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How to Determine Your Motorcycle's Trade in Value

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Maybe you're planning to upgrade your old motorcycle for a new one. Maybe you're curious about how much of its value it's lost since you bought it. Either way, finding out exactly what a motorcycle is worth is something most motorcycle owners eventually need to do. Fortunately, it's a relatively straightforward process that presents few, if any, challenges. If you're ready to get started, here's what you need to know about how to determine your motorcycle's trade in value.

Understanding the Terms

If you've already done some background work on the subject, you've probably come across several new terms. Terms like 'Suggested List Price,' 'Average Retail Value,' or even 'Average Retail Value.' So, what do they all mean? Are they just another way of saying 'Trade in Value?' Not really. Each has a unique, albeit related, meaning. As the dictionary of motorcycle terms can get a little confusing at times, here's a quick breakdown of some of the key terms you might come across when you're figuring out your bike's trade in value.

  • Suggested List Price- As ChopperExchange notes, the suggested list price is the highest manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) for a new motorcycle sold in the United States. The price only applies to dealerships rather than private sales and doesn't typically include additional costs such as destination charges, state taxes, local taxes, dealer setup fees, registration fees, or insurance.
  • Average Retail Value - Whereas suggested list prices deal exclusively with brand new bikes, the average retail price describes the value of a used bike sold by a dealership. Although the bike is used, it will be clean and free of any mechanical or surface problems. Mileage can vary.
  • Low Retail Value - Low retail value is the value of a motorcycle sold at a dealership that's in less than perfect condition. The wear and tear could be cosmetic, the bike could have mechanical faults, or it could have both. Repair will usually be needed to bring the bike up to working condition.
  • Private Sale Value - Private sale value, as the name suggests, is how much you'd pay for a motorcycle from a private seller.
  • Trade In Value - The trade in value is the valuation a dealership puts on a motorcycle when you trade it in for a new model. The amount will be deducted from the new vehicle's price. As Bankrate explains, the trade in value is not the same as the actual cash value (ACV), which is what the vehicle is actually worth on the open market or as a cash asset for the dealership. Some of the factors that can affect the trade in value of a motorcycle including condition, the demand for the make and model, and, more often than not, your skills at negotiating.

Determining Trade in Value

As notes, there are several different methods you can use to determine trade in value, with the most common including online classifieds, auction values, word of mouth, or taking the bike to a dealership. One of the most reliable methods, however, is using instant trade in value appraisal tools like Kelley Blue Book or the National Automobile Dealers Association. While both Kelley Blue Book and the National Automobile Dealers Association will give you a good indication of the average trade in value of your bike, it's worth bearing in mind that they draw from various sources (auctions, dealership sales, current wholesale values, etc) in order to determine an average. If your bike is in extraordinarily good condition (or maybe extraordinarily bad condition) or if's been customized, the average they confirm may not necessarily reflect the amount you'll eventually be offered by a dealership. However, providing you use them with the understanding that you'll be getting a ballpark figure rather than an exact one, they're a great way to understand more about your motorcycle's base value.

Using Kelley Blue Brook

Kelley Blue Book is one of the easiest and most popular resources for determining the value of cars and motorcycles. As outlines, the site is remarkably easy to use. Start by logging on to the Kelley Blue Book motorcycle valuation page. From there, you'll be presented with three drop-down menus. Select the relevant year, make, and model of your motorcycle from the options to proceed. Next, you'll be asked whether you want to see the trade-in value (i.e. the price a dealer would give you for the motorcycle) or the typical listing price (i.e. the price a dealership would sell it for). If you want to get an idea of both values, select each one in turn. For private sales, reduce the listing price by between $500 - $1000, depending on the machine's condition.

Using the National Automobile Dealers Association

Along with Kelley Blue Book, The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) is one of the most popular pricing resources on the web. To use the resource to get an idea of the trade in value of your motorcycle, head to the NADAguides motorcycle pricing page. Plug in the make, model, and year of the motorcycle. If you've customized the machine, you'll also be offered a selection of add ons to choose from. Once you've finished entering all the data, you'll be presented with three final prices: Suggested Retail, Low Retail, and Average Retail. Note that as NADA bases all its pricing information on the assumption that the trade in motorcycle is in very good condition, the price displayed may be higher than it is on other resources. If your motorcycle has some wear and tear, opt for caution and look at the lower pricing. If it's in perfect condition and includes additional equipment, you can rely on the pricing at the higher end of the spectrum.

The Difference Between Kelley Blue Book and NADA

Plug the same data into Kelley Blue Book and NADA and you're likely to get two different trade in values. Most of the time, NADA will come out higher, but occasionally, Kelley Blue Book may return the more optimistic result. Ultimately, this comes down to the different algorithms used by each resource, and the different sources they use to determine their values. Whereas NADA relies on information from sources such as Autotrader, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), supply and demand, MSRP, wholesale transactions, retail transactions, invoices, and equipment assumptions, Kelley Blue Brook draws its information from independent dealers, franchised dealers, rental and fleet, financial institution lessors and private party transactions. Neither one is necessarily superior, and neither one will necessarily reflect the eventual figure offered by a dealership after a complete physical inspection. However, both are an excellent means of getting a good (albeit approximate) idea of the trade in value of your motorcycle.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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