Winter is coming on, and the riding season is winding down for most of the country. This is the absolute best time to shop for a used bike.
Think about it — the holidays are coming, cash is tight, and that motorcycle in the garage starts to look like an ATM to many people. Maybe they didn’t ride that much this summer, maybe they have plans to buy a new bike next spring, maybe they’re just tired of debating with their spouse about that motorcycle taking up valuable space in the garage. Whatever the reason, plenty of bikes go up for sale this time of year.
At the same time, there are fewer buyers to compete for used bikes. Impulse buyers will be less likely to spring for a motorcycle when Old Man Winter looms on the horizon. With the economy being so tight, even hardcore bikers will be inclined to save up their dough for family gifts rather than adding a bike to the stable.
All of which adds up to the perfect time to buy a used motorcycle.
There are many ways to find a used bike, each with its own ups and downs.
Most new motorcycle dealerships also sell used bikes, and there are a few specialty used motorcycle dealerships as well. In general, a dealership will charge more for a used bike than a private party, which makes sense. They’ve got higher overhead, and they’ve probably done some work on the bike. A dealership may be able to help out with financing and even an extended warranty or service contract. If you are a first-time buyer, buying at a reputable dealership might be your best option.
The internet is a great place to find a used bike. Sites like eBay Motors and Cycle Trader, allow you to search for motorcycles according to many criteria, like year, make and model, and also location. They can even help you to arrange shipping for distant bikes, and (for a fee) hold your purchase price in escrow until you have inspected the motorcycle.
Another great source on the internet is owners groups, clubs and forums. Some bikes inspire such passionate ownership that owners have gathered together to share stories and information about the bikes. And they often have a marketplace attached with classified ads about bikes for sale. Posting a “Wanted to Buy” notice on one of these message boards can flush out motorcycles that haven’t even been advertised for sale yet.
Don’t overlook the old standbys — your local paper’s classified section, your local grocery store bulletin board, your local Pennysaver. A local bike will be easier to inspect and easier to get home.
I would also talk to my local mechanic, the guy who will be working on the bike that you buy. Let him know that you’re looking to buy a good used bike, and ask if any of his customers have expressed any interest in selling. A good mechanic will often know about well-maintained bikes for sale, and will see you as a future customer.
On the subject of mechanics, unless you are a mechanic yourself, you should always make your used bike purchase contingent on a full inspection by the mechanic of your choice. Motorcycles are much simpler than automobiles, but they can still have hidden problems that don’t immediately meet the eye. If a seller is reluctant to allow a thorough inspection, walk away – there may be a problem with the bike that they don’t wish to have discovered.
Take the plunge. The good news is that you’ll have all winter to get your new (used) ride ready for the road. Spring will be even better on a new ride.