Free Feature: How to sell your bike for more

Nobody wants to settle for pennies when they sell their pride and joy, so here is our attempt at turning scrap value into added value.

Intro

How many times have you put a bike up for sale and not had one phone call? Or gone down to your local bike shop to chop your current model in for the latest fanny magnet only to be told that they will give you a fraction of what you thought it was worth? It’s happened to me loads. Maybe it’s because I haven’t quite grasped the art of valuing bikes.

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Or maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that whenever I buy a used bike, it’s never long before it looks ‘used up’. I realise not everyone is as crap at looking after their bikes as me, but I’m sure one thing we all have in common is that whenever we sell a bike, we want as much as we can get for it.

So the idea is this; we take my beloved Honda CBR600F to my local bike shop to see how much they will give me for it. Once I have finished kicking off at them for insulting me with such a measly price, I’ll find out why they found it necessary to bid me in the proverbial balls i.e what’s wrong with the bike and what could be done to add value. When I have picked their brains to the nth degree I’ll go away and make any changes, repairs or alterations that they suggest, in the hope of returning with a bike that’s worth top dollar.

Just as a bit of background on the bike I bought it a few years ago from a mate as a non-runner with no MOT and it was rougher than turd rolled in fish hooks. I gave him a grand for it and then spent about five hundred quid getting it tidied up and MOTable. It runs mint now and always starts on the button. I’ve had a few half arsed attempts at selling it but nobody seems to want to part with their hard earned for a motor like this. 

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Quote me happy

I stuck my warmest winter gloves on I made my way over to my local dealership to see if the CBR tickled their fancy. It’s a cool place if you’re ever passing, they have got a mint showroom with new and used bikes, a big clothing section, a workshop round the back and even a café selling top knocker grub. But I wasn’t interested in a second hand GS, a new textile jacket or even a bacon sandwich on this occasion (although one wouldn’t have gone a miss), I was there to get a price for my CBR. 

After stating my business with the nice looking lady in the showroom, I was ushered round to see Mr Tim Staddon. Tim isn’t just some spotty kid, straight outta Compton. Heavens no. Since leaving school in the summer of ’69 Tim has been surrounded by bikes with a spanner in his hand, except of course when he is lecturing students about said bikes. My point being Tim knows his stuff, if he tells you your bike is worth a quid, it’s probably worth a quid.

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Tim seemed less than impressed with the state of my pride and joy. In fact he was so unimpressed he refused to test ride the bike and palmed that particular job off on his younger colleague James. James, on the other hand, after a rip round the block, told us he was more than happy with the bike

“The engine is really smooth, it feels like new. I went up and down the ‘box and all the gears seem fine. The brakes work perfectly, I can’t fault it.”

Perfect, that’s the first box ticked off. All that’s left now is Tim and his fine tooth comb. And it was fine. He started at the front of the bike with his tyre tread depth gauge. At 2mm we were within the law but not for a great deal longer. The next thing was the wheels, they were quite badly marked and to be honest in a bit of a state. Whilst he was down there he noticed the front mud guard was missing a bolt causing one side to flap about in the breeze.

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An easy fix but it doesn’t look very good when you’re trying to sell it. A quick check of the fork stanchions showed no signs of oil so Tim was happy with the seals but did identify some pitting to front of both legs. Moving on up, Tim noticed the bar weights had been removed (one automatically removed itself, so the other was manually removed in an attempt to symmetricalise things). The saddle had seen better days with a few nasty tears in the upholstery.

The rear wheel and tyre combination was as ropey as the front. The state of chain and sprockets left a lot to be desired; not only were both sprockets very worn but the chain was nearly dragging on the floor it was that slack. Tim, who had been jotting bits down in his notebook, said

“Other than them bits and the fact that it hasn’t been cleaned for Christ knows how long, it’s an absolute minter! I’d have to put it somewhere between £1,000 and £1,200 in the state that it’s in. the book says the retail value on this model is £2,075 but we wouldn’t be able to give you anywhere near that for it.”

So there we have it, £1,200 tops. But can I get a few more pennies out of him with a bit of (but not too much) elbow grease.

Food for thought

Once I had an idea of what it was worth and what was stopping Tim dig a bit deeper I was able to formulate a plan to tart the old Honda up a bit. The first thing I thought about ordering was a chain and sprockets set but even for something only half decent your talking about the best part of £100  and I couldn’t see a new chain and sprockets adding £100+ to the value. So I decided to bin that idea off and spend the money on beer instead.

What Tim did keep banging on about though was the seat and how that really lets the bike down, so I thought a quick scan of eBay wouldn’t go a miss. I thought it would be a non-starter because the rider and pillion seat are all one unit so I expected a replacement would cost an arm and a leg, however, low and behold a beakers yard in Kent somewhere had one in stock, good as new £30 including postage so I went for it. It was a piece of cake to fit, the seat just pops up with the key, whip it off and plonk the new one in its place. Easy peasy.



Dos and Don’ts

If our selling your bike, always remember these golden rules.

DO

  • Have a think about whether things like fresh tyres or a new chain would increase the value of your bike.
  • Take the time to touch up any bad scratches or any corroded areas.
  • Research. Look online to see how much similar models are advertised for and always get a second opinion.
  • Make sure the bike is spotless and looking as though it’s been thoroughly looked after.

DON’T

  • If you do decide to leave the old ones on, dont think you can get away with leaving a badly tensioned chain or underinflated tyre.
  • Do it in Halfords carpark. Take our time and do it properly.
  • Sell your bike to the first person that offers you £50 and a camel. Even if it is a very nice looking camel.
  • Spend all day cleaning it and then ride it to your local bike shop on a dreary January morning, because it won’t be clean when you get there.

No spray no pay

Until someone pointed out how horrible the wheels where I hadn’t even noticed. Really. But once I’d been told I couldn’t look at the bike without my eyes been drawn to the horrendously scratched corroded wheels. Tim had suggested that I take the wheels somewhere for a refurb, he told me there are places now that can do a really good job that don’t charge the earth. I’m not sure what he meant by that but I think he was insinuating I couldn’t do a very good job myself. Well I’ll show him. Straight to Halfords.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to matt black or satin black, so after a quick round of eenie, meanie, minie, mo, it was settled and I made my way to the counter with a tin of black matt aerosol paint. £5.94 later it was time to do business. I’m quite experienced when it comes to spray painting, and although it is a long time since I have sprayed a willy on the youth club wall I can still remember one or two tricks of the trade.

It’s vitally important to thoroughly prepare any surface before painting, so I bought a roll of kitchen paper from the pound shop next to Halfords and gave the wheels a really good wipe until they were almost dry and fairly dirt free, perfect for painting. I gave them a good few coats. In my defence, the white Audi wasn’t parked there when I started so she needn’t have got all shirty with me for getting the tiniest bit of paint on her stupid car. What do you expect in Halfords carpark? I must admit though, the wheels really did come up a treat. I’ve still got it.

What a spanner

Having come to the conclusion that I am too tight to treat the CBR to a new chain and sprockets, I thought the least I could is properly tension the chain. Normally I would carry out this task on a paddock stand, but unfortunately I couldn’t find my rear stand anywhere. It was going to be a case of struggling by with the side stand.

You’re not to know this but spanner wielding isn’t, and never has been my forte and if you know me well it should come as no surprise to you that before I was able to tighten the chain, I managed to (quite significantly) slacken it. No matter, I’ve always been one for learning from your mistakes. After a little while I had achieved perfect tension and was rather pleased with myself. Unfortunately upon turning the rear wheel 90 degrees either way, the chain became tighter than a bonobo’s banjo string on full wood.

Not to be beaten by a pesky drive chain I soldiered on and three or four hours later I had a perfectly tensioned chain all the way round. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

200 Elbow Grease

Only a complete wally would take their bike to sell without giving it a wash first. Unfortunately my dermatologist told me I simply must start looking after my hands more and those ghastly chemicals they use in vehicle shampoo will probably end up killing you, or worse.

So, with this in mind, added to the fact that I’m not a woman so I don’t actually like cleaning stuff, I headed down to the local hand car wash to see if they could hook me and the CBR up with some suds. I’ve been to this one before and although they all speak funny (I think they must be from Middlesbrough or somewhere) they do a really good job.

Definitely the second best hand job in town. Once Dimitri had finished filling up my exhaust pipe with water and rinsed all the soap off the bodywork the bike really did look a treat, and at six quid I wasn’t going to complain about the wheels or the mudguards or the rearsets or the forks, none of which got a look in.

The comeback king

Clean as a whistle and looking sharp I headed back, hoping for a stronger bid than the aforementioned £1200. As soon as I got off the bike in the carpark I discovered that my 6 quid spit shine had been about as worthwhile as Vanessa Feltz switching to ‘Diet’ Coke to wash her third pie and chips down.

You see, on a damp January afternoon in the leafy suburbs of East Yorkshire, you will find enough mud and slime on the road to warrant knobbly tyres. Mud and slime that invariably ends up coating an entire motorcycle, should you be foolhardy enough to venture out in it. I’m not sure about hardy, but the other bit certainly sounds like me, as there I was, six quid down and with a bike that was just as minging as the first time I brought it. Well nearly as minging, anyway.

Forgetting about the dirt, I was pretty pleased with the improvements I’d made and was looking forward to seeing Tim and showing off my skills. Thankfully Tim noticed the new seat straight away and immediately commented on how much better it makes the bike look. He was impressed with how well the wheels had come up but said he would have liked to see better tyres on them. After a quick check of the chain he said although the tension is about right it’s still very worn, but did agree with me that, from a seller’s point of view, to throw a new chain and sprockets set at the old Honda is probably a false economy. 

Eventually Tim’s eyes were drawn to the layer of road grime that coated nearly every surface of the Honda. It was only about ten miles worth, but that’s more than enough when you’re trying to sell a bike, Tim explained why:

“The thing about trying to sell a dirty bike, isn’t just that it is dirty, because you can get any bike looking clean and tidy with a bit of TLC. From a buyers point of view, if someone brings you a bike covered in mud and road salt you know instantly know that it has been used all year round and in all weather. Bikes like this tend to be a ‘tool’ for getting from A to B rather than a ‘toy’ for getting from A and back to A again; I’ve learnt over the years that people tend to take much better care of their ‘toys’ than their ‘tools’.”

Well I don’t know about you but I’ve always tried my very best to look after my tool, but that is an argument I can have with Tim another day. More pressing an issue was whether or not his pockets had grown any deeper after re-examining the old CBR.

“You have definitely brought back a better bike then before, but it’s still an old motorcycle. If you had have fetched it in a van and presented it to us clean I would offer you £1,500, but it’s still dirty, isn’t it?”

I felt like I was back at school getting told off for not doing my homework properly.

“If you want to do a deal today I’ll give you £1,400 now, which is still a good few hundred better than before, but we can’t give you our top price on it because we would still have to do a bit of work to get it to the standard of our showroom bikes.”

Had Tim not suggested he would go to £1,500 if it was clean, I would have probably shook hands on his offer of £1,400, but for the sake of another £6 hand job and a trip back in the van the lure of a few more pennies was too great.

Needless to say I haven’t got round to going back yet, so if anyone out there is in the market for a supersport star of yesteryear, you know where I am; its mates rates for all Fast Bikes readers.

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