t need to do. Just click “continue.” Now is the time you’ll need to add your images (which will be discussed in the next section). Click “continue” after you’ve uploaded the pictures.
The next page will show a preview of what your posting will look like. If you’re satisfied with how it looks, click “publish” and your listing will go live. Remember that it usually takes about a half hour for your listing to show up.
Take Good Pictures
Taking good pictures of your motorcycle is probably one of the most vital things you can do when it comes to selling a motorcycle on Craigslist. And a lot of people either skip it or don’t pay much attention to this part of the process.
Sure, you can take a quick picture or two of your motorcycle sitting in the corner of your yard and call it good, but that does not attract attention to your motorcycle. You’re no different than everyone else posting their motorcycle for sale.
Take your motorcycle out of your backyard or garage, clean it up, and take it to a cool looking place as the background. That’s way better than seeing the wood pile or dead plants in the background of your backyard.
Take lots of pictures. If you’re able, use a friend’s nice camera so it can figure out the aperture and lighting for you. If something like that isn’t accessible, it’s still okay to use your phone.
Take pictures of your motorcycle from every angle imaginable. Pick your favorite 10 – 15 pictures and post them on your listing. Let the potential buyer feel like they’re already getting to know your motorcycle through the pictures you post. I can guarantee this will give your bike a higher chance at getting more attention.
Give A Detailed Description
In addition to having good pictures of your motorcycle, having a good description is also a vital part of the process. People say that having a long description isn’t a good idea, but I would beg to differ. I’ve gotten way more contacts every time I had a long description of the motorcycle I was selling.
Again, let the potential buyer feel like they’re already getting attached to your motorcycle. You don’t necessarily need to tell your life story, but tell them all the specs of your bike, any customizing you’ve done, and any interesting facts you know about it. People eat that up.
Advertise Your Contact Information
You would be surprised at how often people forget to leave their contact information when selling a motorcycle online, especially Craigslist. Craigslist makes it easy to oversee leaving your contact information which means you’ll only be getting emails from potential buyers. People don’t check their email as much as they do their phone.
Along with your email address, leave your phone number too. It is risky leaving this contact information out there, but if you want to sell your motorcycle using Craigslist and you want to sell it fast, you’re just going to have to take that risk. The worst that can happen is you’ll get annoying phone calls from solicitors.
And don’t forget to answer texts or phone calls from numbers you don’t recognize. I usually don’t answer my phone from a number I don’t know except when I’m selling a motorcycle. Be sure that your mailbox isn’t full so people can leave a voice mail if you’re unable to answer.
You Will Get Scammers
There’s really no way to sugar-coat this fact. Any time you use Craigslist, you will get scammers contacting you. That is, unfortunately, one of the downfalls of using this platform. Luckily, they’re pretty easy to catch and I can tell you how.
Scammers usually either email or text; rarely do they call. Their grammar is always terrible and they’ll come up with some crazy story like “I’m out of the country for a few months but want to buy your motorcycle. Let me send you the money via Paypal and have you ship it to me.”
They’ll also usually offer to pay a lot more than what your asking price is plus extra for shipping. And they will actually send you money through paypal or a fake check to make it seem sincere. They scam people into sending them their stuff then once they get it, the Paypal balance magically disappears or the check bounces.
Any time you get a message that has any or all of these characteristics, just ignore them. To keep yourself safe, only sell your motorcycle to someone who can physically come and get it themselves and can provide a legitimate way to pay for it.
It May Take Time
Unless you are needing some quick cash, selling a motorcycle via Craigslist requires a little bit of patience. I’ve had a lot of success using Craigslist to sell my motorcycles, but sometimes it takes a little bit of time to get the right buyer.
You’ll likely get several calls from people asking questions about it and even have several people come and look at it. You’ll also probably get a few tire kickers, especially if you are selling a rare or souped-up bike. It’s often frustrating and may leave you thinking you’ll never sell it.
The right buyer will come along, even if it does take a little while to sell it. If you’ve had it posted for more than two weeks with no real interested buyers, consider lowering the price or changing the description.
No Hold Ups
One thing I’ve learned about selling a motorcycle on Craigslist is that while most people are decent and considerate, there are some out there that are just completely rude. Too often someone has asked me to hold the motorcycle for them (which I did and turned down other potential buyers) only to have that first buyer stand me up. Not only did they waste my time, but I lost out on real potential sales.
As a rule of thumb, never “hold” the motorcycle for anyone. Be very blunt about this in your listing and your interaction with people. It’s okay to say that the motorcycle will go to whoever hands you the cash first. There’s no reason to give loyalty to one person because there’s a big chance they won’t pull through with the sale.
Let People Test Ride It
A lot of people are skeptical about letting people test ride their motorcycle. And they have good reason, too. Letting a stranger take your motorcycle can be a scary thought because there’s the potential of them crashing it, stealing it, etc.
But on the flip side, you’re going to have a hard time selling your motorcycle if you aren’t willing to let people take it for a ride. They’re giving you a lot of money for it, so it’s only fair they know exactly what they’re getting into once they buy it.
I have always let potential buyers ride my motorcycles that I’ve sold. But I only let the ones I know are serious about it take it for a ride. If it makes you feel a little bit more at ease, have some sort of collateral against the person such as a down payment in cash or a picture of their driver’s license. See my other article here to learn more about letting a buyer test ride your motorcycle.
Have The Title Ready
If you own your motorcycle, meaning you don’t have a lien on it, then you will need to have the title readily available to give to the buyer. It looks very attractive to say that you have the title in hand on your Craigslist posting.
If you own the motorcycle but have lost the title or don’t have it for whatever reason, obtain a new one. In most states, it’s actually illegal to sell a motorcycle without giving the new owner the title (unless there are loans involved). And it’s also much easier for you as the owner to get a new title than it is for the new buyer to get one. They’ll likely have to come back and bother you for signatures and such.
It’s just good practice to have the title ready. People like to know they’re not going to have trouble registering their newly purchased motorcycle, so you’ll likely sell it a lot faster. Click here to see my article to learn more about why you need a title when selling a motorcycle.
It’s still completely possible to sell a motorcycle that still has a lien on it. Just be very open with potential buyers that the transaction will have to take place at your bank. See my article here to learn how to sell a motorcycle that has a lien on it.
Have A Bill Of Sale Ready
Alongside having your title readily available to hand over to the new owner, you’ll also want to have a bill of sale ready, too. Usually the buyer is the one who should provide this, but a lot of people forget or aren’t even aware you need one in the first place.
I recommend you have one ready because the buyer will be coming back and bothering you for signatures later if one isn’t filled out. The buyer needs a bill of sale from you in order to get the motorcycle registered in their name. Having one available and all filled out will be much less of a headache for both you and the buyer later on.
Be Picky About How You’re Paid
If there’s anything you’re going to be particularly picky on while selling your motorcycle on Craigslist, it should be how you’re paid. The only type of payment you should ever accept is cash or a check that was directly handed to you by a bank employee.
Abiding by these rules will save you a world of frustration. Some people may try to negotiate installment plans or try to pay you with a personal check.
While they could really be an honest person, you don’t know that for sure. Accepting only cash or a check directly from the bank will protect you from fraud and your motorcycle getting stolen.
Immediately Discontinue Your Insurance After The Sale
Once you have sold your motorcycle, immediately contact your insurance and inform them that it has been sold. You can do this as the buyer is pulling out of your driveway. Most bigger insurance agencies will have 24/7 contact so you shouldn’t have an issue doing this. If your insurance agency is a smaller group, leave them a message stating the date and time the motorcycle was sold.
I do this for two reasons, the first reason being that there is no point in paying insurance on a motorcycle you no longer own. If I don’t do it right then, I’ll probably forget to do it until a week or two down the road which means I’ve paid for part of a premium that didn’t benefit me at all.
The second reason I do this is for liability reasons. If the new buyer somehow gets in some sort of accident, they may try to use your insurance to pay for the damages.
Take Off Your Listing After The Sale
Last but not least, once you have sold your motorcycle, don’t forget to take your listing off of Craigslist as soon as you get a chance. A Craigslist posting will stay active for about 30 days and will expire, but if you sell your motorcycle before then you’ll need to take it down.
This saves a lot of unnecessary frustration for you and other people who were interested in buying your motorcycle. It’s pretty annoying for buyers to call you asking about the motorcycle only to have you tell them that you already sold it. And it’s annoying for you to have to deal with people contacting you about a motorcycle you don’t own anymore.