Buying a motorcycle online

Buying a motorcycle online is easier than ever, but it does come with risks you can address during the buying process. There are several reputable websites and marketplaces for online buying, and it's a good idea to carefully examine each individual listing and seller before making your purchase.

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How to buy a motorcycle online

Buying a motorcycle online can feel overwhelming, so it's important to understand the online buying environment so you can make the best decision.

Where to buy a motorcycle online

Here are a few of the most common places to buy a motorcycle online.

  • Motorcycle marketplaces: Websites like Cycle Trader and offer thousands of listings from private sellers and dealerships. Buyers can search for their desired make and model, price range, and location. These marketplaces also offer tools and resources, including reviews, buyer's guides, and videos to help buyers navigate the process.

  • Auction sites: Another popular marketplace is eBay Motors, which offers private listings of new and used motorcycles and auction-style listings that reward the highest bidder after a set amount of time.

  • Private classified listings: Classified sites like Craigslist and social media sites like Facebook welcome private listings. Buying from a private seller comes with more risks, but many listings on these sites are legitimate and worth a look.

  • Dealerships: Buying from a dealership online is an option that comes with security and a wide selection of new and used bikes. Dealerships also often offer financing if you need a loan to buy your motorcycle.

Tips for buying a motorcycle online

  1. Use advanced search filters to find the bike you want

    Most sites have advanced search functions that allow users to find the type of motorcycle, features, make and model, or price range of the bikes they're most interested in buying.

  2. Closely review the listing

    Not all listings are legitimate, and some websites are more trustworthy than others. Reputable sites like Cycle Trader take measures to ensure their listings aren't fraudulent. In an interview with Motorcyclist Online, Cycle Trader Executive Vice President Paige Bouma described their efforts: "We have an entire fraud department and really spend a lot of time looking for fraud trends, then flagging units before they come on if they think there's any fraud associated with them."

    Private listings on less reputable websites aren't put through the same levels or scrutiny, which means it's up to you to evaluate the seller and the motorcycle. Here are a few ways to protect yourself:

    • Look at reviews. Whether buying from an online marketplace, dealership, or a private seller, it's important to look at online reviews. These can give you an idea of how reliable the seller is and any issues that buyers have experienced in past transactions.
    • Read the description. Most listings will provide a description of the motorcycle, including the price, make and model of the bike. But a product description that offers more details, including features, bike history, and even defects or quirks, is often a more trusted dealer.
    • Analyze pictures and videos. Any serious listing should include high-quality photos of the motorcycle. Most listings will also include videos so buyers can get a 360-degree view of the bike. Look closely at the photos and videos and note any dents, scuffs, paint damage, and other indicators that the bike has unseen or undisclosed damage.
  3. Contact the seller

    Speak directly with the seller on the phone or set up a video call. Video allows you to get a closer look at the motorcycle and ask any questions you have about its condition. Ask the seller to shift gears, demonstrate the brakes, and open the fuel tank. Seeing and hearing the bike on video will give you an idea of any problems you should be aware of and how smoothly the motorcycle operates.

  4. Schedule a motorcycle inspection

    While you might be comfortable with the listing and the seller, it's a good idea to have a mechanic inspect the motorcycle before making a purchase. Look for a mechanic in the seller's area with a good reputation. A motorcycle inspection is essential if you're buying from a private seller and not a dealer.

  5. Complete the purchase

    The final steps in buying a motorcycle online are agreeing to terms, managing payment, and organizing pickup or delivery. If you're paying in full, you might consider safeguarding your purchase through an escrow service. Escrow services act as a neutral third party in major transactions, only transferring the funds from the buyer to the seller when terms are met. Be sure to communicate with the seller on expectations for delivery or pickup and clarify any extra costs if your motorcycle is being delivered.

How to insure your new bike

Many beginner riders are unaware of motorcycle insurance requirements. Nearly every state requires liability coverage, and you must satisfy the minimum coverage before you can legally ride your new motorcycle. The cost of your motorcycle insurance is determined by several factors, including location, age, type of bike, riding history, and coverage selections.

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