The best motorcycles to flip on craigslist

The best motorcycles to flip on craigslist. Flipping motorcycle on Craigslist can be a great way to make some extra cash. But selecting the right bikes to flip can make all the difference to whether you succeed or not, how quickly your motorcycle sells and how much money you make when it does. Our experience flipping motorcycle on Craigslist has taught us that you should focus on inexpensive bikes that would appeal to a first time rider, senior senior or someone just looking for good reliable transport. These motorcycles are also generally fast sellers​, simple to appraise and make good margins on. Below we will guide you though exactly what you should look for when looking to flip a motorcycles on Craigslist.

What motorcycles should I buy to flip on Craigslist?

We would recommend looking for a small low CC models from the likes of ​Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, Vespa and Piaggio. Large engined bikes are to be avoided unless they are cheap. Our experience has taught us that these bikes can be significantly harder to sell as the majority of buyers are looking for cheap running costs.

How much should you spend on a Craigslist motorcycles flip?

Most part time motorcycles flippers are operating at the $1,000 – $3,000 price point, working on a $1000 margin. So you need to be looking for motorcycles that can retail at $1995 and owe you no more than $800 – $1000, or $2995 with a stand in price of $1500 – $1750. Leaving a little movement to get a deal done and still maintain margin.

​You will make a little more on some deals and a little less on others, but most seem to average $1000 per deal over the course of a year. You might start buying cars at $500 and trying to get $1000 retail. But most successful long term flippers operate in the two to three thousand price point. This being the fastest moving part of the market, allowing for great profits and a fast turn over if you get it right.

Which motorcycle colours sell best?

You really do need to think about colour. With the internet being such a visual experience everyone searching for a new motorcycle will be looking at colour first. It’s a big deciding factor in any car purchasing decision. So you need to be focusing on it too.

The most popular new bike and scooter colours in 2018:

  • Grey          20%
  • Black        20%
  • White       18%
  • Blue          16%
  • Red           10%
  • Silver        9%

The used market doesn’t always reflect the new, for example a white BMW GS will look great when new in the showroom. But add years of use and tens of thousands of miles and even with a great detail the paint work will look tired. Darker colours and especially metallics seem to hold their shine for longer.

However we have done well with orange and even pink motorcycles on occasion. Pink is always rare and has a certain appeal to a certain customer type, who will happily pay a premium. But if you are just starting out and only have a motorcycle or two in stock you may be best sticking to the more conventional colour schemes.

You should stick to standard spec motorcycles

You need to approach a motorcycle modification in a similar way as you would a car colour. For example a tuned bike is always at a disadvantage against a highly tuned bike or scooter at this price point, and a funky coloured won’t always appeal to everyone. So a standard bike or scooter is best.

Does mileage matter when flipping motorcycles on Craigslist?

Needless to say that the lower the milage the better. But some bikes wear mileage better than others, I would rather be in an 50,000 mile Honda that a 10,000 mile knockoff Chinese import.

Service history essentials when flipping secondhand motorcycle

Service history is important at all price points. But maybe even more so at the lower end. People looking at this end of the market need a good motorcycle on a budget and are worried about getting stung. So always make sure the bike has at leased some history. If its missing some years or hasn’t had a recent service, allows me money to get it done. A recent service is more important that what happened 5 years ago.

If the motorcycle has no history, even if its super cheap it’s probably best to just walk away.

The condition of the bodywork is important when flipping a cheap motorcycle

It’s amazing what will polish out. I have bought motorcycles with what appears damage to every panel of bike. Only to find it all polishes out after 15 minutes with some compound and a cloth. But these motorcycles are the exception and not the rule.

I don’t advice buying motorcycles that need anything more than a smart repair to the tank. Larger jobs can again be time consuming and expensive. I have lost count of the times I have waited weeks for a bit of trim or a new tank to arrive only then to find the bodyshop is fully booked for a few weeks. Resulting in long delays and money tied up.

So even if you are experienced in the dark arts of body repairs, I would still advice buying a clean bike needing as little body repair as possible. Allowing you to turn the bike around as quickly as possible.  

Mechanical repairs

It’s great if you have a little mechanical knowledge. But it’s not essential at all. I know very successful dealers with almost no understanding of how and what an engine does.

But you can always find a course to educate yourself, or simply watch hours of Youtube content. Most dealers learn on the job, myself included. But obviously with a smartphone in our pocket the internet is a great place to find information on almost any motorcycle or problem. This resource can be invaluable. A quick search while inspecting a potential purchase can be very insightful.

I would also advice nurturing a good relationship with a small local garage. This can be invaluable especially when you get something wrong. These garages are normally a gold mine of information. Plus if you bring them regular business you can normally arrange a trade rate. This relationship can be very important and can sometimes be a good source of stock. The first bike showroom I rented came from one of these relationships.

You should always carryout a HPI or VIN check 

The final thing your flip need is to have a clear finance and history. These checks mean the motorcycle has no outstanding finance owing on it, this check will also tell you if the bikes has ever been in a crash. If you are buying from a Franchise Dealer, they will normally have checked the car on the registry already and can supply a copy to the certificate. If not it is essential you do this yourself.

Basically if you buy a bike with outstanding finance on it. You will be unable to sell it on and may face the loss of any funds you have invested, as the motorcycle technically is the property of the a finance company who registered the interest. So it is essential any car you buy regardless of cost or age is checked.

We don’t advocate selling anything recorded as being in a crash. Leave the bike for someone else. They are always hard to sell on and never worth the hassle.


So to summarise the ideal Craigslist bike flip should be a…

  • ​​Small bikes with low running and insurance costs
  • Retailing between two & three thousand pounds, with a £1000 margin
  • In either Grey, Black, Blue or Silver
  • Having covered a low mileage
  • Have full service history
  • ​With no major panel or mechanical issues​​
  • and be HPI clear

There is a lot of money to be made in flipping motorcycles on Craigslist, and once you have found you ideal flip you simply repeat the process again and again it really can be just that simple. If you follow these simple guidelines you should be well on your way to car flipping success.

If you want to read more about flipping motorcycles on Craigslist we have written more about it here – The best motorcycles to flip on craigslist.