According to Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), there are more than 12,231,000 registered motorcycles in the U.S. The state of California leads the way in terms of the number of motorcycles, followed by Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

The average pre-owned motorcycle sold in the U.S. is eight-years-old, and vintage bikes are commanding new interest for collectors, according to the MIC. The pre-owned motorcycle market is three times larger than the new market today. Used bikes are popular because they offer a wide range of styles and prices, the MIC explains.

Whether you're looking to upgrade your ride to a new model or a cool vintage style, you may wonder about the process of selling your current bike. In this article, we'll examine the steps you need to take to sell a pre-owned motorcycle.

Before Selling a Motorcycle

Your first step to selling your bike is to determine your price. Check online pricing guides such as Red Book, Kelley Blue Book, and NADA to get an idea of its current value. You'll want to consider factors such as its age, its mileage, and its current condition. Many experts suggest pricing your bike on the higher end of the recommended price range to allow yourself some negotiating room.

Most buyers prefer bikes in their stock condition, so consider switching them back to the original stock parts if you've made some changes. Another option is to leave your bike as is and offer the original parts along with the sale.

Next, thoroughly clean your bike and make sure it is running smoothly. You may want to hire a mechanic to tune-up or replace anything that you can't take care of yourself.

Now you’re ready to take some photos of your bike from many different angles, clearly showing its mileage and any defects. Just as you would with a used car, you'll post these images in an online ad. You can use an auction marketplace or sites like craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

While you're fielding bids, read up on the paperwork you'll need to get ready when you have a potential buyer.

What Paperwork Do I Need to Sell a Motorcycle?

The sale of a motorcycle is reasonably straightforward, but it does involve some paperwork since it is a legal transaction. Make duplicates of each document so you have a copy, and the buyer has a copy.

Vehicle's Title

The most important document you'll need for the sale of your motorcycle is the title. This paper, which is issued by your state's motor vehicle department, shows proof of ownership of the bike. In addition to the owners' name and address, the title contains the year, make, model, and VIN of the motorcycle.

Bill of Sale

The second most important document is the motorcycle bill of sale. The bill of sale identifies all parties involved in the transaction, the price, and any conditions of the sale. To make things easy, you can create a motorcycle bill of sale at within just a few minutes.

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VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)

Every street-legal vehicle in the U.S. has a Vehicle Identification Number or VIN. The number is listed on your title, and you also can find the VIN printed on the bike itself.

You should include this number in your listing and the bill of sale. It allows a buyer to verify the year, make, and model and is helpful in getting an insurance quote.

Motorcycle Registration Details

Most states require you to show proof of insurance before registering your vehicle. If you're buying another bike after you sell this one, your policy may cover the new bike for up to 30 days, but you'll need to check with your carrier to be sure.

Every state is different in terms of motorcycle registration details. Be sure to visit your local DMV website to see how it deals with motorcycle registration changes and what fees are applicable.

Sealing the Deal

When a potential buyer calls, they usually want to schedule a time to come see the bike and take it for a test drive.

Pick a safe place to meet, such as a large, well-known parking lot in a convenient location. It's a good idea to have a friend or family member come with you in a separate vehicle. That way, you'll have some support and a way home if you make the sale.

You can't ride along on a motorcycle test drive like you can with a car test drive. Here are a few ideas to help put your mind at ease when a stranger wants to drives off on your bike:

  • Take a photo of the buyer's driver's license. In addition to confirming their identity, it will show you that they have the proper licensing to operate a motorcycle in your state.
  • Ask for a refundable deposit before the test drive. (Be prepared that some buyers may feel uncomfortable with this tactic.)
  • Ride along in a car behind them during the test drive.

Both before and after the test drive, be ready to answer the potential buyer's questions about how long you've had the bike and why you are selling. Share any maintenance details that would be helpful for the buyer to know. The more open and honest you are, the better rapport you will establish with the buyer.

Finalizing the Sale

Once you have agreed on a price, it's time to move ahead with the sale. Cash is the easiest form of payment, but if you would accept a cashier's check or money order, you could let buyers know that in advance in your ad.

Then, complete and sign the legal documents you prepared ahead of time. When everything's finished, remember to keep a copy of the documents for your records. Plan to notify your insurance company of the transaction and complete the necessary DMV paperwork as soon as possible.

As you can see, other than the test drive, selling a motorcycle is not that much different than selling a car. And, to help make things go smoothly.

Get a Motorcycle Bill of Sale


Now, here are three common questions motorcycle owners have: