How to value a motorcycle you plan to sell (with tips)

A very simple question that’s very hard to answer. Even dealers with decades of experience get bike valuations wrong all the time. The trick is to get it right most of the time. Below I will guide you through the various processes available and the way to put a valuation on a car you want to flip or take in part exchange.

Why is it so hard to give an accurate valuation?

The answer to this is that no two used bikes are the same. Even if two bikes were made in the same month of the same year, in the same colour and spec with similar mileage. Each bike will have been used and ridden differently. Some bikes will have been meticulously cared for by an enthusiast owner, while others have had a busy commuting or business life. So comparing like for like can be dangerous.

Online motorcycle valuations

The various online bike valuations services will give you a good idea of the value similar bikes have sold for. These valuation services offer a good starting guide price, but as stated above each bike is unique. You need to bear in mind that these online valuation services make various assumptions about bikes, such as average mileage and condition. Taking data from multiple sources.

​The most advanced use information from hundreds of thousands of motorcycles, from classified websites, individual dealer websites, major bike auctions and leasing companies. Combining them to give an accurate average value across the market.

The problem with mass data like this is the assumptions taken from it. If your vehicle doesn’t fit into one of the boxes the valuation is often inaccurate. The data is tailored to the average and each bike is as previously stated, unique.

CAP and glass’s guide

For years I used to carry around the bike salesman’s bible that was CAP Green Book. A book produced monthly that covered trade and retail pricing on every common make and model. It even came with little snippets of information on how the manufacture and models were performing form month to month. But guides are no longer available in paper form and are now only available in various online platforms.

I do know some used dealers that still use these guides but they are nowhere near as popular as they once were. Larger dealer groups and finance houses still use them and they are still of some use in an auction environment.

But again they suffer from the same issues as online bike valuations. Plus they are expensive. So only represent value if you are valuing lots of motorcycles a month, and in my experience are no more accurate than a free online valuation.

CAP’s online valuation services offer a suggested part exchange price. Again this is the result of data either harvested from the private customer or the dealer network. But with so much business being bought and such a wide verity of part exchange prices being offered. The water is so muddied the suggested price is no more accurate than a weekly weather forecast. Serving only to prove the inaccuracies of the retail valuations.

Searching your local area

This is my preferred method if you are looking to flip a bike. This is where you are going to be selling the bike, so its this localised market that matters, so naturally it’s the best place to look. You can still look on large national websites. But instead of searching for an online valuation, you search your local area.

​You also need to look at more localised classified websites, Facebook selling groups and used dealers. The current bikes for sale in your local area are your competition and a much more accurate barometer than data that’s sometimes months or years old.

Most experienced flippers and used dealers use this method and have long since abandoned CAP. Local data is what matters not mass data collected from areas that have no bearing on your area.

Things that can Increase a motorcycles value

Now you understand that every bike is unique, and you have established an idea of a the value using the techniques above. You can look at the other variables and price your car accordingly. 

1. Desirable colours, race liveries and schemes
Some colours schemes and liveries are more desirable than others. So can often fetch a premium.

2. Optional extras 
Some, but not all optional extras can add value. Normally this only applies to very expensive and rare options. Just because the motorcycles has an exhaust upgrade doesn’t necessarily make the bike more valuable. It may however make it easier to sell.

3. Full service history (FSH)
A really good service history can enhance a bikes value, especially if it’s had lots of recent work carried out.

4. No damage
A well cared for bike is one thing, but a truly immaculate one is another. If a motorcycle is immaculate then that always adds value. 

5. Well below average mileage
Low mileage is often stated as making a bike more valuable. But in the same way that most optional extras don’t add value. Unless the bike has ultra low mileage it normally just makes it easier to sell.

​Things that can decrease a motorcycles value

1. High mileage
Higher than average mileage even with FSH will decrease a bikes value.

2. Gaps in the service history
Skipping services can have short term financial benefits, but can drastically devalue a bike long term.

3. Tasteless modifications
The used market is generally ok with subtle modifications but overly personalised bikes with poorly executed DIY works can make bikes very hard to see on.

Final words

You need to be honest and objective about the bikes condition. Try to see things from a potential buyer’s perspective. Look at a car objectively and give it an honest appraisal, deciding if the bike is clean, average or a little rough. None of these thing are necessarily a bad thing.

In fact selling a motorcycle that isn’t perfect but is priced accordingly can be easier to flip than a perfect example. Then simply decide if it’s going to make a little more or a little less than the competition. 

But if you are looking to flip a bike quickly your bike needs to be priced competitively either at or below market value. So again look at it objectively and from a potential buyer’s perspective.