It is that time of year again: the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Although the 80th anniversary of the Rally will be somewhat muted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will still be plenty of motorcyclists looking to wheel and deal. With thousands of out-of-state bikers converging upon the motorcycle Mecca of Sturgis, many people will decide that the best time to sell their motorcycle for the best price is during the Rally.
Selling your motorcycle should be a straightforward and relatively simple process. However, if you are not careful, you could end up without a motorcycle and without payment. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in 2017 alone, there were 44,268 motorcycle thefts. Of those thefts, only 42% of those motorcycles were later recovered. There are a few simple reminders that you should keep in mind when selling your motorcycle. Following these basic tips will deter potential thieves and show potential buyers that you are a legitimate seller.
Listing Your Motorcycle
There are countless platforms where you can list your motorcycle for sale. Newspaper classified ads, internet listings, and circulating flyers will all reach different types of buyers. Listing it on multiple platforms may increase your pool of potential buyers, as well as increase your chances that the buyer willing to purchase the motorcycle for the most money sees your listing. However, whichever platform you choose, there is crucial information that should be included in the listing itself. The make, model, year, and price are all helpful to include in your listing, but you should also make it clear that your motorcycle is being sold in “as-is” condition. This means that you will not make any warranties or promises as to the condition of the motorcycle. By including this language in your listing, you are making it clear to potential buyers that any issues arising after the sale of the motorcycle are wholly the buyer’s responsibility.
Dealing With Potential Buyers
Once you have a potential buyer interested in your motorcycle, the buyer will typically want to see the bike in person. You may want to consider allowing the potential buyer to have a mechanic of their choosing inspect the motorcycle. Again, stressing that you are selling the motorcycle in “as-is” condition is important at this point in the sale, too. An inspection might reveal potential issues, but at least the potential buyer is now aware of these potential issues, and will take them into consideration when negotiating a price, or ultimately deciding whether to purchase the bike.
Inevitably, a potential buyer will want to test drive the motorcycle. It is your choice whether to allow it, but if you are going to allow a potential buyer to test drive the bike, verify, at a minimum, that the buyer has a motorcycle license or endorsement. If the potential buyer were to be stopped by law enforcement during their test drive, your motorcycle could be impounded if the rider is not properly licensed. It may also be helpful to inquire as to their riding experience. You may not want to leave your bike in the hands of a rider who has only just received their motorcycle license. Even if the potential buyer seems sober, always ask if the potential buyer has consumed alcoholic beverages, illicit drugs, or any other substance or medication that may impair his or her driving ability. Any potential buyer who is impaired should not be operating your motorcycle. Further, should the potential buyer get into an accident while test-driving the bike, remember that it is the motorcycle owner’s insurance that will be primarily responsible for liability coverage (meaning your insurance).
In addition, you may want to consider having the potential buyer sign a test-drive agreement to include contact information, insurance information, and addressing parameters such as the length of the test drive and limits to places or streets the driver can go. If something goes wrong during the test drive, a well-written agreement should protect you.
Finalizing the Sale
Once you have come to an agreement on the price, you are ready to finalize the sale. You cannot transfer ownership of the motorcycle without a title. Most states permit sellers to sign the title, indicating an intention to transfer legal ownership to the buyer. The second most critical document is the bill of sale. You can think of this document as the sale agreement. It will outline the parties to the sale, the purchase details, and ownership conditions. The buyer will need both the bill of sale and title in order to register the motorcycle with their county or state.
Before you transfer ownership, it is important to establish payment terms and to ensure that the payment is genuine. It is at this point in the sale that you are at the most risk of being scammed. Request the entire payment up front and beware of the buyer who requests to make multiple payments over a period of time. When it comes to methods of payment, cash is king, but not every buyer will be carrying adequate cash in their pocket. Consider limiting payment options to money orders, cashier’s check, or bank wire transfers. These are the safest and most reliable types of payment to ensure that you are actually paid. Failure to verify legitimate payment or trusting that the buyer will pay after you have already transferred ownership may land you without the payment and without the motorcycle. Only when you are satisfied that the payment terms have been met should you release the bike to the buyer. Make sure to keep copies of all documents for your records and for future reference.
Of course, if the process outlined above seems too onerous or tedious, you can opt to trade in your motorcycle with a dealership. Doing so usually won’t result in the highest sales price, but the price of convenience may be worth it. Whether you trade your bike in or sell it yourself, having the extra cash in-hand will enable you to upgrade to that bigger and better bike you have been eyeing.
Whether you need assistance with drafting a test drive agreement or your buyer refuses to make good on their payment, at Lynn Jackson, we have an experienced team of lawyers to help you with the tools you need to safely sell your bike.