10 Tips for Buying Motorcycles on Craigslist

We all know that Craigslist is either a hit or miss. You can find the biggest score of your life here, or you could wind up at the extreme opposite end and be the subject of a scam. The key to finding anything worthwhile in Craigslist is in the amount of research and carefulness you put into the process before you actually make a purchase. The same goes for those who are looking to buy motorcycles on the infamous site. You can find great deals on motorcycles on Craigslist, but you should be aware that there are scammers out to get you for your money. In order to score a deal instead of a dud, here are 10 tips for buying motorcycles that you should consider before you put your money down.

1. Figure out the kind of bike you want

It’ll make the search much easier and faster if you already know exactly what you want. We recommend that you figure out what you want first before you go looking in Craigslist. If you go into Craigslist without knowing what you want, you might be blindsided by shiny pictures of bikes that probably aren’t legit. Research what you’d like first, and then go onto Craigslist to find one.

2. Examine the post

There are a few telltale signs that point towards a scam post. Try to avoid posts that don’t have any pictures of the motorcycle. You can also usually tell if a picture is a legitimate picture of the actual product if there are multiple pictures of it. Also, most bikers would post details about the bike such as aftermarket parts that were installed and any other replacement parts. The more detailed the post is about the bike, the better it all is.

3. Get information about the owner

If there’s a phone number to call, make sure you do call in order to talk to the owner or seller of the bike. You’ll get a better sense of how legit they are when talking on the phone rather than from just reading a post.

4. Avoid “R” title motorcycles

These motorcycles are the ones that have been totaled in some way or another and have been repurposed as street-legal vehicles. All that this means is that they’re more than likely damaged from a previous crash, so avoiding them altogether will be your best bet.

5. Bring cash and a bill of sale

When you’re ready to meet your seller, make sure you have a bill of sale ready for both parties to sign. Never leave without test-driving the motorcycle first—most sellers will let you try the bike out before purchase. If they don’t, then something is up. Cash is preferable, and the bill of sale will give you proof of your purchase.

6. Take a friend who knows about bikes

If you’re not quite bike savvy just yet, make sure that you bring someone who is. You’re going to want to bring someone who can do a spot check on the bike before you purchase it. People who know about bikes will know exactly what to look for. This is just to make sure that you’re not taking home a faulty motorcycle.

7. Get on the forums

There are tons of forums out there that can give you more details about the bike you are looking to purchase. If you already found the bike that you like on Craigslist, get on the forums before you buy the product. Find out what the common issues are when it comes to that bike, and see if you can reconcile what you’ve researched and how the bike is in person.

8. Know your pay limits

There might be some haggling involved in person, so it’s better if you know how much you want to pay for the motorcycle beforehand. Stick to that price no matter what; you can even research to see how much you should be paying for the bike before you meet the seller. This way, you can’t be haggled for more money when the bike isn’t worth it.

9. Don’t buy from teenagers

This is almost a given. It’s just common sense. We know that this is a stark generalization on teenagers on motorcycles, but majority of them aren’t worth dealing with at that age. Even if they know a lot about motorcycles, you’re probably dealing with someone who abused his bike as much as he could. You can find another seller that’ll be easier to deal with; just keep looking. You never know what’s going on in a teenager’s mind after all.

10. Consider the mileage

Mileage is important. If there’s just too many, be ready to walk away regardless of how much you love the bike you’re looking at. It’s not going to be worth it in the end. You’ll want to avoid anything that has over 20,000 miles, and even a 15,000 mileage is pushing it, especially if you’re looking at sport bikes. Make sure that you are prepared to walk away if needed.


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