How to stay safe during a private motorcycle sale

Adventure 2 min read

Motorcycles are relatively easy to buy and sell, and that’s one reason why enthusiasts often have more than one. When shopping for a used bike, you have the option to buy from a dealer or private seller. The options are nearly endless on the internet!

There are many benefits to buying from a private seller. First, he or she probably knows that particular bike best, including its history and quirks. Often, you’re better able to negotiate, and more likely to get time for a quality test ride.

However, buying from an individual does carry risks. You want to safeguard your money, but, more importantly, yourself. Here are a few tips to stay safe during a private motorcycle sale:

Before the sale

  • If you found the listing on the internet, be careful to avoid scams. Ask for the seller’s full name and location, and avoid deals that seem too good to be true.
  • There are many legitimate online marketplaces, including Craig’s List, eBay, and Cycle Trader. Lately, Facebook Marketplace has rapidly expanded, and adds the valuable option of reviewing a seller’s profile before contacting them. You might even have biker friends or groups in common!
  • It’s great to have a conversation over email and have details in writing, but I also like to speak on the phone prior to meeting. If they seem shady or can’t answer details about the bike, reconsider.
  • Ask for a photo of the title to confirm the seller’s name, the VIN, and the mileage. It’s a good idea to do a search of the VIN, too, to ensure it’s not stolen.
  • Don’t provide any sensitive personal information.

Meeting a seller

  • Never meet a private seller alone. Take a friend, and better yet, take a fellow biker who can help you inspect the motorcycle. (Plus, it’s helpful to ride with someone and carry your gear if you plan to ride off with your new bike!)
  • Meet during the day, in a public, well-lit place. Many police stations offer their parking lots as safe places for internet exchanges. Your bank is also a great option.
  • It’s great to get an inspection from a mechanic before purchase—consider scheduling an appointment and meeting the seller at a dealership.
  • If you feel in any way unsafe, leave immediately. Your personal safety is worth more than any potential vehicle.

Making the purchase

  • Inspect the title before the money exchange, and be sure to witness the signing.
  • Not all states require a Bill of Sale, but I like to have it as backup. There are many templates online.
  • The safest forms of money transfer include bank to bank direct wires, trusted services like Zelle or PayPal, an escrow service, or good old-fashioned cash.

Throughout the entire process, it’s good to trust your gut. If something feels fishy or “off,” abandon! There are plenty of bikes on the market—it’s not worth the risk to your safety or savings.

Finally, don’t ride off without being covered with motorcycle insurance. Adding a second (or third!) policy is super simple—all you need is the new bike’s VIN. And when using the Progressive app, it only takes a few steps to get a quote and add your shiny new wheels to your existing policy.

Now, enjoy your new ride!

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