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Old 05-01-2008, 02:43 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: CrabTown USA
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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.


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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