by Victor Wanchena
The decision to sell your bike is not always a happy one. Money, space, an upgrade, a disgruntled spouse, or a need to move an unused bike on to a better home is often the reason, but you’re still not thrilled to see it go. I wish I could have kept every bike I’ve ever owned, but I would need one helluva garage. Having to dance with each potential buyer can be entertaining, but rarely gets the job done. Why do so many strange people and requests surface when selling a motorcycle?
My least favorite type of buyer is the low-baller. They roll in with an insultingly low offer. Your asking $1500 and they offer $250. No explanation is offered for the low offer. Instead they’re just hoping you’re so desperate for cash that you’ll jump at the offer. They’ll circle you like a buzzard over roadkill; dropping offers, waiting for you to relent. I like to make a counter-offer higher than the original asking price. This confuses them to no end. The buyer starts like this, “I know you’re asking $1500, but I’ll give you $250 for it.” I counter with, “I’ll take $1600.” “I thought you said it was $1500.” “It was, now the price is $1600.” At this point, I can see their circuits shorting out. “You, you can’t do that.” “Sorry, but I just did.” “Okay, I’ll give you $500.” I act like I’m seriously mulling this over and then counter again, “Well, I really need $1700 for it.” “Wait, wait. How much do you need for it?” “The price is $1700.” If they were truly interested, the buyer will usually ask to start over. The rest will walk away muttering about how weird you are. A win-win situation in my book.
Or there are the lonely souls that use the classifieds as a personal column. They come around under the pretense of being interested in the bike, but really just want someone to shoot the breeze with. MMM’s own Gus Breiland fell prey to one such fellow. He came to look at a bike Gus was selling. In between inane ramblings, he tried Gus’s riding pants on, despite Gus’s protests. Then, after stating he had no interest in the bike for sale, the now non-buyer did his best to be Gus’s new best friend. Gus had to screen his phone calls for a long time after that. Yikes! If you want to get Gus riled up, ask him about the potential buyer that requested Gus pay for his airfare so he could inspect the bike in person. Round trip airfare, hmmm?
I once sold a bike that was a rolling pile of junk. I advertised it that way; runs but otherwise a pile of junk. My asking price was low, but fair for a heap of junk. Well, when the ad was published the phone started ringing. It rang so much that it filled up my voice mail. My wife started answering all incoming calls saying, “It’s sold”. Several people showed up at 11pm that night to buy it and had a bidding war; all for what I maintained was a crappy bike. Once the bidding was over, the bike was loaded on to a truck and gone. I headed for bed, but was awakened shortly thereafter by a doorbell ring. Two would-be buyers had somehow gotten my address and thought an unannounced visit at midnight would be perfectly acceptable. I didn’t mind the instant success of the ad, but was amazed that people will pay good money, even for junk, at midnight.