Motorcycle sales advice

Discussion in 'Bay Area Bikers' started by Ivan Vegvary, Feb 11, 2007.

  1. Ivan Vegvary

    Ivan Vegvary Guest

    I moved from the Bay Area 3-plus years ago, but, I still consider that
    community to be the most knowledgeable on motorcycles.

    By spring this year I hope to have my 1964 BMW R69-S fully restored. I'm
    the original owner and it has 29,000 miles.

    I need advice on how to deal with buyers that want to test ride the bike.
    Take a driver's license? Take a deposit? Take their youngest son as a
    What's reasonable and what's safe? The buyer should show proof of collision

    Never done this before. All advice greatly appreciated.

    Ivan Vegvary
    Ivan Vegvary, Feb 11, 2007
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  2. Ivan Vegvary

    Bill Guest

    you'll get all kinds of answers to this question from "never allow test rides" to "let anyone who
    wants one". I'm guessing with a 40+ year BMW you won't get a lot of kids looking for a joy ride but
    I know I'd hate to see something that I put a lot of time/effort into disappear or get wrecked.

    One idea I've seen before is to sell the bike with a promise to buy it back in an hour if it's
    returned in the same condition. Then, with cash in hand the new owner can take as long a ride as
    they want and you're not going to lose any money if the crash or don't come back.

    I've only sold two bikes myself and both times I allowed the buyer to test ride (after checking with
    my insurance to make sure I'd be covered if something went wrong). The last two used bikes I bought
    I test rode first (a BMW K1200RS I found on and an R1200RT from No
    deposits or anything special for any of those four transactions, although for both bikes I bought I
    had a check from my bank in hand and for the RT I had flown to LA to ride it home so they knew I was

    If it was a newer Japanese/Italian sportbike my expectations and advice might be different.

    Bill, Feb 11, 2007
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  3. Jeeze, a 40+ year break-in! ;-)
    My policy is that anybody who wants a pre-purchase ride first hands over my
    asking price in cash. If he returns the bike in the same condition as when
    he left with it he gets the cash back and negociations can then begin.
    Otherwise, I sign the title over to him and keep every dollar of the cash.

    Insurance requirements vary depending on state and carrier. The only way to
    obtain information certain to apply to your situation is to contact your agent.
    Michael R. Kesti, Feb 11, 2007
  4. A fully restored R69S is a special case. I would expect that there
    would be people who showed up and pretended to be interested just in
    hopes of getting a test ride. -I'd- love a test ride!

    My dad sold a vintage car once and it wasn't easy to sell, even though
    the price was very reasonable. For every serious buyer there were
    three people who just wanted to see the car, sit in it, ask about it,
    and waste our time. One or two 'buyers' came with cameras and took
    three rolls of film of every detail of the car, inside and out and
    even underneath, then said 'Thanks!' and left. There's a reason why
    so many ads for vintage vehicles say 'serious buyers only, please'.

    Your insurance probably covers someone else riding your bike (mine
    does, I know, because I asked). But with a bike like that I would
    really wonder. It would cost a lot more to put right after a
    relatively minor accident. How much is a valve cover for an R69S? Or a
    headlight? Think they might balk at that? If they decided to just
    total it out would you get your asking price? I bet not. I would
    first call my insurance people and ask a lot of pointed questions.

    OTOH I wouldn't buy a bike without a test ride and I don't think many
    people would. The 100% refundable deposit is not a bad idea I guess,
    at least it shows that the person has the money to begin with. (When
    I bought my first BMW the dealer wanted to see the balance in my
    Blazing Laser, Feb 11, 2007
  5. I wouldn't let anybody ride a restored classic motorcycle, period.

    Knowledgeable collectors would know what to look for and what to
    listen for, and I would tell somebody who was looking for a reliable
    transportation bike to look for a five year old Japanese machine

    I wouldn't even tell a guy who wasn't a collector of old British bikes
    or long time BMW rider where I lived when I talked to him on the
    phone. I wouldn't want a collector's item to end its days as
    transportation and get neglected or wrecked.

    There are so many scams going on in the big city. What would *you* do
    if somebody told you that you should bring a lot of cash to a house in
    a ghetto or barrio neighborhood in order to buy a desireable
    motorcycle for an attractively low price?

    If somebody arrives at your residence in a car and has a motorcycle
    helmet in his hand, but there is a driver in the car he arrived in and
    the car driver never gets out of the car but just sullenly sits in the
    car, that should send up a warning flag that you will never see your
    motorcycle again if you let the guy with the helmet ride the
    motorcycle. The driver will leave too, and meet his buddy somewhere

    If three guys arrive on two motorcycles, and the other two guys take
    off after the guy who is test riding your machine, that should be a
    red flag that you're never going to see your motorcycle again. I had
    three Mexicans on sportbikes try that on me. They were riding GSXR's.
    I was selling a GSXR. I would not allow a ride and they quickly left
    and never came back.

    Another time, a pretty blonde lady arrived in a Lotus with a young
    Black guy. She did all the talking, explaining that he was an actor,
    just getting started in the movies, and wanted me to let him test ride
    my very powerful GS-1100 with the
    big bore kit in it.

    I told her that I couldn't allow a test ride because only a very
    experienced rider could handle all that power. I asked her to show me
    the money. She didn't have the money and never came back.

    A well-spoken Hispanic guy came to look at my Water Buffalo. He was
    from Cuba or Puerto Rico and had a helmet, but I never saw the car he
    arrived in.

    I should have taken the prospective buyer's license and held the
    license and held his cash too. Maybe I should have asked to hold his
    car keys as well.

    But, I looked at his license and let him test ride my Buffalo. When he
    didn't come back immediately, I realized I was a fool for letting him
    ride the machine alone.

    But he had only run out of gasoline down the street and had to stop at
    a gas station. He returned twenty minutes later and bought the Buffalo
    and was very happy with the low price.

    Having learned my lesson, if I was selling a street bike that the
    prospective buyer intended to use for transportation, I would take him
    for a half hour demonstration ride on the pillion.

    If he had buddies on motorcycles and they wanted to ride along, I
    wouldn't take him on the demo ride. If his friend sat in the car and
    wouldn't get out to talk to me, I wouldn't demo the motorcycle.

    That way, I'd be in control of the situation and my own insurance
    would cover any damages or injuries. I would stop somewhere halfway
    through the demonstration ride and let the prospective buyer listen to
    the engine while it's all nice and warmed up, and it should be
    apparent to any experienced rider that the transmission and brakes
    worked and the engine ran ok. But he would never be in control of the
    machine until he paid for it.

    One last caveat. Don't take any personal checks, just cash or
    certified checks.

    I had a guy pay me a large amount of money by personal check. I took
    the check to his own bank to cash it. The bank manager told me "The
    funds are not available."

    I asked him what that meant, did it mean that there weren't sufficient
    funds in the account to cover the check, and he kept repeating "The
    funds are not available."

    He finally agreed to stamp the check "Insufficient Funds". I contacted
    an attorney and he contacted an attorney and they agreed to send me a
    certified check.
    krusty kritter, Feb 11, 2007
  6. My friend "inherited" an original 1961 Buick when one of his neighbors

    It wasn't worth a whole lot of money, but all he had to do was clean
    it up and advertise it. He was only asking $3000, but it was pure

    Two guys came over and looked at the car and left a $500 deposit,
    saying they would come back with the rest of the money.

    But they decided that they didn't want the car after all, because the
    color of the license plates was wrong. An original 1961 California car
    should have had black license plates with yellow numbers (or was it
    yellow plates with black numbers?), not blue license plates.

    They wanted their deposit back. My friend told them that they weren't
    going to get their deposit back, because he had to hold the car for
    them and he could have sold it to other customers while they were
    waffling on the color of the license plate.

    About two weeks later, my friend advertised the car again. The same
    two guys called up and said, "OK, we decided we want the car after
    all, even with non-original plates. We'll bring you the $2500 balance"

    My hard nosed friend said, "The price of the car is $3000 firm. You
    lost your deposit when you didn't complete the original deal."

    The two guys paid the $3000.
    krusty kritter, Feb 11, 2007
  7. Ivan Vegvary

    Alan Moore Guest

    This is a recommendation I've seen before, in various forms.
    Basically, sell him the bike with the agreement that if he doesn't
    like it, you'll buy it back at the same price -- provided it's in the
    same condition, and with a suitable time limit of course.

    Al Moore
    DoD 734
    Alan Moore, Feb 12, 2007
  8. Ivan Vegvary

    barbz Guest

    I'd have someone go along on a faster bike for the test ride, to
    shepherd the prospective buyer. Chances are, a R90 isn't going to be
    able to outrun a modern bike.

    I'd be very uncomfortable letting someone take a vintage bike out by
    themselves. I'd want to know where it was going.

    Chaplain, ARSCC (wdne)

    "Keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to
    have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous,
    ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can

    --Molly Ivins
    barbz, Feb 12, 2007
  9. Generally, a test ride is just a circle around the block to prove that
    the vehicle runs.

    But a guy I know told me that he convinced the salesman at Bill Ripffer
    $on's multi-brand emporium to let him test ride a new BMW. Then he
    really test rode it. He took it out for a 2-hour test ride up to
    Newcomb's Ranch and back to Hollyweird.

    He bought the BMW, but the salesman was fit to be tied when he was
    gone for two hours.

    You can look up all the laws in the penal code if you want, but you'll
    probably find that somebody who keeps your motorcycle without paying
    for it and continues to ride it and have reckless fun with it hasn't
    even committed the crime of joy riding.

    Even joy riding is a minor offense to the police department. The
    miscreant might get probation or spend a year in county jail for joy
    riding if he doesn't try to get your vehicle registered in his own
    name or doesn't hang a license plate on the vehicle that belongs to a
    different vehicle. That's a felony.

    The cops usually catch joyriders when they are partying and doing
    stupid things with a car they stole. The cops don't get indignant when
    a private citizen reports his car or motorcycle stolen though.

    Ask yourself this: "How would your local police respond to you if you
    reported your motorcycle was stolen by a prospective buyer?"

    In Los Angeles, the cops would probably tell you that no crime had
    been committed because you gave him permission to ride the motorcycle
    and you should wait about 48 hours before reporting the motorcycle

    After all, you did hand the motorcycle over to this person. The cops
    might even ask if you expected them to chase this guy down and shoot
    him when you insist on them finding your bike. They would tell you to
    wait and see if he brought the motorcycle back.

    Thieves could strip a motorcycle down to the bare frame in about 2

    The cops might even ask if the guy who was out riding your motorcycle
    was actually a roommate or a lover, or try to imply that the thief was
    your common law spouse and that your motorcycle was somehow "community

    If somebody steals your motorcycle out of your garage at midnight and
    you report it, the first thing the cops are going to ask is whether
    you were behind on your payments. They would suggest that the
    motorcycle had been repossessed by the finance company.

    If you call the cops and report that your motorcycle was stolen off
    the street, they will ask you if you just forgot where you parked it.

    The cops just aren't interested in grand theft auto...

    There were some lowlife dopers living in a neighbor's basement when I
    lived in Hollyweird. One of them told me that his buddy was driving a
    Mazda RX-7 that he'd stolen. The Mazda was parked right there on the
    street in front of the building.

    I took down the license number and called the police department. They
    took down the information and my information and said they'd call be
    back. When they did call back, they said the car was in fact stolen. I
    asked if they were going to come out and impound the car. They said
    that they wanted to catch the guy driving it. I never saw the car
    again, but the doper continued to live in the neighborhood.

    Another time I was sportriding in the canyons and found a nice Porsche
    hidden in the woods. It had no engine, it couldn't have been driven
    there. I called the sheriff and the deputy demanded to know why I was
    interested in the matter. I asked him if he didn't find the matter of
    a Porsche with no engine in it hidden in the woods a little bit
    suspicious. He thanked me for being a good citizen and hung up.

    Who knows. Maybe the owner of the Porsche just left the car he was
    towing in the woods while he went back to town to buy a six pack of
    krusty kritter, Feb 12, 2007
  10. Ivan Vegvary

    barbz Guest

    Porsche? BEER???
    Oh KNOW he just ran out for a nice bottle of Shiraz...
    Whatever the hell that is...

    Chaplain, ARSCC (wdne)

    "Keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to
    have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous,
    ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can

    --Molly Ivins
    barbz, Feb 12, 2007
  11. Ivan Vegvary

    JDL Guest

    Well, it sounds ike you have your answer. Hold the cash and return if
    potential buyer rides and is not satisfied. Try not to stereotype
    potential buyers by race. Usually a bad idea.

    What do think will be the ball park figure for your bike once
    restored? I've always loved the look of the 69S and a few years ago I
    let a 90S slip through my hands.
    JDL, Feb 20, 2007
  12. What if the "potential buyer" damages the engine, and returns the
    motorcycle, claiming that it sounds like there is something
    mechanically wrong inside?

    Would you give him all his money back and apologize profusely for
    wasting his precious time with a motorcycle that wasn't mechanically
    perfect and wouldn't give him good service as a daily driver?

    This is a *classic* BMW. Wait for a serious collector to call, and
    then make him beg you to see the motorcycle, at your convenience. Act
    like you really don't want to sell it. Make him think you're doing him
    a favor showing it to him.

    A serious collector would know that a 1964 R69S is for looking at, not
    for riding every day.
    Try not to be so open minded your brains fall out. Gangs of motorcycle
    thieves will
    send their best looking, best spoken representative to con you out of
    your precious motorcycle.

    Harley riders often arrange to meet prospective buyers at some neutral
    location so thieves won't know where the Harley is kept at night or
    how it is protected.

    Rather than go through all the hassle of dealing with yahoos that read
    Craig's List or
    the Recycler or Cycle Trader, take the BMW to a motorcycle show and
    exhibit it, if it's perfect.

    Then the machine will be seen by true enthusiasts who are unlikely to
    be thieves.
    krusty kritter, Feb 20, 2007
  13. Ivan Vegvary

    name Guest

    are you serious? old airheads are meant to be ridden daily. You can get
    replacement parts from Blue Moon, or any of the other resto houses quickly
    and easily.

    collecting is for suckas Ride'em, don't hide'em
    feh. if you want maximum dollar, sell it on eBay.
    name, Feb 22, 2007
  14. Ivan Vegvary

    barbz Guest

    My R65 went "vintage" a few years back when it hit 20 years old.
    I am currently having some serious work done on it to ensure that it
    will last another 20 years, to the tune of $1300. Rear main seal leak
    ate my clutch. Ouch.

    That said, I have a belt-driven F650 to buzz around on in the meantime.
    It's a nice bike, lots of acceleration, brakes that actually work, but I
    miss my big slug. I love that bike, although I really need to take
    better care of its health. I wouldn't buy a F650, except as a spare.
    It's a lot of fun, reminds me of my Honda NX250 in a lot of ways.

    But, my classic Beemer is the shizzle, and I will ride it forever.

    Chaplain, ARSCC (wdne)

    "Keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to
    have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous,
    ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can

    --Molly Ivins
    barbz, Feb 22, 2007
  15. Ivan Vegvary

    SaltineDawg Guest

    I'm' one of these. '78 R80/7.
    SaltineDawg, Feb 24, 2007
  16. Ivan Vegvary

    barbz Guest

    If you're just going to "look at it," you may as well plant ivy where
    the battery should go.

    Chaplain, ARSCC (wdne)

    "Keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to
    have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous,
    ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can

    --Molly Ivins
    barbz, Feb 25, 2007
  17. Ivan Vegvary

    SaltineDawg Guest

    No, I'm not at all inclined to just look at it. But, lately, been doing
    too much of just that. Know any good mechs that make onsite calls?
    SaltineDawg, Mar 1, 2007
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