Buying Motorcycles On-Line From A Craigslist Ad

Now that spring is approaching, you may be looking to buy your new ride on-line.  There are many websites you can visit to find the bike you are looking for; Craigslist, Ebay, Dealer Websites, Cycle Trader On-Line, and even your local on-line newspaper has a classified section with bikes for sale.

Craigslist is a very popular website to look for motorcycles, you’ll find bikes being sold by both owners and dealers on this site.  An advantage of this site is you can look local if you are not interested in traveling and the prices are usually pretty good.  If you are considering an on-line purchase, here are a few things you should keep in mind if you plan on buying a motorcycle you see on a Craigslist ad.

PICTURES:  If there aren’t any pictures, you should probably have the seller send you some pictures before you make the trip, this may save you a trip if the pictures show more than the words in the ad describe.  Don’t be afraid to ask for pictures of every side of the motorcycle, a picture of the odometer (verifying the mileage), even a picture of the VIN number.  A legitimate seller will be happy to provide you with these photos.

TITLES: When you contact the seller, be sure to ask if they have the title, and if it is a clear title.  If they were in an accident with the motorcycle, they may only have what is called a “salvage” title.  The bike can be legally titled, but only after you meet requirements set forth by the local Secretary of State, and this can be quite costly if your State requires you go through a licensed rebuilder to get the title. You could inadvertently buy a motorcycle with what is called a “Junk” title, a vehicle with a Junk title is just that, it can never be titled or legally driven on the road. Also, ask the seller if there is a lien on the title (they still owe the bank for the bike and the bank is holding the title), if this is the case, you can go to the bank to pay off the motorcycle with the seller.  Never give your money to a seller who has a lien on the title without making sure with the lien holder that the title will be going to you.  It would be very easy for someone to pocket the money instead of sending it to the lien holder, should that happen, you might not ever be able to get a title.

DEALERS: You will find many legitimate dealers advertising their motorcycles for sale on Craigslist. It is a free way to advertise to the local community and you can usually find some good deals. Make sure you read the fine print though, sometimes they are selling parts only bikes (motorcycles that the parts can be pulled off of to fix a bike) or sometimes they are selling them as is, without any warranty.  Honest dealers will tell you this in the ad, just don’t be fooled into thinking because you are buying from a dealer, the bike will come with some kind of warranty

Unfortunately, Craigslist will probably be the site with the most dishonest sellers, so beware.  Read the ad carefully, is the bike located at the seller’s house, or are you meeting in some out of the way place?  Either way, you should probably bring a friend, or meet at a public place.  Go with your gut feeling, if something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not.  Ever had a good or bad experience on Craigslist?  We’d love to hear about it, please send us your comments or stories.