8 Tips for Purchasing a Motorcycle Online

Motorcycles are pretty addictive. When you buy your first bike, chances are you’ll be back in the market looking for another one every couple of years. There’s a thrill not only around riding the motorcycle but also during the hunt for your next one. Thanks to the internet, you can buy a bike without even leaving your home.

Online purchase is great for convenience but also introduces new risks. When it goes well, it’s simple and stress free. If it goes awry, you’ll find yourself dealing with more than you bargained for. It’s crucial that you get all your ducks in a row to make sure you get your money’s worth. Here are a few tips.

1.  Ask Questions

You’re buying the bike so do not be afraid to ask all the difficult questions. For best results, develop the list of questions well before you approach any motorcycle seller. If you’ve bought bikes before, this shouldn’t be difficult to do.

If it’s your first time, obtain tips from friends and family who’ve gone through the process before. You can slot in one or two repeat but reworded questions just to be certain the seller’s narrative is consistent.

2.  Research Pricing

One of the advantages of buying things online is the vast array of information at your disposal. Research for the right price is an area you can wield this information to your benefit. Motorcycle prices can vary wildly. Check out different listings to identify what is a fair price.

Bear in mind that private sellers will usually be less expensive than dealers. However, dealers are a safer pair of hands when it comes to consumer protection. It’s all about weighing the risks and striking the right balance.

3.  Confirm the Bike’s Identity

Before you start having a serious conversation with any seller, ask for a picture of the bike’s VIN# and a copy of the title. The two must match. If they don’t, you should end the process at that point.

Buying such a bike would be paying for something that won’t be legally yours despite the financial transaction. Even worse, the vehicle could be stolen and would get you sucked into a criminal web that you had nothing to do with.

4.  Obtain Photos

Buying items online makes it difficult to physically inspect the product. Some unscrupulous sellers will only upload photos and videos that show the bike in a positive light. To go around this, ask for multiple photos of the motorcycle from different angles.

Of course even this won’t always be enough. Someone dishonest could download nice looking photos from the internet and claim that’s their bike. To be certain the photos are legitimate, ask for a sign. For instance, they could place the car’s documents on the bike seat.

5.  Use an Escrow Service

If you are uncomfortable with effecting a payment directly to the seller, consider using an escrow service. Your money will be held by a third party separate from you and the seller. It will only be released to the seller once the escrow provider confirms that all the terms of the transaction have been fulfilled.

6.  Confirm Regulatory Compliance

If you are buying the bike from someone based in another country, make sure it meets US safety and emissions standards. Not all motorcycle models built in other countries are meant for the US market. Even among models that do meet US standards, the owner may have had the bike modified. Make sure the seller confirms that the bike is as per manufacturer specifications.

7.  Check for Recalls

This goes hand in hand with establishing compliance. Passenger car recalls tend to dominate the headlines more than bike recalls but that’s only because there are more passenger vehicles on the road. Motorcycle recalls do happen.

You wouldn’t want to buy a bike that was part of a recall but hasn’t been fixed. You can search the NHTSA database of vehicle recalls to be sure the bike you are buying is in the clear.

8.  Budget for Taxes and Shipping

If you are dealing with an overseas seller, remember that there’ll be shipping costs, taxes and duties to pay before the motorcycle enters the US. This is a particularly important aspect to pay attention to if the model you are buying is also available in the US.

If the purchases price, shipping costs and taxes exceed the cost of acquiring an identical model in-country, it doesn’t make financial sense to import. Shipping costs vary from one service provider to the next so it helps to take a look at Shipping a Motorcycle: Your How-To Guide.

Think of these tips as your helmet when navigating the online bike sales marketplace. They will not guarantee that you’ll never regret a purchase but they’ll certainly ensure disappointments are few and far between.