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Old 05-01-2008, 02:43 PM   #1
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Default Generic Used Bike Buying

I posted this a year or so ago on "that other site", and there have been a ton of questions about bike buying, so, rather than reinventing the wheel, lets rewind this old thread.....




"The warm winds of spring are blowing, and just as sure as God made little green apples, some of you have got the "BUG". You know, the "I gotta have a bike, right now!" BUG. So keep yer money in yer pocket for a couple of minutes, and I'll share with you a couple of hints to hold on to as much of that "green" as possible, and still get the bike you "need", (want, lust after, have an aching hole in your soul for).

I am making a couple of assumptions: You've picked out a used bike, gone over it with a fine toothed comb, by yourself or with a knowledgeable buddy, checked the title, and you have a source of cash, and that this is from a private seller. Used bikes from a dealer and new bikes are a different kettle of fish because you are purchasing the bike from a business, so, for the business, it is strictly a financial transaction. Why is this distinction important? In a moment, you'll see.

Without getting all Zen on you, I'll say that in order to get the best deal, you have to know a little about what it is you are buying, yourself and other people, and that if you take the time to get this knowledge and apply it, you will achieve success in both this transaction and others in life.

Knowing your own motivations and limitations can be used to keep you from "giving away the store". What does that mean? It means that if you go look at every bike with a hyper kind of "I gotta have a bike, RIGHT NOW!" attitiude, you will cue the seller that he has an "easy mark". If you blurt out that "THIS is the bike I want!", you have just given away any bargaining position you may have held.....and that's OK if money isn't important to you.

But if getting and keeping dollars is as tough for you as it is for most of us, read on.

I'm NOT talking about "driving a hard bargain". Far from it. I'm talking about understanding what is really taking place in the process of buying and selling, and then using that understanding and a little self control to make everbody happy.

THE PROCESS

In order for a "sale" to take place, a couple of things have to happen. You need to have someone willing to sell something (in this case a used bike), you need to have a party willing to buy the product, you need to have the correct product (the "right" bike) and you need to agree on a price (and sometimes terms of the sale).

What frequently happens, is that our intrepid buyer (that's you, with money burning a hole in your pocket) find that bike you may be interested in in the classifieds, or Craigslist; listed at a price you think you can afford. You look up the bike, pouring over sexy photos of the bike and rider in full leathers in full lean, watching your buddies go riding with envy, building up a good head of Buyer's Fever...you've convinced your wife, your SO, and/or your parents that you NEED a bike, and they've OK'd it (or at least you've worn them down to the point where they've given up protesting and say "Fine, but don't come to ME when you kill yourself"). So, you rush on out with money in hand "Before someone else can get THAT bike", kick the tires, fondle its smooth lines, drool on the aftermarket pipe and make a halfhearted attempt to knock the guy down a couple hundred; and when he says the price is "firm", you hand over your hard earned cash for the asking price.


Try another way.

First, understand that there are PLENTY of good used bikes out there, ALL THE TIME. So if the one you want gets away, there will be more. So do your homework. Settle on a couple of models AND MODEL YEARS you may be interested in and then check out pricing for those models and years in KBB.com and NADA.com.

Now, start looking for and AT bikes; talking as little as possible, except to ask questions; questions like, "Why are you selling this bike?" ....and then LISTEN to the answer the seller gives. "How soon do you want to sell?"...and then LISTEN for the answer. Frequently, a motormouthed seller will give you all the information you need to make a great deal in answering just those two questions. Why?

Have you ever heard the term "motivated seller"? It's a catchall term for someone that wants to unload something as fast as possible...and that's what you are looking for; a motivated seller. We already know that you are a motivated buyer; you've got the bug so bad that you can barely sleep at night. If you listen carefully, sellers will tip you off to what's going on in their lives that motivated them to list that bike to begin with.

I once looked at a like-new 929rr that a VERY serious and intimidating cop was selling; after asking him the two questions, the dam broke and he poured forth with the fact that he had a new house, new furniture, and his wife just found out they were expecting and he needed the money RIGHT NOW. I asked him how much he "needed" for the bike, and he gave me a number almost a thousand below what he listed it for. I handed him the cash and rode it away. He was happy and so was I.

I looked at another bike that I had tried to see several times, but the seller kept cancelling and we kept missing each other; I nearly gave up. He called me out of the blue after a couple of weeks of this, I popped on over and inspected the bike. It had some mild neglect issues, and I told him so. I then asked him my two questions and then listened. He was going through a divorce, really didn't want to sell, but if he didn't have some cash TODAY, he was going to lose his house. I asked him how much he needed for his bike: he gave me a number almost 1500 below his listing. I gave hime the cash and took the bike. He was happy and so was I.

Notice I didn't make a "counter offer". I didn't have to. Yep, I could have saved another hundred of so, at the cost of good will. But I knew that both deals were well below what I knew they were worth ('cause I had done my homework), so I didn't have to embarrass myself or "beat the other guy up".

Ask questions, pay attention, and keep your mouth shut.

Happy hunting."
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Old 05-01-2008, 02:50 PM   #2
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Absolutely great advice once again.
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Old 05-01-2008, 02:53 PM   #3
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Great tips OTB. They will come in handy for me.
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Old 05-01-2008, 03:20 PM   #4
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I guess my most important points are:

A. Make it a game....stop thinking "It's GOTTA BE THIS bike!"....They're still making em, so what's the rush?

B. Look to the seller for info about the deal and the real condition of the bike....

C. Do your homework pricewise with KBB and NADA.

D. Set a budget and stik to it. Walk away if you have to.
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Old 05-01-2008, 03:38 PM   #5
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can you apply this to home buying as well?

Is there an OTB guide for that?
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Old 05-01-2008, 03:39 PM   #6
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What about new bike buying(from dealer)?
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Old 05-01-2008, 04:08 PM   #7
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What about new bike buying(from dealer)?

Dealer, not so much. They are a business, they have an absloute floor they will sell the bike at, and they have a tremendous advantage....a good salesman sells more bikes in a month than an average buyer buys in a lifetime. And for the buyer, it is often an emotional purchase, which tilts the odds in the dealers favor.


I wrote this a couple years ago.

"I've previously posted about my method of buying and selling used bikes from private parties. Now we can discuss purchasing bikes from dealers (new and used).

First, some terms:

A. List.
List price, like in what the Suggested Retail Price is, if you went to the Manufacturers web site and looked up the model you want, they LIST the price.

B. Invoice.
The price the Manufacturer charges the dealership for a particular bike on an Invoice. This MAY or MAY NOT be what the dealer actually pays.

C. Overhead
What it costs the dealer to maintain the dealership and pay everybody, including the gov't. If the dealer doesn’t make enough on each unit to pay overhead, he won’t be around to service your warranty issues……

D. Front End Money
Direct Dealer or Manufacturer discounts that the buyer MAY OR MAY NOT see on the buyers order.

E. Buyers Order
In most states, this is a formal and legally binding document (binding on the dealership, once signed by an authorized manager or representative; usually not just a salesman). The dealership is required to honor the sales conditions stated on the Buyer’s Order; the consumer can get up and walk away anytime UP TO TAKING DELIVERY OF THE DEAL. Once you have driven the bike off the lot….it’s your’s, baby.

F. Back End Money
Manufacturer or other special incentives or discounts, either to the dealership, or to the salesman on the contract. Usually never seen by the consumer. These discounts can be spifs, spins, direct rebates to the dealers, discounts based on volume, rebates of regional advertising money, discounts on flooring money if the manufacturer is carrying flooring contracts. They are almost NEVER negotiable. They are the monies that operate the dealership.

G. Flooring Money
The cost to the dealership to a bank, finance company or manufacturer to "floor" the bikes. Many dealerships may have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in inventory on the "floor" (showroom and warehouse) at any given time; few dealers can afford to pay cash for this inventory, so most dealerships use a bank or other financial institution to loan them the money, like a revolving charge account, with the inventory as collateral.

F. ADDS
Add-ons, ADM (additional dealer markup); these are things like “paperwork fees”, “setup fees”(all major manufacturers rebate a standard amount for dealer prep or setup to the dealer…, charging you for dealer prep is another way to get a few extra bucks out of your pocket),“processing fees” ect. In some states these are not allowed, in some states they are MANDATED, and in others, the statutes are silent. Check your local MVA. In states where these fees are not mandated, all of these adds are negotiable.

G.FREIGHT, TAXES and TAG FEES
These are fixed costs and are not negotiable.

H. Discount
This is the amount of money you NEGOTIATE off the list price of the vehicle…. The more the merrier.

Notice that everything I mentioned here has only to do with money and expenses; that's because in order to get a good experience in buying a new bike (or used bike from a dealer), you need to know where you are, what you are doing and what you can expect. Dealerships are BUSINESSES. Good dealership managers and owners may run them like they were the local bike social hangout, rendezvous spot or biker cafe', but in the end they are businesses, and MUST MAKE MONEY TO REMAIN VIABLE.

Note also, that the salesman you get can make or break your experience or view of that dealership. If you get an a$$wipe of a salesman, (and there are some), ask for somebody else, or leave the dealership and come back when somebody else is working. If you like the guy, stick with him, even if you need to come back several times (like, make an APPOINTMENT with the guy and keep it). Most of these guys work on commission, so if you find a good one, use him, and refer your friends.

A million books have been written on the psychology of selling; go to your local library and check one out if you have interest … my goal here is for the neophyte bike buyer to understand the “mechanics” of purchasing a new bike so that he (or she) may have a better chance of getting a decent deal.

To get the best deal possible, pay attention to OTB’s BIKE BUYING BASICS:

1. Remember…this is a sportbike purchase: not the end of the world if it doesn’t go the way you’d like. Keep your sense of humor and have fun.
2. You will get the best price in the middle of February when the showroom is empty and the salesmen are all staring at the snow blowing by the showroom window, NOT in May when you have to take a number and stand in line to get somebody’s attention.
3. The average salesman will have done this 20 times in the last week and a half…. You get to do this once every three or four years…. Who do you think is better at it?
4. If there are four people behind you waving money at the salesman to buy that one limited edition, Ohlins suspended, Rossi signature one-off factory special, of which each dealership gets only one …. Don’t be a buttwipe and get huffy when the salesman turns down your offer of $1000 under invoice. If it’s that important to get something off of list, pick a slow moving model…..and don’t be such an a$$.
5. Don’t be a wimp… if you don’t ask, you won’t get it, and the worst that will happen is that somebody will say “no”.
6. Don’t be an a$$: nobody gets reamed at dealerships like arrogant ba$tards that treat the salesman like the “bloody hired help”. Be a prick and they’ll pack so many adds into your deal, it’ll take you a week to figure out what you actually paid (see #3). We used to call it the “nuisance tax”.
7. Be nice, no matter what happens. Ever if the dealership treats you lousy…because:
8. Not matter what happens, NOBODY CAN MAKE YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY IF YOU DON’T WANT TO. Getting treated badly?…go somewhere else, pick a different model, manufacturer, buy a good used bike instead of new…….

Next time I’ll talk about financing…………


and then.........

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Old 05-01-2008, 04:08 PM   #8
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I can only tell you what works for me; not everybody will be comfortable with the same approach.

A. Do your homework: find out what the msrp is on the bike(s) you are interested in before going. Write the number(s) down in a little notebook you can take with you.

B. Go to the manufacturer's website before you go to see what special promos they have going on; write them down in your notebook.

C. Go to the dealership website before you go, to see what promos they have going; write them down in your notebook.

D. Set a reasonable price you are willing to pay before you walk out the door...that means sit down and write out the purchase price, taxes tags and any other fees you may have to pay...setup and "paperwork" fees to the dealership ain't it, unless your state mandates them...otherwise, they are just adds and you shouldn't pay them. Note...don't be a "Payment" buyer...looking for an acceptable monthly payment regardless of the price...more than one buyer has gone home with a bike and a great monthly payment, only to discover (sometimes years later) that he'll be making that great payment for 60 or even 72 or 84 months!!!!!!! 3-4 years should be the max you want to pay for that thing....

E. Act like a complete noob at the dealership; don't try to impress the salesman with your deep knowledge. A good salesman knows more about the bike than you ever will know, so let him tell you about it. A bad one will be making stuff up left and right; that's why you need to do your homework. If you keep your mouth shut as much as possible, you will not just learn some things about the bike, you will also learn something useful about the person you are negotiating with.

F. ASK THE SALESMAN what kind of deal you can get...go into his office and sit down and have him WRITE IT OUT on a buyer's order. Most people cannot keep numbers straight in a detailed conversation of price and costs. Have him write them down. Understand that, until numbers are on a signed buyers order, everything is just TALK. That means, if they promise you a helmet and a jacket, or a free 1000 mile service, or WHATEVER...that until it's on the buyer's order, or on a separate coupon or letter...that it doesn't exist...it's vaporware. If the salesman gives you an out-the-door price and/or extra goodies, have him put it on the buyer's order...prices or terms on the back of a business card are not enforceable... a signed buyer's order is.

G. Be relaxed, be friendly....this is a big game, so go have fun with it.

H. Don't give up until you've heard "No" three times...then they really mean it.

I. After you've settled on a price, don't be afraid to ask (nicely) for that helmet or that jacket or the free first service (or all three)....be nice, but tell them you really NEED that whatever to seal the deal...and remember "H" above....

J. To take some of the pressure off, understand that IN MOST STATES (check with your DMV) that UNTIL YOU TAKE PHYSICAL DELIVERY OF THE VEHICLE (i.e. ride it away) that you can walk away from the deal at any time, with no cost to you.

Now, understand that there may be great pressure put on you NOT to walk away, but they can't force you to buy something you don't want, AS LONG AS YOU HAVEN'T TAKEN DELIVERY (then it becomes a used bike; YOUR used bike). So if you get the heeby jeebies about a deal, or find out another dealership has a better deal, you can cancel the deal and get any deposit back (in MOST states, so check first) AS LONG AS YOU HAVEN"T TAKEN DELIVERY. I AM NOT A LAWYER SO FIND OUT ABOUT YOUR STATE'S LAWS BEFORE YOU GET IN A JAM....NOT AFTER.

Remember, doing your research after you've done the deal is a waste of time.
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Old 05-01-2008, 04:18 PM   #9
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can you apply this to home buying as well?

Is there an OTB guide for that?
Kind of.
Know what you want in a home ie # bedrooms, # baths, square footage, yard size, garage size, type of HVAC, type of foundation, etc
Know what price you are willing to pay (and can afford)
Know what a home that meets your specs is going for in the area you are looking.
Look until you find one.
Don't look too far out of your price range, as you will be dissappointed that you can never close a deal
Don't be afraid to lowball if the house either
A. has a LOT of problem areas, or needs a lot of work, or
B. has been on the market for a long time, or
C. you know the seller is "motivated" ie, they are already moved out and probably paying 2 morgatages.

that's some of the things I learned while looking.
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Old 05-01-2008, 05:26 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Cutty72 View Post
Kind of.
Know what you want in a home ie # bedrooms, # baths, square footage, yard size, garage size, type of HVAC, type of foundation, etc
Know what price you are willing to pay (and can afford)
Know what a home that meets your specs is going for in the area you are looking.
Look until you find one.
Don't look too far out of your price range, as you will be dissappointed that you can never close a deal
Don't be afraid to lowball if the house either
A. has a LOT of problem areas, or needs a lot of work, or
B. has been on the market for a long time, or
C. you know the seller is "motivated" ie, they are already moved out and probably paying 2 morgatages.

that's some of the things I learned while looking.

Listen to the man...he knows of what he speaks.................
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